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Integrated Christian Counseling

Behavioral Interventions:  Increasing Pleasurable Activities

(Dr. Brian Campbell)

The Bible clearly reveals that God is concerned not only about our thinking, but also with our behavior.  He not only wants us to renew our thinking, He also wants us to change our behavior so that our actions reflect our faith.  Helping clients change their behavior falls under the heading of behavior therapy, and the techniques of behavior modfication can be used by the counselor to help bring about change.


When helping clients with psychological problems, it is often extremely important to help them get "plugged into" groups/activities the will help strengthen their faith and their Christian walk--such as home groups, Sunday school classes, Alcoholics Anoymous, etc.  In addition, many individuals need to encouraged to increase other pleasurable activities in their lives--especially if they are depressed (such as exercising and joining a gym, etc.).  The counselor can help the client identify pleasurable (healthy) activities and then reinforce clients' efforts (by verbally praising them during counseling).

Helping people "engage" in life is extremely important in terms of the "big picture" of people's lives.  Some of the best changes occur when hurting people connect with other Christians in a meaningful way.  As you work with clients, always keep the "big picture" in mind.  Help clients re-engage in the world and "plug back into" society.  I attend a large mega church and there are recovery groups for just about any problem you can imagine.  I also attend a "small group" each week where my wife and I connect with a wonderful group of Christians who care for each other and look out for each other.  In a very real way, this group is very therapeutic.  Don't think that therapy only occurs in the counseling room.  Keep looking at the "big picture" and help individuals keep their lives in perspective.

Some day soon I will be writing a book entitled, "Perspective."  I can't wait to get time to write it.  Helping clients keep things in perspective is certainly biblical (consider the Psalms, for example), and it is a strategy that I utilize every day in my counseling practice.


Below, I created a handout to help clients increase pleasurable activities in their lives.  Very often, helping people "get up," "get out," and starting re-engaging in life can have very positive results on mental health.  Postitive changes in behavior often result in positive changes mentally.  When my own mother was depressed after the death of my father, I told her to:  "Get out of the house, and start doing things you used to enjoy."  Similarly, Dr. Carl Menninger, a famous psychiatrist, was once asked what he would do if he had mental heath problems.  He said, "I would get up, go out the door, shut it behind me, and go and help someone."  Good advice!


Dr. Campbell