Integrative Psychotherapy

By Smith, Justin M. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Integrative Psychotherapy

Smith, Justin M., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Integrative Psychotherapy. By Mark R. McMinn and Clark D. Campbell. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2007, 403 pp., $29.00.

Mark McMinn and Clark Campbell have written a refreshing and remarkably versatile text on Christian counseling and cognitive therapy. Integrative Psychotherapy is clearly written and very readable, avoiding both the pop psychology genre and the laboriously technical textbook genre. The primary strength of the book, however, is that it manages to stay readable while covering considerable ground. Integrative Psychotherapy manages to double as both a primer on the integration of psychology and evangelical theology and a primer on cognitive therapy; thus, both clinicians and educators will find this a useful resource. The biggest challenge for educators will be whether to use this book for its position on integration or for training students in the use of cognitive therapy.

As psychologists, McMinn and Campbell clearly target professional counselors and their educators, although theologians and scholars of pastoral care will benefit from their coverage of the role of counseling in Christianity. Integrative Psychotherapy is not a self-help book and will probably be more for clinical use than for the individual looking for helpful principles. Pastors looking for a single reference style primer on pastoral care would probably be better suited to go with Gary Collin's Christian Counseling (2007), which is now in an updated third edition, or a similar title.

McMinn and Campbell provide a strong case for integrating psychology and theology, and this text is an exemplar of this position. Those who believe that to know truly the Creator one should study both God's creation (general revelation) as well as God's Word (special revelation) will be at home with McMinn and Campbell's arguments. They do an excellent job of discussing the imago Dei and harmartiology. Their coverage of models of pastoral care and henneneutics is good but not nearly as in-depth or comprehensive as their coverage of the imago Dei. They do not provide a summary of alternative Christian approaches to counseling such as historical or modern models of pastoral care or chaplaincy, spiritual direction or spiritual formation, biblical counseling such as Jay Adam's Nouthetic Counseling, or Christian Psychology, the latest entry into the debate on Christian counseling (see Stephen Greggo's review of Eric Johnson's Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal, in this issue of JETS). A better summary of differing views is Johnson and Jones's (2000) Psychology and Christianity: Four Views,

McMinn and Campbell provide a solid evangelical foundation for their work. Their references include historical staples such as Augustine, Calvin, and Earth; contemporary evangelicals like Bloesch, Erickson, Hoekema, Plantinga, Sproul, Grenz, and Packer; as well as authors popular with evangelicals such as C. S. Lewis, Willard, and Nouwen (a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist who has been surprisingly popular among many evangelicals). McMinn has written previously on sin, and readers should be pleasantly surprised to find a more complex and robust discussion of sin and guilt than is often present in Christian self-help books. Less robust, however, is the coverage of the role and work of the Holy Spirit in counseling, change, or transformation. If evangelical theologians historically have given brief attention to pneumatology, Christian counselors of all approaches have certainly done so.

McMinn and Campbell hit their stride when discussing psychology and cognitive therapy. Teachers who have been looking for a current foundational cognitive-behavioral therapy textbook need look no longer. Integrative Psychotherapy provides an excellent background on the development of cognitive therapy, its theoretical underpinnings, and the core techniques and interventions for anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. It does not cover the counseling of couples, intervention with personality disorders, or addictions. …

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