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Using Prayer and Scripture in Counseling

The Most Therapeutic Use of Prayer

In the given case study, Chichima, a 20-year-old Christian woman, suffers from depressive symptoms caused by the abortion she did seven months ago. The woman did not tell her parents about her pregnancy and abortion, which may indicate that she is afraid of being judged and rejected. Moreover, she has stopped attending church and praying to God because she is afraid of and uncomfortable with her sin.

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A counselor working with this client may consider using prayer as part of the therapeutic approach. A prayer may be inappropriate with clients not believing in God because it can undermine the client’s trust and rapport with the counselor. However, in the given case, the client seems to have been in a close relationship with God before she committed her sin. Therefore, a counselor may encourage the client to resume her prayers to find relief and speed up the healing process.

The counselor should advise the client to pray outside of sessions because praying together with the client may lead to adverse consequences, such as the feeling of abandonment at the end of therapeutic relationships (McMinn, 2011). If the client rejects the advice because of intense fear, a counselor may offer to pray for the client outside of the session, which is the safest use of prayer in counseling (McMinn, 2011).

The Most Therapeutic Use of Scripture

When working with this client, the therapist may use Scripture to facilitate the healing process. One useful way of the therapeutic use of Scripture is meditating on Scripture, which involves reflecting on a particular passage, internalizing and personalizing it (McMinn, 2011). For this client, the counselor may choose to cite passages focused on forgiveness, for example, “repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (New International Version, 2011, Acts 3:19). It may help the client reconcile to God through understanding that He is forgiving, and He will forgive her for her sin if she continues praying. Such reconciliation can help the woman accept her sin and get over it.

Aspects from Psychology

Along with prayer, the counselor working with this client may consider using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It seems that the client’s thinking is distorted by negative patterns that led her to attempt suicide. During a CBT session, these negative patterns may be revealed, and it may turn out that, because of abortion, the client regards herself as a bad person and feels unworthy of love, both from her parents and God. When such patterns are disclosed, the client will be able to adopt more productive ways of thinking. CBT is also preferred because it integrates well with spiritual practices, such as prayer and Scripture (Sutton et al., 2016).

The Integration of Psychology and Theology

The use of prayer and Scripture integrates with the use of CBT. According to McMinn (2011), meditating on Scripture during a CBT session may help modify the client’s faulty beliefs that caused emotional distress. Christian counseling is integrated into psychotherapy for religious clients and usually involves such practices as the discussion of faith and forgiveness, counselor’s reference to Scripture, and counselor-assigned tasks to be completed outside sessions, such as reading the Bible and praying (Sutton et al., 2016).

However, if counselors decide to combine psychology and theology in sessions, they will need to adhere to spiritual practices themselves to ensure the positive therapeutic effect of Christian counseling (Sutton et al., 2016). Thus, the counselor working with Chichima should integrate prayer and Scripture in psychotherapy if he or she is not a stranger to such practices.

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McMinn, M. R. (2011). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling (Rev. ed.). Tyndale House Publishers.

New International Version. (2011). BibleGateway. Web.

Sutton, G. W., Arnzen, C., & Kelly, H. L. (2016). Christian counseling and psychotherapy: Components of clinician spirituality that predict type of Christian intervention. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 35(3), 204-214.

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