Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Christian counsellors explore care of the soul

The American Association of Christian Counselors’ site hosts an article by David G. Benner, Ph.D., C.Psych, called
"Care of Souls: Nurturing, Supporting, Healing, and Restoration in the Church". In his introduction, Benner says, "The soul is the meeting point of the psychological and the spiritual. This means that soul care which draws on both the best insights of modern therapeutic psychology as well as the pre-modern understandings and practices of historic Christian care and nurture will never again be able to accept the artificial distinction of the psychological and spiritual. A proper understanding of the soul reunites the psychological and the spiritual and directs the activities of those who care for the souls of others in such a way that their care touches the deepest levels of people’s inner lives."

Benner observes, "The recent reemergence of interest in the soul and its care has been one of several truly surprising developments of the closing days of the 20th century. Led by Thomas Moore's multi-year best-seller, Care of the Soul, publishers, TV producers, talk-show hosts, and counselors quickly recognized the changing zeitgeist and made hasty efforts to accommodate [it]".

Benner suggests six features articulate Christian care of the soul. These quotes are from his opening remarks for each feature:
1. "Christian soul care is directed toward others, not ourselves."
2. "Christian soul care is normally provided through the medium of dialogue within the context of a relationship. As such, Christian soul care is not something we do to people. Rather it is something we do with them."
3. "Soul care dialogue does not focus on some narrow spiritual aspect of personality but addresses the whole person."
4. "Christian soul care operates within a moral context. Not only should it be associated with love, forgiveness, and grace, it should also provide an opportunity for moral inquiry into how life should be lived."
5. "Christian soul care is concerned about community, not just individuals."
6. "Finally, Christian soul care is much too important to be restricted to counselors or any other one group of people. Counseling holds an important place in the broad spectrum of soul care activities, but properly understood, soul care can never be limited to this curative or problem focus."

Benner has contributed to various book projects about Christian counselling and soul care.