Had a prospective student in recently asking about good readings to start with before beginning the Masters degree. My answer? It depends on your background and interests. So, I’m going to post a few of my recommendations today for the student with a college/university/grad background in psychology but who wishes to be more informed about the Christian world of counseling theory and practice.
Historical and Theoretical Foundations
Eric Johnson’s massive tome, “Foundations for Soul Care” (IVP 2007). At over 600 pages, you might be intimidated but you should try out Part 1 (ch. 1-3) which gives you historical and theoretical backgrounds. The rest is great too (check out p. 172 for a good illustration). Also, the Appendix 1 may help as well.
Eric also edited “Psychology & Christianity: 4 views” (IVP). You can see 4 different stances to christian counseling. The book isn’t the best because it does not, in my opinion, allow each model to be well represented. However, the first chapter does provide historical background and you can see the failings of each of the four views in their debates with each other.
Examples of Christian Counseling
Anything written by David Powlison or Ed Welch (www.ccef.org) will do just fine. Ed’s “When People Are Big…” book is a good start. More recent editions such as his book on addictions and depression are popular reads but helpful. David’s writings are best contained in their (now defunct) Journal of Biblical Counseling or on their website.
If you haven’t read anything by Larry Crabb, one of the most well-known Christian counselors, you might start with his “Finding God.” He has a dozen or more books to choose from but that one may be his best.
Want someone who best illustrates the integrationist model? Try Mark McMinn’s “Integrative Psychotherapy” (IVP). This book may be the most comprehensive effort to articulate both theory and practice by any Christian counselor to date. Or, look at any of Mark Yarhouse’s work. You can find his writings at www.regent.edu or http://psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com/.
Want more of a theological foundation? Consider C. Plantiga’s “Not the Way its Supposed to Be” (Eerdmans).
There’s way more but that will get you started. If you really need more check out www.christianpsych.org for its lists of good books.