The Association of Christian Psychologists (ACP) – Poland 2007 TO INTEGRATIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY: A CHRISTIAN APPROACH
A Christian approach to Integrative Psychotherapy is a form of psychological help based on the principles of Christian anthropology. This approach draws on the achievements of various psychotherapeutic schools of thought as well as employs its own distinct methods in order to bring a person back to psychophysical and spiritual health and assist in personal growth.
The approach respects a person’s freedom and dignity. The integration concerns the emotional, cognitive, volitional, behavioural, biological and spiritual dimensions. The approach assumes a conscious and appropriate use of the insights and practices of various psychotherapeutic schools of thought with due regard for a person’s particular needs in so far as they do not go against a Christian vision of human nature. Within this framework it is also recognised that psychotherapists also need to commit themselves to their own inner integration for the therapy to be effective.
Integrativity is understood in three contexts:
1. An integrated concept of a person perceived as a whole from the perspective of a Christian anthropology.
2. An integrated way of making use of the insights and practices of various psychotherapeutic schools, adapted to a particular problem and appropriate to the stage of therapy.
The importance of the inner integration of psychotherapists themselves.
Integrative Psychotherapy from a Christian Perspective, developed by psychologists and psychotherapists in Poland, builds upon to the scientific work and experience of other Christian associations i. It identifies with one of the psychotherapeutic meta-principles defining a Christian therapist and listed on the EMCPA Declarationii: “A Christian therapist who uses a Christian approach to psychotherapy (…) develops specific aims, methods and desired outcomes according to Christian beliefs. This model of practice is developed and verified by means of the same scientific methods as in secular approaches and it recognises the fact that God gives us both reason and revelation. The therapist gives honour to God, but at the same time values scientific evaluation. The therapist trusts in God in the first place, but does not disregard the human reason.”
This type of psychotherapy is based on a Christian anthropology (personalism) and draws on the concepts of the freedom and dignity of a person, a self-conscious being, conditioned by biological as well as social factors (Rulla). It is close to other integrative and holistic approaches, and also to Frankl’s logotherapy, cognitive psychotherapy, and humanistic and existential psychotherapy (Rollo May, Buber). However, this type of psychotherapy is unique in the way it treats the spiritual dimension of a person. It takes into account the relationship of a patient and a therapist with the person of God, treats the supernatural as real, and acknowledges its influence on human life.
The aim of Integrative Psychotherapy from a Christian perspective is to provide treatment, strengthen human wellbeing, and empower personal development. The development is oriented to patients being able to live their lives to the fullest. This fullness is understood as the integration of a person at the biological, psychological (emotional, cognitive, volitional), behavioural and spiritual levels, which promotes optimal everyday functioning from an earthly as well as spiritual perspective. In practical terms it means:
1. being able to integrate life experiences to move towards development,
2 .being aware of one’s own emotions and needs,
3. developing one’s intellectual potential (or cognitive potential),
4. being aware of one’s goals and values,
5. being able to make free and conscious decisions,
6. using one’s potential in relationships and employing it in order to achieve life goals,
7. being able to discern one’s own spiritual concerns.
The results and proper evaluation of therapy efficacy take into account the psychical, psychological, behavioural, relational, social and spiritual dimensions.
STRATEGIES AND TECHNIQUES
A Christian approach to Integrative Psychotherapy employs strategies and techniques that are used in other approaches (psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural, humanistic, logotherapy, transactional analysis, systemic family therapy). This integrative approach also makes use of and develops some specific strategies and techniques, particularly personalistic and spiritual ones. These techniques and strategies are concerned with helping a person grow stronger in all respects, develop self-awareness, and raise awareness of personal goals and decisions, and also deepen a person’s relationship with the person of God.
The therapy consists of the following phases:
3. Intervention planning, setting a therapy contract
The phases of psychotherapeutic process are dynamic in nature. At all stages of therapy the biological, emotional, cognitive, volitional, behavioural and spirtitual dimensions are of interest.
The intervention is direct or indirect depending on the patient’s problem and the phase of the therapeutic process. At all times the intervention intends to make use of the patient’s resources both inner and outer, to draw on human as well as supernatural resources.
The integration is about incorporating new meanings into the patient’s identity, which manifests itself in real change.
1. Kelly, E. W., Jr. (1995) Spirituality and religion in counseling and psychotherapy. Alexandria, VA: American Counselling Association.
2. Miller, W.R. (1999) Integrating Spirituality into Treatment. Resources for Practitioners. Washington. DC: American Psychological Association.
3. Ostaszewska, A. (2006) Wzmacnianie osoby w terapii zaburzeń osobowości. Wzmacnianie osoby w terapii.
4. W: S. Tokarski (red.), Osoba, osobowość, zaburzenia osobowości. Płock.
5. Jackowska, E., Jaworski, R. (red.) (2006) Psychologia i psychoterapia chrześcijańska w teorii i praktyce. Płock: Płocki Instytut Wydawniczy.
6. Miller, W. R., Delaney H. D. (2005) Judeo-Christian Perspectives on Psychology. Human Nature, Motivation, and Change. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
7. Prochaska, J. O., Norcross, J. C. (2006) Systemy psychoterapeutyczne. Analiza transteoretyczna. Warszawa: Instytut Psychologii Zdrowia.
8. Richards, P. S., Bergin, A. E. (2000) Handbook of psychotherapy and religious diversity. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
9. Rudin, J. (1992) Psychoterapia i religia. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Solarium.
10. Shafranske, E. P (red.) (1996) Religion and the clinical practice of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
11. Schreurs, A. (2002) Psychotherapy and Spirituality. Integrating the Spiritual Dimension into Therapeutic Practice. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
12. Vitz, P. (1999) Psychologia jako religia. Warszawa: LOGOS.
13. Wojtyła, K. (2000) Osoba i czyn. W: Osoba i czyn oraz inne studia antropologiczne. Lublin: TN KUL.
14. Worthington, E. L. Jr., Sandage, S. J. (2002) Religion and spirituality. W: J. C. Norcross (red.),Psychotherapy relationships that work. New York: Oxford University Press.
ACP co-operates with parallel associations in other countries, such as: Academy of Christian Psychology IGNIS in Germany ( www.ignis.de), Society for Christian Psychology in the USA ( www.aacc.net), British Association of Christians in Psychology BACiP ( www.bacip.org.uk), Christian Association of Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists in the Netherlands ( www.cvppp.nl), Italian Association of Catholic Psychiatrists and Psychologists AIPPC ( www.aippc.net), Institute of Christian Psychology, Therapy and Pedagogy in Switzerland ( www.icptp.ch), and others.
i iEuropean Movement for Christian Psychology and Anthropology – EMCPA ( www.emcpa.eu)
EMCPA Declaration – May 2006
There are 5 main positions within psychotherapy depending on the belief system and method of practice of the therapist.
1. Non-Christian therapist using a secular model of therapy. This person puts their trust in science and experience and thus gives honour to science and self knowledge as developed through personal life experiences of self and others. Clients are blessed by common sense therapy and God’s universal grace.
2. Non-Christian therapist using a combination of secular models and also a post-modern “spiritual” approach working with metaphysical concepts not directly related to Christianity. Here outcomes are less predictable, and exploring the spiritual area without firm guidelines may lead to unforeseen consequences.
3. A therapist who is a Christian but uses a secular model of therapy as in section a) above. Again the client is helped by common sense and God’s grace. Christian areas can be explored if the client wishes it, but the therapist is usually not prepared or trained to integrate the spiritual dimension in the help they provide.
4. A Christian therapist who uses a Christian approach to psychotherapy and so develops specific
aims, methods and desired outcomes according to Christian beliefs. The model of practice is developed and verified using the same scientific methods as in secular models in recognition of the fact that God gives us both reason and revelation. This therapist gives honour to God and also recognises the value of scientific evaluation. He/she trusts God first and then human reason.
5. A Christian therapist who uses a “charismatic” or a “Biblical” approach to therapy which relies on God’s direct intervention through prayer, God’s word and ministry. No recognised model of therapy is developed (although individual’s practice may be consistent), and no scientific evaluation is sought as the spiritual world is not considered suitable for scientific evaluation. All the honour is given to God who works in a mystical and hidden way.
Translation: Paweł Surma, ACP