Given the rich complexity of human thought and behavior, it is difficult to believe that any one theoretical model of psychotherapy provides an “absolute” solution to all human dilemmas. If this were the case there would be no need for the great diversity of models available. Albeit theoretical models have different names and defining principles, they all work toward understanding human behavior and “correcting” problems in life.
While gleaning from this huge field of theoretical models, I tend to be pragmatic and use whatever works best in any given situation. My approach is guided by strategic analysis, forming a hypothesis and then employing appropriate interventions agreed upon by the client. Rather than swim in an eclectic pool of unending theories, however, I have studied, narrowed down the field, and chosen specific models of therapy which integrate easily into my own style of counseling.
In general, I lean heavily toward Cognitive-Behavioral theories while drawing on Psycho-dynamic concepts integrated within the Judeo-Christian Spiritual worldview. Communications and Developmental theory also contribute to my counseling style and methods. This combination appears to offer a strategic, yet wide enough foundation to cover most counseling situations. With children, teenagers and families I employ the Play Therapy Model, Art Therapy, and Psychodrama techniques when appropriate and beneficial.
My style fits well into an emerging model of psychotherapy called Psycho-spiritual, so named because it draws from traditional theories of psychology while remaining sensitive to a broad range of spiritual worldviews. My particular theory and style integrates the Judeo-Christian philosophy into its format. Although I have personally chosen to accept Jesus Christ into my heart, one does not need to wholly adopt the Judeo-Christian worldview to benefit from its philosophy.
For example, using a cognitive framework in which to build awareness, thought and understanding is basic and critical to every process of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Hence, this is a matter of “renewing the mind” in Judeo-Christian terms. Necessary client goals, values, objectives and interventions are drawn from many sources — not excluding Judeo-Christian Scripture. And likewise for other spiritual worldviews, goals and values are drawn from their sources of holy writ.
Many clients have spiritual concerns and seek spiritual growth, movement and direction in their lives. This can not be denied of the client. Therefore, a model of therapy that combines both cognitive and spiritual components can and is dynamic, holistic, sensitive to one’s spiritual worldview, and an effective means to transform one’s problems into “Spirit-led” solutions.
As for the Judeo-Christian Worldview, it offers an intrinsic philosophy of value regarding all human life. Judeo-Christian Scripture is replete with images of a loving Creator God who deeply desires a personal relationship with his created beings of whom he welcomes to become his children. Likewise, in the world of cognition — written, spoken, thought or prayed — we are presented with an incredible opportunity to learn, to grow, to understand, and even to fathom an eternally existent Creator God. To many, the focus and clarity that come through the lens of a spiritual worldview helps keep their hope alive — both in this world and in the one to come.
We tend to be governed by our thoughts and beliefs. We are wounded or healed by words. Our laws are written on paper. Signatures and informed consent give credence to agreements. Our prayers emerge in thought and conscious deed. Even when considering our past we wrestle with imbedded thoughts and memories (accurate or not) of things said and done — or things not said and done.
Our cognitive interpretation of an event (whether rational or not) tends to govern our thoughts, emotions and behavior. It is therefore necessary to gain power over one’s thought life, reconcile past hurts or inner conflict, and bring the mind under control of one’s ultimate beliefs and values. A foundational Scripture I regularly use is, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. This aligns perfectly with the Cognitive-Behavioral approach.
Thomas Isaac Berscheid, MA, LMFT, LPC
Ordained Minister & Certified Life Coach
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