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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.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Anxiety Cure: A Critique of Archibald Hart’s Body Systems Approach

Personal Assessment
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.

Hart, A. (1999). The anxiety cure: You can find emotional tranquillity[sic] and wholeness. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.

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

Personal Assessment
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.

Anderson, N. (2000). The bondage breaker. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

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.

Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (1999). Boundaries in marriage: Understanding the choices that make or break loving relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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.

Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people, hurt people. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Conference Nuggets

Just a few thoughts, quotes, concepts that meant something to me from this past weekend's Women of Faith conference :-)

One of my favorite speakers was Lisa Harper.  As a single woman a couple of years older than me with an imperfect body like mine, she exuded beauty in buckets!  Her sessions focused on Matthews account of the genealogy of Christ noting that it not only included women (unheard of in that culture) but that they were not perfect women (far worse in that culture).  Tamar deceived and seduced her father-in-law and became pregnant by him; Rahab was a "card-carrying" prostitute; Ruth descended from Lot's lineage . . . a product of incest; Bathsheba was an adulteress.  God wove these "wild women" into His Son's family tree - He *designed* that they should be part of His incarnate form's biological heritage.  Wow.  If them, why not me?  (Jeremiah 1:29)

Shiela Walsh shared an amazing testimony that concluded with her finding herself in a place of humility asking, "How can I stand at the foot of the cross pointing my finger at anyone else?"  Her journey of experiencing a serious betrayal of trust followed by God's call to forgive and His work to mature, strengthen and humble her through the process was humbling and inspiring.  She directed us to Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God" and noted that the Hebrew word translated "Be still" more accurately translates to "Let go."  I was challenged to look at so many hurts, strivings, failures and so forth in my life that I need to let go.

Lisa Welchel shared her story growing up as "Blair" on "The Facts of Life" TV series.  The abuse (not sexual) was horrendous.  No child should have to go through the public scrutiny of her weight like she did - but God allowed it and now her testimony brings healing to so many!  While her entire story was a ministry to my heart, the nugget I took from it was 1st Corinthians 13:12a, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (NASB).  I can relate to Lisa when she talks about looking in the mirror and seeing a failure - a big, fat, unattractive, worthless failure.  But that is not what she was and it is not what I am - such thoughts are lies from the pit of hell meant to incapacitate us in the work God has set before us.

Lisa's story was echoed beautifully in a drama by Allison Allen.  What an amazing dramatist!  Her dialogue with her mirror struck home for me.  Unfortunately there's really no way to capture the essence of her production, which was very powerful, with the written word.

Nicole C. Mullen, a singer, songwriter, dancer was fun to watch.  Although her style of music isn't really my style, her heart was clearly sold out to Jesus!  One thing she said that really caught my attention as she relayed the story of the hemorrhaging woman who was healed when she touched the hem of Christ's garment and then received love and acceptance when He turned to her and touched her heart:  We need to stop coming after Him for what we can get and start coming before Him for what He wants to give.  So true!

Marilyn Meberg was my least favorite speaker, but only because she included some crass sexually oriented jokes that I felt were inappropriate.  Still, though, she had some good words of wisdom to share that impacted me:  In our busy-ness we are often meeting the goals for life but missing the purpose for life.  It is important to look at my life and assess - what am I bowed under the weight of?  As a future Christian Counselor, these words of wisdom were important to me: Psychology can reveal; only God can heal - Knowing does not cure.

Some other tidbits I didn't get the speaker's name associated with in my jots & tiddles:  

When we are feeling unworthy, look to John 3:16 for what God did; 1st John 1:9 for what we need to do; and John 1:12 for the result.

"You have never lived an unloved moment in your life!"  (Now that is powerful!)

"You delight God's heart in a million ways" (quoting Max Lucado)

For bios on all the speakers, click here.