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Eowyn's Heart

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.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

McMinn - 4-MAT

McMinn, M. (1996). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Concrete Response

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.

While I really enjoyed this book and learned a great deal from it, there was one significant factor missing throughout. With all of the insightful questions posed and the wise cautions offered, there was not one mention of our need to be totally dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Counselor was completely left out of the equation when it came to determining when/how to apply prayer, scripture, confrontation of sin, or a call to confession or forgiveness - yet this is His area of specialty. Quite honestly, I would have expected a book like this to be full of reference to the work of the Spirit.

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.


Blogger Stacy said...

Loved your review, but I disagree with you that McMinn left the Holy Spirit completely out of the equation as you put it. McMinn makes several references to The Holy Spirit:

1. "Similarly, praying for clients silently during pauses in the counseling dialogue is an excellent way to remind ourselves that we are imperfect ministers of God’s grace and truth, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in each word and expression we use" (McMinn, 2011, p. 94).

2. "Explicitly using Scripture in counseling might be very helpful for Richard. For example, he might memorize Titus 3:4-7: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Scripture might help Richard get his eyes off himself by experiencing God more richly, entering further into an awareness of God’s gracious presence in his life" (McMinn, 2011, p.129).

3. "Entering deeply into the spiritual life requires us to abandon sin-management and to seek inner transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit" (McMinn, 2011, p.151).

There are several more references which I cannot take the time to copy, but you will find them on pages 137, 84, 96, and 277.

I suggest you take a further look at McMinn's book and revise your post to show the accuracy of McMinn's work. God bless!

7:13 AM  

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