McMinn 4-MAT Review: Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling Meghan Cavas
Liberty University: Coun-506 Integration of Psychology and Theology December 9, 2012
McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling. Carol
Stream, IL: Tyndale House.
Dr. Mark McMinn has written a wonderful book for those who are considering the path of Christian counseling. His main focus is on two aspects of the counselor’s life and his therapy sessions. The focus on the first chapter of this book is how we as counselors can integrate the Christian faith into counseling practices. McMinn (2011) explains that in order to have religious interventions we are required to understand spiritual formation, challenge prevailing methods of mental health, prioritize personal spiritual training, be sensitive to ethical issues, and strive to have a strong scientific base (p. 26).
An important aspect of McMinn’s writing is that he points out the three roles that counselors hold simultaneously. First as counselors we become full participants in interpersonal interactions that happen during sessions. Second, counselor’s serve as observers that are carefully watching and evaluating what is going on in a relationship. And third, we engineer by becoming understanding and compassionate to the clients feelings (p. 60). McMinn says “The relationship we establish with clients is an important part of the healing process (p. 60)”. It is very important that as counselors we understand healthy boundaries when it comes to client-counselor relationships. There is danger when a client is over-reliant on their counselor as well as over-confidence. It is important to find a balance so that there are appropriate limitations all around which will avoid hurt and confusion.
A value that we can take away from McMinn’s work is the fact that there are certain constructs within a counselor’s foundation that can be used in treating their clients. These constructs are those of forgiveness, prayer, redemption, sin, and scripture. Prayer has a major role in our careers as counselors. It is believed that the use of prayer in counseling sessions may help clarify a client’s perspective while enhancing their spiritual life (McMinn, 2011). Most importantly if a counselor is considering using prayer in their counseling sessions then they must be just as committed to using it within their daily personal lives.
Just like prayer, scripture can be used within counseling sessions, but it is also important that the counselor incorporates it within their own personal life as well. Using Scripture to encourage clients can help them learn to experience God more deeply and take their eyes off of selfish motives. McMinn made a profound statement when he says “In order for Scripture to effect significant change in the lives of counselors and clients, it must be internalized and personalized outside of counseling sessions (p. 146)”. As counselors we must strive to pursue a personal relationship with the Lord before we can try to incorporate it within out Christian counseling.
Sin, confession, forgiveness, and redemption are discussed in the latter part of the book in which we learn how sin is a major part of everyone’s lives, but having a healthy definition of sin and approaching it in a humble way can encourage healing. Confession is what helps us recognize our sin while forgiveness encourages emotional, psychological, and spiritual relief in one’s life. Lastly is redemption. Redemption is what brings us back to God where sin has found a way to separate us. In order to truly understand redemption, one must be familiar with the scripture (McMinn, 2011). Redemption is what ties together the understanding of sin, prayer, and Scripture while helping us recognize that above all else, we need to have a relationship with a loving God.