Category Archives: Diane Langberg

Evangelicals speak out about abuse cover-ups


Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments (G.R.A.C.E) tasked one of its Board members, Diane Langberg, to author a better response to abuse scandals in evangelical denominations (better than weak apologies and defenses of esteemed leaders penned in the last month or so). Here’s how it starts. After you read the beginning, read the rest here and use this link to add your name and voice to the message that we are not longer going to keep silent.

Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well-known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different from from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children. This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse. We do not just believe we should do better; as those who claim the name of Jesus and the cause of the Gospel, we are convinced we must do better. In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten.

Through the media we have been confronted with perpetual reports of grievous sexual abuse and its cover-up. Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims. And while many evangelical leaders have eagerly responded with outrage to those public scandals, we must now acknowledge long-silenced victims who are speaking out about sexual abuse in evangelical Christian institutions: schools, mission fields and churches, large and small. And we must confess we have done far too little to hear and help them.

Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Weisel, once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” When we choose willful ignorance, inaction or neutrality in the face of evil, we participate in the survival of that evil. When clergy, school administrations, boards of directors, or military commanders have been silent or have covered up abuse, they have joined with those who perpetrate crimes against the “little ones” – often children, but also others who are on the underside of power because of size, age, position or authority.

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Filed under Abuse, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, Diane Langberg, Doctrine/Theology, Evangelicals

Global Trauma Recovery Intensive: Day 1


20 students along with myself and Dr. Diane Langberg just finished a 3 day marathon together at Biblical’s Hatfield campus. This inaugural cohort has been studying together via our e-campus since January. We’ve read books, articles, watched slides shows, and discussed a wide variety of topics (e.g., the psychological, social, spiritual, biological impact of trauma, shame, culture, strengths-based listening skills, and faith and psychological intervention strategies). At this meeting, we continued to consider how to listen andGTRI - First Graduating Class respond to traumatized individuals in places other than our own.

Morning Session: Romania

Our morning consisted of a live engagement (thank you Google Hangout!) with mental health practitioners in Romania. Dr. Ileana Radu and Stefana Racorean hosted the meeting. The Romanian contingent consisted of mental health therapists, psychiatrists, and Christian leaders. As part of their conference, they took time out to ask us questions about trauma, trauma recovery interventions, and integration of psychology and Christian faith practices. In return, we asked them about the mental health scene in Romania, the most common forms of trauma and intervention models in their practices. From our conversations, it appears that they experience a significant divide between secular mental health models or “bible only or prayer only” models.

The conversation bolstered our students understanding of Romanian culture and put a human face to what they had read about regarding torture trauma resulting from pre-revolution days in that country. In addition, students had the opportunity to discuss a couple of PTSD cases written up by mental health practitioners in the conference.

The entire conversation and connection (bridge, according to our new Romanian friends) was the result of Dr. Langberg’s inability to travel to Romania in April. She was to be their keynote speaker but due to the death of her mother, she was unable to attend. The conference was rescheduled and Dr. Langberg spoke via SKYPE and previously recorded DVDs.

Afternoon Session: North Philadelphia

Elizabeth Hernandez, executive director and founder of Place of Refuge, led our afternoon session by giGTRI - appendix photoving us a window into the trauma work going in North Philadelphia among the latino population. She shared with us some of the groundbreaking work they are doing with low-income population who have experienced many traumas. The class also engaged around the matter of syncretism (Catholic faith practices mixed with witchcraft and other superstitions) and how faith-based counseling services are delivered.

We ended the day with some brief use of video to “listen” to trauma stories in Eastern Europe and the US. After these engagements, we had our students explore writing their own laments as means to connect with God and concluded with a corporate lament. The purpose of lament is to confess (one’s own sin or the sins of others!), converse with God and others, question God about what we see that is not the way it is supposed to be, and by questioning acknowledge hope in God that he is in the process of redeeming and rescuing a broken world. Lament is not a tool to get better but to connect to each other and to talk to God about our suffering.

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Filed under Abuse, Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma, Uncategorized

Project Tuza 2.0 in Rwanda: Your chance to participate


Those following this blog for a bit will know that I have travelled to Rwanda to participate in training Rwandan caregivers from 19 caregiving organizations (with World Vision Rwanda as the main host and partner). This project has been named “Project Tuza” and is funded by both World Vision Rwanda and donors to the American Association of Christian Counselors nonprofit foundation.

Trip Details:

This June (21-30), a group of 8 counselors and psychologists will be working with local counselors and caregivers to improve counseling and caregiving skills to women and children experiencing domestic violence, with those suffering addictions, and to provide opportunity for extensive case rich learning. While some trainings will be delivered via presentations, we have been requested to spend much of our time in small skills groups so that attendees can learn through practice and case review sessions. As this time will also be nearing the end of the Genocide memorial period (April – July), we will also leave ample time to give attendees time for processing their own trauma burdens. Beyond this training, we are now shaping up meetings with other interested parties so we can expand our opportunities on future trips.

How can I participate?

  • You can pray. These trips are difficult to manage from beginning to end. Getting the logistics right can be difficult when managing time-zones and cultures.
  • You can pray some more. Health, prepping for talks, making sure that we bring the resources we need (AACC is gifting the Rwandan counselors with a large cache of DVD and CD trainings). Next week, we will be meeting here in the States with one of the Rwandan counselors to finalize our training.
  • You can give. This trip is already funded by World Vision Rwanda and AACC. However we desire to keep returning to continue the training. You can help offset the costs of this trip and enable us to return soon. Since our last trip, airline tickets have increased more than $500 per person! Each one of us who are going give by covering a portion of the costs of travel to and from Rwanda. You can help us as well. Please consider giving to AACC Foundation by mailing checks (made payable to AACC FOUNDATION) to AACC Foundation, Attention: Project Tuza, PO Box 739, Forest, VA 24551 (in memo line, indicate the gift is for Project Tuza) or by giving online here in increments of $5. All gifts will be tax deductible.

Stay posted for more information and blogs about our trip!

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Filed under AACC, Africa, counseling skills, Diane Langberg, genocide, Rwanda, Uncategorized

Trauma and Trafficking DVDs on Amazon


Nearly 2 years ago (March 2011), Biblical Seminary put on a conference about the problem of sexual trauma and trafficking. Our speakers included Dr. Diane Langberg (a noted psychologist), Bethany Hoang (IJM), Robert Morrison (a grassroots organizer), and Pearl Kim (now ADA for 2 Philadelphia counties). The sessions covered domestic and international sex trTrauma and Traffickingafficking, abuse and violence against women worldwide, the problem of sexual abuse in christian organizations, and how to mobilize community action without expending energy on non-profit status.

It was a powerful conference…and you can own it for a mere $19.99. Here’s the link to Amazon. Or, you can find it here at Vision Video (along with MP4 options as well) for 20% off.

This DVD set (3 DVDs) are an excellent starting point if you or your church group want to think more deeply about the biblical call to justice in the area of trafficking, trauma, and violence against women, whether “out there” or in the church.

Look for information on purchasing our most recent DVD series, Abuse in the Church, in the next week.

 

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Filed under Abuse, biblical counseling, Biblical Reflection, christian counseling, Christianity, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, Diane Langberg, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma

One Definition of Christian Psychology


At a recent conference, Diane Langberg submitted the following definition of Christian Psychology. I present it below, verbatim, for your consideration. In some ways she doesn’t say anything new. However, it is quite different from our usual definitions.

Let me explain my seeming contradiction by first giving you C. Stephen Evans definition of Christian psychology,

 [It is] psychology which is done to further the kingdom of God, carried out by citizens of that kingdom whose character and convictions reflect their citizenship in that kingdom… (p. 132)

As you would expect, Dr. Evans offers a philosophically astute definition.

Or, consider Eric Johnson’s tome, Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal. In this book of 700 plus pages, he explicates a Christian psychology framework as doxological, semiodiscursive, dialogical, canonical, and psychological approach to soul repair. If you are looking for a theologically and epistemologically rich entry point to Christian psychology, I can’t point you to a better place than this book.

Like these two examples, many of our current definitions focus on matters of epistemology, theology, and psychology. Many definitions also emphasize the work of critical evaluation of existing psychological theory and research.

Now turn to Dr. Langberg’s definition. Notice how she emphasizes the character, the preparation, and actions of the counselor. Notice further that the focus on outcomes is bidirectional–on counselee and counselor.

Christian psychology as practiced in the counseling relationship is a servant of God, steeped in the Word of God, loving and obeying God in public and in private, sitting across from a suffering sinner at a vulnerable crossroad in his/her life and bringing all of the knowledge and wisdom and truth and love available to that person while remaining dependent on the Spirit of God hour by hour. That work, no matter what you call it, will be used by God to change us into His likeness; that work will result in His redemptive work in the life sitting before us; that work will bring glory to His great Name.

What I take from Dr. Langberg’s definition is an emphasis on action, the Spirit’s work and the counselor’s work (in self and other). While the epistemological definitions are necessary if we are going to think critically about our work, so to is this action-oriented definition. It reminds us that for all our thinking and theorizing, it is God’s work in our private and public lives that is used to bring healing and hope to others.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg

Things you won’t hear often in graduate counseling programs


In my last post I made mention of Dr. Langberg’s presentations last Monday night. One of her talks was entitled, “Ten Things About Counseling You Don’t Usually Hear in Graduate School.” At some point we may be able to upload video of that talk but just to whet your appetite, here are a couple of her 10 items,

  • Counseling is not nice. Most people get into the counseling business because they want to help people and because others have indicated that they have a gift for listening. Without being negative about the work of counseling, Dr. Langberg reminded us that to counsel with others is to invite garbage into your life. People don’t come to counseling to talk about the good things…
  • Similarly, the stuff of counseling is contagious; it will change you.
  • Counseling will expose you. It will expose your limits of patience, rationality, and love. It will expose your baser reasons for being a counselor.
  • Christian counseling is doing God’s work. It is not our work.
  • Christian counseling is doing God’s work for him (not for ourselves or others).

Just a taste. But she concluded with this call,

Listen acutely. Study avidly. Be the Word.

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Filed under Christianity, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg

The problem of abuse and avoidance of grief


Last Monday night we had the privilege of having Dr. Diane Langberg on campus to speak to our counseling students. One of the 4 talks she did was entitled, “The Spiritual Impact of Child Sexual Abuse.” She stated that it was material that she developed after publishing her book, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. As you can imagine, she gave us a very powerful talk. But of all the things she said, one idea seemed to hit students and faculty alike. I do not have her quoted here but rather the essence,

  • Grief may be the most powerful emotion in sexual abuse survivors, more powerful than the pain of the abuse
  • Most clients work really hard to avoid grief; encouraging good grief is difficult work

I’m not doing justice to her thoughts here. But, I think she nails it. Sexual abuse destroys relationships, faith, trust, identity, and physical bodies. To grieve is to name and acknowledge what was lost, broken, stolen, etc. and to admit that many of the broken things cannot be restored in this life–at least to the levels that we desire. The work of counseling surely includes coming to a correct understanding about guilt, shame, love, boundaries. The work of counseling is about reconnecting with God and others. The work of counseling is about rebuilding identity. But, all of these activities require grieving what did take place, grieving what was lost (real or symbolic).

Most of us, whether we have suffered abuse or not, would rather not sit with grief. And so, we run. However, if the heart of God is shown in lament for the world that is not as it should be, then we ought not to run from grief.

May God show us how to lament and live in peace at the same time.

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Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, counseling, Diane Langberg

Must Read: Diane Langberg on “Trauma as a Mission Field”


My supervisor, mentor, and colleague, Dr. Diane Langberg has been telling us for some time that “trauma is the mission field of our time.” Recently, however, a few Christian NGO/Missions leaders have heard this line in one of her talks and have become electrified by it. I cited it last week in a board meeting at Biblical as I was trying to make the case that developing postgraduate trauma training at Biblical fits our mission: following Jesus into the world.

But, some of you have not heard her give one of these talks. For you, I point you to the World Reformed Fellowship website so you can read a report she made on June 5 regarding the problem of trauma and the opportunity of the church to have a hand in healing this man-made scourge. Below is an excerpt of that short report. Do go to the WRF link and read it in its entirety. The report is not long but it is powerful and includes a couple of specific comments from two leaders in Africa.

We are the church. That means we are the body of Jesus Christ and He is our Head. In the physical realm, a body that does not follow its head is a sick body. That is also true in the spiritual realm. We are His people and I believe with all my heart He has called us to go out of ourselves and follow Him into the suffering of this world bearing both His character and His Word. And we do go – we send missionaries and the Scriptures; we provide food, clean water, education and jobs for many. And we should. We have rarely, however, seen trauma as a place of service. If we think carefully about the extensive natural disasters in our time such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis and combine those victims with the many manmade disasters – the violent inner cities, wars, genocides, trafficking, rapes, and child abuse we would have a staggering number. I believe that if we would stop and look out on suffering humanity we would begin to realize that trauma is perhaps the greatest mission field of the 21st century.

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Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, Congo, counseling, counseling skills, Diane Langberg, Great Quotes, missional, Missional Church, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Rwanda

Live Talk Radio Interview Today


Will be on AFA radio today with Tim Clinton at noon.
Listen live if you like: http://www.afa.net/radio/

It should appear on their website (audio and video) later. The show is “Turn it Around Radio”.

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Filed under "phil monroe", AACC, Diane Langberg, Uncategorized

Webinar on Complex Trauma: April 19, 2011


Diane Langberg and I are scheduled to do a three hour webinar for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) on the topic of complex trauma and sexual abuse. It will run live April 19, 2011 from 6p to 9p. You can learn more about the content of the webinar by visiting this link.

Use the above link to register. Cost is $59 to “attend” via your computer or $69 if you want CEUs. AACC is able to give 3 CEUs for those needing APA and NBCC approved continuing ed.

Our presentation will be broken into 4 segments with Q & A. Topics include: overview, differential diagnoses, 3 phase treatment approach, educating the church about trauma, connecting victims to God, counselor self-care, and next steps for church leaders.

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Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling science, counseling skills, Diane Langberg