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The Impact of the Fruits of the Spirit on Psychotherapy Research Paper


Introduction

It is very important for the Christian psychotherapists to have proper knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. The utilization of systematic theology offers the apparatuses that are required in giving guidance in the approach to understanding God’s character and His mission.

Employing this approach will serve as a basis for a functional working model for the counselors to engage in the suitable integration of faith and counseling in order to create hope and healing of man in all aspects of life (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009). This paper is going to discuss the impact of the fruits of the Holy Spirit on psychotherapy. This is going to be discussion under three sections; theology, mission, and counseling. There will be a summary of the discussion in the conclusion section.

Theology

In Christianity, it is assumed that human beings are created to relate to God. In the book of Psalms 41:1, this is regarded as the basic need where it is pointed out that “as the deer longs for flowing streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God” (Fayard, 2006, p.10). It is suggest by the Psalmist, as well as Augustine that spirituality is a fundamental driving force that has clear psychological implications (Fayard, 2006).

This implications as well give a reflection of a spirituality which is not just rational, but has anthropomorphic elements as well. Human beings are designed to thirst for their creator as a person, and God is willing to respond at all times (Grenz, 1994). This point of view is contradicted by those that for an amorphous spirituality or regard religion as “no more than a cultural narrative” (Joseph, 2003, p.14).

Jesus pointed out that the greatest law is “Love your God with all your heart and wilh all your soul and with all your mind “and the second is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mathew chapter 22). It is stated in the Bible that God is love. According to the book of 1Corinthians13, Paul points out that any experience that has no love is useless. Love is as well looked at from of interpersonal and ethical point of view (Hodge, 1975).

It is stated in the book of John, chapter 13 and verses 34 and 35 that “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another…by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Fayard, 2006, p.11). Love tends to be the arranging rule of divine doings.

In the present times, psychotherapy is dominated by either “the empirically supported protocols from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or by Eastern informed humanistic strategies” (Fayard, 2006, p.10). Within this context, boosting of the contexts of being loved and also loving is of significance. There is a tendency among the Cognitivists to engage in overemphasizing a rationalist point of view, but on the other hand, there is a tendency for the humanists to put focus on a “self-referencing ethic” (Fayard, 2006, p, p.11).

Bergin (1980) points out that “values are an inevitable and almost omnipresent part of the therapeutic process” (Bergin, 1980, p.95). Evidence has been offered by the researches that have been conducted that the values of the therapist have an influence on every psychotherapy phase, encompassing the theories of the therapeutic change as well as personality, evaluation strategies, treatment goals, design and choosing of the interventions, and assessment of the outcomes of therapy (Grider, 1994; McCullough, 1999).

The values of the therapist have influence on the patients, most of the time taking on their moral, religious values as well as health (Miller, 1999).

In Christianity, there is an assumption of moral order which gives the reflection of the Creator’s image in the creature. The book of Exodus chapter 20 expresses the values that create boundaries: inner differentiation and “the regulation of interpersonal social adjustment that flow from a personal and collective ethic informed by love” (Fayard, 2006, p.11).

The book of Galatians gives a reflection of the virtues at the heart of the values held by Christianity which include self control, love, goodness, gentleness, kindness, peace, faithfulness and joy, and embodied in the individual and Jesus Christ’s life (Fayard, 2006).

Of greater importance is the assumption which is put forward in Christianity that the completeness of Imago Dei can only be a product of spiritual processes. It was pointed out by the creator of modern Adventism that culture, putting the will into effect, human endeavor, and educations have their appropriate field, but here they are ineffective.

“They may produce an outward correctness of behaviors, but they can no change the heart…That power is Christ” (White, 1892, p.11). This implies that the emphasis on values can just go as far with no clear understanding of grace as being a base.

The Christian psychotherapists have to be faithful to the patient’ values and at the same time, they should have acknowledgement of the moral implications, relationships, and conduct. A large number of psychotherapists would concur with the virtues expressed as being the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Saunders, et al, 2010).

Positive Psychology suggests the same listing (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). The profession has been challenged by Doherty (1996), to consider the moral challenges in a serious manner. Fayard (2006) suggested that Exodus 20 offers a significant compass in this line.

Mission

All through the Scripture, the main theme is the restoration of nations. In order for this mission to go on, there is a need for believers to possess the outpouring power of the Holy Spirit. This kind of power makes it possible for the believers to go out and serve as witnesses. The Holy Spirit provides discernment for one to be perceptive to all forms of the needs of the needy people. The mission Dei model requires one to be culturally competent.

By one being a therapist and at the same time a minister, it is essential for him or her to have the understanding of various cultural limitations and strengths. This can be realized through sufficient training in cultural competency, referred to as Sue’s cultural competence. This training gives a highlight of the strengths, values and ethical guiding principles among other important cultural information.

All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Since all human beings are created in the image of God, which is not similar to any other thing He created, they have the duty to serve as His representatives and should also represent His interests and serve as His ambassadors for all creatures.

By making human beings in His own image, He offers them a value. This is a respect that is given to all Human beings, and it is supposed to serve as the ‘hand’ which Christians are in a position to use to reach out other people to show them God’s character through the acts of acceptance, as well as love (Wright, 2006).

Therefore, it is imperative for the therapists to portray love and acceptance to their clients (Rogers, 1961). Being Christian counselors, these people are called not just to have recognition of this value, but they as well need to go a mile further to turning out to be God’s ambassadors to their clients to provide them with love, dignity and acceptance which are traced in the character of God (McMinn & Campbell, 2007).

The Imago Dei concept has two significant missiological implications. First, it illustrates the ability of human beings to fellowship with God. The other implication is that human beings are created with the ability to serve as God’s representatives (Vicedom, 1965). Even if the fall of man injured God’s fellowship with man, through the Imago Dei, it is possible to make a restoration of a man in order for him to fellowship with God (Hope, 1987).

Through Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice on the cross, the plan God has is to ensure restoration of all human beings to Himself. This can be clearly seen in the “Great Commission” as portrayed in the book of Mathew, Chapter 28 and verses 19 and 20, where Jesus makes a command to his disciples “to go into the entire world and make disciples from all nations”. Jesus Christ did not engage in ruling any person out as being incapable of being redeemed (Packer, 1973).

The Creator made all human beings as male and female. He commissioned Human beings to have power over the entire creation. Among the ways in which an indication of this was given is Adam giving names to all animals. In the book of Genesis, chapter one and verse twenty eight, there is the establishment of the precedent to the writings of Paul that came later in book of 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 20 in which it is taught that the Christians are to serves as ambassadors of God and should represent Him.

It is also pointed out that all human beings were created to have equal qualifications to ensure this purpose is accomplished. Jews and Gentiles alike were offered the gift of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts and have a common commission to set out to be God’s representatives to all nations. York (2000) pointed out that “God’s creation of humankind in His image establishes both the scope and agency of God’s mission…God’s mission will be to all peoples” (York, 2000, p.23).

Cheong & DiBlasio (2007) points out that “a Christian counseling perspective of love must emerge from an understanding of God’s character, redemptive work throughout history, and command to love” (p.14). God made a choice to reveal Himself in two different ways; a general way and a special way.

Through the God’s revelation, human beings are in a position to see how the reconciliation as well as redemption are being played all through the history and lives of human beings. Beginning from the time man felt short of the glory of God to this very moment and to the future, the plan of God has been and will always be in motion (Clinton, Hart & Ohlschlager, 2005).

Counseling

The clearly seen form of integration of counseling and faith is found in the way the counselor behaves. However, this does not imply that the counselors who utilize the “Christian practices” possess integrated learning and faith” (Alexander, n.d, p.1). In simple terms, it may imply that they have done away with “their training altogether” (Alexander, n.d, p.1). Alexander (n.d) points out that:

Prayer, use of the Bible, healing of the memories through inviting God into the situation, use of Christian symbols and ritual, deliverance, laying on of hands, and involvement in church life are all Biblically based practices which Christians might draw on in their counseling practice (Alexander, n.d, p.1).

In a large number of cases, such practices would be utilized only in those situations where clients were Christians and had permitted their use. Among the church counseling centers, there are those that may utilize these practices regularly, holding the belief that in case people come to Christian centers that are open, they’ll have to have the willingness to accept a practice like this (Keating & Fretz, 1990; Rose, et al, 2001).

Indication would be given by professional training that would be always looking for permission for those practices that are not utilized willingly by the profession, and the Christians should draw a difference between “counseling” and “ministry” as being a part of the care duty. According to Tan (1996), “if the client shows no interest at all in religion or spiritual issues, then the therapist has to respect the client’s preferences” (Tan, 1996, p.370).

A large number of Christian counselors have received subjective evidence of practices that are apparently “disrespectful of uninformed clients and which amount to spiritual abuse when used without explanation or choice being given” (Alexander, n.d, p.2). A suggestion of three ethical guidelines is given by Nelson and Wilson (1984).

The first guideline is in relation to when handling clinical problems that will be assisted by religious or spiritual intervention. The second is if they are operating in the belief system of the person him or herself and the third is, if they have keenly defined the counseling agreement to encompass these resources or practices.

Then, having these practices integrated would call for the counselor to think through his or her beliefs in regard to the person’s nature, the healing process and the disease nature. The counselor is supposed to be in a position to carry out the articulation of their position on all of these areas and therefore give good reason for their use of any practice they take up (Martin, 2000).

For instance, in case a counselor holds a belief that healing originates from the renewal of the mind, shifting of the usual thought patterns, and brings together with a cognitive behavioral understanding theoretical context, they would be fully in line with “helping a self-identified Christian client recognize unbiblical thought patterns and replace these with verses which fit with the context of Biblical thinking as a whole – for example, an understanding of grace and God’s acceptance” (Alexander, n.d, p.1).

Another counselor who holds a belief that the larger portion of adult behavior is brought about by childhood neglect issues has a high likelihood to “draw on a psychodynamic understanding of attachment and to use inner healing, relating to helping the client find God as the longed-for parent” (Alexander, n.d, p2).

They may come to an agreement to pray together and make a request to the Holy Spirit to give the revelation of keys to healing. This as well, is a theological and theoretical understanding integration. As on the one hand, these theoretical positions and practices may contradict one another, but on the other hand, they are confirmation of integration of faith, as well counseling and clear practice (Bartz, 2009).

The counselors are supposed to engage in thinking through whatever Christian practices are and get the understanding of the way they are connected to the theoretical as well as theological beliefs they hold. It is also imperative that they become aware of the way they give the explanation to these practices and the way to ask for permission for their utilization with the clients. In this regard, it can be pointed out that it is very important to have recognition of the breadth of Christian practice and theology.

A member of the Anglican Church may prefer using a crucifix in the course of counseling and be comfortable with this but on the other hand, he or she may be afraid of the inviting the Holy Spirit. However, a member of the Pentecostal Church may have a different feeling (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009). It is very vital that counselors make no assumptions that since a person is a Christian, he/she is willing to accept whatever practice the counselor may be aware of. Those practices suit their “particular church experience” (Alexander, n.d, p.2).

Among the Christians, there are those who may engage in counseling without mentioning the name of God at all, and still be “Jesus” to the people they are counseling. Moreover, there are those that may continually, and with awareness, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a situation in which they can reveal what they are actually undertaking (Tan & Gregg, 1997; Collins, 2007). An important portion of integration is the “own being” of the counselors, their personal integrity, as well as their spiritual growth.

Conclusion

The fruits of the Holy Spirit have several impacts on psychology. It is very import for the Christian psychotherapists to understand the scriptures well, in order for them to help in counseling people who may need their assistance. Christianity makes an assumption that human beings are created to relate to God.

Christian psychotherapists have to be faithful to the patients’ values and, at the same time, they should acknowledge the moral implications, relationships and conduct, being aware that all human beings are made in the image of God. The dominating theme in the scriptures is the restoration of nations.

In order for this mission to go on, there is the need for believers to possess the outpouring power of the Holy Spirit. There is need for the counselors to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in situations in which they can reveal to their clients what they are undertaking (Tan, 1997; Collins, 2007) in the process of counseling. They need to integrate faith and psychotherapy and the important portion of integration is the “own being” of the counselors, their personal integrity, as well as their spiritual growth.

References

Alexander, I. (n.d). Integration in the practice of Christian counselors. Web.

Bartz, J. D. (2009). Theistic existential psychotherapy. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 1(2), 69-80.

Bergin, A. (1980). Psychotherapy and religious values. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 48 (1), 95-105.

Cheong, R. & DiBlasio, F. (2007). Christ-love and forgiveness: A biblical foundation for counseling practice. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 26(1), 14-25. Web.

Clinton, T., Hart, A., & Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring for people God’s way: Personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief, and trauma. Nashville, TN: Nelson Reference & Electornic.

Clinton, T. & Hawkins, R. (2009). The quick-reference guide to biblical counseling: Personal and emotional issues. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Collins, G. (2007). Christian counseling: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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Grenz, S. J. (1994).Theology for the community of God. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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Hodge, C. (1975). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans.

Hope, D. (1987). The healing paradox of forgiveness. Psychotherapy, 24(2), 240-244.

Joseph, R. (2003). Neurotheology, Brain, Science, Spirituality, Religious Experience. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Keating, A. & Fretz, B. (1990). Christians’ anticipations about counselors in response to counselor descriptions. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37(3), 293-296.

Martin, D. (2000). Counseling and therapy skills (2nd ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

McCullough, M. (1999). Research on religion-accommodative counseling: Review and meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46(1), 92-98.

McMinn, M., & Campbell, C. (2007). Integrative psychotherapy: Toward a comprehensive Christian approach. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Miller, W. (1999) Integrating Spirituality into Treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.

Nelson, A. A. & Wilson, W. P. (1984). The ethics of sharing religious faith in psychotherapy. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 12 (1), 1523.

Packer, J. I. (1973). Knowing God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004) Character Strengths and Virtues. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rose, E. M., Westefeld, J. S., & Ansley, T. N. (2001). Spiritual issues in counseling: Client’s beliefs and preferences. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48(1), 61-71.

Saunders, S. M., Miller, M. L., & Bright, M. M. (2010). Spiritually conscious psychological care. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(5), 355-362.

Tan, S. & Gregg, D. (1997). Disciplines of the Holy Spirit: How to connect to the Spirit’s power and presence. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Tan, S. (1996). “Religion in clinical practice: Implicit and explicit integration”. in E. P. Shafranske (ed). Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.

Vicedom, G. F. (1965) The Mission of God: An Introduction to a Theology of Mission. Trans. Gilbert A. Thiele and Dennis Hilgendorf. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

White, E. (1892). El Camino a Cristo. Paris, France: Aires, Asociación Casa Editora Sudamericana.

Wright, C. H. (2006) The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

York, J.V. (2000). Missions in the age of the Spirit. Springfield, MO: Logion Press.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Impact of the Fruits of the Spirit on Psychotherapy." December 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-impact-of-the-fruits-of-the-spirit-on-psychotherapy/.

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