When theory, technique and person combine…

Am trying to write an academic journal article on clinical applications of Christian Psychology. Heady…I know. Too heady for me I think. However, in my study I ran across these quotes from

Leitner, L.M. (2007). Theory, Technique, and Person: Technical Integration in Experiential Constructivist Psychotherapy. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 17, 33-49.

From his abstract:

From an experiential constructivist position, the distinction between the therapist as a person, the therapist’s theory of psychotherapy, and techniques used within the therapy room is, in some ways, forced and arbitrary.

He starts out this article, after the abstract with,

“Becoming a psychotherapist is not about assembling a bag of tricks and learning the formula for matching tricks (i.e., techniques) with problems. What you do as a therapist emerges from who you are in the therapy room. And, when an intervention comes from who you are, it is no longer a technique.”

SO, it stands to reason that we ought to view therapists in their sessions in order to see what kind of people they are. We therapists often think in terms of theory to practice. But practice probably reveals a truer picture of our theory.


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling science, counseling skills, teaching counseling

10 responses to “When theory, technique and person combine…

  1. Ryan

    The last quote was very interesting. Makes me wonder more about the importance of sanctification for the counselor. The more I become in experience who God says I already am because of what Jesus has done…perhaps that is what people really need from me.

  2. Scott Knapp

    If the role of psychology is only to better enable people slalom around life’s trauma, in order to hurt less and feel better for the duration of their lifetime, that mission requires little more than a skilled manipulator, like a chiropractor for the soul.

    If the role of psychology is to help seekers find there way through the midst of life’s trauma, and even see the value in the trauma, for the purpose of becoming less of an idolater and more of a worshipper of God, that mission requires a Guide and a Director, with feet and hands doing the “ground work” for Him (therapists, pastors, disciplers, spiritual directors, mentors, etc.).

    As He directs the work of making His own disciples in the world, my role as a therapist is just one patch in a huge patchwork quilt of purposeful participants…the therapist is no more or less important in the over-all work of sanctifying a bride for Himself, just one of many roles, unique to it’s calling for the time and place in which it is employed. My job opens doors non-therapists cannot go…my license opens doors non-licensed helpers cannot go. My purpose is no more weighty or important than the helping efforts of the most poorly educated Saint offering a cold cup of water to the thirsty…it’s simply different, what it needs to be for the people I am called to serve, in the place(s) and time(s) I’m called to serve.

    That’s my take on it.

  3. Scott Knapp

    Toss the phrase “through which” into that last paragraph to make a few sentences about “doors” make grammatical sense.

  4. Carm

    …interesting way of viewing it, like the art and science, and somehow understanding how both coexist. There are times when I am glad my theory can be independent of me (teaching a Cognitive Behavioral skill, for example) on a day when a life stressor puts a personal strain on me. Experientially, i can separate myself from my ‘bag of tricks’ some days… which i think is healthy. If not, all counselors would always have to have all their ducks in a row (so to speak) so as not to interfere with practice.

    I think a balance occurs between the art and the interpersonal dynamics and the spiritual presence of God and the skill implementation and the science and the teaching…

    (oh, and hi Scott! Great to see you on here!)

  5. Brooke

    Shouldnt it be a marriage of both personal, who you are, and technique…? It is what makes this kind of care unique, personal and intimate……that can spark change, growth and hope.
    It is the ability and care of discerning that will be the catalyst between the two….

    I think.

  6. Joel

    just found your blog, and recently read an article of yours down here at Reformed Theological Seminary in our counseling program. I am looking forward to reading more of your musings.

  7. Lou

    “…What you do as a therapist emerges from who you are in the therapy room. And, when an intervention comes from who you are, it is no longer a technique.”

    Why should anyone be surprised by this? In Gal. 6.1, God calls on “you who are spiritual” to restore the fallen. In Timothy and Titus when he outlines the qualification for elders in the body He does not give a list of techniques or talents that are to be mastered, He is interested in character and heart.

    At no time in your life will your own heart be more revealed than when you deal with the suffering of another.

  8. Here is an example how prayer, scripture study, and praise can help a person with mental illness. As all know a combination, of all of the above, help us hear God’s voice, through the Holy Spirit:

    I was extremely depressed one day. I feel into my usual HABIT of making a mental list, of all that was wrong in my life. I was ready to eat my morning meal, after prayer. I walked over to my microwave to heat something up.

    As I stood waiting and still listing mentally, all my woes, sorrows and dissatisfactions- Suddenly I felt still and quiet.
    In my spirit I heard a still small voice (the Holy Spirit) say:
    If you can make a list of everything, that you think, is wrong in your life, you can also, make a list of the blessings God has given you…
    I was struck by the simplicity of the Lord’s message and sat down to make that list. I kept at it, the more I listed my blessings the better I felt.
    It is now a habit of mine to begin each day with praise, to God for all He has given me.
    You see-the garment of praise lifts a spirit of heaviness, as mentioned in Is. 61:3.
    Isaiah 61:3 ..in part..The oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

    High praise to God, singing, reciting the raise psalms, listing on paaper all God’s blessing..These are the keys to healing from depressions.

    High praises are done, by me for at least 30 minutes daily, my life and moods have changed. I sing, dance in the Lord, recite praise psalms and shout! Enjoying every single minute.

    I have been medication free for quite a few years. Glory to God. Those with depression, need high praising, singing, dancing in the Lord. They can do it. Praise raises up a spirit of joy. It may be difficult at first, but one must press in, and keep trying.
    God does not lie, his remedies work, He has given us the garment of praise, which sends a spirit of depression packing.

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