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Integrated Christian Counseling

Dr. Brian Campbell, 2014

 

World View and Assumptions: Part I

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Dr. Campbell's World View

 

You may not have realized it, but throughout your life you have been developing a set of beliefs and assumptions about yourself and about the world around you.  Many of your basic beliefs have come from parents or significant others in your childhood.  Other beliefs have been shaped by pastors, friends, professors, etc.  Unfortunately, many people have never stopped to question your beliefs—to ask whether they are true, or sound. 

 

As you approach this course on the integration of psychology and theology, I urge you to take time to reflect on your beliefs and assumptions about psychology, and your beliefs and assumptions about theology.  If you come from a religious/theological background, you may hold the assumption that all psychology is “bad” or “wrong,” and that all psychologists are wacko!  On the other hand, if you approach this course from a secular background (with traditional training in psychology), you may wonder if there is really a place for theology when treating psychological disorders.

 

Personally, I was initially trained as a psychologist.  I had never really considered how to integrate theology into my counseling.  I was a professor of clinical psychology for the first ten years of my professional career and taught in a secular Ph.D. program.  The possibility of integrating theology into my treatment of clients did not enter my mind until about 1990, when one of the students in our doctoral program asked if he could do research on the topic of incorporating biblical truths into the process of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

 

At that point in time, a light switched on, and I realized that not only was this integration possible, it was certainly preferable to the secular cognitive-behavioral therapy that I had previously been utilizing. However, there was a problem, although I knew a lot about psychology, I was a neophyte when it came to theology.  It was then that I set about learning more about the Bible and the wisdom contained therein. 

 

For those of you who have a sound theological background, you will probably find that you need to learn a whole lot more about traditional psychology and the wisdom/truth contained therein; you may feel inadequately trained and not very knowledgeable.  Others will feel that you know a lot about psychology, but you really need help when it comes to your knowledge of theology.  Still others will feel that you need help in your knowledge of both psychology and theology.

 

Try not to be too hard on yourselves.  Consider yourself to be a learner.  If you are like me, you will be learning and growing throughout your professional career.  Personally, I would like to go back and do a degree in theology and learn the technique of hermeneutics.  Instead, I have largely been “self-trained” when it comes to my knowledge of the bible and scriptures. 

 

To be sure, I was raised a Christian and attended a Christian college.  However, when I started incorporating biblical principles into my counseling, I felt more or less completely ill-prepared for the task.  However, I didn’t let my ignorance stop me; I dove into the scriptures and commentaries and learned as much as I could (given my restrictions of career and family).  I will talk about this journey in future communications.

 

Right now, I simply want you to try to keep an open mind on the contributions of psychology and theology to the process of counseling.  One of the first philosophical concepts you are going to have to wrestle with is the question of how body, mind, and spirit are related.  What is your “world view” regarding this relationship?

 

If you haven’t thought about this question before, now is the time to consider this topic.  I have given you my view in the following video presentation.  Please don’t just blindly accept or believe everything I say in the video.  Keep searching for truth; question everything.