Integration Course

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Presentations and Slides:  Week #1


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Welcome to Counseling 506: Integration to psychology, theology and spirituality in counseling and this introductory lecture of principles to integration in Christian counseling.  For many people taking this course a fundamental question is:  “Why bother at all with integrating psychology with Christian faith when counseling people?”    This isn’t a new question.  In many ways across the centuries Christians have led the way in what is now considered the science and professional practice of counseling, which is deeply rooted in Christian decisions of soul care and spiritual formation.  And yet the discipline of psychology provides so many useful tools to help those who are hurt, and to help heal the mind and the spirit of the whole person.  Let’s begin to explore why integration of psychology and Christian counseling is such an important topic.




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Is integration necessary or even possible?   Going all the way back to the second century, this debate has raged since Tertullian, an early church father, said this about bringing worldly wisdom into the church: “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?  What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?  With our faith, we desire no further belief.”     It is pretty clear what Tertullian is trying to say.   He had discovered the power of the Gospel to change lives.     He knew that in Christ people could become new creations, and he also knew that for all of the wisdom of the world, it still had its limitations.   But he is not alone in his suspicion of integration.  From the other side of the aisle scientists, beginning in the 17th century, did their work with great suspicion of religion and work of the church.   J.W. Draper summarized much of this when he wrote, “The history of science is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, with the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and traditional faith on the other.”   Much of science is rooted in a naturalistic philosophy, which believes that only things that can be observed and measured can be trusted.  But this philosophy also had clashes within the church. For example, in 1610, Galileo dared to propose that the universe doesn’t revolve around the earth, but instead revolves around the sun.  When he began publicly supporting the heliocentric view, he encountered strong opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and was reported to the Inquisition in 1615.   He was eventually cleared of any offence at that time, but the Catholic Church condemned this theory as "false and contrary to Scripture,” and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do.   When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was again tried by the Inquisition, found "suspected of heresy," forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  From then on, and because of other instances, scientists have seen the church as the enemy of science and progress.  But does it really have to be this way?  Can those in the church who see psychology as a competitor for the core values and for the worldview of persons, come to trust that God might actually use psychology for His purposes?   At the same time, can those who are trained in secular schools of psychology come to believe that spirituality is a necessary and an important part of the life of every person, and that in fact the historic wisdom of the church brings much to the table in promoting healing?  Let’s see what kind of foundation we can lay out for integration.                 



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There are at least seven earmarks of integrated counseling that provide us with some signposts along the way to help us move past the warfare between the competing worldviews of Christianity that excludes science, and science that excludes Christianity.    When we think of integrated counseling, the first earmark to take notice of is that “All truth is God’s truth.”   Dr’s John Carter and Bruce Narramore first coined this term in their ground-breaking work on integration in 1979, and it is listed in the bibliography section of the syllabus.   It means that they are pointing to a biblical concept, since Jesus claimed “I am the way, the truth and life.”    We’ll look throughout this course at a grid that Carter and Narramore developed which points to the source of conflict between a Christian worldview and theological propositions, and the scientific worldview and psychological propositions.  Their basic construct is this:  if we are dealing with any truth, we’re dealing with God’s truth.   That is what we’ll see in integration, because we are not trying to say that theological interpretation over a psychological theory is better, but to discover how God is revealing the truth in all of these things. A second important earmark of integrated counseling is being intentional about bridge-building and unity for the sake of the clients we serve.  There are many times, whether it is in the counseling room, in the church, or in our professional relationships with others, that we fail to build bridges or find unity.  It’s not so much the fact that the bridge cannot be built, but in our unwillingness to build that bridge.  In this course we will be intentional about finding the connecting points of truth and transformational power through theological propositions, through spiritual formation, and through Godly views of psychological principles. Another earmark and a goal of this course is the holistic healing of clients.  Integrated counseling is dedicated to the proposition that people are an indivisible whole.  This means that when a person is suffering with emotional problems, it affects the physical body and the spirit, and it affects how they relate to the world.    Later on we’ll introduce McMinn’s METAMORPH grid, which is a nine-point integrated counseling framework intended to provide you a tool while looking at the whole person when counseling.  With integrated counseling we are concerned not only with the measurable and physical needs of a person, but with their spiritual needs as well, focusing on those areas that boost their spiritual formation from the standpoint of the Bible.    Now here’s the good news, integrated counseling is dedicated to a redemptive worldview.   Christian counselors believe that every person we encounter is a person subject to the redemption of God, a person for whom Christ has died, and someone for whom we are called to lay down our lives as Christian ministers.  This good news carries us beyond simply dealing with the symptoms of clients, and although we certainly do want to relieve their suffering, it moves us beyond the initial goals that the person may have.  As they grow,  and their suffering is reduced, we want to help empower them to  set and achieve new goals for their lives.   A redemptive worldview allows us to have an eternal view of a client and to help them seek the vital relationship found through Jesus Christ.    Integrated counseling also demands that each of us involved in counseling have an extra measure of self-awareness and humility.   If you stop to think for a few moments about the complexity of integrated counseling, it really is a daunting prospect.   Who can be an expert in psychology and theology and in spiritual formation, since we are all limited?    We all must admit that when healing takes place, it is by the power of God through the Holy Spirit and that we need others as part of the process to some degree.  What do you think about what Warren Bitis wrote: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”    If that is true, we really do need those who are experts in psychology to help those who are trained in theology, and we need those who are experts in theology and spiritual formation to help those who are trained in secular psychology.    As counselors we need to be aware of our training and shortcomings because it is a vital dynamic in seeking collaboration we others.   Multitasking is a term that is used constantly in the post-modern world.    While we are talking on the phone, we may find ourselves checking our e-mail; or while we are reading we might sneak a peek to see what’s on television.   And who has not seen a mother being able to cook dinner while holding the baby and talking on the phone at the same time!    We are multi-taskers more and more in this society and this principle applies to integrative counseling.    As we are seeking to understand the needs of a client and to help individuals in a given area of healing, we must remain aware of the other dimensions of their lives.   If we are dealing with a psychologically-enabled need it is also important that we understand the spiritual needs under the theological context of God’s view of that person and their future.    The seventh earmark has to do with the nature of integration as an intra-personal dynamic.  Integration is not simply the skills that we learn to use in the counseling room, but a way of becoming the sort of person who can be an effective Christian minister and representation of Christ to those we are counseling.  A great deal of research has been conducted over the last several decades that point to the power of non-specific factors in inducing change.  This means there are a set of factors which every client brings into counseling, which is more than just the quality of counseling, but is directed at the personhood of the counselor, especially in the case of Christian counselors.  Some clients who have been interviewed in past research studies have indicated that they chose a Christian counselor because of their belief in the personhood of the counselor.   They considered that a Christian counselor would be a moral individual, that a Christian counselor would show greater care and compassion for them, and that the counselor’s motives would be focused on their healing and not simply trying to earn a fee.  These former clients were saying that they went to a Christian counselor because they saw an “intra-personal integration” that was an important part of who that counselor really was.   Put simply, to be an effective integrated counselor requires us to live a certain way that is an example to others.             

We’ve looked at some ideas about why bother with integration, some historical areas of integration, and seven earmarks of integration.   We will continue this discussion of integrated counseling and principles that are key to understanding the integrated process in the next lecture.



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By now you should have begun reading David Entwhistle’s textbook on Christianity and psychology and Christian principles related to integrated counseling. Along the way, you may have come to ask yourself, “What is this all about?”   This second presentation will help you look in a more focused way at several key concepts at defining integration.




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Let’s begin by thinking of integration as a process.   Integration really is a process about seeking the truth, or as some have said, “Seeking truth in God’s two books.”  Now all Christians are familiar with the first book, God’s Word, the Bible.    But God also speaks through His creative order, the book of His works.    Another  principle is that integration is both a noun AND a verb.    Integration is a truth that we discover in the facts of life.   The revealed facts in God’s Word combined with the observable facts of God’s world means that integration is something we can and need to do.  As we discover truth in God’s Word and God’s world, we seek to unify, or pull truth together.  Integration is also a scholarly project.     Hundreds of articles in the field of psychology and specifically in Christian counseling have been devoted to the subject of integration.    Hasker reminds us that, “Integration is a scholarly project, to ascertain and develop relationships between Christian faith and human knowledge.”   When trying to understand the meaning of words, turning to a comprehensive work, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, is always a good beginning as well.  If you look up integration, it reads:  “An essential unity that is opposed to fractionalization, and the combining of diverse parts into a complex whole.”




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Carter and Narramore, in their work on integration that we mentioned in the first lecture, make the key point that integration is about discerning the difference between facts and interpretations.    The word “Hermeneutics” is a technical term from the field of theology that is used to describe the science of interpretation.    Now the chart in the PPT  gives a simple look at the impact of data facts verses the impact of interpretation in creating the opportunity for dialogue between those who are trained in psychology and those who are trained in theology.   Notice on this chart, that between the data for theology ( being  the revelation of God), and the data for psychology ( or empirical facts), there is no conflict.   The real areas of conflict in integration or the refusal to even attempt to integrate psychology and theology comes when the  interpretations of facts seem to present overwhelming conflicts.



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When we speak of integration in the practice of Christian counseling, there are at least five important types of integration that we need to keep in mind.    Worldview integration is talking about that which is coherent, and held together by solid core of faith.    Foundational Integration is the self-awareness and the ability to discern the presuppositions and methodologies of others.   Disciplinary integration  is the ability to draw from many theories in understanding the counseling process and also in understanding the interdependence of various psychological theories and their relationship to theological insight.  It ultimately is an issue of integrity in research and practice.   A fourth type of integration is Public and  Personal Integration, which is related to the personhood of a counselor.  And the last type is Applied Integration.   This is when we use all of these integrative principles for the benefit of our clients.


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We must also be aware that integration involves two levels of functioning for those who would be professional counselors, or counseling pastors.   Integration involves an “inter-disciplinary” process in which we are concerned about the unity of truth, about the ways in which our data fits together, and a method where we are concerned about both sources.   Notice in your reading that psychology and theology are defined in many ways by their sources.  Theology draws from the revelation of God in the Bible, psychology draws upon the observable facts in the world.    These two disciplines are also defined by their methods.   Theology involves the careful, hermeneutical interpretation of the Bible:  a clearly defined set of interpretive methods that have been honed over the centuries.   Psychology is defined by the scientific method: a process of empirical experimentation and careful research principles.  “Inter-disciplinary” can also be thought of in terms of presuppositions, or the worldviews of practitioners .    “Intra-disciplinary” integration refers more to the those involved in doing counseling work or in doing research related to integrated practice.   It really is the division between “being” and “doing.”   What sort of person is the therapist in their practice?   Are they an integrated person?    This integration involves a dedication to professionalism in counseling.    A desire to do the job from a Christian perspective as unto the Lord, and from a psychological perspective in keeping with the highest standards of practice and ethics in counseling.    “Intra-disciplinary integration” also is bound to a large degree to the humility on the counselor’s part on our willingness to believe that we are often counseling people not really knowing who that person is or fully knowing the most effective techniques for creating change and healing in the person.   This means we must learn to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit with our clients, and to seek that guidance as a regular part of our professionalism.


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Now Entwhistle has offered a solid working definition of  integration that pulls together many of the principles that we have been discussing in this segment.    He defines integration as “A multifaceted attempt to discern the underlying truths about the nature and functioning of human beings from the unique vantage points of psychology (in its various sub-disciplines, utilizing various methodologies); and Christianity (in our theology, faith and practice).”   I encourage you now as we finish this lecture to reread his definition, reflect upon the readings you’ve been doing, and ponder how they are drawn together by this idea of integration.



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Welcome to the third and last segment of this week’s lectures on our introductory topic of Worldviews and Foundational Issues in Integration.     In this lesson we will focus specifically about the impact of worldviews in the practice of Christian counseling.



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Scientist Emmet Brooke once commented that “Modern science stands on Christian shoulders.”               

What do you think he meant by this?    He is pointing out that many foundational assumptions on which science stands that enables empirical research is based on Christian beliefs.    As the slide indicates, the foundational assumptions of the uniformity of nature and the fact that there are predictable natural laws, such as the law of gravity, shows that we are part of an orderly creation.    These are assumptions that science takes for granted but which come from Christian theological teaching, and are necessary in order to do research.    In particular, the view of human beings and our role in the created order in which science is founded comes from biblical teaching, just as the idea that humans are capable of knowing and understanding and grasping the truth, grows out of the biblical teaching that we are created in the image of God.     The idea that human beings might study or master the idea of created order is directly related to God’s command in the book of Genesis that human beings were to have dominion over all of the earth.    For scientists, there is a motive in the work that they do, beyond simply the joy of the work itself.    For those who are believers, the world of science is to glorify God as the work of all Christians.     For those who have more humanistic motivations, they can embrace the biblical value of relieving suffering in their work.     Lastly, Brooke points out that science was justified based upon natural law apologetics.   He’s saying that the accuracy of science was justified by the predictability of nature by the mind of God, which is apparent in the created order.  From the very beginning then, the trueness of scientific   claims were based upon theological arguments.

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So, what makes someone a Christian counselor?   Listed on the slide are some questions people often ask about the practice of Christian counseling,  and what characterizes a Christian counselor as opposed to a secular counselor.  For instance, is it a distinctive world view that makes someone a Christian counselor?   Do Christian counselors engage in specific practices, or work with particular sorts of clients?   Do Christian counselors only use the Bible or do they emphasize psychology, theology and spirituality in some combined order?    How are Christian counselors different from those who call themselves spiritual counselors?   The idea of “Spiritual counseling” is a growing movement in our time, where there are those who do provide professional counseling services with great attention to the spiritual life, but are not necessarily Christian.


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Here are some points to consider to help see the differences between secular counseling and Christian counseling.   I like what Theologian Harry Blamires points out when he says that those who do Christian counseling think in a “Christianly” way, as opposed to thinking in a secular way.  By this, he is pointing to the fact that secular counseling is based on a “Here and Now” perspective, with the goals for clients related to the present relief of suffering, and to help them adapt to their earthly lives.  But “Christianly” thinking by counselors show a much greater concern for the eternal well-being of an individual and for God’s eternal purposes for that person.   Christian counseling is a way of approaching the healing and support of individuals in their change and transformation that rely upon distinctive starting points and sources of authority.  The starting point for a Christian counselor is faith:  faith in God as articulated in the Bible, which is our ultimate source of authority as the revelation of God.    Christian counselors are those who have an awareness of sin and the ability to name behavior that is sinful to help clients become aware of the part that sin plays in their lives.  Remember the good news that Christian counselors are also devoted to the proposition of a redemptive worldview as one way to deal with sin.  Christian counselors believe that every person we see as a client is a person who can be redeemed, whom God loves, and for whom Christ died.   Christian counselors see their work as a calling, a ministry that is more than a job or profession.   Christian counselors are also aware of their own limitations, of their own sinfulness,  and of their need for guidance by the Holy Spirit.   Christian counselors understand that lifestyle commitments are involved in the ministry of counseling, and that personal integration is as important as techniques or professional practices within the counseling room.


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Let’s take a few moments and focus specifically on a biblical worldview of counseling.  Jay Addams coined the term “nouthetic” to speak about a type of counseling that is based strictly on the Bible as a resource for guidance and healing and transformation.   What then are some of the key assumptions that the Bible provides for Christian counseling?   First off, Christian counselors who are using the Bible as their primary source of authority understand that God is sovereign.    This is good news, to know that there are no problems that anyone may encounter that falls beyond the power of God to heal, or how much God cares about people’s hurt and suffering.    Next, the primacy and sufficiency of God’s Word are very key principles in the biblical worldview of counseling.   It is true that we gain many useful insights from psychology, and that psychological theories provide a construct which can be very useful in helping clients to change and in alleviating suffering.  However, it is God’s word that remains our primary authority, and where there seems to be a conflict, God’s word must become the “lens” in which we filter other information that we receive from the created order, from experimentation, from our own reasoning abilities, and our personal experience.  A Biblical worldview sees human beings in a particular way.   On the slide, you should notice that we used the term: “two-pronged anthropology.”   This is a term that points to the fact that the Bible portrays human beings as created in the image of God:  those who have a special place in the created order and as those who are a little lower than the angels; but also as those who are fallen, who are the children of Adam and Eve.   When Scripture reminds us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” we are using a “two-pronged anthropology.”   The good news of is that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” as the Gospel of John declares.   Christian counselors using a Biblical worldview can understand that when we counsel in the name of Christ it is the Holy Spirit in us that is speaking and working, and that we are not alone.   Nor is real change or transformation in the counseling process simply the product of one human being helping another human being, but it is the Holy Spirit who is working in our words and actions to bring about change.  Christian counseling is also an extension of the work of the body of Christ.  Paul offers that wonderful metaphor in his writings of the church being like a living body in which there are many gifts and many callings and many ministries.    Christian counseling is one of those callings.  It is important that Christian counselors never see themselves as “lone rangers,” or as isolated individuals simply doing their work, but to understand that each one of us is part of the body of Christ, doing the work of Christ through our Christian counseling ministry.     An uncommon term from theology that makes itself evident in counseling is “soteriological,” which is having to do with salvation and with redemption.    Christian counseling is a redemptive process that involves reconciliation with God and others and self, and redemption through Christ.    Lastly, a Biblical world view of counseling is “Pneumatological,” which is understanding that the Holy Spirit is at work through us and guides us through our counseling, healing individuals through our ministry.   We are counselors who are guided by “The Counselor.”

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Let’s focus now for a few minutes on a psychological worldview of counseling, and the kinds of philosophical assumptions that underlie the practice of psychology.   Psychology is a “naturalistic” science that uses a naturalistic methodology, meaning simply that psychology is limited to the observable, to the created order, to the parameters of nature.   Psychology does not engage in “guesswork” about the unseen Spirit of God or about other spiritual matters; its methodology is limited to the observable and measurable.  Now much of this self-limiting to a naturalistic methodology is based upon the “secular philosophy of psychology.”    It is a secular philosophy in that many of the ideas of the original writers simply rejected spiritual matters as a legitimate dynamic in the psychology of persons.  A psychological worldview is also “deterministic.”   This means that psychology assumes a “cause and effect” pattern in the human experience.   For example, if a person is depressed, proper treatment would be to fully observe the symptoms and the state of affairs of the client to gauge its effect, then try to determine the cause, and then seek the best therapy to alleviate the symptoms.   The reasons for being depressed can be many, but whatever the reason, there is an assumption that there is a “cause and effect” pattern that we can observe, diagnosis, and treat.   A psychological worldview is also characterized by “positivism.”   This means that psychological research and practice is limited to objective and empirical data, and that factors that cannot be measured or described through the scientific method are simply dismissed as unimportant in psychological practice.  There are also assumptions within modern psychology regarding human nature that would be characterized as “humanistic or bio-centric,”   which is a view of human nature that is quite different from the Biblical view.   Humanistic anthropology is the view that humans are basically good; that people at the worst are “blank slates” when they are born and then are an accumulation of the experiences of their lives.   So when people develop problems it has to do with an accumulation of negative influences across the course of a lifetime.   Humanism considers individuals as being the highest good our society produces, and that people are influenced towards the good or the bad based on their individual happiness.   Lastly there is a tendency in a psychological worldview to “analyze, to categorize, and specialize”; breaking  down every phenomenon into its component parts rather than to approach the needs of clients in a more holistic fashion.



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To finish up, let’s examine a comparative typology of key terms that can be used as a visual aid in comparing the terminology that you might find in theology and psychology, and how it points to important distinctions in both worldviews.    For example, theology can be described as a Theo-centric worldview.   That term simply means that those who are approaching life from a theological standpoint see the world based upon one’s relationship with God, or more precisely God’s relationship with the world.    In psychology, where there is no acknowledgement of the existence of God, the worldview would be more accurately described “anthropo-centric,” meaning it is centered on human beings.    For theology, the authoritative source of authority and information is God’s revelation through the Bible.    In psychology, one’s observation of the data and interpretation of that data is the source of greatest authority.     In theology we speak of the human spirit as what makes us distinctly human and that we were created in the image of God.  In psychology we speak of the human personality as a way of summarizing the humanness, or the human quality of a person.   In theology when things go wrong, when there is evil or brokenness in a person’s life, we speak of sin.   In psychology we speak of illness or psychopathology.    In theology what we feel people need in terms of change is redemption and the transformation that comes through redemption.  In psychology we speak of recovery or health.  In theology the gradual process of growth and change is referred to as sanctification: the process of becoming more like Christ.   In psychology we speak of personal growth.   Of course, in the ultimate end of Christian theology is the second coming of Christ, in which all things will be fulfilled in the mind and purpose of God.  In psychology “self actualization” with the individual person as the center of the universe is the reference point or the ultimate goal of all things.

Congratulations!    You have made it through the first week’s lectures.    I hope that you will digest this material along with your reading, and ponder more about the need for and the possibilities we have in integrating the science of psychology and the faith of theology.