Master of Theology (MTh)
Martin Luther University College
This thesis examines how the Bible can be used beneficially and ethically as a resource in counseling evangelicals. For evangelicals the Bible is their “primary text”—an unequalled source of authority and comfort. Evangelicals begin with the self-attestation of scripture to its own reliability and usefulness (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16–17). When the scriptures are used in a responsible way using sound exegetical method there can be real dividends for the hearer. With proper preparation and informed consent, the counselor who ministers to evangelical clients can appropriate the message of the scriptures in a way that brings emotional and spiritual health. The responsible counselor uses the scriptures in an ethical way and does not apply them with insensitivity, imposition, or superstition.
Three therapies are discussed and in each case, the scriptures can be integrated in a therapeutic way. In grief and loss counseling, clients identify with the deep meaning and emotions of the psalms of lament and find words for their grief. The scriptures give a “formfulness” to grief and overflow with candid speech to the God who saves. Scripture is also a vital part of biblically informed cognitive-behavioral therapy. Many emotional difficulties are mediated by dysfunctional thoughts. Scripture can be used in thought stopping, thought shaping, and cognitive disputation. In the Bible there are examples of various cognitive distortions: perfectionism, magnification, discounting the positive, mind reading, all or none thinking, et al. In post-modern therapies like solution-focused therapy and narrative therapy the therapist and client are looking for “grace-events”—places where God is already at work in the life of the client, providing solutions. When the dominant story is problem saturated, the Scriptures provide the client with exceptions to the problem and alternate stories of hope.
The thesis concludes with directions for future research.
Span, A. Tim, "Using Scripture in Counselling Evangelicals" (2009). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 950.