I have a post this am on the Society of Christian Psychology’s blog regarding the topic of mindfulness. I’ve written more here on the topic but you can go here to see my comments on the makings of a Christian Psychology version of mindfulness.
Tag Archives: Society for Christian Psychology
One of the things I love about the Society for Christian Psychology is the diversity of professionals in the membership. We have biblical counselors, clinical psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and theologians. And starting this year, we have two different conferences, one for counselors and one for academics. I would like one that caters to both but this is still good. Anyway, the next academic conference (focusing on human agency) is next September 17-18 at Southern Seminary. For more info on the presenters, their paper topics and conference details, click here: 2010 Conference announcement titles
[This is the second guest post I am making over on the www.christianpsych.org. You’ll have to click the link to read the whole post…]
Every counseling ethics code in existence includes this principle: Do no harm. This maxim is drilled into the heads of counseling students (and any other medical professional as well). Our work should help, not hurt. Who could disagree?
But pause for a minute and consider how you might evaluate whether an intervention helps or harms. What criteria will you use? From what vantage point will you evaluate the criteria you choose? If a medical treatment extends life for an ill patient that would seem good—unless it keeps them alive and in a vegetative state with no possibility of recovery. Some would then wonder if the treatment was indeed best. Or, is it harmful if marriage counseling encourages truthfulness between spouses leading to the revelation of a terrible betrayal leading on to divorce and financial ruin? If honesty is your criteria for helpfulness, then the intervention is sad but helpful. If stability is your criteria, then such counseling is harmful. We could go on and on. Do we use client interpretation of whether treatment is helpful or counselor observation? Do we consider the difference between short and long term evaluation? And importantly for Christians, do we consider only statistical analyses or do we also consider biblical categories (e.g., intervention “A” leads to increased positive affect but encourages clients to pray to another deity).
Despite the muddy water I just churned up, I want to argue that Christian psychology is well poised to help Christian counselors provide treatment that does not harm. This society includes some of the best philosophers, theologians, sociologists, clinicians, and researchers of our day. These members are interested in looking at how people grow and change, how the bible connects with everyday life, common human struggles and effective interventions, etc.
How then do we go about refining our practices and avoiding harm? Let me suggest some steps we might take:
[rest of post on www.christianpsych.org.]
Some tantalizing quotes from our recent conference unapologetically taken out of context for your tasting pleasure:
Bill Hathaway: “Psychology is a social construction that gives us pockets of truth about the real world.”
From a presentation on the history of the psychology of religion project begun in the 19th century. He was talking about this historical project that was originally undertaken to explore and explain religious experience. Of course, the explanation was also reductionistic since it was undertaken from a naturalistic worldview–one that rejected the possibility of the supernatural. We should admit that all human explanations are reductionistic. But some more closely approximate the world as God created it.
Another Hathaway quote: “We don’t need to be therapy prostitutes, doing whatever the client wants.”
I’ll leave that one without explanation.
JKA Smith: “All science is hermeneutic, a take or interpretation of things…Science is culture…so the interaction between faith and psychology or theology and science is cross cultural.” And, “The most important questions of Christian psychology are these, What’s at issue…What’s at stake?”
“Biblical interpretation is not complete by coming to the meaning of any one text.” On the necessity of reading the bible in light of the whole, or, the importance of building a biblical theology.