Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective

Article excerpt

COUNSELING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY: A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE. Siang-Yang Tan. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011. Pp. 636. Reviewed by Geoffrey W Sutton (Evangel University, Springfield, MO).

Tan offers an evaluative review of leading theories and techniques from a Christian perspective. In addition, he describes key features of a Christian approach to counseling and psychotherapy. Having accomplished these two purposes, his book serves as a unique and helpful companion to other recent efforts (e.g., McMinn & Campbell, 2007) to integrate faith and science with the practice of counseling and psychotherapy.

Tan organized 17 chapters into three distinct parts. Part one includes a brief discussion of the lack of consistent distinctions between counseling and psychotherapy (thus I will use psychotherapy to encompass both concepts henceforth), an overview of ten major theoretical approaches to psychotherapy, and an outline of features common to a theory of psychotherapy. Next, Tan describes important characteristics of counselors, including a helpful list of suggestions for self-care.

The ten chapters of Part two cover Tan's selection of major theories. His selection fits within the coverage expected compared to other textbooks (e.g., Corey, 2009)? The chapters include interesting biographical sketches, key concepts and principles, a hypothetical transcript of counselor-client interaction, an analysis of strengths and weaknesses, a critique from a Christian perspective, a review of research, and comments about the future of the approach. There are helpful textboxes of key features (e.g., four key ideas from Adler). For the benefit of the reader, I will simply list the ten approaches to therapy: Psychoanalytic, Adlerian, Jungian, Existential, Person-Centered, Gestalt, Reality, Behavior, Cognitive Behavior and Rational Emotive Behavior, and Marital and Family.

Tan outlines his approach to Christian psychotherapy in the four chapters of the final section. Be begins with a trinity of concepts qua criterial attributes of a Christian approach: Christ centered, biblically based, and Spirit filled. He reviews approaches to integrating Christianity and psychotherapy and explains his approach as consistent with a view that Christianity is the dominant framework (my term) for integrating psychology as well as the notion of going beyond integration to developing a Christian psychology. Tan emphasizes the importance of understanding scripture and basic Christian theology (the usual categories of Christology, pneumatology, etc). Tan details five components of human nature and 13 principles of effective psychotherapy from a biblical perspective. A chapter on Christian faith and clinical practice reviews aspects of implicit and explicit integration, which includes a section on Christian resources with a notable discussion of prayer. He also adds an important section of key religious and spiritual issues that might occur within the course of treatment (e. …