Sunday, March 24, 2013

Psychotherapy and Spiritual Formation


This article discusses about the need to integrate counseling for the soul and the mind. Many counselors feel as though only focusing on psychotherapy is causing disconnect from the true definition of a “whole” person.  It goes into the meaning of what a “soul” actually is in the Old Testament and New Testament. “The predominant emphasis and meaning of [soul] in the Old Testament is the whole person. The human does not have a [soul]; the human is a [soul], and lives as a [soul]. The Old Testament portrays for us a holistic emphasis with a dualistic implication” (Beck 2003, p 26). It is the counselor’s responsibility to understand the soul in order to better help the client.  Beck believes that as Christian counselors, if we do not know and understand the true definition of “soul” then it can be detrimental to the client and their therapeutic journey. “We define soul as the person, not the person as described by secular psychology, but the person described by Scripture” (Beck 2003, p 33).

What does this have to do with class and counseling in general?

Lately, we have been discussing how important it is to understand what the material aspect of a person is, and what the immaterial aspect is as well. Many counselors are taught in a secular setting, not to mention most of the theories of counseling are secular based.  With going beyond the material person (which is what most mental health professionals are not taught to do), we get a better sense of the human being as a whole. Christian counselors are better in practice because we are able to look at the client in a holistic way instead of limiting ourselves to what science says.  There are many times where science, psychology, theorists, etc allows the client to act a certain way or do certain things because it is considered “normal”. Whenever a client reaches that “normal” status, most counselors believe that the client is in a healthy place and stop the therapy process.  Knowing how to integrate psychotherapy and spiritual formation allows us to know that what is considered “normal” is not always normal in God’s eyes, and then allows us to go deeper and truly help the client come closer to Christ. “This soul or person possesses a rich emotional life, an amazingly complex psychological existence, a capacity for deep spirituality, and (most importantly) a need for being in right relationship with the Creator of the universe.” (Beck 2003, p 33)

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