Integration Course

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Integrated Christian Counseling

Dr. Campbell’s General Model of Integration & Multitasking
Dr. Brian Campbell

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As students, it is very easy to get confused about how to “make sense” of all the different theories and information that has accumulated regarding human behavior and functioning.  Many of you may be asking, “Which theory is correct?”  “All of this seems so confusing.”


As a young student, I also grappled with the question of “Which theory is correct?”  Then I read a great textbook by Theodore Millon (1969), in which he gave an explanation of “levels of analysis.”  It was then that I started to see that the different ways of analyzing human behavior were not necessarily contradictory.  Each level of analysis has “its own story to tell.”  Each level can contribute important information that is relevant to understanding and helping human beings.


My Personal theory of Christian counseling is grounded in a conceptual framework that separates the influences that determine human behavior into seven “levels of analysis.”  These levels are ordered according to a rough “hierarchy,” starting with the most fundamental level—biological--and progressing to the “highest” level of analysis, which I have labeled as the spiritual/religious level (see below).



Table 1:  Levels of Analysis





(1)   Biological:   Biochemical processes; brain anatomy; brain physiology; brain structures and functions; genetics; neurochemical processes; brain damage; brain pathology; teratogens; biological drives; sensory capabilities; central nervous system function; drug interactions; current medications


(2)   Physical:  Physical deficits; sensory limitations; physical impairments; pain; physical limitations; physical characteristics (size, attractiveness, deformities); developmental delays




Nurture (Experience)/Mind/Psychological


(3)   Psychological/cognitive:  Mental processes; cognitive functioning; memory; emotions; learning; beliefs; information processing; problem-solving; psychological disorders; feelings; overt behavior


(4)   Interpersonal:  Communication; family; family systems; marital


(5)   Socioeconomic:  Money; financial support; poverty; affluence;  employment history


(6)   Sociocultural:  Race; cultural influences; cross-cultural influences; church; government; politics; gangs; country of origin; language







7)   Spiritual/religious:  God; Christ; Holy Spirit; supernatural; devil; angels; soul; sin; Truth; forgiveness; salvation; miracles; religious upbringing; religious training;  faith; belief



Christian counselors should seek knowledge of all seven levels of analysis in order to most effectively help their clients.  Each of these levels “looks at” (conceptualizes) a fundamentally different class of data (information) when developing theories and laws used to explain human behavior.  That is, human beings can validly be studied from a wide variety of vantage points.  We can “zoom down” to the level of  DNA and genes, or we can “zoom out” to the level of family systems or even cross-cultural influences that affect behavior.  Each of these levels can potentially provide us with important information regarding the "Truth" of the way God made us.


Because the focus of each level is different—in terms of the data that it analyzes and conceptualizes—none of the levels of analysis should be thought of as being in competition with any other level in its attempt to explain human behavior.  Nor should one level of analysis (except for Level 7) be thought of as being inherently superior to another level of analysis.  All truth is God’s truth; we can learn much by studying the “biology” of genes, or the “psychology” of information processing.


Another useful way to conceptualize the different “levels of analysis” is to group them according to nature vs. nurture.  Levels 1 & 2 focus on the physical makeup of human beings which result from genes and heredity (i.e., nature).  Levels 3-6 focus on changes that occur in individuals as a result of their experience in the world—what they have learned from others and how others have influenced them (i.e., nurture).  In contrast to the distinction of nature vs. nurture, Level 7 focuses on conceptualizing human beings and human behavior from a supernatural/spiritual vantage point.   


Turning back to the general “Levels of Analysis” model (Table 1), it is important to point out that the seven levels of analysis are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  That is, it is often profitable to study human behavior by conceptualizing and developing theories that focus on data obtained from more than one level of analysis.  This brings me to the core concept in my personal theory of Christian counseling—namely, beliefs.


A belief is something an individual assumes to true.  Beliefs are formed by an individual’s experience in the world (i.e., nurture), as well as by supernatural forces.  For example, our parents or other influential people in our lives teach many of our fundamental beliefs to us; however, beliefs can also be formed as the result of supernatural influences.  For example, the devil (a supernatural being) can influence human beings to believe lies about ourselves; in marked contrast, the Holy Spirit can influence human beings to believe the truth about who they are and their relationship to the Triune God.


Identifying our underlying beliefs is important, because what we believe affects our thinking, our behavior, our emotions, and our eternal salvation.  The role of the Christian counselor is to help clients:  1) Identify irrational beliefs, 2) Challenge irrational beliefs; and 3) Replace false beliefs with Biblical truths.  When successful, this process results in mental health and fruits of the spirit.                                                                                                                                  

Millon, T. (1969).  Modern psychopathology. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Books of Psychology.