Having read chapters by L. Rebecca Propst, Everett Worthington, and Siang-Yang Tan (in Integrating Faith and Psychology, IVP 2010), I am seeing an initial pattern–how important experience of God is in the development and outlook of the person–especially through the trials and tribulations of life. Worthington points to it in his work on the topic of forgiveness (his mother was violently murdered). Propst speaks of integration as the product of her daily struggles and walk with God. Tan points to a burnout experience plus subsequent healing that led to his move toward psychology.
As one who reads and sometimes writes about the relationship between faith and psychology (and the fact that we cannot separate these two concepts–faith and psychology are always linked for everyone), I find these stories useful. They remind me that much of our practical integration is seamless and emanates from the gut. It doesn’t mean that we ought not have critical thoughts about our gut or that we ought to supply theory to our practice. But, try as we might to focus on the logic of our work, our integrative work is in the moment affective work I think.
Tan and Propst are right. You want to do good integration? Don’t make it your primary focus. “Instead, seek the Lord and his kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), and always see the bigger picture of God’s will and God’s kingdom with loving obedience to him, even as we are graced and blessed by him.” (Tan, p. 88) “Follow hard after God. Cultivate a daily habit of prayer and Bible study. As much as possible, understand and try to grasp a truly supernatural view of the universe.” (Propst, p. 64)
Let us be reminded that there is something more important than getting the right view of Christian counseling–that of knowing and being sensitive to the Spirit of God. It is possible, to be right in one’s view of psychology and theology and fail to be sensitive to the Spirit of God.