Christian Formation: Integrating Theology and Human Development

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Criswell College offers a Master of Arts in Counseling.

This degree allows students to select a track of study between the non-licensure track 36 credits and the licensure track 60 credits. Students will learn through a Christian worldview that considers and includes current research within the field of counseling and psychology. The central focus of the program is to train graduates to be Biblically and empirically-based counselors. Graduates will be prepared to work effectively with individuals, couples, and families in a variety of secular and nonsecular settings.

Courses include: personal evangelism; introduction to psychology; spiritual foundations; counseling theories; social, cultural, and family issues; counseling methods and techniques; marriage and family counseling; conflict management; and educational psychology. The Master of Divinity with a specialization in Pastoral Counseling can be completed for 75 credits and is available on-campus and online. Liberty University offers coursework through a faith-based perspective.

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Graduates of these programs will be ethically and spiritually aware as they counsel individuals, couples, and families facing challenging situations and circumstances. Courses include: introduction to pastoral counseling; premarital and marital counseling; ethics and Christian ministry; ethical and legal issues in counseling; human growth and development; multicultural counseling; theories of counseling; group counseling; career development and counseling; and crisis counseling.

This is a 60 credit CACREP accredited program that can be completed online with an annual day residency in semesters. The program emphasizes a commitment to Scripture integrated with psychology and the social sciences. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue professional licensure with completed supervised clinical hours and the national licensure examination.

Licensure requirements vary by state and students are encouraged to consult their home state licensing board to determine if the program requirements meet the students home state licensure standards. Courses include: theological foundations in counseling; ethical and legal issues; psychopathology; counseling skills; personality and counseling theories; human growth and development; group counseling; assessment and testing; social and cultural issues; lifestyle and career counseling; addictions counseling; marriage and family counseling; and psychotherapy with children and adolescents.

Students will move through the program with their cohort and upon graduation be prepared for the state and national licensure examinations. This 75 credit program offers students flexible options of study with a traditional on-campus program as well as a hybrid format which offers two-thirds of the courses online with the remaining third offered on-campus in week-long intensives.

Courses include: introduction to God's world; systematic theology; basic counseling techniques; multicultural counseling; ethical and legal issues for counselors and other Christian leaders; biblical interpretation for ministry; Christianity through the ages; and understanding contemporary mindsets.

Students at Gardner-Webb University have the opportunity to choose a graduate degree at the master's or doctoral level which focuses on training students to successfully integrate theology, faith, spirituality, and counseling theory. Students in the credit hour dual masters program will engage in coursework evenly distributed between 60 credits in the School of Divinity and 60 credits in the School of Psychology and Counseling.

Courses include: ministry as lifelong learning — pastoral care and counseling; interpersonal relationships and family systems theory; issues in advanced pastoral care and counseling; crisis intervention theories; and clinical aspects of care.

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The program is focused on counseling ministry for individuals who want to work in the church setting rather than in community or private practice which requires professional licensure. Courses include: ministry essentials; pastoral caregiver; worship in the church; new testament history and interpretation; old testament history and interpretation; history of Christian thought; methods of pastoral counseling; ethical and legal issues in pastoral counseling; spiritual issues in pastoral counseling; and pastoral intervention.

The program emphasizes a commitment to using psychological theories along with Biblical truths in the practice of marriage and family therapy. Students in this 60 credit program will learn systems theory, ethical practice, spiritual-awareness, and how to engage in and apply empirically based research. The program is designed to prepare students to successfully complete the national licensure examination in marriage and family therapy.

Courses include: research methods in counseling; Christian counseling; current trends in counseling; assessment; ethical and legal counseling issues; health family systems; advanced counseling theories; advanced group counseling; marriage and family therapy; advanced crisis counseling; counseling diverse populations; advanced human development; personal and professional self-awareness; and career counseling. Students in the program learn to integrate Biblical insight with their clinical training for their future work as a professional counselor.

This is a 60 credit degree that can be completed on-campus in Chicago or through a combination of online and on-campus courses. Graduates of the program have utilized their counseling skills in a variety of settings such as mental health clinics, hospitals, missions organizations, and in faith-based and university counseling centers. Courses include: psychopathology; theories of counseling; professional identity and ethical practice; assessment techniques in counseling; group theory and dynamics; counseling techniques; human development; diversity and multicultural issues; substance abuse and addictive behaviors; career development and counseling; marriage and family dynamics; and systematic Christian theology.

This is a 96 credit graduate program that provides specialized training in pastoral counseling through coursework, research, practicum and internship experiences, and a final thesis. Courses include: introduction to pastoral care; spiritual formation and growth; new testament introduction; theology of the old testament; pastoral counseling; Christian ethics; premarital and marital counseling; advanced issues of counseling; grief and loss counseling; theological foundations of biblical counseling; clinical foundations to biblical counseling; and addictions.

by Megan Anna Neff and Mark R. McMinn

This 33 credit program can be completed on campus in the classroom or online. All students will complete a Biblical Counseling Internship under the supervision of an approved university mentor. Students will learn to counsel individuals in crisis in ministry settings or contexts, such as in the church, youth groups, or on missions.

Graduates of the program will also be prepared for continued graduate study. Courses include: methods of biblical change; counseling problems and procedures; crisis counseling; marriage and family counseling; biblical counseling seminar; counseling addictive behavior; proverbs and counseling; and counseling survivors of abuse. The curriculum which combines theory and practice, integrates a theological foundation with Christian-based counseling. Students who are interested in pursuing licensure are encouraged to consult their home state licensing board to determine if the program's curriculum meets state licensure requirements as they vary by state.

Courses include: essential doctrines of Christian counseling; foundations of biblical counseling; introduction to pastoral counseling; introduction to crisis intervention; introduction to marriage and family counseling; human growth and development; cross-cultural counseling; advanced marriage and family counseling; domestic violence and anger management; addictions and substance abuse; group counseling; psychopathology; and legal and ethical issues in counseling.

The Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Biblical Counseling and Christian Family is designed for students that have a desire to work in the church, or who already work in the church as pastors, ministers, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers with a focus on providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families within the church setting. The Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling supports students in learning to provide counseling to individuals with Christian values from a Biblical perspective. Courses include: the biblical counselor and family life educator; courtship, marriage, and the family; theology of biblical counseling; marital and family counseling; counseling children, adolescents, and their families; addictions; premarital preparation and counseling; life cycle issues; and crisis management.

Baptist Bible College offers several seminary degrees that include a counseling focus.

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This variety of degrees allows students to be thoughtful about the type of degree they need to pursue their career goals. Courses include: dynamics of biblical change; theology and secular counseling; biblical counselor; human personality; local church and counseling; methods of biblical change; marriage counseling; family counseling; problems and procedures; issues in biblical counseling; and local church and counseling.

This degree offers a number of areas of concentration including a Pastoral Counseling concentration. The program focuses on preparing students for ministry that matches the mission of the Roman Catholic Church.

Students in the pastoral counseling concentration will learn to provide psycho-spiritual counseling for individuals in the church and for people in crisis. Additionally, licensed professional counselors may wish to use this degree to enhance their current career as a licensed professional counselor to have the skills to apply faith-integrated approaches in their practice. The degrees are quite different allowing students to thoughtfully select the degree to match the career path of their choice.

The Master of Divinity is focused on preparing graduates for pastoral leadership and is designed for individuals who plan to provide counsel within the context of the church setting.

Christian Formation: Integrating Theology and Human Development by James R. Estep

Courses include: spiritual themes in clinical counseling; introduction to clinical mental health counseling; human growth and development; social and cultural issues in counseling; professional ethics and responsibilities; personality assessment; crisis counseling; spiritual formation core; story of the Christian faith; Christian ethics; leading the people of God; worship and the community of God; well being in ministry; and pastoral counseling and care.

This is a 96 credit program with core courses 60 credits and concentration courses 36 credits designed to prepare graduates for licensure in Missouri. In addition to counseling, graduates may go on to serve the church in other ways such as pastor or preacher or choose to pursue a doctorate degree in a related field. Implicit integration happens within the counselor. Christians who counsel in secular settings may be limited to implicit integration.

I will share four ways that a Wesleyan-holiness theology contributes to my own implicit integration. Second, the therapeutic relationship also reflects my theological commitments.

Maddox [Kingswood, ] Therefore I want to be a channel through whom the love of God for this client can flow. This means that I need to be participating in the life of God so that the ways of God and the goals of God are primary in my own life. For me this includes 1 inviting the client to be an active participant in the counseling process with a heavy emphasis on collaboration not therapist domination, 2 working on the goals that the client identifies, 3 managing myself appropriately within the context of the therapeutic relationship, 4 treating the client with respect, 5 developing my skills of empathy so that I can speak the truth in love, and 6 being knowledgeable about and adhering to the ethical standards established for the profession of counseling.

Theology identifies a telos for the Christian life. If my client is not a Christian, I keep these musings to myself. However, because I also believe that healthy living is not necessarily contradictory to holy living, I can work with the goals that my client has presented and help that client live in the healthiest holiest? Fourth, I believe that the problems in living that Christian clients present to a counselor may impede their ability to live fully for God. How might one picture this proposed relationship between theology and the practice of counseling?

This picture of integration developed in conversation with Edward D. Imagine four concentric circles with permeable boundaries. This ring may be quite thin if the counselor has little more than a Sunday school understanding of the Bible and has done little theological study beyond what is available in the popular Christian press, or it may be quite thick if the counselor has invested time in formal or informal theological and biblical study.

The thickness of the ring determines the depth of theological resources that a Christian who counsels can draw upon. A thin ring may limit a Christian who counsels to explicit integration strategies. A thicker ring will result in more thoughtful use of explicit and implicit integration. The second ring represents therapeutic commitments and training.

Insights from the social sciences may serve as a tool for understanding our human bent toward sinning. Formal counselor education focuses on helping students to develop sets of skills so that they can provide the most effective counseling possible upon graduation. For most licensed professional counselors, counseling psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers, this ring is well developed. It may be less developed for pastors who have had little formal training in pastoral counseling or for lay counselors. This ring too may vary in thickness, depending upon how knowledgeable a counselor is about the specifics in a code of ethics, how this code overlaps with their own moral formation, and how well-versed a counselor is in thinking ethically about complex counseling cases.

Finally the inner most circle represents what actually happens during an individual session or over the course of treatment, where the integration of theology, therapeutic orientation, and ethical commitment is embodied by a counselor as she or he works with a client. For example, a counselor can start with a theological insight and consider how this theological concept aligns with their therapeutic orientation, their ethical commitments, and their work with clients.

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  • The model also allows one to raise a question of coherence. To what degree is there alignment between the various layers? When does this integration take place?