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Counseling Clinical Depression: Nouthetic Versus Contemporary Christian Counseling

3851 words - 16 pages

Depression is a state of mind in which a person has feelings of sadness, helplessness, negative thoughts, guilt, and other feelings that usually last longer than the average mood that results from experiencing the ups and downs that life brings. Bouts with depression can last for weeks, months, and even years. People exhibit depression through a lack of interest in things that would normally motivate them to action, a lack of attention and/or production on and off of the job and at home, as well as in other areas of life where the same people would normally thrive. Sometimes physical affects are the results of depression. Things such as weight loss, achiness, and other symptoms that are ...view middle of the document...

Clinical depression is depression that is not caused by a mental disorder, but instead can be caused by circumstances that we do or do not control. The causes can be biological or from things other than sickness. This type of depression can be cured and is not necessarily the result of some sin. Contrasted with manic depression, clinical depression is not caused by a mental illness, like bipolar disorder, but it can come as the result of physical illness because it is found to be caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain.
Treatment of clinical depression in the Christian community is as debated as the issue of counseling itself. In 1970, in response to what was believed to be a secular and anti-Christian view of how to deal with counseling issues for believers, Jay E. Adams popularized nouthetic counseling for believers. Adams believed that using secular methods for Christian counseling, because it relied heavily on the beliefs and studies of Freud and Jung was inept to solve the problems that people faced psychologically. Because Freud believed that many of the problems that people faced were not problems that they caused, but were the results of unconscious processes, and his ideas about psychology seemed to avoid personal responsibility, the use of this style of counseling by Pastors and lay people was not adequate. Freud, and other modern psychologists also rejected Christianity altogether.
At this time Christian psychologists sought to blend what psychologists believed with Christian counseling. In effect, to take from modern psychology what could be valuable to Christian counseling and blend it with the Bible and Christian principles for effective counseling techniques.
Adams believed that the bible offered all of the answers to man’s clinical psychology problems, and that it should be relied upon, apart from the Freudian methods taught by modern psychology, to heal patients. Adams said that modern psychology was not the answer to man’s needs because it did not address the whole person. He also believes that because psychology tended to blame problems on some biological defect, the problem of sin in the life a believer was often avoided. He said that psychologists were not even sure of what to gather from these two individuals, and so how could they use their methods to help people to solve their problems. Adams was very sharp in his criticism of modern psychology saying that “The church, throughout the years, like Adam and Eve, either has been deceived by Satan’s counsel or has found itself in conflict with it. There is no neutral ground.”[2] Not everyone however, believed that there was no neutral ground.
In response to Adams, and in an attempt to be more progressive another movement has emerged which uses the bible and modern psychology to address the problems with the human condition. From this movement, Adams is criticized for being too focused on the sin problem, and not giving enough attention to the grace of God in the...

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