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A Personal Integrated Biblical Approach to Counseling: Targeting Change
Brian P. Ahlquist
Health and illness are defined followed by a description of the counseling process. The paper concludes by addressing practicality among Christian and non-Christian worldviews followed by the author’s final thoughts. 2 . as well as the techniques and indications of success. Although Biblically centered. it discusses the importance of integrating both theology and psychology. The depth of influence on personality is explored as well as personal motivation and sustainability.PTP Abstract This personal model of counseling addresses the complexity of personality through a simple approach targeting positive change.
5 Concentric circles of personality………………………………………………….14 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………….....13 Indications of success……………………………………………………………14 Theory Application to Biblical and Larger Worldview…………………………………...9 Health and Illness……………………………………………………………………….6 The outer circles………………………………………………………….4 Personality Structure………………………………………………………………………5 Development of Personality……………………………………………………….15 Reference………………………………………………………………………………..5 The inner circles…………………………………………………………...10 The Win and the Counseling Process……………………………………………………12 Techniques……………………………………………………………………….16 .PTP Table of Contents 3 Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………2 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………..7 Motivation…………………………………………………………………………8 Individual differences…………………………………………………………….
soul.9). The course of this paper will ponder such things as the counseling theory is discussed. the temporal systems. McMinn (1996) states. In our attempts to understand the whole person. and how questions about life” (Clinton & Ohlschlager. whatever is true. Although one may view Scripture as inerrant. The biases of the person must be considered. and the supernatural systems which influence the person. whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things” (New International Version). Philippians 4:8-9 states. While the data that psychology has to offer has “significant value in helping us answer the what. Before moving forward. Contributions from 4 both psychology and theology offer a more complete plan of care. 2002.157). Johnson and VanVonderen (1991) warn that legalistic Christians “will always want to see . it seems reasonable to explore the person’s mind. It seems that the ultimate why questions in life are best answered through the theological and spiritual perspectives. For example. The danger in this view resides in putting our faith in a person’s interpretation of scripture rather then scripture itself. whatever is right. the issue of prioritizing theology or psychology must be addressed. whatever is pure. “the best interdisciplinary integration work usually comes from those who have formal or informal preparation in both psychology and theology” (p. Crabb (1977) stresses “psychology must come under the authority of Scripture” (p. Wisdom and faith encourage a focus on an integration that brings truth from both areas to combine and apply. whatever is noble. when. p. body.49). brothers. “Finally. whatever is lovely. where. people are not.PTP A PERSONAL INTEGRATED BIBLICAL APPROACH TO COUNSELING: TARGETING CHANGE There is a vantage point gained through the integration of psychology and theology.
p.136). self-deceit. and abuse. Concentric circles of personality Multitasking is essential in counseling.PTP another punished. Hawkins (n. good or bad.257). multitasking is the application of systems theory through an attentive assessment of the forces shaping a client’s personality. PERSONALITY STRUCTURE Development of Personality Personality is complex.d. The concept of using concentric circles is an important tool. There may be a way to guard against this kind of issue. p.224). 2009. McMinn (1996) believes “the most effective Christian counselors are able to process several ideas simultaneously” (269). Each circle lies within another influencing and . 2004.97). theology.. Understanding that the whole is greater then the sum of its parts allows the counselor to “intervene to create positive change” (Arredondo et al. A person not only changes physically as he or she grows. or made to perform as a compensation for weakness or sin” (p. For the counselor.) emphasizes the importance of multitasking considering insights from psychology. Systems theory “is a generic term for conceptualizing a group of related elements that interact as a whole entity” (Gladding. This approach validates the complexity of influences leading to personality changes. 2007. “it would be better to re-examine the bases of both our theology 5 and our psychological conclusions” (Entwistle. This offers better protection from misunderstanding. and other forces shaping a person. p. spirituality. It allows the counselor to view the whole as well as individual parts. they also change in personality. Perhaps when faced with a possible contradiction.
and the heart thinks (Acts 11:23). Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (New International Version). we will assign a definitive although ad hoc meaning for the use of each word with the goal of understanding personality more thoroughly. Scripture teaches people speak and act from the heart (Matthew 15:18-19). “substantial change requires the Holy Spirit’s alteration of the heart (one’s inner life known only to God and oneself)” (p. and mind overlap in Scripture. The soul has the Maker’s stamp on it. that the heart feels (Psalm 105:25). The roles of the heart. the heart is deceitful and full of sin (Jeremiah 17:9). Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (1985) states. Adams (1986) agrees sharing. In this theory there are four parts to the inner circle. “The heart is that which is central to man” (¶ 1). soul. ¶ 6). xii). It is where our true character of good or evil abides and motivates.PTP affecting the system as a whole. In Matthew 22:37. The heart is the center of the total personality. It is where our deep passions and emotions are seeded. and abilities. talents. Next is the soul which is the eternal part of us. The soul is “that which distinguishes one man from another” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. or pneuma. it is God’s breath of life placed within us. For practicality. Without God’s regenerating grace. 6 The inner circles. We will begin by examining the inner circles of personality. we are made in His image. We long to belong in community because God exists in community. Also referred to as the spirit. It is where God invents our individuality creating unique gifts. “People just . First is the heart. Wilson (2001) captures this by stating.
77). It holds conscious thinking where “we can talk to ourselves in sentences” (Crabb. Crabb believes much of our spiritual and sinful influences hide out in our unconscious mind. 1977.21). Anderson (1990) believes the mind is the central target in spiritual warfare stressing that if Satan “can control your thoughts. For example. The outer circles.12). energy. It is the home of understanding. The subconscious mind plays a role in expressing our deep seeded beliefs and emotions through the choices we make on a more conscious level. It is here one evaluates and makes choices. Hart (1999) reminds us that stress affects us physically. our body and its physiology remains affected by the fall. Perhaps it can be seen as the place where our mind. A high or low count may affect mood. heart. self-protective thinking and behavior patterns when we are emotionally or relationally threatened” (p. mind.d.PTP 7 don’t have relationships. and soul. how we treat it will affect our emotions and other forms of cognition. There are two primary parts to the outer circles in this theory. if a therapist is treating a diabetic client for depression it would be wise to ensure the client’s blood sugar is controlled.61). Belonging and community is part our soul’s DNA. serves as the holding tank for the heart. Backus and Chapian (2000) emphasize cognitively applying personal choice in belief as “the controller of your happiness and your unhappiness” (p. they are relational” (p. First are temporal systems. p.) these are earthly systems that . the body. and cognition. Wilson (2001) may agree believing that “we adopt defensive. and soul come together. The final part. he can control your life” (p. thought. The third part of the inner circle is the mind. Aging and dying. According to Hawkins (n.88). Since our brain is biological. Understanding the role of physical health on psychological health is foundational in counseling. and reason.
Angels come to minister (Hebrews 1:14) to Christians who are called to make disciples with the authority of Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:18-19). First. They may include family. If the stage is not resolved in a healthy manner the person suffers negatively. love. The family can also be a place of wounding. In Erikson’s theory “each stage represents a crisis or conflict that the individual must resolve” (Feldman. satisfaction. Motivation In this theory of counseling.PTP 8 affect our worldview. Wilson (2001) reminds us “our deepest wounds come at the hand of those we love and trust” (p. encouragement. Satan. The second outer circle involves supernatural systems. Although the exact details of the metaphysical realm are kept from us in Scripture. a person will act to meet his or her own needs. you will be free indeed” (John 8:36.17). Forces of darkness come to steal. Anderson (1990) reminds us that Christians ought to practice the authority given to them by Christ. government. there are three elements to consider regarding motivation: meeting needs. This is just one of the many important truths to remind clients of regarding this system. angels. “If the Son sets you free. society. p. This system includes God. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson captures this idea in his eight stages of development. and demons. The family can be a place where hope. and sustainability. friends. The family is probably the greatest example of a temporal system. Scripture reminds us there is spiritual war influencing this world (Ephesians 6). On the other hand. people are pro their own lives. church. the economy. Jesus said. 2008. and education. New International Version). kill. These stages continue into late adulthood emphasizing that .10). When a crisis hits or a need arises. and destroy yet Jesus comes to bring hope and life (John 101:10). and protection is found.
Even if a person is able to deal with crisis effectively there is always another.124). Greg Boyd states. p. God must be restored to the center of our lives if we are to live and experience life to the full. we will be forced to seek life from idols. 2 Peter 1:4). Cloud and Townsend (1999) wrote their own law of motivation which states “we must be free to say no before we can wholeheartedly say yes” (p. and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28. Since needs will not cease and satisfaction is never fully achieved. physical. When a person says yes to Christ wholeheartedly he or she begins to experience a new reality participating in God’s divine nature (Romans 6:3-10. satisfaction. Individual differences . and being cut off from [God]” (Boyd. Being our own center and sustaining who we are without God’s help is exhausting. one wonders how long a person can sustain this kind of effort. Christ becomes the person’s motivation and inspiration.PTP challenges and needs do not end. judging good and evil.72). New International Version). p. all you who are weary and burdened. fixing eventually leads to what Crabb (1977) calls a “vague sense of 9 emptiness” (p. “As long as we thrust ourselves into the center. sustainability. When people fix problems or achieve goals to the best of their ability they “are brought face to face with the horrible fact that ‘dreams come true’ have not really satisfied” (Crabb. or spiritual exhaustion is likely to come. Yet. Can someone ultimately be satisfied? When a need arises. the person may be motivated to finally choose God. “Come to me. the desire to fix it follows. Fear of loss or failure may motivate for awhile but emotional.49). This leads to the last piece of motivation.125). 2004. Perhaps this is why Jesus said. When it does. This leads to the second consideration in this model.
anxiety. this model highly encourages the use of a tool to capture key aspects of personality to better assist during counsel. An example of such a tool is SCOPE personality scale sometimes called the Big Five personality model or Five Factor model. drives us at supersonic speed creating stress and predisposing us to anxiety.728). For example. The Holy Spirit also effects personality by restoring and strengthening our souls (Psalm 23) and giving Christ-followers the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). and emotionally steady) that “account for most of the variance in personality measures” (Canger & Smith. organization. Backus and Chapian (2000) discuss how the mind alone.253). Basically. our body may genetically predispose us to an energetic disposition or a subdued one. the systems surrounding an individual influence the person’s core and ultimately forms these enduring characteristics. 2004.468). Having a basic snapshot may help narrow down the vast array of systems affecting individual personality as well as helping to focus care. . and the beliefs within it. change. anger. self-control. p.PTP Diversity in individual personality stems from several areas. and other feelings and responses. Feldman (2008) 10 defines personality as “the sum total of the enduring characteristics that differentiate one individual from another” (p. this model encompasses five broad factors (social. Given the diversity of systems influencing personality. All of these systems uniquely effect how people view their core concept or “their set of beliefs about what they are like as individuals” (Feldman. pleasing. 2008. As previously discussed. fear. can effect depression. p. Hart (1999) makes it clear our society. as a temporal system.
according to this model. psychological. McMinn (1996) captures this movement forward through a triad involving an accurate sense of self. and understand the importance of relationships.233). Yet. healing relationships. Systems play a very real role in health. relational. is the cessation of positive forward motion. A person moving forward will grow past self-preoccupation.PTP HEALTH AND ILLNESS Health has many components including but not limited to the biological. and spiritual pieces. For the model being presented in this paper the pinnacle of personal change is Christ-likeness which provides the clearest sense of direction as one fix’s his or her eyes on Christ (Hebrews 12:2). When a wall presents itself. stressor. healthier. A person can no longer maintain or develop coping strategies while facing the challenge. health is maintaining forward motion toward positive personal change. Overall health is 11 something that is acquired and lost while journeying through life. Even a simple attempt in doing so would expose the multiple forces at play affecting one’s health. more truthful direction. According to this counseling model. Illness. and an accurate awareness of need.d. or unmet need. creating a need or crisis. crisis. admit he or she has needs. Dr. we’re making positive progress” (p. Hawkins (n. step five). .) reminds us that “we are not islands unto ourselves. It takes a great amount of effort and self discipline to monitor this journey. Simultaneously maintaining near perfect health is rather impossible to achieve and difficult to measure. We are constantly swimming in a sea of influences” (week one. one’s inner desire to meet unmet needs or to resolve crisis motivates one on a journey toward wellness. Wilson (2001) shares how this process can be very messy in appearance but “as long we’re shuffling or stumbling in a new.
THE WIN AND THE COUNSELING PROCESS The win in baseball is to achieve the most runs. the anxiety itself may have been behaviorally learned by anxious parents or caused by biochemical imbalance in the brain. Healing. As stated earlier.PTP it may come from a variety sources. If a person chooses to engage in sinful activities such as adultery. In some cases. stealing. In this model. and choice work together removing the wall in order to continue on the journey.73). Although thoughts of failing an exam may trigger anxiety. v. truth. this alone may remove the obstruction such . there are biological causes which impede cognition. The win is this theory is to maintain forward motion toward positive personal change. attitudes. While addressing underlying causes of anxiety. Hart (1999) stresses much of anxiety is biologically based but also validates worry as “a learned behavior that goes back to the earliest part of life” (p. Backus and Chapian (2000) stress how people 12 cognitively misbelieve or hold wrong thinking causing wrong emotions and actions. and beliefs but “involves regret about sin and issues in a change of lifestyle” (p.144). also plays a role. For example.). believing one fails at everything will impede success at work or in relationships. According to Adams (1986) this sin-based wall can only be removed through repentance which not only involves changing one’s thinking. Choice. healing addresses any physical or spiritual issues causing the person to think unclearly. or volition. Anderson (1999) encourages to “always have a thorough medical examination to rule out medical causes of their distressing symptoms” (p. or murder a wall is introduced as the person further separates themselves from God and others. Anything functioning as a wall or obstruction to forward motion is identified and removed.
In this theory. removed.PTP as being diagnosed with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT). a choice must be made. make a personal commitment toward change. asking open ended questions. Teaching involves helping the client “understand how thoughts are linked with emotions and behaviors” (Gladding. There are many general techniques which help clients engage in counseling such as offering a comforting setting in an office. 2007.59). mistakes. If spiritual involvement is suspected taking authority over the demonic realm may be indicated but should be addressed wisely and through much prayer (Mark 9:28-29). p. A willingness to search for truth is a willingness to not blame others if personal sin. and replaced with truth. 2007. “calling a thing by its correct name is the beginning of change” (p. or unwise choices are the cause. p. p. a fast heart 13 rate that “is often indistinguishable from the rapid heartbeat of panic” (Hart. and new behaviors. empathy. and confrontation are other effective techniques in connecting with clients. Discovering truth is an essential piece to this process.218). Regardless of the source.97). In this approach Gladding (2007) emphasizes two primary techniques: teaching and disputing. Disputing challenges the client to practice reasoning.220). choice is the decision to separate lies from truth. imagination. Truth also explores the hurts caused by other people or events. Wilson (2001) states. Backus and Chapian’s (2000) misbelief therapy is an example of cognitive disputing where misbeliefs are located. and modeling good listening. 1999. and put it into action. humor. Techniques This theory is basically a cognitive-behavioral approach to care “believing that how people think largely determines how they feel and behave” (Gladding. . Self-disclosure.
which includes sense of self. In describing the systems effecting personality. In McMinn’s (1996) triad. Moving the client toward positive change involves applying multiple techniques in communication. Since this approach can be direct there is also “the potential for the counselor being overzealous and not therapeutic” (Gladding. 2007. The integration of Biblical theology and psychology has been encouraged. the three pieces interact and contribute to one another to create a positive change. and understanding. and improved overall life functioning. and spiritual realm were addressed. As Hart (1999) reminds us. spiritual warfare. Supportive Scripture has been used . the soul.221). Indications of success Effectiveness in this approach manifests itself by overcoming barriers in order to continue on the journey toward positive change. connection. changing thinking does not always cure emotions. Theory Application to Biblical and Larger Worldview Throughout the paper this theory has demonstrated a foundational Biblical worldview in a number of ways. Biological causes may indicate the need for medication. Cognition must be healthy enough to process thinking patterns and make sound decisions. sense of need. this theory validates positive change taking place when the client reports an improved sense of wellbeing. symptom relief. God. Although success can be recognized in a variety of ways. Effectiveness may decrease when a counselor limits him or herself to just one technique such as Jay Adam’s (1986) confrontational approach. The apex of this journey would be the client recognizing his or her need for Christ and a commitment to seek Him first and foremost.PTP 14 Effectiveness in this approach is limited to individuals who do not have mental problems or thought disorders. p. and healing relationships.
it remains simple in concept. Christian and non-Christian alike can appreciate and accept its dynamic aspects using it as a source of explanation.PTP throughout and deep transformation through Jesus Christ has been emphasized as the pinnacle of positive change. Christ changes the heart. choosing to multitask develops a more comprehensive view of both personality and issues. Next. First it is the integration of psychology and theology which provides a strong foundation for discovering truth in client care. the issue of sustainability can address the client’s awareness and relationship with the true source of life. and discussion. A Christian counselor who gains the trust of a non-Christian client may later have an opportunity to share the importance of knowing Christ. First. healing. While moving along the client’s journey. and choice lead to change. and works with us to target an eternal change which ultimately transforms us more and more into His image. makes it new. CONCLUSION This personal theory comes with a strong basis. although Christ-based it does not exclude helping the non-Christian. exploration. Jesus Himself demonstrates this in John 9. . the systems described as influencing personality are universal. Although positive changes can benefit overall life. Lastly. although it recognizes the complexity of influences upon one’s life. It encourages it. truth. Jesus Christ. Christ-centered counselors equipped with this simple approach can help a client target positive change. Secondly. 15 This theory is also applicable to a larger worldview in three ways. Lastly.
E. (2004). Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Colorado Springs. Kimball.PTP 16 References Adams. Canger J. R. 18(4). Arredondo. Backus. T. and habitual sins. S. 465-481. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. A. OR: Harvest House Publishers. G. N. (2004). Eugene. M. Electronic Database [Computer software] Seattle. (2000). (2002). Competent Christian Counseling: Foundations and practice of compassionate soul care (Vol. Effects of “big five” personality on subordinate attitudes. Anderson. M. MN: Bethany House Publishers. (2007). & Shumway. W. Colorado: WaterBrook Press . & Smith M. A. T. J. 33(2). MI: Baker Books. irrational feelings. W. Biblesoft (1996)... The bondage breaker: Overcoming negative thoughts. T.. Repenting of religion: Turning from judgment to the love of God. (1986). How to help people change: The four-step Biblical process. Korinek. Grand Rapids. G. Journal of Business and Psychology. & Chapian. & Ohlschlager. Clinton. Boyd. G. International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia. WA: Biblesoft. Bloomington. 134-148. A family systems-based model of organizational intervention. T. A.. Telling yourself the truth. (1990). 1).
17 Feldman. Entwistle. T. lecture one. Grand Rapids.d. Hart. (2007). Minneapolis. and spirituality in Christian counseling.). R. Gladding. Thomas Nelson Publishers (1986). R. (2008). D. Inc.). S. WA: Biblesoft. A. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers. (1991). The subtle power of spiritual abuse: Recognizing and escaping spiritual manipulation and false spiritual authority within the Church. The anxiety cure. NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River. & Townsend. D. Development across the life span. E.d. (1999).(Eds). Integrative approaches to psychology and Christianity: An introduction to worldview issues. Crabb. R. Seattle. S. theology. Inc. New Jersey: Pearson Education. (n. Counseling: A comprehensive profession (5th ed. McMinn. & VanVonderen. and models of integration. Psychology. (1977).). H. (2004). (1999).. Carol Steam. R. MN: Bethany House Publishers. J.PTP Cloud. D. Grand Rapids. How do we self examine? Step 5 think systematically. MI: Zondervan. N. Week one. L. Upper Saddle River. IL: Tyndale House Publishers. Johnson. J. E. Hawkins. Liberty University. Liberty University. Boundaries in marriage. MI: Zondervan. (n. Eugene. (1996). Hawkins. M. philosophical foundations. Effective biblical counseling: A model for helping caring Christians become capable counselors. Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary [Computer software]. .
PTP Wilson. the Bible counts as 1. you begin with a 0 and earn points for your work In determining your grade. 2 from recommended reading. QUESTION VALUES TOTAL 100 POINTS HOW DID IT RUN THE COURSE? Question Value: 35 Points • Submitted with correct cover sheet and/or title page followed by an Abstract. margins. body length is not more than 12 pages) Followed current APA Guidelines (headers. punctuation errors.D. with Grading Guideline for Personal Theory Paper correctly attached? Score: 5 points • Evidence of proof reading? Score: 15 points (Minimal typographical. instructor counts as 1. or online documents) Score: 10 points DOES THE WRITING HAVE FORCE? Question Value: 40 Points • Content clearly follows the structured outline found in the . grammatical. and appropriate use of lower case letters. font. spacing. S. (2001). Instead of beginning with 100 and losing points for errors. italics. MI: Discovery House Publishers. numbering. Table of Contents.)? Score: 15 points • HOW DID IT HANDLE THE SOURCE(S)? Question Value: 25 Points • Citations are properly referenced? (A minimum of 15 appropriate citations) Score: 15 points • Reference list? (A minimum of 10 sources must be referenced: at least 6 must come from the required reading. Grand Rapids. etc. 18 GRADING GUIDELINE FOR PERSONAL THEORY PAPER COUN 507/PACO 600 Theology and Spirituality in Counseling The following represents an additive template for grading. referencing titles correctly with initials. Hurt people hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. no unnecessary pages. paragraphing/sentence structure is proper and without awkwardness. three questions will be asked. journals.
rich interaction with subject matter? and the elements shaping personality and influencing its health Conclusion reveals thoughtful summarization and application? Grade: .PTP Table of Contents with clarity and coherency? 19 Score: 5 points Score: 20 Points Score: 10 points Score: 5 points • Adequately addressed the elements of a comprehensive theory • • Clear. insightful.
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