Interventions that Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy Article Review

Interventions that Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy

Abstract

The current essay is a journal article review of the publication presented by Fernando L. Garzon, “Interventions that Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy”. Basically, the text dwells upon challenges faced by Christian therapists with regards to their religious clients. Particularly, one of the main questions discussed is dedicated to the topic of Bible introduction into the treatment. Using multiple case studies the article establishes several strategies for therapeutic world to consider. Examples of psychodynamic, theoeducational, psychoeducational, cognitive, behavioral and affective experiential therapeutic character are presented. If the ethical and religious-cultural guidelines are followed correctly, Scripture will remain an unconditional source for clinician work in its further development.

In order to attain the objective of the current essay such methods as: skimming and scanning, reason and logics, and data analysis will be applied. Therefore, the paper will include the review only of the most important topic-relevant features, exemplified and explained.

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Introduction

Christian counseling is a profession of diverse origins. There are an abundance of perspectives according to the usage of Scripture in psychological treatment. The strategies applied in the course of the treatment may either avoid Scripture incorporation, or consider it the only true way to conduct Christian therapy.

The article under analysis uses a case study of several clients collected into one composite character named “Goerge”. The given case study presents examples of multiple intervention strategies. However, the aim of the article is not to review an excessive amount of strategies, but to inform Christian therapists about their existence, and stimulate these clinicians to incorporate God’s Word in Christian Psychotherapy.

Pursuant to the structure of the article, the essay will present the review of the scholarly work under relevant specific headings: The Case of George; Ethical, Cultural, and Assessment Issues when Concidering Scripture Interventions; Potential Scripture Interventions for George’s Treatment; and Conclusions.

George’s Case

George, who is the composite character, is embodied in a man of thirty years old, Caucasian, single. He works at a construction sphere. This male turned to the help of the specialist with such symptoms as: depressed mood; cardinally lowered self-esteem; thoughts, provoking suicide; and insomnia. The given symptoms occur once in a while for over the time period of ten years. According to Fernando L. Garzon (2005), George has no intentions to commit suicide; however, he still needs help in monitoring these provocative states of mind. The most repetitive statements used by George are: “I’ll never amount to anything”; “I’m a loser”; “I get anxious when I think about saying ‘no’ to offered work” (Garzon, 2005); and suicidal – “I came close a couple of times, but never did anything” (Garzon, 2005).

Further, the publication describes George’s background: his family illnesses (none), and his medical and developmental history. On addressing background material the writer sets an image of George’s life: his father was an alcoholic and his mother took anti-depressants to combat with moments of overwhelming depressive mood. What is more, the father of the family insulted his wife and little son both verbally and physically. In addition, George had difficulties to interact with his friends, and short-lived relationships with women, who dated him because of being sorry for his “miserable” life. Two years ago George became a Christian and since then he took to the habit of attending the local Baptist church. It is his faith that helps him in his daily difficulties and prevents from committing suicide.

Eventually, George was diagnosed with chronic depression “trauma-induced from childhood relationship with an abusive alcoholic father suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Garzon, 2005). As a result, George has a belief in his worthlessness. Hence, he agreed with his treatment plan and individual psychotherapy.

Ethical, Cultural and Assessment Issues in Scripture Intervention

A lot of literature was published considering ethical usage in psychotherapy. A clinician, who aims to implement the Word of God into his methodological techniques, according to Richards and Bergin (1997), should: a). respect the client’s autonomy/freedom; b). be sensitive and empathic for the client’s religious and spiritual beliefs; and c). be flexible and responsive to the client’s religious and spiritual beliefs (Garzon, 2005). Here, Garzon ( 2005) claims that therapists might respond positively or negatively on equal terms towards these obligations (p. 115). For example, clinicians with positive reaction tend to utilize Scripture in their work with overt interventions, thus, neglecting the client’s fear of such interventions. Moreover, Garzon (2005) poses an example in the case of George: if the patient is under pressure due to the strict law of Bible, and, this way, feels less worthy of himself, it is highly recommended not to start treating him using Scripture, in fact, try to implement it after the first positive effects of the therapy (p. 115). Only careful ethical usage of Scripture and common reactions will contribute to the accuracy of assessing the appropriateness of interventions in psychotherapy.

Potential Scripture Interventions for George’s Treatment

After thorough assessment of George, it was revealed that religion plays a supporting key-factor in his life. George was more than pleased with incorporating spiritual techniques into his treatment. Thus, the further article discusses intervention samples, which are included into a variety of theoretical orientations.

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Implicit Scripture Intervention

The kind of intervention includes the Bible as the core of the treatment. For example, the usage of the character of Christ in various, similar to the patient’s, situations; praying outside and during sessions; personal spiritual life and development of the counselor only complement the treatment. Tan (1996a) understands these interventions as implicit integration (p. 115). He also contrasts implicit with the explicit (systematic incorporation of spiritual resources). As a conclusion, both implicit and explicit integration are very helpful with religious clients as they pose a direct positive impact on the care quality.

Psychoeducational

As George appears to be quite emotional, he needs to be educated with regards to the appropriateness of experiencing emotions. The Bible, in its turn, is a good source to establish what emotions are characteristic of men and what are not. To add a good example to the matter, Garzon speaks about the book called “Boundaries” (1992), which might contribute to the Biblical assertiveness or every religious person.

Theoeducational

In George’s case, the man felt theologically insignificant. Hence, Garzon assessed theology promoted in the church George attended. By implementing theoeducation, George went through bibliotherapy and understood God’s acceptance and caring nature.

Behavioral

Benson (1996) described a relaxation technique of deep-breathing, which could be applied to George’s cure of insomnia. This technique was adapted from religious people to increase motivation, compliance and self-efficiency. George appreciated this technique a lot as the process of exhaling-inhaling was supported by his favorite “Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’” (Garzon, 2005). Thus, this technique became an aid in George’s attempts to fall asleep.

Cognitive

This intervention uses logics and reason as the primary strategies to change beliefs of irrational character. This strategy is called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Garzon (2005) shows the work of the technique in Figure 1 (p. 117). With regards to George, who applied to take pilot lessons, the figure reveals: activating event (application that was not reviewed); irrational belief (presuming to be a loser); consequent emotions (depression and discouragement); disruption of belief (God’s words); and ratings of original belief following disruption (35%).

Affective Experiential

The current approach aims at activating the client’s cognitive (emotional) matrix corresponding to the issue. Hence, the inner prayer was used to affect painful memories through recollection and plea for the Christ’s healing power to resolve the pain. In other words, a counselor uses the background knowledge of Scripture to invite Christ to come into the patient’s memory and cure all the negative assumptions, such as George’s “I’m a loser”.

In the conclusion, Garzon reflects upon spirituality and its significance. Christian clients, who would like to implement the Bible into their treatment, leave the counselors wondering about the methods of these implementations. This, he points out to the samples provided in his article, stating again that appropriate following of ethical and religious-cultural guidelines is a very valuable and working methods of cure in psychotherapy.

Conclusion

To conclude, the article by Fernando L. Garzon revealed methods of psychological treatment using Christian motifs, the Bible, in particular. The author believes that this is an innovative way in psychotherapy, which can help by no means to treat clients, who are religious. The article is organized in a very convenient way, exemplified and easy to understand. What is more, it is one of the forward steps into counseling proficiency with regards to Christian clients.

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References

Garzon, F. (2005). Interventions that Apply Scripture in Psychotherapy. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(2), pp. 113-121. Retrieved November 19, 2014.

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