Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Applied Clinical Integration in Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents: A Look Ahead

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Applied Clinical Integration in Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents: A Look Ahead

Article excerpt

In this article, I briefly review the integration movement beginning with the early 1970's. Early integration efforts focused on interdisciplinary integration. Beginning in the mid 1990's, integrative scholarship has moved increasingly from interdisciplinary integration to applied clinical integration. Applied clinical integration with children and adolescents is an area of clinical practice in its infancy. I discuss the future of applied clinical integration with children and teens. In doing so, I advocate for the development of developmentally sensitive measures of religion and spirituality with children and teens. I then discuss promising spiritually oriented interventions with children and suggest areas for research in trauma focused therapy with children. I also suggest areas of research and practice related to training Christian therapists.

A Jain version of the story of the six blind men and the elephant has been told this way: six blind men were in the jungle and asked to describe what an elephant looks like by touching it. A blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar. One who feels the elephant's tail says the elephant is like a rope. One who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch. One who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan. One who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall. The one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. Afterward, a king explains to them that all of them are right, and the reason they each told it differently is because each of them touched a different part of the elephant. The elephant has all the features they mentioned.

Integration in the 1960s through 1980s

When I have taught integration classes before, I often begin by telling this story to the class, and suggest that the process of interdisciplinary integration between psychology and theology is akin to the process of describing an elephant as a blind man. In attempting to describe human nature, formulate ways to help hurting people, and understand ultimate Truth, the disciplines of psychology and theology are presented with the challenge of speaking to each other about these matters from their unique vantage points, without the benefit of completely understanding the other discipline's point of view. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the integration movement saw a number of efforts to reconcile psychological approaches to understanding human nature with theological approaches. Some of the major proponents of the integration approach at this time focused on the compatibility of aspects of the Christian faith with various psychological theories (e.g., Carter & Narramore, 1979; Collins, 1977). Other equally devoted Christian scholars, when asked to describe ultimate Truth, found little in psychology of value and advocated instead for a uniquely Biblical approach to counseling and psychotherapy (Adams, 1976). I have often thought that one unspoken influence driving the integration movement during that time was the need for Christian colleges and seminaries to defend having a psychology department on campus to their institutional leadership.

Integration from the 1990s Onward

As an increasing number of Christian programs (such as Azusa Pacific University, George Fox University, Seattle Pacific University, and Wheaton College) gained accreditation by the American Psychological Association and scholars grounded in psychology and theology learned to listen to and respect each discipline's unique vantage point, the integration movement seems to have gradually shifted its focus from defending itself to Christian universities to attempting to evangelize the academic and clinical populace. Beginning with Shafranske (1996), the past fifteen years have seen an increase in practice-oriented integration publications from the American Psychological Association. The major focus of a number of these books has been to describe the practical process of addressing client religion and spirituality in the therapy room itself (e. …

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