DERIVATION OR SUPERIMPOSITION
Any given counseling model is the product of some form of synthesis. The synthesis combines the elements of each counseling concept in such a way as to develop an acceptable standard by which a counseling model may be developed. Thus, the resulting regime (concept or model) benefits from the derivation of ideas collected from multiple counseling forms.
When multiple models are integrated, a type of superimposition takes place, in that the positive elements of one model are placed in prominence over the negative elements of another model. Thus, the synthesis may result in overlapping motifs.1 This superimposition of one concept over that of another is, in part, due to the fact that there are certain concepts shared by all counseling models.2 These shared concepts are often integrated into the synthesis.
What separates a derived counseling regime from that of a superimposed concept is the degree to which integration has taken place. For example, the integration of "talk therapy" with "behavior therapy" 3 would result in a superimposed concept. While one therapy regime would be influenced by the other, the dominant concept would be in prominence. The resulting synthesis would be a therapy based upon one primary motif with elements of the secondary being integrated into the whole.
A derivation, while sharing those concepts held by all counseling models, (e.g. sensation)4 remains largely the product of a single major theme. An example would be the psychoanalytic technique built entirely upon a Freudian motif.5 The question of derivation or superimposition is not usually a major issue (if an issue at all) among secular counselors. Primarily, this is due to a general belief among secular counselors that no system of absolutes exists.
Consequently, any given model may be as valid as another. While such an attitude may be acceptable among certain academicians and therapists, it must be rejected by anyone who believes in a system of absolutes. It is at this very juncture that the dichotomy between biblical counseling and secular counseling is most apparent.6
Christian Counseling vs. Biblical Counseling
There is a great deal of tension between the terms "Christian Counseling" and "Biblical Counseling." This difference may at first seem only semantical; it is, in fact, diametrical. One may very well profess to be a Christian counselor, all the while holding to a synthesis of counseling which is almost wholly diametric to the basic tenets of the Christian faith.7 Biblical counseling, on the other hand, accepts only those psychological concepts which are germane to the physiological constants built within all legitimate psychological models.8
Christians Who Counsel
The counseling establishment is so diverse it almost defies any reasonable containment. However, primary among counselors would be practicing clinical psychiatrists and psychologists, clinical social workers, and that nearly indefinable collection of counseling professionals from a broad spectrum of the mental health field. Within these diverse professions, are Christians who are working at every level. The degree to which the Christian who counsels holds to one counseling model or another depends not so much upon background and training (though that certainly plays an important part) but more so as to how strongly that Christian views the authority of the Bible and its adequacy as a "handbook" for the human mind. Otherwise, the individual's Christian faith becomes merely a general format over which any given number of psychological concepts may be superimposed.
This truth is poignantly illustrated by Christian psychologist William Kirk Kilpatrick. He says, "in fact, when people hear that I'm involved with both psychology and Christianity, they generally assume I'm working on a synthesis to bring the two closer together, to patch up whatever remaining differences there might be. 'Aren't psychology and religion just two different ways of getting at the same thing?' --- it's a question I often hear."9
Dr. Kilpatrick goes on to make the point even more clearly when he observes, "It is true that popular psychology shares much in common with Eastern religion; in fact, a merger is well under way. But if you're talking about Christianity, it is much truer to say that psychology and religion are competing faiths. If you seriously hold to one set of values, you logically have to reject the other."10
Kilpatrick's idea of "competing faiths" is well illustrated in The Psychology of Mental Health, written some years ago by Louis P. Thorpe. Though somewhat dated in terms of publication date, Thorpe, nevertheless, expresses quite well what is still the prevailing attitude within the secular psychological establishment. In chapter seventeen, which he devotes to the subject of "Religion, Ethics, and Mental Health", Thorpe comments rather tersely on the matter of biblical norms."Religious groups which...over-emphasize the threat of 'sin' and the rewards of the supposed 'life hereafter' as a substitute for enjoyment of life in the present are likely to foster mental ill health.
Another aspect of the last named problem is that of utilizing religion as a means escape from reality or as a dependency mechanism which encourages the individual to 'cast his burdens on the Lord'---and cease to do anything about them himself."11
Even a superficial examination of the above statement reveals a most serious incongruence between Biblical Christianity and secular psychology. Thus, the Christian who counsels is faced with a serious dilemma.
The Problem of Integration
In Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, "integrate" is defined as, "to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole." The question for the Christian counselor is whether or not he or she is willing to blend secular systems with Biblical Christianity. When we speak here of "secular systems" we are not referring to those psychological norms which are recognized as physiological constants (noted earlier.)12
The inevitable results of superimposing the secular upon the sacred is to weaken the sacred and strengthen the secular. Again, Kilpatrick's insights are collaborative. "For someone schooled in the psychological tradition, the Christian counselor must appear as scandalous. 'My whole heart?' 'My whole strength?' Psychology is not comfortable with this kind of talk and wants frightfully to water the whole thing down to a more palatable formula. Some Christians will follow the psychological lead and do the same."13
Therapy or Advice?
Where the question of integration is taken seriously, an unusual division often results. The Christian counselor who integrates may consider his counseling regime to be "therapy," that is, "treatment of the emotionally disturbed." This may include secular systems such as nondirective therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, psychodrama, or some form of group therapy.14
The Christian counselor who rejects integration and holds seriously to a derivative form of biblical counseling, may be seen as something less than a therapist and something more as a giver of advice. That is, someone who must not be taken too seriously as a bona fide therapist.
For example, the secular counselor who suggests his client should not be overly distraught because of his deviate sexual desires, may be seen as a therapist offering affirmation and healing; whereas the biblical counselor who advises his client to seek the forgiveness of God, and begin to systematically restructure his thinking according to biblical principals, may be viewed as giving only advice and perhaps inappropriate advice at that!
The various counseling methods (models) most widely accepted within the field of psychology are actually the synthesis of a methodological development of one sort or another. The degree to which clinical and theoretical development was involved varies, though clinical development certainly dominates.15
The methodological development of secular systems is based upon the Darwinian presupposition that man is the biological apex of evolutionary forces. Freud, though not as fully accepted today as in the past, is nevertheless the primary foundational figure in secular mythological development.
The impact of Darwin's evolutionary thesis upon Freud's thinking was profound, even elemental, to his understanding of the human mind.16 The resulting Darwinian/Freudian influence upon present day counseling methods presents a dilemma for the Christian counselor.
The Problem of Choices
One of the choices open to Christians who counsel is the adoptive synthesis of integration. In the milieu of potential models, integration can appear to be a legitimate alternative to what may be otherwise viewed as professional suicide if one fails to adopt prevailing norms. But how does the Christian make such a choice? If the secular models are built entirely upon an evolutionary premise, then any regime, model, method, or concept borrowed from secular methodological development is likely to be suspect from the beginning. Thinking about it very much leaves one with the feeling there is an unresolvable conflict between biblical principles and so much of secular psychology.17
That a conflict exists is hardly debatable; the problem, however, is not whether or not there is a conflict, but in how that conflict is resolved. One method of resolution is integration; another is rejection of all but those physiological constants spoken of earlier and a quest for the derivation of a biblical methodology not superimposed upon by secular systems, Such a quest is difficult, and the application of any derived methodology even more difficult.
There are many reasons for such difficulties, not the least of which is professional pressure. The obtaining of state licensure and acceptance into professional fraternities usually hinges upon one's acquaintance with, and knowledge of, the major secular systems. Failure to integrate such systems into one's own counseling motif could very well result in a damaging estrangement from one's own professional peers.18
Accepting Biblical Basics
One place for the Christian mental health professional to begin is to adopt an unwavering confidence in biblical basics, that is, that the Bible is the authoritative and infallible Word of God to man. As such, it becomes the "how to" manual for the human mind.
Usually, there is little conflict between the secularist and the Christian when the secularist is suggesting that some principle of the Bible is congruent with prevailing theory. As long as the Scriptures are never given credit for being preemptive, the secularist is usually content to adopt a benign if not supportive attitude toward the biblical position.
What the biblical counselor suggests is quite different. The biblical counselor suggests that the Scriptural standard is authoritative and final, and consequently, any congruence on the part of the secular system is either a type of plagiarism or a re-invention of already-established truth.
Developing total confidence in the Bible does not negate the need to study secular systems, nor does such confidence alone render one totally competent to counsel. What it does do, however, is to establish that singular source of truth from which an infallible counseling methodology may be derived.
END OF CHAPTER QUESTIONS
Instructions: After reading the chapter, study each question. Try to determine the correct answer without referring back. Check the accuracy of your answer by clicking the hyperlinked portion of the question. The link takes you to the correct place in the chapter.
Q.1 Discriminate between a counseling model which is derived and one that is superimposed.
Q.2 Explain how Christian counseling may differ from biblical counseling.
Q.3 What does the term "integration" generally imply as it relates to Christians who counsel?
Q.4 What are the major problems created by "integration" for the Christian who counsels?
Q.5 What specific problems does a resistance to "integration" create for the Christian who counsels?
Q.6 Where should the Christian who counsels begin in relation to an understanding of the Bible?
ENDNOTES - CHAPTER I
1. Hall, Calvin S. and Nordby, Vernon J., p. 3-4.
2. Ibid. p. 4.
3. Hill, Winfred, p. 632-635.
4. Ibid, p. 161-162.
5. Menninger, Karl, p. 3-4.
6. Adams, Jay E., Competent to Counsel, xvii-xix of Introduction.
7. Ibid, xi-xii of Introduction.
8. Hill, Op. cit., p. 29-53.
9. Kilpatrick, William Kirk, p. 13-14.
10. Ibid, p. 14.
11. Thorpe, Louis P., p. 506.
12. Kilpatrick, Op. cit., p. 15.
13. Ibid, p. 232.
14. Thorpe, Op. cit., p. 242-249.
15. Hall & Nordby, Op. cit., p. 3-4.
16. Jones, Ernest, p. 22-30.
17. Kilpatrick, Op. cit., p. 14.
18. Hill, Op. cit., p. 628-632.
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