During the week of October 1, 2014, this author attended the bi-annual American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) National Conference. (The AACC holds two bi-annual conferences: the World Conference on odd years and the National Conference on even years. The name of the AACC is somewhat misleading as the AACC World Conferences include many Christian counselors from many parts of the world.) The AACC is on the ‘cutting-edge’ of counseling research and this past week at Branson, MO reflected it.
This national conference presented Christian therapy research with three-day intensive classes such as: ‘Attachment-based Intervention Specialist Training,’ ‘Neurobiology and the Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders,’ ‘Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Recovery,’ ‘Advanced Cognitive Relational and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies,’ ‘Experiential Counseling and Coaching Techniques: Moving People Forward in Growth and Change,’ and the one this author attended: ‘The BEST Model: Using Biblically-based Empirically Supported Treatments.’
This intensive class, ‘The BEST Model,’ was given by Drs Siang-Yang Tan and Everett Worthington, Jr. In the intensive, Drs Tan and Worthington trained the AACC counselors on constructing their own therapy practice using ‘Biblically-based Empirically Supported Treatments.’
Dr. Siang-Yang Tan is the senior pastor of First Evangelical Church, Glendale, CA; Siang-Yang is also professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Dr. Tan explained that Christian therapy must be: “effective, efficient, and ethical.” Therapy must be effective or the counseling is perverting a soul; it must be efficient or the counselor is a thief; most importantly, it must be ethical or nothing is gained. Alongside his didactic instructions, Dr. Tan also provided the students with ‘hands-on’ role-play therapy.
Dr. Worthington, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, who is ‘an expert on the interface between psychology and Christianity,’ illustrated the ‘effective, efficient, and ethical’ of Christian therapy. In his research, he has found that “Patients in R/S psychotherapies (mostly Christian) showed greater improvement than those in ‘alternate secular’ psychotherapies both on psychological …and spiritual… outcomes.”
Even though the Bible is not a therapy manual, it is fraught with therapy – from Genesis through Revelation. The very first counseling session was God’s attempted cognitive-behavior therapy with Cain in Genesis 4:6-7: “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Granted Revelation has a different type of therapy, but it is therapeutic none-the-less.