4MAT Review – Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling; By Mark R. McMinn

Summary

McMinn’s book, Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling educates Christian counselors on the significance of spirituality in counseling. Across all chapter of the book, McMinn uses a number of cases that enable the reader to understand how to apply various counseling concepts in different contexts. Additionally, McMinn uses cognitive therapy from a Christian viewpoint to equip Christian Counselors with the strategies that should be applied when doing counseling. One thing that he stresses on is the importance of building a good therapeutic relationship between the counselor and the client for every counseling session to be effective (McMinn, 1996, p. 9).

Moreover, McMinn explains the importance of applying a variety of religious interventions in promoting spiritual and psychological health for clients. Throughout all the chapters of the book, McMinn relates counseling practice to redemption, confession, scripture, sin, and forgiveness (McMinn, 1996, p.301). He also mentions the negative and positive impacts of using prayer in the counseling sessions. For instance, McMinn states that a Christian Counselor will only be able to obtain a potential impact of prayer if he or she has a high level of spiritual maturity (McMinn, 1996, p.87).

Furthermore, McMinn extensively analyzes the nature of sin and its role in counseling practice. He mentions how psychologists have demonstrated little interest in sin in their counseling practice (McMinn, 1996, p. 161). According to McMinn, failure to consider the sin concept when doing counseling has negative impacts on the client as it can be the source of negative feelings such as depression and gilt. He stresses that Christian Counselors are required to understand sin from both spiritual and theological viewpoints. Again, by including sin concept in counseling practice, a Christian Counselor will get an opportunity to understand his or her work and give the client an opportunity to grow spiritually.

McMinn also relates sin with confession by stating that confession is a sacrament of penance and Christian Therapist must understand how to apply it in counseling practice. According to McMinn, humility is a basic requirement for every person who wants to confess. For this reason, Christian Counselors should assist their clients to look at themselves honestly and to identify their strengths and weaknesses because it is only in this manner that they will be able to replace their negative feelings with positive ones. McMinn also adds that confession is directly related to forgiveness which majority of counselors happen to be aware of (McMinn, 1996, p.235).

In order to attract the reader’s attention, McMinn attempts to explain the difference between Christians and non-Christians, as far as their understanding of forgiveness is concerned. According to McMinn, non-Christians basically feel that forgiveness is all about emotional relief while the ability of a Christian to forgive another person depends on his or her capacity to create a balance between his or her needs and the gift of forgiveness that has been provided by God (McMinn, 1996, p.235). In the final chapter of the book, McMinn brings revisits the concept of redemption, scripture, prayer, sin, confession, and forgiveness. He states that redemption occurs when a person is freed from his or her sin and gets restored back to God. Basically, redemption is the process by which a person’s relationship with God is strengthened after being freed from sin. Additionally, the moment people experience redemption, they develop new ways of thinking that are in line with God’s requirements (McMinn, 1996, p.265).

Concrete Responses

McMinn’s book reminds me of a story about an uncle of mine who decided to live according to God’s ways after constant prayer and confession. My uncle Jack was a drunkard who always believed that nobody can attack him even when he came back home late in the night. Uncle Jack was raised up by God fearing parents who ensured that the lives of their children revolved around the church. When he was a young boy, Jack participated in church activities including singing, dancing, and cleaning the church. It is from here that he developed an interest of becoming a priest when he grew old. Unfortunately, Jack’s peers discouraged him from following his dreams which made him to deviate from God’s ways before starting to drink. Jack had God’s calling at a very tender age but he rejected it.

One day when Uncle Jack was coming home drunk, he met thugs who robbed him of all the money he had before beating him to death. He was found lying on a pool of blood the following morning who took him to the hospital. Every evening, the priest visited the hospital and prayed for all patients. Jack was discharged from hospital after two weeks and he was allowed to stay with a pastor who encouraged him to go to church. After a few days, the pastor made Uncle Jack to understand how sin can impact a person’s life. The pastor prayed together with Jack and I remember him confessing all his sins when standing before the congregation. While in church, the pastor preached about the importance of confession in seeking forgiveness from God. Acting as a Christian Counselor, the pastor integrated the concepts of sin, confession, prayer, scripture, redemption, and forgiveness in assisting Jack replace his negative feelings about God with positive ones.

Reflection

I feel that McMinn has done a commendable job in describing how Christian Counselors should integrate psychology, theology, and spirituality in their counseling practice. The major strength of McMinn’s book is its ability to teach the reader about what should be done in a Christian counseling office. However, one area of concern lies on how a Christian Counselor should conduct the prayer sessions in an ethical manner. Ideally, there are no specific methods that a pastor must use to ensure that every prayer will bring about maximum help to the client. So, are there any ethical guidelines that a Christian Counselor must follow when praying in a counseling office? I do agree with McMinn that a prayer enables one to be in an intimate relationship with God. However, prayer should not be part of a counseling session, and if it must be made part of a counseling therapy, it needs to be used outside a counseling session. This will give the client an opportunity of reflecting on the importance of seeking God when he or she is alone as a way of driving away negative feelings.

Generally, McMinn’s book is very good for Christian Counselors because it assists them to expand their knowledge on counseling and teaches them to integrate psychology, theology, and spirituality concepts when counseling clients. The case studies that McMinn has used in his book assist Christian Counselors to understand the strengths and weaknesses of applying all the three counseling concepts in practice, enabling them to identify the best directions that can give positive results.

Action

This is a very good book as it has taught me the valuable instructions on how a Christian counselor can apply multidisciplinary concepts when working with clients. As McMinn puts it, a Christian Counselor must be able to process a number of ideas concurrently (McMinn, 1996, p. 269). This is important because it will enable the counselor to effectively incorporate psychology, theology, and spirituality in counseling practice as a way of solving a client’s problems successfully. Personally, I shall continue to read McMinn’s book in order to understand the three different concepts and how to apply them. This way, I will be able to work effectively with clients, assisting them to replace negative feelings with positive ones and to grow spiritually.

From McMinn’s book, I have also found useful information that I will share with colleagues and friends to enhance their knowledge on how they can become Christian Counselors. I will begin by explaining to them the difference between a Christian counselor and a non-Christian Counselor. Again, with the help of McMinn’s teachings, I will integrate the use of scripture and prayer when working with Christian clients, while taking care of any negative effects that scriptural interventions might bring to our counseling relationship. Throughout my work as a Christian Counselor, I will put God first in all that I do, asking him to guide me and help me speak only what will be of great help to clients.


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