Thursday, January 29, 2009

Psychology and "Christian counseling"

Something that I have thought about for a long time is: "What role does the science of psychology play in Christian counseling?" I am in a class in my grad program right now and reading a number of varying views on this question.

The extremes go both ways. One extreme says that all psycho or emotional problems are spiritual and should be "treated" only with the Word of God. The other extreme takes the science of psychology so seriously that the spiritual nature of many issues are not even considered. There are many different ideas in the middle. I have some thoughts on this, but I am wondering what some of you think.

How much should Christians use the knowledge gained from the study of psychology?

Can the Bible and psychology both be used to help people reach emotional and spiritual health?


Rahab's sister said...

Absolutely both should be used.

I had a friend who was cutting; when she went to a Nouthetic counselor, she was told that she was essentially trying to gain the attention of pagan gods by cutting herself. Where in the world did that come from? Apparently the only Scripture reference for cutting that this counselor could think of, was when people would cut themselves to gain the attention of the gods.

On the other hand, the Bible does have some incredibly valid wisdom for people. I think that well-trained counselors know how to use the sciences (which God has given us wisdom in) alongside the Scriptures.

Aaron said...

i am a firm believer in using both. I am an "integrationalist" all the way.

For example...

I learned that the same endorphines are let off during sexual activity as there are during high spiritual experiences i.e. worship services or spiritual counseling.

This explains a lot! It makes sense now that many pastors fall during opposite sex counseling sessions. It also makes since that intimacy with my wife is an act of worship :) Too much info!

All this to say that I would have never known this if it weren't for science/physchology at a secular level. Combined with the bible science can be great theology!

But at the end of the day the Bible trumps anything that contradicts it's message.

You feel me!

KG said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I would tend to agree. The Bible is the ultimate authority so like my guy Aaron said "at the end of the day the Bible trumps anything that contradicts it's message", but I do think there is value in psychology. The sciences can teach us a lot. I have learned a lot that helps me relate to people by what I have learned from psychology.

One of my concerns though is that people sometimes take the wisdom of modern psychology to the neglect of what the Bible teaches. Has anyone else seen this?

Anonymous said...

Kev, my answer maybe a little simplistic but I too have thought of this issue over the years. Leaning from the biblical counseling methods only to now resting in the middle. Not knowing for sure if this is the right answer but for me, I tend to look at this the same as I would any chemical based medicine. I believe God uses them both when used correctly to bring about healing in our lives. Can I not celebrate the healing properties of radiation during my own cancer as I have celebrated the healing conversations of a qualified therapist who guided me through the natural and spiritual when I faced dark times in my life. I think had I not gone to a Christian therapist who was able to successfully navigate this period I might have leaned toward the typical psychological methods. I would have been Oprahsized. LOL

KG said...

Thank you for your input as well. I think that I look at soul care in much the same way as physical care as you said. We deal with it on both levels. The spiritual level as well as with the level of insight and wisdom that we have about our natural world.