Integration Course

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Developing Your First Theory Critique
Dr. Brian Campbell, (2015)

As you develop your first Theory Critique, you are being asked to Summarize and Critique two different counseling books.  First, for background, make sure your read:  How to Write an Effective Summary or Critique.  Next, before you start writing, consider the main similarities and differences between the two counseling approaches.  Below, I have included some “Key Ideas” from each author.

Be Concise:

As you develop your Summary section, remember that you will have to be very concise in order to review two textbooks in a very limited amount of space.  Therefore, you will be focusing primarily on developing broad, general, “bottom line” statements.

Try not to get lost in minutia or include too much detail.  You don’t have space for that.  You will have to focus on the “big picture” and the core ideas advanced in each counseling book.

What is the Problem? 

What is the problem that both these counseling approaches are trying to address?  Your answer to this question might be for first part of Summary.


When summarizing, or when considering the strengths/weakness of the two different counseling approaches, please attempt to provide an “integrated” approach.  For example, in your Summary, please do not simply attempt to summarize Adams’ book, and then go on to summarize Backus and Chapian’s book.  Instead, try to summarize them “together.”  Compare/contrast both authors as you develop your summary.

Common Concepts/Features:

For your Summary section, start by comparing the authors in terms of common concepts.  What do the two counseling models have in common with regard to how they approach the problem? 

Make a list of the ideas/concepts that are common to both theories.  What problem/s are they both trying to address?  How are their approaches similar?

Contrasting Approaches:

In addition to comparing similarities, consider how the two approaches to the problem are different.  By the time you finish defining the problem and comparing and contrasting the two counseling techniques, you will have completed your Summary section.


Some Key Points

Note: Please don't try to use all of this information in your Theory Critique.

Key ideas from Adams

·         Four-step biblical process (teaching, conviction, correction, disciplined training in righteousness

·         Each step is biblically based and truth centered

·         The Bible is the source of truth and is the cornerstone of Adams’ approach

·         The Holy Spirit “uses scriptures to change people”

·         Specific instructions for counselors for specific situations; emphasis on teaching

·         Little emphasis on developing a therapeutic relationship

·         Inside out change; transformation tied to our relationship with God; mental/psychological health defined in terms of spiritual health 

·         Direction of change is toward God (becoming more Christ-like) and away from self

·         His epistemology draws solely from the Scriptures (II Tim 3:14-17; Word of God must be the only basis for treatment

·         No real appreciation for the value and contribution of the science of psychology

·         Adams’ Nouthetic approach is very didactic, placing the Counselor more in the role of a teacher, than a therapist--.

·         Adam’s approach is more of a form of discipleship, than counseling

 Key ideas from Backus & Chapian

Following are some points made in students’ papers summarizing Backus/Chapian

·         Similar to Adams in some respects--strong emphasis on Scripture and truth (versus misbeliefs)

·         Focus on self-worth through cognitive-behavioral techniques

·         Behaviors primarily  influenced by our negative ideas and beliefs regarding self

·         Three steps (Misbelief Therapy):  locating misbeliefs; removing misbeliefs; replacing misbeliefs with the truth

·         Focus on the cognitive domain—Christian CBT; think correctly; believe the right truths for psychological health—the Word serves to re-orient thinking  

·         Self- talk foundational to the theory; important to “tell yourself the truth.”

·         Backus and Chapian emphasize that believing truth will bring “happiness”; focus is on self

·         The place of the Bible in Backus/Chapian’s approach-- somewhat of a “Psychological Manual” for life’s problems and issues