Friday, December 28, 2012

Guest Blogger Debi Smith - Supernatural Component in Christian Counseling

Introduction: Occassionally I like to give the readers of this blog the opportunity to read materials written by others. I call these blogs: Guest Blogger blogs. My wife Debi is currently studying for her Bachelor of Science Degree in Christian Counseling at Liberty University. She recently wrote a paper on "Battling the Unseen in Christian Counseling".  Yesterday's post featured the beginning of her paper, wherein she compared secular and Christian approaches to counseling, as well as outlining the need to include the unseen realm in one's approach to counseling.  Today we will continue with her paper - noting how she fleshes out the supernatural component in Christian counseling.  Bless you reader as you read more from our guest blogger - Debi Smith.

The Supernatural Component in Christian Counseling
    There is a battle being fought that is unseen.  For those that are in Christ, the Bible speaks clearly and plainly that the enemies we fight are not flesh and blood, but the powers of this dark world and the spiritual realm. (Ephesians 6:12)  Even many of our churches struggle to see this as true so it is not shocking that the scientific world would view this aspect of Christian counseling as ridiculous.  Why does the church turn a blind eye to the spiritual battle? 

    Jay Adams in his book, The War Within, points out that there have always been two mistakes made by the church regarding the power of Satan.  The Christian community has either gone to one extreme or the other, underestimating or overestimating the power of the enemy.  Satan has been made to be a cartoon character and something laughable while at other times his abilities and powers have been exaggerated to the point to make Christ’s people wilt in terror. (Adams, 1989)  The result of this improper balance is that the church is “asleep on the battlefield”. (Adams, 1989, p.8)

    In the clinical setting trained in secular science, the results are just as destructive.  Dr. Anderson brings out in his book that if a patient comes to a doctor with the complaint of a hearing voices and feeling terror or seeing things.  How is this observable by counselor?  It is not, but yet the professional would view the counselee as out of touch with reality, possibly resulting in a medication to dull the awareness of these voices.  (Anderson, 2003)

    What if it is possible that these people are indeed hearing and seeing the things they claim?  People cannot see what exists in the minds of others.  “Without some Biblical explanation, most people (including many Christians) accept the psychological diagnosis of psychosis, neurosis, or schizophrenia”. (Anderson, 2003, p.45) Using terms such as these are acceptable to define or explain the symptoms, but they do not reveal the source or root.

    In an interesting journal article written by Marcia A. Murphy, she interviews patients diagnosed and treated for various psychosis disorders.  Several describe their experiences and episodes with “hallucinations” and voices as being malevolent, sinister, feeling as though they were in Hell, and even contemplating suicide as a result.  One such individual claimed that the only thing that kept them from committing suicide was their faith in God.  Another patient described a situation where her atheist psychologist convinced her to give up church and walk away from God so that she could “rebuild her” (Murphy, 2000, p. 182) only to have the patient fall farther into despair.  It wasn’t until the patient went back to the previous religious support that she made strides.  In the conclusion of her article, Marcia A. Murphy determines that “spiritual life aids people with mental illnesses”. (Murphy, 2000, p. 183)    

    Humankind is both physical and spiritual by God’s own design.  Therefore, a fine balance needs to be struck when counseling.  There is not always a spiritual answer for every experience just as there is not always a physical answer.  However, there are two essential beliefs to encourage and maintain good mental and spiritual health.  An individual needs to understand the nature of God and who they can be as a child of God if they accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their heart and mind.  “Satan can undermine your mental and emotional health simply by distorting either one”. (Anderson, 2003, p. 56)
More tomorrow..........

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