The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Long time no BLog!
Well, it's been eons since I've posted anything of any substance (not counting the great pics of my new niece just uploaded today!). I miss writing and, now that school is on hold for a bit, will make some time for it again.
Currently I'm at work on my lunch break so I'll make this post short - it's really more of a "Hi, I'm back" thing anyway :-)
So- a brief catch up on the Lord's work in my life . . .
Last summer I was asked to consider taking over or co-leading (with my mom) a ministry to single women at our church. It was a tough decision because I was about 1/2 way through with pursuing my Master's Degree and that is something I'm still VERY interested in completing. Also, the beautiful woman who had started this ministry left VERY BIG SHOES to fill . . . it was pretty intimidating!
There were some strains involved with school that had to be considered - money had gotten tight - school loans just weren't covering my basic expenses and the amount of the school loans themselves, of course, were getting kind of scary. Also, the classes I was taking were (1) not really related to anything I felt relevant to Biblical Counseling and (2) really tough - thus, hurting my GPA.
The big one there was Statistics. Oh My Heavens! I was never great at math anyway and this was just wrenching to do on-line. I probably would have done better in a classroom with that one but in the end, what do statistics really mean when you're one-on-one counseling anyway??? I mean really - the Bible applies - period. I don't know . . . I suppose there is some value in knowing which forms of therapy have worked best on average but the individual is not an average - I think choosing or designing a therapy should be first and foremost Holy Spirit led.
Anyway, all that to say, I was getting a bit frustrated with the "professional" over "Biblical" aspect of the counseling program I was pursuing. Add to that the fact that I had been working on my Master's degree for 18 months straight - without a break - and I was pretty ready to take some time off anyway.
After consulting with several wise counselors - some who knew me well, some who's basic wisdom I trusted well whether or not they knew me personally - and I came to the conclusion that, when faced with the question of whether to continue preparing for ministry or to jump into the ministry I was preparing for - it was time to jump :-)
So, now my mom and I co-lead God's Gals ministry at our church. God's Gals reaches out to all single women - whether never married or divorced or widowed or just attending alone. I was surprised to see how great the need was at our church! So many women longing for friendship and connection but unable to find it within the typical family/couple-oriented church. And these women are HUNGRY for the Word and minister to each other, the church body, and the community so beautifully!! They are a HUGE blessing in my life and my mom's too (my co-leader).
I'm not a perfect ministry leader by any means - in fact, this whole experience is very humbling. I see a MUCH greater need for prayer and daily study of God's Word (as opposed to the "Good Morning Lord" and 2 minute daily devotional He's usually lucky to get out of me). I am learning and growing as a result of this ministry involvement and I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do with this ministry as I grow into a decent leader and as we all follow the Lord down this path.
Well, lunch break is up so that's it for now. Hopefully I'll post a lot more regularly now :-)
Till next time, keep livin' for the glory of our King!
Friday, November 27, 2009
To Dr. Meyer
Thank you for voicing your concerns. My goal is only and always to honor the Lord and I wish to have "no appearance of evil" in these blog postings. I will avoid sharing test information in future.
**UPDATE** I would like to encourage all to read through the comments thread on this post. We have an edifying and educational discussion going! :-)
Friday, October 09, 2009
The Anxiety Cure: A Critique of Archibald Hart’s Body Systems Approach
I agree that the competent Christian counselor “must have some familiarity with how to treat anxiety disorders” (Hawkins, n.d., slide 2). I also agree with the conceptual emphasis on recognizing the role and significance of biological influences on psychological challenges (n.d., slide 2). This fits well with my personal conviction that each client needs to be assessed as a whole person with all aspects of mind, body and spirit considered.
I did not personally see the need for understanding all the chemistry involved. Recognizing symptoms and understanding techniques for relieving anxiety do not require understanding what serotonin or benzodiazepines are or how they work. I did, however, appreciate the numerous self-treatment ideas that were presented and will likely incorporate some of those into my own lifestyle.
I also found the various “pull out” blocks of information (such as the Common Myths About Panic Attacks on p. 44) to be useful concise tools. I can see the value of putting together a few of these in “flier” format that could be made available to clients in the reception area of the office (with appropriate permissions and/or citations, of course). Since “anxiety is now the number one emotional problem of our day” (preface, p. v), there’s a good chance that each client at least knows of someone who suffers from anxiety related disorders. It’s good information to get out to the public as much as possible.
The most valuable portion of the book for me personally – both as an individual and as a future counselor – was the section on Christian Meditation. I agree that there is strong Biblical support for the practice of meditation (pp. 238-239). This is a technique that I will determine to learn and implement in my Christian walk and then incorporate into my therapeutic practice. I often refer to Proverbs 23:7, which affirms the concept that behavior is determined by thinking. As Christian meditation is an excellent tool for focusing thinking on God and His Word, I feel it will be a very useful tool for any client.
In summary, I agree with the basic precepts of the book – that biology and psychology are connected, that both must be considered in diagnosis and assessment, and that treatment should include both medical and psychological approaches. I disagree with the idea that the counselor or the client needs to understand the underlying chemistry on the biological/neurological side or how the medications work – that is what we have psychiatrists and physicians for. Most especially, I appreciate the numerous techniques presented that can be used either individually or in conjunction with therapy and the emphasis on personal responsibility for seeking help and making positive cognitive changes.
Hawkins, R. (n.d.) [Speaker]. The anxiety cure: The contribution of Archibald Hart. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University. (NOTE: this presentation is available only to students enrolled in L.U. counseling class COUN507_B01_200940)
The Bondage Breaker: A Critique of Neil Anderson's Supernatural Systems Approach
I approached this book with skepticism. Many years ago I was exposed to Anderson's Victory Over Darkness and, though I can't remember any details about it, I remember feeling like he was looking to find demons under every rock and failing to hold individuals personally responsible for their choices. Since then I have not viewed him as a reliable source for instruction. I was pleasantly surprised to discover balanced and scripturally well-supported arguments presented in The Bondage Breaker (2000).
I appreciated his assertion that the material and immaterial are not divisible (p. 34). As human beings, our challenges are not physical or spiritual but both physical and spiritual. When I have a bad cold, it affects not only my sinuses but my cognition and emotions and, thereby, my ability and even my desire to pray or read Scripture. When counseling Christian clients, I need to be sure I am paying attention to the whole person - mind, body, emotions and spirit.
I also strongly support Anderson's focus on personal responsibility for right thinking. My grandfather strongly believed that the way we are raised has only as much affect on us as we choose to allow - there comes a time for each person when they are individually responsible for their choices, beliefs and behavior regardless of childhood experiences. God gave us the ability and the responsibility to cognitively assess our lives, to examine ourselves (reference 1 Corinthians 11:28, 2 Corinthians 13:5 and Galatians 6:4) so that we are without excuse when we come before His throne (reference Romans 1:20).
While I am in agreement with the majority of Anderson's (2000) concepts, I'm not comfortable with the formulaic steps as they are laid out in the book - both the seven "Steps to Freedom in Christ" (pp. 201-242) and the prayers for maintaining freedom in Christ (pp. 242-252). In the first place, it's simply too "rubber stamp" for my personality. People are too unique and individual and their personal challenges need to be handled according to their uniqueness and individuality. Second, I have never liked formula prayers. They feel too much like magic words to me. Prayer needs to come from the heart, not from a book.
This book was a good reminder that our battles are as much spiritual as they are physical and I believe that incorporating this belief into my therapeutic practice will benefit my clients and make me a better counselor. While it is unlikely I would walk a client through Anderson's (2000) seven steps, it is likely I will encourage prayers that affirm truth and renounce wrong thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that may have given place to demonic influence.
Comparing And Contrasting Family Systems Models
Both Wilson and Cloud & Townsend present models for change that are lifestyle oriented rather than "quick-fixes." Both deal with cognitive processes and require that the individual examine themselves, see the problem area, and apply biblical thinking to bring about positive change. I find these family systems models complimentary in their overall content.
I prefer the format and organization of Cloud & Townsend's book to that of Wilson. Cloud & Townsend presented a framework, addressed key issues and then provided clear solution-oriented direction but I felt that Wilson scattered these three aspects throughout her book.
Lastly, I feel Wilson's book provided a framework to help me better understand my dad, his challenges and how that has affected my development. Cloud & Townsend have provided an excellent framework for me to begin working more purposefully on making positive changes in myself that will benefit our relationship as well as other familial relationships where I have now identified boundary issues. The complimentary nature of these models provide both concepts and processes that will be incorporated into my personal counseling theory - such as personal responsibility, boundaries we need to place on ourselves, and the need to examine historical development to discover childhood choices that may be detrimental to adult life.
Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people, hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.
A Critique of Sandra Wilson's Relationship Systems Model as Presented in Her Book Hurt People, Hurt People
I appreciated much of this book as it is largely reflective of my own thinking in regards to parental influence of children. The focus is highly selective and, in my opinion, a little too focused on the extremes of sexual abuse - though that is understandable considering the authors' history. Nonetheless, there were solid, thought-provoking concepts presented that were largely supported in Scripture.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
A Critique of Jay Adams' Biblical Counseling Theory and Process
Adams focus on the primacy and sufficiency of Scripture must be appreciated and valued as a vital contribution to truly "Christian" counseling. His model of the therapeutic process is, however, severely limited in application and does not adequately account for a Biblical method of counseling the unredeemed. His emphasis on the goal and focus of change is also a worthy contribution and should be the focus of any truly Christian counselor but his assumptions regarding integration and cognition are invalid and Biblically unsupportable.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The Counseling Models of Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Ron Hawkins: A Brief Critique
I am not impressed with Dr. Hawkins' model as I disagree with some key aspects of his Concentric Circles and I find it to be, overall, simplistic and seriously lacking in integration. Due to spatial considerations, I will focus only on my primary disagreement, which is with his understanding of the core self - specifically the manner in which he differentiates the regenerate and unregenerate. Scripture clearly tells us that, upon salvation, we become "a new creature; the old things passed away" (II Cor. 5:17, NASB, emphasis mine). This concept of being completely freed from or dead to sin is reiterated throughout Paul's writings (reference Rom. 6:4 and 7:6; I Cor. 5:7; Gal. 6:15; and Eph. 2:11-16 and 4:24). Thus, I disagree that regenerate individuals retain an "old sin nature" and are only different from unregenerate people because they have the addition of the Holy Spirit. They are different because they are re-born and have a new nature that is clean and holy and desires to follow God.
While the "Spoiling the Egyptians" integrative approach that Crabb claims to ascribe to is not overtly evident in his models, concepts or therapeutic process, he does offer some valuable truths that I wholeheartedly ascribe to. Crabb notes that "the primary problem with people today is misplaced dependency" (1977, p. 139). Biology and other external factors aside, I believe this is foundational concept for Christian counseling. Scripture tells us that God has "granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3, NASB). When our dependency for having our basic needs of security and significance is on anything other than the Lord God, we will have problems.
I also appreciated Crabb's inclusion of "the basic direction (heart)" as part of the human personality. For the unredeemed, this accounts for the sin nature which leads man naturally to oppose God. For the redeemed, it accounts for the new nature which leads man to naturally desire and obey God. This fits well with my understanding of the affects of salvation on the human self.
Overall I found myself more aligned with Dr. Crabb and his concepts than with Dr. Hawkins, especially as it applied to their models of human personality and the manner in which the redeemed are differentiated from the unredeemed. This was a key aspect for me in assessing these models. Dr. Crabb's model provides a better frame for expressing the transformation that salvation brings to a person's base nature.
Crabb, L. (1977). Effective Biblical counseling: A model for helping caring Christians become capable counselors. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Hawkins, R. (n.d.a.) [Speaker]. Effective Biblical counseling. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.
Hawkins, R. (n.d.b.) [Speaker]. Hawkins' model for guiding the counseling process. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.
Friday, August 28, 2009
A Word on Obama
I'm not putting this out there to open debate - it's just that I agree with it and it's important to me.
There is a famous English saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I will never forget the appearance of then Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain who was confronted by this sweet American elderly woman who asked the senator what he thought about Obama's being a Muslim.
His answer was swift: "No, Madam, I do not believe he is a Muslim. He, himself has denied it."
After completing a two month lecture circuit in the U.S. and Canada, the first such lecture circuit since Obama's election victory, I felt the need to set the record straight with a few lines in this periodical.
In spite of a few muted accusations that Obama should not be president by virtue of the fact that he was born in Kenya and seems to not be able to provide a genuine birth certificate showing he is American born, there is no doubt that President Mubarak Hussein Obama is the son of a Sunni Muslim, and even the proud member of a Sunni Muslim tribe in Kenya, the same tribe that slaughtered tens of thousands of Kenyan Christians a few years ago.
According to the Islamic faith, if his father was a Muslim, so is the son, Obama.
There is no debate, either, that his white mother remarried a second husband, also a Sunni Muslim and lived with Obama in Indonesia for a number of years. Obama attended a Madrassa (Islamic school) until age 11 and attended the local mosque.
I think it was the Jesuit Priest Francis Xavier who said: "Give me a child until 10 and I will make him a man."
With a father and step-father who were both Muslims, and a school and religious system which raised him as a Muslim until 11, it would seem a shut and closed case that the president of the U.S. is a Muslim.
It is true that with his marriage to the future First Lady, Michelle, he began attending Rev. Jeremy Wright's black supremacist church and spent 20 years as a regular attendee on Sundays.
In his famous interview with George Stephanopoulos, he was referring to "his Muslim faith," but quickly corrected himself when Stephanopoulos interrupted him and said, "You mean, your Christian faith..." and Obama, said: "Yes, my Christian faith."
Now according to the Koran, in Sura IV entitled Women, verse 137, it says:"Those who accept the Faith (Islam) and then renounce it, who again embrace it and again deny it and grow in unbelief -- Allah will neither forgive them nor rightly guide them." (This means any Muslim who abandons Islam must be killed.)
There is also a term in Islam: Takiyah, which means permission to lie to the infidel for the purposes of Allah/Islam. In other words, it is permissible for a Muslim to attend a Christian church, pretend to be a Christian, only as a cover to achieve goals for the Muslim cause, such as to become president of the United States.
Now, let me go on record as praying for Barack Obama's long life. Indeed, New York Pastor David Wilkerson speaks in his prophecies of the cities in the U.S. going up in flames, a terrible scenario that would most definitely happen if anyone killed Obama, God-forbid.
Here are three radio broadcasts my wife, Rachel, intercepted at Kol Israel in the last few years:
1. Before Obama's election in November 2008: Saudi Radio: "We will have a Muslim in the White House in the 2008 elections...
2. After his election: Libyan Radio: Qaddafi: "Our man in the White House."
3. The Sunnis are having meetings to coordinate policy together with President Obama to first deal with the Shiite Iranian Ayatollah regime in Teheran which threatens all Sunnis in general as well as the Saudis in particular; and then to deal with the "fanatic" new Israeli government under second-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
These are the three broadcasts I spoke about during my lectures in the U.S. and Canada during the period Feb-April 2009.
In addition, in a recent prayer breakfast in Washington, DC, everyone who spoke quoted the Bible. Obama quoted the Hadith (Islamic teachings not in the Koran).
I think Israel must be very concerned and so should the entire Christian world that the U.S. president is either a Muslim, or firmly in the Muslim camp. Indeed beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the Muslims see him as a Muslim, then for all intents and purposes, he is a Muslim.
Whatever, if Mubarack Hussein Obama is a Muslim or self-proclaimed Christian, God's eyes are on every move America and the world make regarding Israel. Many Christians have said to me on my most recent lecture circuit that if Obama moves against Israel God's judgment on America will be a punishment on all Americans, Christians and Jews included.
It is indeed a time for Christian Revival for Israel's Survival! (The name of my second book).
The above article first appeared in Israel Today, June 01, 2009 and is reprinted with permission. Avi Lipkin ( pseudonym Victor Mordecai) Is a columnist for Israel Today, is a frequent guest on the Michael Medved and Michael Savage radio programs, and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs worldwide. He served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) from February 1972 until January 1973 as IDF Spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Command under Lt.Col Rafael Horovitz. His IDF reserve duties included artillery reserves from 1973 to 1989 and as an officer in the IDF Spokesman’s Office from 1989 to 2001. He is the author of four books, and is a candidate for the Israeli Knesset elections at the head of a Judeo-Christian Bible Bloc party called “Gush Hatanakhi” in Hebrew. Avi has appeared in over five hundred churches and synagogues in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Norway, Finland, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece as well as in Israel. For more information visit: www.vicmord.com
Reprinted with permission from the Roseburg Beacon News, Vol.2- Issue 32 August 12, 2009
Thursday, August 06, 2009
McMinn - 4-MAT
Until a few months ago I was engaged in a weekly mentoring relationship with a high school senior from the church I was attending at that time. Through God's grace, I employed several of the techniques mentioned in this book and God used them to produce significant growth both in the young lady and in myself. One key ingredient in our mentoring relationship was prayer.
On many occasions I can remember struggling over and praying fervently about how to lovingly confront her regarding some behavioral issue only to have God beat me to the punch. In our next meeting or through a phone call between meetings, she would confess how God had convicted her and then detail her response to that conviction. Always the change was what I had been praying for or a better solution I had not considered. This greatly increased my belief in the power of prayer.
The use of scripture was also primary in our mentoring meetings. When we first started meeting I realized she had a very unhealthy sense of self. Because of unhealthy relationships with her brother, father and boyfriend, she felt helpless and unlovable. She believed she had to earn affection through meeting the demands of others. Through employing cognitive restructuring based on God's word (though I didn't know anything about "cognitive restructuring" at that time), she gradually developed a healthy sense of self and was able to take action to correct or positively affect her unhealthy relationships.
On a more positive note, I greatly appreciated the section on redemption, specifically in reference to informed consent. Ethical issues are addressed throughout the book but the suggestion of including religious values in the informed-consent form will address many potential issues and may open "an opportunity for Christian truth to be incarnated in the therapy relationship" (p. 240).
Lastly, I appreciated the emphasis on the counselor's personal spiritual walk throughout the book. We must not ask our clients to do what we are unwilling to do ourselves. Each of these "religious techniques" is really a spiritual discipline and must never become routine. Our time in prayer must reflect a precious, intimate and personal connection with our Savior. Our time in His Word must come from a deep desire to know Him better. Our hearts must be humble before Him in confession of our own sin and our constant need of His strength and the leading of His Spirit. Our forgiveness of others must stem out of understanding what we have been forgiven.
First and foremost, as with Ortberg's book, I see my need to step it up in regards to the spiritual disciplines mentioned. I believe McMinn is correct that, "the value of counseling interventions is found less in one's technical training and theoretical orientation than in one's character" (p. xi). This concept and others from this book and from Ortberg's book will become foundational to my personal theory of counseling and will be included in the personal theory paper I will be writing next week for another class.
The questions about what form of technique to apply to which client in which circumstances and whether this technique will establish a healthier sense of health or a healthier sense of need or a healing relationship will be incorporated as part of my personal therapeutic process. I believe these are important and useful questions that will help me be more discerning in the proper application of any technique, not just the religiously oriented ones.
Postmodern Approaches Critique
These are both very intriguing therapies and I believe several aspects can be incorporated into an integrative approach. I can see several concepts and techniques which I will incorporate into my own approach though I cannot see myself taking any postmodern approach as my foundational therapeutic focus.
There are several things I appreciate about these therapeutic approaches. First, the concept of the therapist as expert in the process of change but "not knowing" in relation to the client. We really don't know the people who come into our office until we allow them to tell us who they are. At the same time, I don't agree that the client is always the expert on what their problem is - mankind is notorious in overlooking his own failings. I also disagree with the idea that all people are "healthy, competent, resourceful, and possess the ability to construct solutions." Those who do not know Christ are blind (Ps. 146:8; Matt. 15:14) and lack wisdom (Rom. 1:21-22). Those who do know Christ realize that it is only through the power of the Spirit that we can do or be anything of value (Phil. 4:13; Gal. 6:3).
I also appreciate the focus on solutions and the optimistic approach to change. The evident effectiveness of SFBT in treating domestic violence offenders (Corey, 2009, p. 402) is encouraging. I disagree with the concept of personifying the problem as I believe this tends to allow the client to deny responsibility for the choices they make that contribute to the development of the problem.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Reality therapy presentation. Retrieved July 28, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Postmodern_Approaches/index.html.
Feminist Therapy Critique
I must admit that just the title of this therapy triggers strong negative emotions for me. I believe that "feminism" has done much damage to women through the years under the guise of freeing them from male oppression. Nevertheless, I agree with Corey that feminist therapy has made a vital contribution to therapeutic practice by bringing awareness to the "impact of cultural context and multiple oppressions." It is essential that we recognize all aspects of diversity and how both we and our clients are influenced by societal norms in therapeutic practice. Failure to consider the whole person, in whole context, can result in failed treatment.
Regardless of its contributions, I cannot stand in agreement with the foundational concept that problems result from socially defined gender roles and oppression. While it is good to understand how society dictates gender roles and how oppression might influence the individual, this does not negate the individual's right and ability to make choices and their responsibility for the consequences of those choices. I also heartily disagree with efforts by practitioners of this therapy to oppose the concept of objective truth. Jesus said He alone is "the Truth" (John 14:6). Without Christ and His Word, we stand on shifting sands and are doomed to fall.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Ortberg - 4-MAT - - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING!
Every chapter in this book confronted and encouraged me in some way. I related to so many of the examples used by the author and I felt grateful to know I am not alone in these struggles. Most powerful to me was the section about Mabel (pp. 22-25). Last week I had several "OFU" days - days when I just feel Old, Fat, and Ugly - which is unusual for me as I have become far more accepting of my single status in life, but last week was really hard. Additionally at that time, I was engaged in a blog communication defending my contention that, contrary to REBT theory, people "need" love and acceptance. Reading about Mabel really opened my eyes and convicted my heart of the petty, self-centered thinking I had been engaged in. Through Mabel's story, I realized that we really don't "need" human companionship or love or acceptance - all we really need - all I really need - is a deeply intimate relationship with my Lord.
A second section that struck home was the story of Hank, specifically as it related to the lack of expectation for change. My dad is a "Hank" and though I and others in our family still pray hopefully for change, I don't think any of us really expects it anymore. Through the years we have come to a complacent belief that "he is what he is" and we have forgotten that he was created to be so much more - that he is eternal splendor in the making. I needed this reminder.
I appreciated every page and every section of this book. The only problem I have with it is that I think I will have to read it again and again until I get all the principles solidly planted in my brain. It is not a book of "do this for 5 minutes a day and you can be spiritual." Rather, it is a practical guide to a spiritual lifestyle. In fact, because of the negative "check it off the list" connotation associated with the word "discipline," the subtitle "spiritual disciplines for ordinary people" might have been better phrased, "aspects of a spiritual lifestyle for ordinary people."
As a result of reading this book, I have several new perspectives on life and I believe a much better perspective of future clients. Through my education thus far, it has been emphasized (and rightly so) that, as Christians, we need to view our clients in the light of Scripture - the Imago Dei. Ortberg's quote of C.S. Lewis (p. 17) brings this to a whole new level for me. Clients are either "everlasting splendors" or "immortal horrors" in the making. It is my job to encourage transformation to the former from the latter. This is eternal work we are engaged in.
Before reading this book, I would have automatically encouraged my clients to a specific set of "spiritual disciplines" - i.e. read the Bible 5 minutes a day, pray 5 minutes a day, and so forth - the standard measurements for spirituality so popular in our religious culture today. Though these things are not wrong, per se, now I will be far more sensitive to my client's temperament, gifts and season of life and will endeavor to wisely help them to develop their own unique spiritual lifestyle.
On a personal level, I intend to incorporate every principle discussed in this book into my own life. There are so many valuable concepts and principles in this book that I believe will help me cease to measure my spiritual life by tasks and begin to see it grow through internal changes. I have some weeks coming up when I will not be taking classes and I am anxiously awaiting that time so I can re-read this book more slowly and begin to determinedly put into practice the principles and concepts therein!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Theory Critiques - General Info
I welcome feedback and discussion that is respectful and honoring to our Savior.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I am not comfortable with the over-emphasis on choice and responsibility in this theory. While I believe that individuals do make choices and that they should bear responsibility for the choices they make, not all mental illness can be attributed to personal poor choice. Cases of molestation, rape, child-abuse, elder-abuse and other such tragic events leave a client dealing with emotional and behavioral challenges resulting from not having any real choice in the matter. At the same time, I value the concept of dealing with the present and learning to make choices that positively influence the future. However, in cases such as those just mentioned, another therapeutic method would be better suited.
For clients who are looking for direction, I see great value in the WDEP system. I can see this being useful in career planning for high school graduates, evaluation of job offers or potential career changes, and even on a corporate level - helping executives decide what direction to take a company that is at a cross-road and then planning how to get there. Overall, I see reality therapy as somewhat limited. Nevertheless, both the counseling cycle and the WDEP system could be highly useful in specific situations.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Reality therapy presentation. Retrieved July 23, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Reality_Therapy/index.html.
Cognitive Behavioral Theory Critique
Overall, I appreciate the general direction of the cognitive behavioral theory as it is geared toward paying attention to one's own thought processes and the affect these have on our behavior. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that man is what he thinks, Philippians 4:8 goes into great detail about the things Christians should choose to dwell on, and 2 Corinthians 10:5 is clear in its instruction to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (NASB). Biblically, it is clear that thinking is essential to behavior and it is controllable.
In regards to the specific approaches addressed herein I was drawn to many of the techniques but not impressed by the concepts behind many of those techniques. For example, REBT proposes that people do not "need" love and acceptance. Considering that God Himself said, "it is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18, NKJV), I have to disagree. I also disagree with the REBT view of the client/therapist relationship. However, the techniques used in REBT are something I am likely to incorporate into my own therapeutic practice.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Cognitive behavior therapy presentation. Retrieved July 23, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Cognitive_Behavior_Therapy/index.html.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Behavior Theory Critique
Being, by nature, an organizer myself, the systematic and structured approach to assessment and treatment is appealing to me. However, I believe a great deal of flexibility is also needed as a structured and systematic approach may hinder some fruitful interaction. Additionally, while I have great respect for the empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of the techniques used and would be open to using these techniques myself (with proper training of course), I don't believe we can restrict our treatment options to only proven methods. As Christians, we must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. What works for the majority may not work for the client in our office.
Thus, I disagree with the concept that technique is of greater importance than the client/therapist relationship and with the implied superiority of the therapist. It is essential that we know our clients and their challenges and respect their ability to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit to make desired changes in behavior. It is important to remember that our goal is to help the client become wholly who God designed them to be and that there may well be challenges and issues beyond the presenting problem to be dealt with. These will not be discovered if we simply address the current behavioral challenge without developing a deep and trusting relationship with the client.
I also disagree with the concept that behavior is a product of learning. While learning does play a significant role in behavior, I believe that it is what we choose to do with what we learn that determines behavior. Therefore, choice is the greater determining factor in behavior and client's can be held responsible for the choices they make and empowered to make better choices regardless of what they have learned.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Behavior therapy presentation. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Behavior_Therapy/index.html.
Gestalt Theory Critique
The creative interaction of Gestalt therapy appeals to me. I like the experimental aspect and the applicability to group therapy. The focus on the present is also appealing as it allows for looking into the past for the purpose of bringing about change but does not dwell on the past. The apostle Paul tells us, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14, NASB). As Christians, I believe we should encourage our clients to "press on toward the goal" as well. Dwelling too long on the past is not productive.
I also appreciate that the therapist is fully engaged with the client in the therapeutic process and is alert to both verbal and non-verbal communications. I find the various types of talk described by Corey (2009) on pages 208-209, including "It talk," "You talk" and "Language that denies power" very useful and will make use of these in my own therapeutic practice. At the same time, I would extend my personal involvement with the client beyond the Gestalt framework of facilitator to include the role of teacher. Therapy is much like discipleship and, as such, there are times when teaching is necessary and beneficial for the client.
There are some aspects of Gestalt therapy that I would not incorporate. For instance, the idea that "it is important for clients to "be" as fully as possible in their current condition, rather than striving to become what they "should be"" (Corey, 2009, p. 201) does not appeal to me for several reasons: First, the Scriptures tell us specifically to move forward. In Philippians 3:13 Paul sets the example for us in "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Second, there are some cases where this just really doesn't make sense - as with a sociopath or a schizophrenic or someone dealing with manic depression. Also, I personally feel the "why" question is the most important question for determining how to change the "what" and "how" of client behavior. I don't see how any real, positive, lasting change could be made without a good understanding of the motivations behind behavior.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Gestalt therapy presentation. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Gestalt_Therapy/index.html.
Adlerian Theory Critique
There is much in this theory that I appreciate and will likely incorporate into my own therapeutic concept and practice. First, the holistic view of the individual, "contending that people can only be understood as integrated and complete human beings" (Corey, 2009) is, in my opinion, essential to the therapeutic process. We do not exist in a vacuum and therefore cannot be properly understood without due consideration to all aspects of our existence that provide potential or actual impact on who we are both communally and individually.
I also appreciate the notion that behavior is purposeful and the emphasis on individual choice and responsibility. These concepts and the idea that "genetics and heredity are not as important as what we choose to do with the abilities and limitations we possess" (Corey, 2009), appeal to my western, individualistic mindset. Although I am a firm believer in the election of the those mercifully chosen by God for salvation, I also see that God has allowed man freedom to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, as demonstrated in Deuteronomy 30:19, Psalm 25:12, Proverbs 3:31, Isaiah 7:15, all of which speak specifically of human choice. Additionally, most of the entire New Testament is dedicated to calling believers to choose holiness over their old fleshly ways.
Along the same lines, I agree with the notion that internal determinants of behavior include values, beliefs, attitudes, goals, interests and an individual, subjective perception of reality. As noted in my comments about the Psychoanalytic Theory, the manner in which a man thinks determines who he is and we are not always aware of the unconscious thoughts that determine our choices and our behavior.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Psychoanalytic Theory Critique
I appreciate the contribution of techniques for delving into the unconscious that this theory provides. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV), describing the impact of the unconscious on behavior, states "as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Jeremiah 17:9 also notes that "the heart is deceitful" and John 5:39, Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 8:2 and 10:12, and James 1:26 each describe conditions where the conscious thoughts of man do not necessarily reflect reality. As we deal with clients and in self-analysis, it is important to recognize that there are likely issues that we may not even be aware of that are impacting our personality and behavior and we must strive to discover these issues so they can be addressed.
I disagree with the deterministic aspects of this theory as well as the man-centered focus. It is primarily biological and instinctual and fails to properly take into account the spiritual nature and free will of man. As with any theory that does not begin with a Biblical understanding of human nature, the keys to truly understanding humanity are missed leaving the therapist able to provide only temporary fixes and false hope. In my opinion, it is essential to take into consideration sin issues and the wisdom (or lack thereof) in choices made by the client when determining the source of challenges and unhealthy behavior.
As I develop my personal approach to therapeutic practice, I will likely incorporate the free-association technique and I will probably study the Ego-Defense Mechanisms as they seem reasonable observations of human behavior that do not contradict a Biblical understanding of man. I will probably not incorporate the therapist role as anonymous or detached. I am not convinced of its therapeutic value and it does not suit my personality. I am also unlikely to engage in dream analysis as I am not convinced of its value.
Person-Centered Theory Critique
I appreciate many aspects of this theory. In application to therapy between Christians it has some very positive factors. As God "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3, NASB), it is both biblical and wise to help clients discover their freedom, responsibility and capability (through the power of the Holy Spirit within them), to make positive changes in their lives. Of course, without the Holy Spirit only limited change is possible and this is one area where person-centered theory misses the mark. As with all humanistic concepts, the power and work of the Holy Spirit are not taken into consideration when it is the most important factor for successful client change.
I also appreciate the emphasis placed on the person of the therapist - that they should be congruent and able to truly empathize with the client. I feel these are essential qualities in the counseling process as they contribute to the formation of a positive client/therapist relationship. Above all other qualities, "the therapist's genuineness determines the power of the therapeutic relationship" (Corey, 2009). A client cannot trust someone they don't believe truly understands them and their challenge. Empathy communicates a depth of understanding and is essential for developing trust.
As a Christian, I understand it is far more essential that we encourage client's find God's unique way for them, rather than their own way, and that they test the path they discover against the principles of Scripture. I agree with Corey that a potential limitation to a student of the person-centered approach would be to neglect necessary challenging of the client. God calls us to confront sin (ref. Matthew 18:15-17) with gentleness and love. In helping the client to discover the right path for themselves, the Christian therapist must be able and willing to challenge clients when sinful habits or choices are made.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Person-centered therapy presentation. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Person_Centered_Therapy/index.html.
Existential Theory Critique
In general, I really appreciate the concepts embraced by the existential theory. Man's freedom to choose, his ability to act, and his subsequent responsibility for the results of his choices and actions are important concepts to me. Irresponsibility as a base human response is traceable back to Adam and Eve when Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve - though each had made the choice to eat the forbidden fruit. God laid the consequences squarely at Adam's feet when he pronounced with his judgment, "because you have done this" (Genesis 3:17).
At the same time, it may be that existential therapy takes responsibility a bit too far. There are times when men are not free and suffer the consequences of someone else's choices - such as prisoners of war (consider Auschwitz among others) or victims of violent crime. Additionally, sometimes natural occurrences take our choices from us, such as the widow grieving for the husband she lost to a long battle with cancer or the teenager paralyzed by an accident (such as Joni Erikson-Tada). The client suffering from these kinds of pain would not be likely to experience healing from existential theory based therapy.
I also deeply appreciate the high value this theory places on the therapist/client relationship and the idea that the therapeutic process is one in which therapist and client embark on a journey of self-discovery together. Respect and mutual faith play crucial roles in this relationship and lay the foundation for openly assessing life choices in ways the client may not have considered before. I believe it is also true that a truly involved therapist will learn and grow both personally and professionally as a result of each client relationship they experience.
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). USA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Hinkley, P. (n.d.). Existential therapy presentation. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from http://www.liberty.edu/media/1413/COUN510/Existential_Therapy/index.html.
Nouwen, H. (1975). Reaching out: The three movements of the spiritual life. New York: Doubleday.
In reading Nouwen's section regarding "The Avoidance of the Painful Void" (p. 26-29), I was again reminded of my own personal, consistent struggle to be O.K. with solitude and silence. At 44 years of age, I still sometimes find my singleness a source of great pain as I had imagined myself married with children many years ago. Occasionally, rather than face the pain and fear of loneliness, I overwhelm myself with projects and ministries. When there is not enough to do, I will absorb myself in a fictional book or meaningless television viewing. However, as I have matured, I have learned the value of allowing myself to "feel my own pain" (Nouwen, p. 27) and to take that pain before my Lord and sit at his feet in silence as he ministers comfort to my soul. In these times, the pain leads me into a more intimate relationship with my Savior.
More recently, I have been applying this concept in my relationship with my dad. Because he has his own deep hurts and loneliness, he often avoids them by verbal expressions of hostility. In the past, I have worked to avoid this pain by physically leaving the room and/or permitting anger to fester in my heart. Through Bible study, I have come to learn that I must be willing to embrace his pain as my own, just as I embrace the pain of my singleness, and allow it to drive me to the foot of the cross.
I approached this book with great anticipation. It wasn't long before I was sorely disappointed and realized I needed to apply an attitude of rigorous discernment in the reading as it is full of mysticism and humanistic spiritualism rather than being solidly grounded in Biblical Christian spirituality. One example of this is found on page 88 where Nouwen states, "There are just as many ways to be a Christian as there are Christians" which is followed by subjecting doctrine to human potential and noting on page 89 that there are "many roads" to truth. Additionally, on page 72 Nouwen asserts that creating a free and friendly space is "the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way."
Questions in Nouwen's reasoning were present throughout the reading but were most troubling and challenging in the closing section regarding prayer. I have to wonder if Nouwen didn't confuse the act of meditation with the act of prayer. Where is verbalization of praise and supplication and gratitude? Are these not key aspects as taught to us by the Lord Himself (reference Matthew 6:8-13 and Luke 11:2-4)? Additionally, Nouwen recommends a "spiritual guide" (pg. 137-138). I was saddened to discover he was referring to a human guide as opposed to our God-given guide, the Holy Spirit. While I recognize the value of a human mentor, one of the Holy Spirit's primary roles is intimate involvement in our prayers (Romans 8:26-27) - a fact Nouwen completely missed.
Despite my overall disappointment with the book, there were some savory bits and pieces that I found useful and will incorporate into my daily life and therapeutic practice. Nouwen's reflection of the joy and privilege it is to be a member of the human race (pg. 42-44) and our responsibility as such was refreshing and inspiring. As a therapist, it is essential that we see the Imago Dei in ourselves, our peers and our clients.
As a therapist, there will be times when I need to educate my client on some life issue. During such times, it will be important for me to encourage my client to reflection that will lead to development of vision - theirs, not mine (Nouwen, pg. 90). My goal must not be to force change upon my clients but rather to offer my clients a free and safe place where change can take place (Nouwen, p. 71) where they can "sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances" (Nouwen, p. 72)
Lastly, I appreciated the acknowledgment that we are all in process, none of us whole and perfect, and yet it is in our imperfections that we are called to reach out to others. Our own struggles "can keep us humble by allowing us to offer our service to others, without being whole ourselves" (Nouwen, p. 71). I find great value in recognizing God's strength in my weakness and my prayer now reflects a cry for greater weakness so that His strength will be ever more present in my life.
In reviewing the history of Christianity and science as it played into the interaction of Christianity and psychology, Entwistle (2004) notes, "Owing to examples like Galileo, the church… is often portrayed as anti-scientific, stuck in its narrow-minded ecclesiastical view of reality in which any evidence that appears to be at odds with the prevailing view of scripture is simply dismissed" (p.25). The truly unfortunate thing is that Christians in general have brought this sentiment upon themselves by failing to use the intellect God gave us in correlation with our faith. Rather, faith has often been seen to trump reason without any consideration of how the two might actually work together.
This unreasonable hostility toward religion was brought home to me on a personal level during a class on Shakespeare at a local community college. The professor was overtly atheist and I was overtly (but not outspokenly) Christian, especially in my homework. Our interactions were congenial and respectful, but one day he responded to another student with the words "All Christians are morons!" I don't think he even realized the dichotomy of his words with the excellent interactions and grades he afforded me; it was simply ingrained in him to be anti-religious. Though I was not offended, I was certainly made vividly aware that we can expect nothing less than deeply ingrained hatred from a world that does not know God. As John 16:19 (NKJV) states, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, the world hates you."
Entwistle also claims that, "God has given us two books, the book of His world and the book of His works" (2004, p. 275) and subtly implies that only when the two books are viewed as equal in authority will there be sufficient protection from error in our discoveries and conclusions. Where in Scripture does God allow for or endorse any source of truth apart from the Word of God? While I understand and agree with Entwistle's concerns that interpretation of scripture is often confused with the word of scripture (2004, p. 27), placing any source of knowledge above God's word is both unbiblical and unwise. The world around us is tainted by sin, the Word of God is not. It alone has been preserved by the Spirit as the source of knowledge that reliably reveals the truth of God to us (reference John 10:35b "the Scripture cannot be broken"; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; and Psalm 19:7-11).
Despite my disagreement with Entwistle's "faithful reading" approach, the warnings for the "prima scriptura" approach are worth noting (2004, p. 274-275). Although I will always place God's written word in its rightful place of authority, I will work diligently to ensure I am not confusing the validity of interpretation with the authority of the written word. Proverbs 11:14 notes, "in the multitude of counselors there is safety." In addition to seeking out wise counsel, I will endeavor to diligently employ proper scientific methods in the discovery and verification of theories and will humbly submit findings for peer review. I will choose to present a humble, charitable and teachable spirit when confronted with disagreement and I will diligently work to consistently improve my relationship with Christ and seek the wisdom of the Spirit of Truth in all matters both personal and professional.
In a footnote, Entwistle (2004) states, "the chief difficulty [with integration]… is that few of us are adequately trained in both theology and psychology" (p. 5). My degree in Biblical Studies has provided foundational theological training and my current pursuit of formal education in Professional Counseling will lay the foundation for understanding psychology. I will seek to build on these foundations and continue learning in both areas through formal education, reading of theological and psychological publications, searching the scriptures and observing the world around me.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Now that I'm no longer working and have been able to just about catch up with classes (3 more chapters to read and one short reply post and I'm all caught up for what's due this week), I have just a bit more flexibility with my time. So, I'm taking advantage of that today.
My reading today has centered around family systems and therapies. The book is Competent Christian Counseling, Volume One (2002). Dr. Timothy Clinton and Dr. George Ohlschlager are the executive editors. It is REALLY good stuff! HIGHLY recommended reading! Everything is solidly grounded in scripture and where they use secular information it is supplementary and evidentiary of Biblical principles and truths. Anyway here's some pieces I'd like to share:
"When marriages achieve the ideal of soul friendship, the mutual care they
provide affords the possibility of a constancy of soul care that is seldom
possible in other human relationships" (quoted from David Brenner, Strategic
"Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one
that must be satisfied if there is goint to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is
the unshaking need for an unshakeable God" (quoted from Maya Angelou, I Know
Why the Caged Bird Sings).
Brenner notes the concept of "soul care" within marriage. I think that it is ESSENTIAL that husbands and wives look FIRST to the SOUL care of their mate. Soul care - that's a concept that deserves some contemplation. It's not just making sure the standard perceived needs are met - it reaches farther - it is more intimate. It means caring for the inner life of your spouse - their need to feel fulfilled, their need to feel safe in sharing the deepest and darkest parts of themselves, their need to be encouraged and spurred on to good works, their need to speak the truth in LOVE (which sometimes means filtering what is said so as not to cause unnecessary harm) and to have the truth spoken in love to them so as to encourage positive change. The soul refers to the entirety of the person - more than what is seen or heard in the relationship, but down deep into that which no one but the spouse sees or hears - and, unless there is a strong sense of safety in the sharing, probably not even the spouse. It is the core of the being that needs to be cared for and is all too often neglected in the busy-ness of married life.
One of the concepts covered in today's reading involved the Identified Problem - a role typically assigned to a child - usually the oldest - by parents who have unresolved marital issues. The child becomes the "scapegoat" allowing the parents to unite in dealing with the problem child instead of dealing with their own marital challenges with one another. I think this probably happens in a lot of families. It is the easy way out.
In yesterday's reading I learned a great deal about marital therapy. I am now leaning toward the conviction that a healthy marriage starts with healthy premarital counseling and continues with REGULAR forays into therapy - whether through a bi-annual weekend marriage seminar or "check-ups" with a church counselor or whatever. I think having a neutral party involved is VERY useful as we are often blind to our own destructive thoughts and behaviors. Having someone else question the way things are done in our relationships forces us to step out of ourselves and see things in a different light - allowing us to resolve issues we may not have even realized existed.
Well, these are just some of my thoughts so far. On to the rest of the reading I need to get done today :-)
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Anyway, pics are on my facebook so anyone can check them out :-)