The theoretical orientation of pastoral/ministerial therapy and counseling has been described by Beel (2001), who asserts that cognitive therapy as a psychological theory originates from both biblical and secular sources. The Christian approach to counseling, says Beel (2001), involves making an agenda, dialoguing and identifying wrong beliefs, debating them through, and winning the client over to the truth.
Underlying the Christian cognitive approach is the assumption that human beings have two basic needs. These needs are meaning and unconditional love. Since the Fall from Grace, it is theorized that human beings explore alternative strategies about how they can meet these needs. Christian Cognitive Therapy draws heavily upon Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), which is essentially humanistic and bases standards and attitudes on rationality alone. Unlike REBT, Christian Cognitive Therapy incorporates God within rationality and esteems reason while refusing to make it the sole criterion for truth.
Both Christian Cognitive Therapy and REBT accept the idea that humans have innate tendencies to be both rational and irrational (Beel, 2001). What truly distinguishes Christian Cognitive Therapy from REBT is the inclusion in the former of the concept of sin. Beel (2001) characterizes emotions as appropriate or inappropriate and describes emotions as sinful or non-sinful rather than bad or good. What causes sinful feelings or behaviors is faulty perception, and it becomes the goal of both REBT and Christian or spiritual cognitive therapy to explore and discover the irrational beliefs of the person, confront those beliefs, re-educate the person, and help in the development of non-sinful emotions and feelings. The patient is encouraged to redefine the self in relation to others within an environment that is both focused on the psychological and spiritual needs of the person.
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