Use of Prayer and Scripture in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

8 August 2016

Use of Prayer and Scripture in Cognitive-Behavior Therapy can be found in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. The author, Stan Yang-Tan, covers the apposite use of applying prayer and scripture to the 30-year-old process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (p. 101). With an array of psychological disorders, the availability of treatments is generous. However, CBT is methodically supported for the treatment of many psychological disorders.

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Through a purposeful integration of morality, Yang-Tan illustrates the life-changing power of prayer and scripture in Christian CBT. This article provides a momentous synopsis of behavioral therapy that consists of three major waves, traditional behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relatively contextualistic approaches (p. 101). The third wave of contextualistic approaches encompasses Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness Based Congitive Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Therefore, the expansion of CBT generates a projected mindfulness and acceptance through a two-component model. Yang-Tan proposes the two-component model of mindfulness, implicates self-controlled concentration on present conditions and espousing a distinctive orientation through openness, curiosity, and acceptance. The author illustrates how CBT can be combined with the prayer and scriptural truth in effort to produce lifelong benefits, particularly for spiritual clients.

However, making an irrefutable declaration about the advantage of CBT should include implementing a self-developed biblical model comprised of a process based on spiritual emphasis and influence. A counselor who adopts this model can integrate the reliability on the Holy Spirit through the approach of implicit or explicit integration in therapeutic circumstances. The appropriate use of the healing power of prayer and the intervention of scripture can be an effective part of CBT. Prayer and Scripture will therefore be key factors in this therapeutic process of healing and recovery. Reflection

My initial reaction to the use of scripture and prayer in CBT was how necessary Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) must be for complete and effective treatment within CBT. Both of these treatments are rooted in Christian spirituality and allow the client to recognize their current circumstances and develop an outlook that will help keep an open and focused mind on results. Through the approaches of ACT and MBCT, prayer and scripture inevitably follow as a source of methodological rigor. Prayer is simply talking to God and is therefore a means of communication.

Praying on behalf of another person or self (Intercessory prayer), praying in meditation (Contemplative Prayer), and praying specifically and listening and awaiting God’s response (Inner Healing & Listing Prayer) are beneficial to the use of prayer in treatment. The Bible is the greatest example of God’s powerful words. Scripture offers comfort, clarity, correction, character change, cleansing, conviction, and healing (p. 108). For clients who trust in God’s word as the ultimate authority, it is imperative to assess the purpose and objective for using scripture.

Knowing what God has to say about a client’s circumstances vs. what the client’s faith or church has to say forms cognitive thinking within the client. By referring biblical teachings and truths, the client can learn how to restructure flawed rational and irrational beliefs that do not support the efficiency of Christian approaches. The concept of ACT and MBTC is such a compelling method of treatment and respectfully governs the character for the therapist or counselor. Understanding how prayer and scripture affects the lives of clients will provide a strong foundation for counsel.

Clients will not only understand how to personally apply prayer and scripture on a daily basis, but most importantly, worship God. My interest in researching how to Implicitly Integrate prayer and scripture in therapy peaked upon realizing the explicit integration appears to be more approachable. I do not want to limit my own competency, nor the benefit of the client. Gaining knowledge and skill in applying a method that is not as commonly used as Explicit Integration Therapy opens the window to use subtle biblical emphasis without the client feeling bombarded or perturbed.

Application In a counseling career, I intend to rely on God as the sole means for guidance and understanding from the author of understanding, guidance, and counseling. Although I plan to use more explicit integration, I will always start the session with a new client by assessing the client and determining the necessity of prayer and scripture. Upon establishing the history, faith, spiritual practices, problems, and goals, I will take into account all information, and choose an approach suitable for the client.

Although prayer and scripture offer healing and understanding, it is not necessary to use in each session. I would love to openly offer to use prayer and scripture through Explicit Integration, as this method is more aligned with direct healing and application from God. I want to help identify the exact needs of clients and seek the supplemental scripture to help work through the given circumstances. For instance, a client may need to find the balance of taking care of their personal life and own wellbeing versus meeting all of the needs of their family.

God’s word tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future”. Prayer and meditation (Contemplative Prayer) on God’s word fills the mind with God’s enduring love and constant reminder of His grace, mercy and encouragement. The more cognizant I can help the client become of God’s word, the more transformed and renewing of the mind will take place. Jesus’ love light will begin to form changes and the client will soon witness the power of Jesus Christ in their circumstances and the proactive change that took place.

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