Integration Course

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 Presentation Transcripts and Slides:  Week #2

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As we begin this second week of COUN 506 we are going to concentrate on building models for integration in counseling.  Our beginning point in this is to understand more specifically how OUR worldview impacts the models that we use in counseling.  The way we interpret behavior has a lot to do with our worldview, and a lot to do with our expectations of our clients.





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One of the first steps in applying worldview questions to counseling is that we have to begin to think in terms of the bigger questions that are involved, starting off with:  “Who am I?”     Those who approach the question of human nature from a theological perspective think of people as created in the image of God.    The focus of those who are theologically-trained and oriented is the belief in people being a free creation imbued with a free will, but also as fallen beings created for a purpose.    This is true even when we see a person in a counseling situation and it is clear by the problems they are having or created for themselves that they are far from achieving the purpose for which they were created.    It does not remove the fact that this is a person with a purpose for which they are created.   From a psychological standpoint the question ”Who Am I?” raises the issue of rationality;  the idea of humans as essentially “a self,” not a creation but a rational self.     Some theories of psychology stresses that when people begin their lives, they begin as “blank slates” where from the moment they are born, their experiences, their environment, and their relationships begin to fill the “pages” of their mind and lives.  So there is a sense in psychology that people are akin to “self-creating social organisms” that interact with people and systems around them.    From the perspective of Christian spirituality, identity questions are phrased in terms of the spirit, in terms of the God-breathed life.   Recall the image in Genesis where God forms Adam from the ground and breathed life into him.  That is an image specific to Christian Spirituality:  the notion of human beings as children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit.

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Next we look at the worldview question:  “Where am I?” referring to the world in which we live.  From a theological perspective the world is considered to be a good creation by God:   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and God saw that it was good”; that phrase is repeated many times in that first chapter of the book of Genesis.  When God created human beings he saw that it was very good.   So it is a good world created by God that while still under His sovereignty, He has charged us to have dominion over the world.  From the perspective of psychologists, the question is addressed in terms of two environments:  one being the internal environment of the person, or their individual heredity; and the second being the external: the physical, social, and relational environment in which they live.  For Spirituality, the world is described as a “community,” while for us who are believers in Christ, our fundamental identifying terms of our environment is as members of the “Body of Christ.”  It also emphasizes that the world in which we live and see is not one realm, but that we exist in a two-realm world:  the physical world and the spiritual world.


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Now, rarely does anyone come to counseling simply for the fun of it, or because they have nothing else to do.   Anytime you see a client, it is because they are having a problem.    Theologians looking from the “What’s wrong with the world?” perspective, refers to problems in the terms of sin and rebellion to God’s law.   Jay Addams emphasizes this in “nouthetic counseling”: that anytime a person comes to you with a problem, the problem is sin.   This problem of sin shows up not only in that individual’s rebellion to God’s law, but also in terms of the larger work of Satan and the presence of evil in their life.  Psychologists on the other hand emphasize that when a person is having problems, the fundamental issue is pointing toward some type of disorder, or their failure to cope in adequate ways, or they are living in a dysfunctional environment.   In spirituality, when there is a problem in life, the problem is broken relationships and alienation from God, self, and others.   The problem is also phrased in cosmic terms:  that in fact part of the problem in life is really the result of spiritual warfare or the result of quenching God’s guiding and comforting Holy Spirit.

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So where does that lead us in seeking solutions to our problems?   In terms of theology, the way to deal with problems are solutions that only come from God.  The grace of God is freely given to us, with the correct human response being repentance.    Repentance leads to redemption in Christ, and then we can embark on the life-long process of becoming sanctified, or more like Christ.   From a psychological perspective, the solution to problems is known as “self-actualization,” or the notion that we are self-controlled persons who need to unleash “the self” within us.  Then we can understand and conquer our problems and recover through psychological interventions.   Spirituality speaks of the solution to human problems in terms of communion with Christ, and reconciliation with others coming through abiding in the Spirit and through the power of prayer.      



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Next we need to look at a change that has taken place over time from what is known as a “modern” worldview to a “post-modern” worldview.   Here you see a simple typology comparing the two.    


This sort of typology is very important in counseling, especially concerning the various generations of our clients.   Those who were born in the first part of the 20th century are much more likely to have a dominant “modern” view.   Those born in the latter part of the 20th, or are just coming into adulthood now in the 21st century, typically lean toward the “post-modern” viewpoint.   For those who come from the “modern” worldview, their focus is on the rational.    If they can figure it out and think it through, THEN they have the direction to live.   They seek to discover the “truth,” and from that truth they THEN know how to live and make decisions.   The priority is on the individual, learning to be responsible for yourself and your own, not looking to others for help.  Modern people believe that there is objective truth, and that we can be objective in our search for that truth.   Modernists tend to think that there is a correct way to live, and that there is the possibility of living a moral life.    On the other side, “post-modernists” feel that life is much more experiential.   The real source in life is their experiences, not thoughts or reasonings.  For example, my experiences are not the same as your experiences so my experiences are THE authoritative source for ME.    Because of their emphasis on experience, they seek to understand life from their experiences and then to discern truth FROM those experiences.  In other words their experiences become the means for understanding truth.  More and more they place an emphasis on community rather than individuality, which can be seen as a positive shift in the sense that seeking counsel from another person is acceptable instead of embarrassing.    Also, post-modern people see life in subjective terms, in that there are many ways to live, all of equal value, and that it is arrogant to speak in terms of there being only one way to live.   Now please keep in mind that what was just presented to you is a simple typology, a way of conceptualizing the shifts in thinking so if you see things a little differently from this, it is okay.   It is simply a quick way to help you process the shifting of worldviews that is occurring in our lifetime.



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As we finish up this lecture, be aware that there are five keys to a Christian integrated worldview that you will be hearing about throughout this course.  To study a bit deeper on this, refer back to Entwistle’s book.   The first as has been mentioned before that “all truth is God’s truth”; this is key to a Christian worldview.   The second is the notion that “human abilities are gifts from God”:  meaning we are not completely independent beings but are creations of God, so our abilities are gifts from our Creator and given to us for a purpose.   A third key is the belief that “human life is a unified whole,” where clients are to be approached holistically and as part of a family and community.  The fourth key focuses on the “reality of sin,” meaning human sin IS a limiting factor in all of our pursuits.  This fifth and final key is “humans and our behavior can be understood to a great degree through rational means,”   meaning   through empirical observation, through scientific methods, and through the revelation we receive from God.   Unfortunately, the way in which we interpret those facts is going to be limited and flawed because of our fallenness.   This ends the first lecture of week two.  Continue to do your reading and studying as we continue to explore the philosophy behind integrative counseling.   





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In this second lecture of week two, let’s focus for a few minutes on the philosophical underpinnings of integrated counseling.   Your reading for the past several days should have given you a good survey of the worldview and philosophy regarding the practice of psychology from a Christian point of view.   In this lecture we are going to take some time to unpack some of that dense material.  We’ll start with epistemology and its impact in how we approach counseling.    Then we will focus on metaphysics and cosmology, which is our understanding of our nature of the world, and finally we will spend some time focusing upon anthropology, which is the understanding of human nature that we bring to the counseling practice.



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Okay, let’s start with epistemology.  Here you can see the four important ways of knowing:  detailed Logic, Rational Discourse, Empirical Methods and Revelation.   These are simply ways of talking about how human beings interact with knowledge.   Logic is an internal process with internal dialogue.  Rational Discourse refers to the ways we interact with other people and with data, the ways that we reason about things and turn them over in our minds.   Empirical Methods looks at our ability to investigate facts through observation and analysis.   Revelation, which could also be called special revelation, is how we interpret God’s word, his written revelation to us.    These are all important ways of knowing.    Now part of the worldview presupposition that we bring to counseling is the way in which we give authority to these various ways of knowing.    For a Christian, the most authoritative way to know is by God’s Word, His revelation.    Now depending upon the particulars of your worldview, you grant authority to these other ways of knowing by giving them differing degrees of importance.



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Now going a little farther with this whole idea of epistemology, “how do we know what we know?”    For example, a client comes to you for counseling and begins their comments by saying, “I believe God is telling me…”   Now that statement means something important, but it can be interpreted in at least four different ways.    First, a Naïve realist would see this statement, “God told me…” as being literarily what the person has said.    In other words it would be the same as hearing a recording of God’s voice.    If this client said that God told them something, then God must have told them something.   On the other hand, an anti-realist would immediately assume that the client must be hearing things because God does not speak in a physical voice.   And if there is a God that speaks at all, He certainly doesn’t speak in a physical voice, so this person must be delusional.   A critical realist would want to carefully explore this claim with the client with openness, and to be open to the fact that God can do whatever God chooses to do.   The critical realist believes that, throughout the Bible, God spoke to His people.  Also, throughout the centuries since the writing of the Bible, many faithful people have claimed to hear from God, so there would be an exploration that is open to the possibility of this being true.   Finally, the faithful realist, would be a person grounded in natural law, a counselor that understands there is a natural law which normally does not include hearing God’s physical voice, but also believing in God’s sovereignty and power and ability to reveal Himself in whatever way He chooses.   It is a question of reality.    What is real?     What is imagination?   Those kinds of questions are always involved.



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Since no one can know everything, and no one knows anything perfectly, we also have to consider some of the limiting factors in Epistemology.    One of these is “flawed thinking”; another is when a person is being emotionally overloaded.    Another refers to our cultural biases, because all of us can have this at some point in our lives.   We also have to take into account our own presuppositions which can make us open only to some truths and knowledge while we reject others.    And we can never forget the presence of sin in our lives, personally and in the world.   This means we must factor in self-deception, because all of us are self-deceived at some level.   Finally, we cannot forget drugs and disease as a limiting factor.  So as you can see, the simple fact is that no one knows everything perfectly.          




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So all of this leads us to asking, “how can anyone know anything?”   From the tradition of the Hellenistic training that we received in our education, you see a great focus on intellectual virtues.   One of these virtues is honesty.   It is very important to be an honest person, and be able to honestly sort facts from fiction, facts from interpretation.   It is also important to be self-aware, to really know where you might be self-deceived, to have a sense of what your gifts are, and where your flaws might be.   An extremely important virtue is diligence, which is the need to be persistent in seeking the truth, and then to remain open to new truth.    A few others is being teachable and having respectfulness, that is, listening to others.   In a later lecture we will talk a great deal about this, about the ways in which the counselor is not only teaching and guiding the client, but the client is teaching and guiding the counselor so that we learn from every person with whom we interact.   Next, Responsibility refers to fully embracing our moral duty to use our knowledge to honor God.   Then we must also practice a realistic humility, where we can admit our limits without shame or embarrassment.    Paul speaks about these intellectual virtues in his letter to the church at Philippi, writing in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”      The key point being made here is that integrated counseling is driven by the devotion to intellectual virtues, both for the sake of the client and for the sake of our effectiveness as counselors.


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Metaphysics and Cosmology is our understanding of the world.  Let’s return to the claim of our hypothetical client who not only says that “God told me…,” but now they claim that they have experienced a miracle.  Now how does a counselor respond responsibly to that claim?  Those coming from  a Naturalistic point of view, which limits their view to a created order and to what can be observed, would see this claim as really a statement of a coincidence.   What the client experienced was a natural event that has a natural explanation but that they are trying to interpret as an act of God.                   

This really has to do with a philosophy best described by Andrew Liddle when he says: “the cornerstone of modern cosmology is the belief that the place in which we occupy in the universe is in no way special.  This is known as the cosmological principle and it is an idea which is both powerful and simple.  It is intriguing then that for the bulk of the history it was believed that we occupy a very special location, usually the center and the scheme of things.”  Simply put, a naturalist cannot believe that miracles actually happen.   A materialist is even more dismissive.  A “materialist” would believe that the person making such a claim is ignorant, and is engaging in superstition and magical thinking.  The materialist would say that which is normal in life is science, because what can be observed and measured in the natural environment would represent the limits of what we can know.   For a supernaturalist, when they hear a claim such as this from their client they assume that an act of God can and does happen.   That God is sovereign and that nature will certainly accommodate  whatever God desires to do.   They would also be able to say that we speak of Acts of God day in and day out.  For example, if a hurricane destroys a house, insurance is filed asking for compensation due to an “Act of God,” so why is a miracle out of the question?  The “supernaturalist” would make the distinction that science is important in describing nature but not as a normative principle, meaning God sets the standard and science only describes the way nature is.  Finally, a person coming from an integrative viewpoint  would be respectful of the client and their claim, and would want to explore in a very careful way what actually happened.  They would be aware that the client, as well as the counselor, is making an interpretation of the facts as they are presented, but also would be open to God’s free working in the world.


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Let’s turn our focus now to the philosophical presuppositions of human nature which is called Anthropology.   Jay Adams, in dismissing any other viewpoint other than the biblical one, has said: “Psychology is just sinful human beings sinfully thinking about sinful human beings.”    Now how do we respond to such a statement?    Our response in many ways is going to reveal what you think about human life, about human nature, about the ways in which humans change, and the potential for change in people.   Our response will also indicate our worldview.   Perhaps the chart on the next slide will help you in thinking about your response to this question.



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For Psychologists, Theologians, and those who engage in spiritual formation, there are distinctions in the approach that each would bring to the subject of anthropology.   The chart tries to outline some of these assumptions.  Look at the column labeled “Assumptions and Exemplars” for a moment.   Notice from a Psychological standpoint that the assumption is that people are bio-psycho-social beings, meaning we are biological organisms with minds and personalities who are socially embedded but limited to an observable and naturalistic point of view.  A Theologian would describe sources of information and the nature of people as being the way that God describes people.   We know what a human being is because of what God’s Word says about them.   God’s Word describes people as being created in the image of God and that our sources of data for understanding human nature are supernatural sources, God’s revelation through the Bible.    From a spiritual point of view we think of human beings in terms of God’s creative Spirit and Living Word, which is not only The Bible given to us more than 2,000 years ago, but the Word of God living and working in us today.    When you think of the “methods” for understanding human nature, psychology is going to rely on empiricism, which is scientific and naturalistic inquiry, while theology is going to use Hermeneutics and theological reasoning, the standards of interpretation of scripture.   Spirituality focuses on prayer, practices of spiritual formation, and the faith community as a way of understanding human problems and human nature.   Another area is our “standards of thinking,” since it is very important to have some way of standardizing our thinking about problems.  Psychology relies on theories, on psychological constructs.   Theology relies on the systematic theology that has been developed over many centuries.   Spirituality relies upon a formation of tradition and upon careful examination of biblical patterns for life.    And the last area is the “Ideals and Goals” for counseling practice.  How do we think about those we see in counseling and what are appropriate goals and ideals for what we do with them?     In psychology we think in terms of therapeutic effectiveness, in how we seek to understand people and more importantly, helping them understand themselves and understand their own problems, and to work towards their own solutions.  In theology we think in terms of salvation, in terms of the process of sanctification throughout life and the power of faith in people’s lives.  In Spirituality, we speak of unity and love, and of helping people to love God with all their hearts and minds and soul and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves.  We think of abiding in Christ.   Now this concludes the second lecture of week two.   I pray the Lord’s blessing upon you as you continue your studies in integration of psychology, theology and spirituality.







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Welcome to part three of this week’s lecture.  This time, we are going to focus on five models for interdisciplinary integration.   Now before we actually speak about the models themselves, I want to give you a brief overview of the theoretical construct of how all of these integrated models were built.









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In his book entitled, “Christ and Culture,” H. Richard Niebuhr presented five different views of the way in which Christ is at work in the cultures of the world.    These views represent different beginning points for understanding how the living Spirit of Christ is at work and how we can better understand the nature of the authority of Christ and his impact on culture.  The first in this typology is Christ AGAINST culture, which really is an “either-or” view, meaning we are either of the world or not of the world.  We are either with Christ or against Christ.  This will represent the enemy’s view of integration.    A second type is Christ OF culture, where Christ is viewed as assimilated into the culture.   Whatever is the cultural expression of the work of Christ is the reality of Christ to that culture.    Next we have the Christ ABOVE culture, that is an “above-and” approach, in which you can have this private devotion to Christ, and at the same time be a very worldly person in another compartment of your life.   Fourth, we have the Christ AND culture paradox: two kingdoms striving to be predominant, which is another version of compartmentalized faith.   Lastly, we have Christ the TRANSFORMER of culture, where true conversion and real change is possible.



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There is a long standing struggle between Christians and those coming from a worldview of science that goes back hundreds of years. This is the first paradigm: Christ against culture; the notion that people are either of the world or not of the world.   Adherents line up on either side of the room to champion either the perspective of psychology and the secular worldview, or the perspective of Christianity.   On this slide there is a table that compares the thinking between these two perspectives.    On the secular side we list the father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud, who saw religion as being the same thing as a neurosis.    He felt that individual and organized religion were not realities in and of themselves, but really an inappropriate way of coping with problems, a neurosis.    Then we have Albert Ellis, a more recent psychologist who went from being very negative towards any form of religion to eventually holding the position that religion is okay as long as we don’t get too carried away with it.    Now his sense was that religion becomes a neurosis or illness when people are too devoted to God so that it becomes an over-compensation, or a way to hide from their problems.   The belief behind this viewpoint is the basic assumption that scientific thinking and religious commitment are simply not compatible.    So they focus strictly on the personality or on the care of the psyche of the person, and they reject and seek to eradicate the influence of the Christian faith in counseling and the practice of psychology.      In the other column we find Christian believers, such as Jay Adams, the father of nouthetic counseling.  As mentioned in an earlier lecture, this is a form of counseling that relies exclusively on the Bible for guidance with clients.    Adams does not think of his way as “therapy,” but prefers the term Biblical counseling.    Martin and Deidra Bobgan are two writers who also support the Christian point of view and have coined the term “psychoheresy,” referring to a psychological worldview that they see as a competing with Christianity.    John MacArthur is a third Christian believer who speaks of the rival Gospel of psychology, or a “neo-gnosticism.”     For these thinkers, Christian counseling should be limited to the care of the soul.   They believe that God’s Word is sufficient for all our needs and that psychology in all of its forms should be rejected and eradicated from Christian practice.    For each side holding a Christ against Culture point of view, you can see that they do not leave much room for integration, do they?     So we want to be careful in how we do Christian counseling that uses psychological principles, and how we can get past this sort of philosophical impasse.                      




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On the opposite extreme we have those who hold a “Christ of Culture” perspective, in which they see Christian belief as being completely and totally assimilated into the culture.    They see themselves as living in a parallel universe.   One author speaks of people with the Christ of Culture point of view as being “spies or colonialists” in their view of integration.   These spies would be those who have a psychological worldview and predominately use material from their psychological or scientific practice, then “cherry-pick” material from the Bible and from Christian faith that they find useful.  So a “spy” can have this worldview and use biblical material without ever believing the Christian faith or the teachings of Jesus.  For example, before the advent of psychology, Thomas Jefferson created and later published what was known as the “Jefferson Bible,” in which he kept those sayings of Jesus that he considered to be useful and got rid of the rest of the Bible that he did not understand or like.    He was a “spy” in terms of cherry-picking material from the Bible for his own use.  Carl Yume and Eric Fromm would be two more good examples of those from the scientific world who have borrowed from Biblical principles for psychological purposes.     Norman Vincent Peale would be a Christian leader who provides a good example for this worldview when he created his bestselling book “The Power of Positive Thinking.”    He took excerpts from Christian teaching and applied them psychologically as a way of helping an individual, but without great concern for the larger context of the use of those materials.    From the “Spies” paradigm, experience is the starting point and there really is not a serious consideration of the whole picture or taking account the context of various data points along the way.      Now the companions to the “Spies” are the “colonialists.”     These are Christians who use psychological principles in the context of biblical counseling while thinking in terms of God’s Word as the lens for God’s book of works, and borrow from psychology to make the points they wish to make.    Welsh and Powlison, considered to be “new” nouthetic thinkers, would be good examples of this type    This means that when helping people with their counseling problems, their understanding is based on the Bible, but then they apply psychological principles as a way of describing the needs of clients.   The criticism of these folks is that they deal with the temptation to use psychological findings without scientific research methods but are making an assumption that their point of view is always right.



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 “Christ and Culture in Paradox: Two Kingdoms “is a model in which there is a sharp segregation between science and faith, or a “compartmentalized approach.”    They see the Christian faith as having a distinct relationship to psychological processes but not so much interactive or dynamically involved with the psychological ways of understanding the needs of people.    Instead there is a sharp separation of people into their spiritual component and into their psychological component.    It is here that you find language such as “faith is a private matter.”    Regarding “Christ ABOVE culture,” very often in this neutral paradigm there is a lack of effort made for the holistic treatment of individuals.  Gordon Allport is a good example of this kind of psychological neutrality in which they are not hostile to religion but take an instrumental view of it all.



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Now the fifth model is Christ, the TRANSFORMER of Culture, which we can also call the “Allies Paradigm.” This group looks for an alliance between psychology and those who are coming from the Christian perspective with the goal of transforming individuals through the power of Christ, the transformer of cultures.    These individuals believe that the truth of God is found in both God’s Word and in God’s Works.  For “Allies,” the conflicts between psychology and Christianity are not differences between the two worldviews or disciplines, but problems arising when practitioners fail to approach opposing or different ideas with openness and diligence, desiring unity, and seeking genuine integration.   They believe that open interaction between different perspectives is the only way to do the best we can for our clients.   They also understand that true integration is a disciplined enterprise involving elements of diagnosis, of interventions that we must address in the counseling relationship, and both the interpersonal and the interdisciplinary identity of the counselor.    This concludes the lectures for this week.  Take time to review the slides again, and make notes on what you’ve learned involving integration.