You can't simply say you're going to integrate the science of psychotherapy with scripture." Moore argues, "because there are only sciences and theories of psychotherapy that are contradictory and incoherent." The implication that pastoral care and counseling and not and have not been Biblical, Vicki Hollon, executive director of the Wayne Oates Institute in Louisville, insists, was creating a false dichotomy. Hollon contends that Southern officials created the proverbial straw man. "And their movement away from science reveals a lack of faith, or at least a fear that somehow science is outside the realm of God's creation and domain." Some secular counselors encourage clients, including those in marital counseling, to refrain from reading the Bible and to stop going to church if that made them feel worse. Stuart Scott, a former pastor and current professor and convert to biblical counseling, became disillusioned with the answers psychology gives. Scott states he found his confidence in the Bible began to wane at one point when he practiced secular counseling. He questioned, "What good is the Bible if it's not helping God's people?'" While counseling one couple experiencing marriage problems, Scott began to utilize the process of asking the couple questions and then would help them apply scripture to their marital issues. "As a result,' Scott said, 'the Holy Spirit began to change the couple and helped them resolve issues ranging from depression to hostility.'" This in turn, inspired him, Scott said, to learn more on how God's Word deals with spiritually-based issues.
Loren Townsend teaches pastoral counseling at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and reports some clients he sees have been hurt by biblical counseling, as they are "doubly burdened: Not only haven't they been able to get over their depression following the biblical example, but now they're also a failure as Christians because they had inadequate faith to be able to do that." In some situations, however, the biblical counseling approach can help, Townsend admits. He argues, however, when a counselor rejects the behavioral sciences, Biblical counseling abandons a source of vital information God made available for them. David Powlison, editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling, argues the discipline of psychology's divergent and competing theories undermines it. "There is no unitary psychology," Powlison writes. "Modern psychology...is a marketplace of differing popular philosophies of life." Powlison stresses:
Various psychological theories only agree on one primary point, human dysfunctions can be solved without regard to God or God's design for humanity...All [secular psychologies] agree that the problem with people is anything but sin, and the problems can be explained in purely psychological, psychosocial or psychosocial-somatic terms.... Modern psychotherapy is simply the attempt to do face-to-face pastoral work in service to different gods, different ideals, different diagnoses, a different gospel.
Scott, who appears to agree with Powlison, states he addresses false assumptions head-on. When an individual, in and/or out of a marital counseling displays low self-esteem, he typically learns what judgments the person makes about him/her self. Scott notes: "In the book of Philippians it says, 'Think on things that are true.' So I want to bring those things over and say 'Are they true?'" Scott also probes various areas and relationships to identify the specific concerns/issues that contribute to a person's depression and/or other concerns. "Ultimately, all broken relationships and emotional issues are in some way related to the fall of Adam," Scott maintains. While some issues may trace back to a person's sin; others may be traced back to trials the person faces in a fallen world.
Some counselors use a hope-focused approach in martial counseling sessions, particularly when clients are Christians. Hope, according to Worthington (2003) involves maintaining the motivation to change; ways/paths to change; perseverance to change, as depicted in the following figure (1).
Figure 1: Hope-Focused Approach in Marital Counseling (info from Worthington, 2003)
Worthington (2003) remains hopeful society and intervention specialists can still strengthen marriages, despite cultural influences currently challenging marriage as an institution. He uses these three hope-focused principles "to understand marriage and its future, to guide recommendations for public policy and preventive strategies, and to encourage helpers to continue to help couples."
Strategic techniques also need to be implemented outside of marital counseling settings to change current negative, social concepts regarding marriage, Worthington (2003) contends,. He recommends utilizing the following four guidelines to govern a needed campaign to strengthen marriages. This will in turn, Worthington (2003) purports, help strengthen communities, as well as individuals and couples in marriages.
Rebuild hope for/in marriage.
Do some new things and do them well to help people value marriage, and see that government support new and empirically supported programs.
Simultaneously attack counters to marriage on various fronts. Simply searching for a magic bullet to counter current, challenging divorce rates and the multitude of struggling marriages will not work.
Engage numerous community partners to support marriage.
In addition to increased community support, Worthington (2003) purports, Marriage partners "must be able to communicate, resolve their differences, and repair harms. Hope consists of the willpower to change plus the waypower," even when one cannot constantly see change as it occurs. (Worthington, 1999; cited by Worthington 2003)
Marital partners need and in marital counseling, can be helped to obtain:
a) the will to make their marriage better, b) access to the ways to make their marriage betters, and the faith to wait for their marriage to improve while they are actively trying to improve it."
In short," Worthington (2003) stresses, "couples need hope."
No distinctions between dimensions of a person's body, soul, and spirit are made in true soul care, David Benner (1998; cited by Doehring & Lorraine-Poirier, 2003) states. True soul care sees a person as aspects of one totality, with the body, soul and spirit having mutual and reciprocal influence. Currently, despite the fact individuals exist as a totality, in counseling, including marital counseling, "no well-articulated applied or clinical model(s) that effectively capture what an approach to care with a multifaceted focus would look like in practice." (Tisdale, Doehring & Lorraine-Poirier, 2003)
More than Change
Theresa Tisdale, who identifies herself as a Christian psychologist, teaches integration and clinical courses in the doctoral and masters programs at Azusa Pacific University. Transformation and what she terms "essential relatedness," relate to her clinical practice. The term, "essential relatedness," Tisdale explains, reflects that humans as created in God's image. A vital element of that image consists of the intimate connection between Father, Son, and Spirit. "In a similar way, humans are created to relate intimately with self (dimensions of body, soul, and spirit), others, God, and creation. (Tisdale, Doehring & Lorraine-Poirier, 2003)
Psychodynamic Theory "Psychodynamic theory," Tisdale stresses, "terms insight and repair (working through), in a theologically informed paradigm are revelation and redemption. The method looks similar in ways [to psychotherapy], but the outcome is healing and transformation, not simply change." (Tisdale, Doehring & Lorraine-Poirier, 2003)
In the past, spirituality and religion have been acknowledged as important aspects of multiculturalism. Recently, however, spirituality has reportedly received increased attention in the counseling field. "The role of spiritual and religious beliefs is mentioned throughout the Standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and guidelines for working with spiritual issues within various cultural paradigms are emerging." (Briggs & Rayle, 2005) Although the value of spiritual and religious beliefs has been confirmed, some counselor educators still seem unsure how to infuse spiritual issues into courses. Consequently, Briggs & Rayle (2005) set about to present a rationale for inclusion of spiritual issues in counselor education curricula, as they simultaneously provide activities to incorporate knowledge and skills for dealing with spiritual and religious diversity in CACREP core courses. In one activity, Briggs & Rayle (2005) report, students might evaluate situations involving clients' spirituality and counseling practice and discuss ethical implications of these specific situations. From this exercise, students consider scenarios where spiritual or religious concerns may be best omitted from initial sessions or in cases when/if clients are referred to other professionals. (Miller, 2003; cited by Briggs & Rayle, 2005). The following questions illustrate the type students may brainstorm in class or develop in a journal:
1. What are your views concerning religion and spirituality?
2. How do you believe these views will affect your counseling role?
3. How will you be able to empathize with clients who have differing spiritual values than your own?
4. How will you keep your own spiritual values/beliefs from inappropriately influencing the counseling relationship? (Briggs & Rayle, 2005)
Solution-Focused Therapy via the Telephone
In their study, noted as a second part of a previously published report examining the effectiveness of telephone counseling, Reese, Conoley and Brossart (2006) explore what specific features of telephone counseling clients found attractive and how issues could be conceptualized from the client's perspective.
Understanding clients' perspectives of telephone counseling, these authors contend, constitutes a vital, initial process study into how telephone counseling appears to consumers.