How to Anticipate Predictions about Integration's Future Trends

Article excerpt

Predictions about integration's future offer dizzying and crisscrossing contradictions. The present special issue of the Journal threatens to add even more, arising, as it does, from a legitimate restlessness with the status quo in evangelical integrative literature of past decades. My own contribution here could best be described as meta-analytic. Mine is not an exercise in prognostication per se, or one more pronouncement about what integration's future is or ought to be, so much as it is a way to predict predictions--a way to organize and make sense of the competing recommendations that routinely surface. I also should add that I intentionally am not attempting to define integration because to do so would violate my main point that integration means different things to different people. Instead, I aim to account for why different people say integration is different things.

Because my focus is a hermeneutic for anticipating all predictions about integration's future trends, and not a critique of any one person's views in particular, in the first section of what follows I have omitted references to others that would directly link any comment to a specific leader in integration. I admit to having exercised my editorial prerogative by combining, rearranging, or accentuating certain comments for didactic effect, but none of what follows is otherwise entirely made up. The better you know the integrative literature, the more you may be able to construct your own examples to illustrate the points I make below. In the second section I propose a simple algorithm that employs three questions to put to anyone who addresses integration's future trends. I argue that knowing the answers to these questions, while certainly not infallible predictor in every case, nonetheless goes a surprisingly long way toward being able to anticipate what the person will say is the future of integration, thereby making sense of a vast array of integrative models with a simple rubric. I conclude by turning what I am proposing back on myself to determine how well my model accounts for what I am advocating.


Some say the integrative movement has been far too preoccupied with the concerns of clinicians. What is needed at this point, and is integration's future, is a greater emphasis on academic psychology. Advocates of this view may point to the volumes of the Annual Review of Psychology, whose dozen or more chapters each year on the various content domains of psychology rarely include more than one or two chapters that are clinical. Turn to evangelical Christian integrative journals, however, and the ratio is reversed: the vast majority of articles are written by practitioners for practitioners, with almost no emphasis on academic psychology. Advocates for a more academically oriented future for integration call for an array of topics covered in integrative journals much like what is presented in the Annual Review of Psychology. Not surprisingly, many of these advocates also tend to see psychotherapy as a sunset industry, on par with the 19th century whaling industry that produced oil for lamps and was superseded by the advent of electricity, or the railroad industry in the 20th century that was super seded by air transportation. As I have stated previously, the most pessimistic appraisal of clinical psychology's future goes like this:

Managed care companies say there are too many therapists, and that
roughly half of those now practicing will not be needed. Most
therapists should look for other lines of work, or else take an early
retirement. Third party reimbursement for psychotherapy is shrinking
rapidly. Fewer and fewer sessions are covered per year, if covered at
all, and the amount insurance will pay is also shrinking. Research has
shown little benefit beyond a handful of sessions, and no advantage to
the therapy being provided by trained professionals. If therapy is to
exist at all, it should ideally take the form of minimally trained
volunteers offering one-shot consultations. …