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4-Mat Review-Mcminn

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Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling
4-MAT Review

4-MAT Review: McMinn
Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian Counseling written by Mark McMinn (2011) discuss the integration of psychology and spirituality including impacts of such in our daily lives both personally and professionally. According to McMinn (2011) there are three essential categories that must be considered within counseling; psychology, theology, and spirituality. To incorporate the three categories, the book down into further sections including prayer, scripture, sin, confession, forgiveness, and redemption including “what if” sections with descriptions of circumstances and the corresponding results, what works and what doesn’t within the sessions. By beginning with an active and healthy prayer life personally, the counselor is able to pray for the client both inside of and outside of the counseling sessions. McMinn (2011) discusses the importance of ethical issues of using prayer which is the source of growth in spiritual lives, promoting a relationship with God rather than promoting health. According to McMinn (2011) prayer must only be used after consent given and the potential effects considered as some forms of prayer may be detrimental to the client. Scripture use within counseling can be considered a self-help book enabling personality and behavioral changes. McMinn (2011) discusses the use of Scripture to support many forms of cognitive therapy including rational-emotive therapy (RET). These theories are based on what one thinks which is then supported by Bible Scripture and stories. Respect for the interpretation of others must be remembered with the use of Scripture within counseling. McMinn (2011) describes the “chicken or the egg” within Scripture as knowing God through reason thus understanding Scripture or is it the understanding of Scripture that causes us to know God. Sin is viewed as a source of emotional problems itself or that the concept of sin is the problem (McMinn, 2011). The difference is whether sin is considered an internal or external attribution. Are people sick because of personal sin or is it a result of outward influences causing the illness. McMinn (2011) discusses the appropriate situations of silence, pondering, questioning, and direct censure as well as the opposite option of not confronting the sin within counseling. According to McMinn (2011) the situation of the client and the nature of the therapeutic relationship is the variable upon which one would possibly confront or explore the appropriateness of discussing sin. Confession can be a result of the need for repentance and restitution or even as a result of the need for psychological insight and understanding from the counselor (McMinn, 2011). According to McMinn, confession is one of the most important chapters in the book because it speaks to who we are and those that we counsel including the roles we take while interacting with one another. Confession is felt to give people a sense of relief and to ask for forgiveness allowing the person to be released from the sins of their past (McMinn, 2011). However counseling is not meant to get people to confess their sins, rather effective counseling is the result of a positive and therapeutic relationship between the counselor and client that encourages safety enough to tell the truth (McMinn, 2011). Forgiveness is a result of recognizing and grieving over damage done then choosing to release the negative thoughts and emotions directed towards the offender (McMinn, 2011). Often times people mix the need to excuse someone with the action of forgiving. Forgiving someone does not require the offender to be remorseful of to ask for repentance. Excusing is casual and routine and a passive acceptance of the offender and their actions. A client can excuse without ever forgiving the person for their actions. McMinn (2011) also discusses the need to not force forgiveness as a sense of moral obligation and this can be detrimental to the clients. Redemption is the final section discussed as the means of buying back or recovering by paying a price (McMinn, 2011). Redemption is the culmination of all the aspects discussed in this text and is the final goal for all Christians. According to McMinn (2011), redemption is a rich and complex topic that requires an understanding of God’s grace and gratitude. The belief and understanding that sin is what separates us from God and by humbling ourselves we can also God’s transforming mercy (McMinn, 2011).
Concrete Response As a Christian, I believe that every counseling session should begin with prayer, and that we should pray for our clients outside of sessions. I also believe that prayer and the use of Scripture should be dependent on the client and the mutual relationship between the client and the counselor. In reading the section on sin, I was bothered by some of the statements. I have a child with mental illness, and I have been told by pastors that mental illness was a result of sin and that we only needed to pray for the individual. While I do believe that we need to pray for one another, there is still a need for medical intervention and I will not stand by believing that prayer is all that is needed while my child becomes more and more disabled. According to McMinn (2011), sin is an active or passive lack of conformity to the will of God. This does not describe mental illness or any other illness. Sin is part of being human and according to the Bible, a sin is a sin. James 2:10 states that “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (NKJV). While the actions including those of sin can result in disease or trauma, we must remember as a counselor to not judge the person as a sinner. We can only work with a client to promote self-sufficiency and redemption through prayer, reflection, and personal self-awareness by making them feel safe enough to tell the truth and realize the potential of their relationship with God.
I enjoyed reading this text and I feel that McMinn (2011) was very comprehensive regarding the different facets of the integration of psychology, theology, and spirituality. Included are the human nature, prayer, scripture, and other topics. I especially appreciated the section on forgiveness, the difference between forgiving, reconciliation, and excusing was enlightening to me. You can excuse with or without the offender showing remorse. True forgiveness requires the person to release the negative emotions and does not require the person to reconcile with the offender or for the offender to offer remorse. While I have always believed that it is a moral duty to forgive, forgiveness also releases the bitterness and anger enabling the person to move forward in their life. In forgiving someone it does not necessarily mean excusing them. I feel that by excusing someone you say that it is ok that the damage has occurred while forgiving them is personal. One question I have is that there was nothing about counseling the mentally ill or incompetent adults or even children. How does one explain sin and forgiveness if they cannot understand the ramifications of their own personal sin? Is there an age limit in which a counselor can relate and even form a therapeutic bond with a child? Children and adolescents are difficult to relate to without the addition of trauma or mental illness and besides prayer at what age could a counselor begin to discuss excusing and forgiveness and the child comprehend the difference. I believe that this is more than the “chicken or the egg” scenario described by McMinn (2011).
I believe that this book should be read more than once and that each time I read this I will learn more. I like that it was broken down into points of prayer, Scripture, sin, forgiveness, and redemption. I especially like the point about forgiveness being different from excusing and believe that forgiveness is personal and true forgiveness can only be reached through prayer and acceptance enabling the person to move forward. In my classroom working as a behavior interventionist, we have the children apologize for their actions against one another. This week it really struck me when a child apologized for hitting me that I was accepting his apology and excusing his behavior, although I did not forgive him. As stated in Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (NKJV). If we expect our Savior to forgive us every time we ask for forgiveness, then we must be able to forgive others in order to move forward. This forgiveness does not mean that we have accepted the deed, only that we can move forward and not be bitter and angry towards the offender. The difference that McMinn (2011) stated between forgiving, excusing, and reconciling with the offender has changed the way I feel and will practice within my daily life.

McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling (Rev. ed.). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.7

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