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Counseling and Christianity: Five Approaches Paperback – August 24, 2012
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About the Author
Stephen P. Greggo (Psy.D., State University of New York, Albany) is professor of counseling, training clergy and mental health counselors at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is author of Trekking Toward Wholeness, is a licensed psychologist and maintains a long-standing association as partner and consultant with Christian Counseling Associates in Delmar, New York.
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I would consider all but the Levels of Explanation approach to be Christian counseling. It is possible, I think, that the Levels of Explanation approach could be Christian, but it was not expressly demonstrated in this book. Respectfully, it seemed that the Levels of Explanation approach saw religion/spirituality more as a tool for coping with life's problems rather than a life-changing relationship with a holy, loving God (see 74 for "coping"). This is based on its use of the vague word "spiritual", which can have a variety of meanings, possibly directing Jake (the fabricated counselee) to forms of spiritual aid outside of Christianity (74), and the fact that it never explicitly addresses sin, Christ, or the authority of Scripture.
The Christian Psychology approach and the Transformational approach were much closer to Biblical Counseling. Both addressed the need for Jake to change in the heart, not just in outward behavior, to be in obedience to God (142), to model himself after Christ and to compare his behaviors with the principles in Scripture (111, 148). Christian Psychology also brought in discipleship/mentoring for Jake and involvement of the local church (117-118), which is absolutely solid! The Transformational approach addressed the matter of idolatry in Jake's life (149).
Even the Integration Approach, which is further from Biblical Counseling than the two mentioned above, acknowledges that Jake is made in the Image of God (95) and that the counselor needs to address Jake's views of God (91), which are not exactly correct but, rather, self-serving. Nevertheless, I disagree with McMinn's stance about counseling's purpose being one of sanctification, which he denies (he says this on p. 88).
At the end of this book is a helpful reflection and summary of the five views, presented by the editors. I was grateful for this and glad that they pointed out the strengths and weaknesses in each position that I also saw (for example, the strength of Plante's (LoE) use of empirical data and the best that science has to offer to help Jake). The editors also provided preparatory chapters to help prepare the reader to engage the approaches and the counselee, Jake.
To finish this review, I wish to leave with two golden nugget lines that I absolutely loved, both of which came from the Integration approach's chapter.
"I puzzle over the adage 'to have your cake and eat it too.' If one has cake, why wouldn't they eat it? To have your cake and *not* eat it just seems silly." p. 84
"I once heard Dr. Larry Crabb introduce a talk by telling of a time when he was sitting with a difficult client shortly after Crabb had received his Ph.D. in psychology. As Dr. Crabb listened to the complexity of the client's life, he thought to himself, 'Oh my, this person needs a professional!'" p. 86
A great book about the intersection of Christianity and Psychology and the practice of counseling using the concepts. Helpful and informative.
Joshua Wagner, Biblical Counseling
Crossroads Bible College
If there is one weakness with the book, then it has to do with the Transformational approach as presented by Dr. Gary Moon. This perspective has been given unique theological grounding and practice by the scholars and practitioners at Biola University and their graduate division, Talbot School of Theology. I spent one year at Talbot taking some courses and found their approach focused and methodical on the maturation of souls. Dr. Moon's presentation seemed all over the place while lacking the necessary doctrinal foundation that I witnessed at Talbot. With all due respect to the editors, I believe that they could have made a better choice.
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and the seller is quite nice in my returning event.