The term cognitive comes from the word cognition and it means, "the process of knowing in the broadest sense, including perception, memory, judgment, etc." It is a therapy that looks to the mind (and its thought processes) as the main motivator of human behavior. The main contributors to this therapy process are Albert Ellis (1962) and A.T. Beck (1979). Although neither man is recognized as a Christian, and neither looked to the Bible as a final authority, the results of their research developed into a methodology that, in most aspects, uniquely coincides with the biblical model and mandate for human behavior.
Any form of successful counseling requires a healing atmosphere that generates hope and growth in counselees. Although most Christian counselors assume emotional problems are not necessarily spiritual problems, and many who study the integration of psychology and Christianity support such a conclusion. To assume spiritual health must come before emotional health denies that physical, social, and psychological factors contribute to emotional problems. Furthermore, most Christian counselors do not assume emotional health is always necessary for spiritual health. Some people appear to have vital relationships with God despite their ongoing battles with depression, anxiety, or relationship difficulties.
Some Christian counselors focus on childhood experiences; others look for present behaviors. Some pray with their counselees; others do not. Some assign Scripture verses to be memorized; others believe homework is too invasive or threatening as a therapeutic intervention. But despite the diversity of approaches, there are common emphases on emotional and spiritual wholeness in most forms of Christian counseling. Christian counseling then, merges well with cognitive therapy techniques, producing the benefits of spiritual and emotional health.
Like cognitive therapy, Christian healing has traditionally required skills of metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to think about thinking - to understand and control one's thought processes (2 Cor. 10:5). As counselees progress in cognitive therapy, they become adept at metacognition, recognizing inflexible and destructive thoughts and replacing them with adaptive ones. Those looking for spiritual help are often directed to passages of Scripture that require metacognition. This common methodology provides a sense of safety for many Christians as they begin cognitive therapy - safety that promotes a healing, therapeutic atmosphere.
Consider the following example of familiar Scripture passages emphasizing metacognition. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve, what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2). The idea of renewing our minds requires us to understand our thoughts and feelings and examine them critically in the light of Scripture and reality.
Cognitive therapy assumes emotions stem from personal beliefs about events in the world. Thus accurate, critical, biblical thinking is the key to changing unwanted feelings.
Many people have problems in our world today. Some don't get along with their spouses, some are full of anxiety over their job security, some have troubling worries about their indebtedness and many are depressed and empty inside.
It is not possible for everyone to get professional counseling or afford a lengthy series of counseling sessions. Many have asked the question, "Why do we need so many counselors today?" I'm not sure there is justification for the number of professional counselors we have today, but it is my observation that because we are such a transient society, the support systems once available to us (parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.) are no longer in place.
The extended family was at one time available, because of a close proximity of residence, to support and give advice to a young couple in reference to marriage and parenting. The rural communities in America have shrunk since World War II and for many families such support systems are not available to a great degree. Thus, there is more reliance on professionally trained counselors. The church is in a position to take up the slack in this area and is capable of providing the advice and counsel necessary to support families and individuals who are having serious problems in their relationships with people and with God (Romans 15:14). The church should provide resources for members who need to develop counseling and communicating skills to reach out to hurting people. Agape Counseling Center offers these courses as a resource for Skilled Helpers, who are leaders in the church, and the workplace, for the purpose of developing people skills in order to assist others dealing with life's everyday problems. We refer to the Bible as the ultimate source of authority and with the realization that only God has the answers to our problems because He is the Great Creator. The study of psychology is a valid pursuit. The term psychology refers to the study of the mind, and since God created the mind, it is as important to study the laws that apply to it, as it is to study the laws that apply to the body in physiology.
Anything God has created has, by definition, laws that apply to it. Skilled Helpers should be aware of these laws in order to make sound judgments in reference to the violations of such laws and their consequences.
Skilled Helpers also need to realize that they cannot help everyone and some people will not respond positively to their efforts. When the people we try to help are willing to put forth the effort and grow, it can be very rewarding for the Skilled Helper and a positive result for the spiritual and emotional health of the people he/she helps (Proverbs 15:22).
Being a Skilled Helper involves more than diagnosing a problem, it also involves supporting, confronting and directing a hurting person through the healing process. Only God can supply the answers needed in these areas. We do not believe in non-directive counseling or guilt-ridden therapy.
We do believe in a God who confronts us in our sins, forgives us when we repent, and loves us unconditionally. We believe in the power of prayer and that God responds to our needs when we sincerely come to Him in submission to His will (I John 5:14, 15). Please let us know if we can help you in any way!
At Agape Counseling Center we use a counseling method called Temperament Therapy, which is now becoming more and more accepted in Christian counseling circles. This theory is basic to the belief that, "we are created by God with different temperaments." In fact, some counselors call this Creation Therapy.
The temperament, in simple terms, is the genetic, inborn part of man that determines how we react to people, places and things. It reveals certain characteristics and traits that are a part of us, and that reveal what we are. In short, it is how we interpret our environment and interact with it. The temperament pinpoints our perceptions of ourselves (and the people who love us). It is also the determining factor in how well we handle the stresses and pressures of today.
Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.) was the first to bring to light the theory of temperament, even though he may have been building on the thoughts of Impedocles (495-435 B.C.). Since Hippocrates did not have the scientific tools that are available today, his theories were based on his observations of man's behavior. According to Hippocrates, man's behavior was governed by the color of bile within a person's body.
The body fluids, which Hippocrates called humors, were divided into four classifications: 1. Blood, 2. Black Bile, 3. Yellow Bile, and 4. Phlegm. He believed that an excess of one or more of these fluids would cause the person to behave according to the nature of the fluid(s): i.e., a person who had an over-abundance of black bile would be an extremely dark, moody person, as in melancholy. As we know today, the theory of humors has proven to be scientifically unsound, but it has given us a basic understanding of the differences in human behavior.
In 1927, Alfred Adler interpreted Hippocrates' four temperaments as the Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic.
Dr. Tim LaHaye, a well known contemporary Christian author and psychologist, has successfully challenged the Christian community with the probability that temperament needs and traits are God-given characteristics, and are genetically inbred differences of uniqueness. Many temperament therapists believe that the temperament is: "who we really are" (characteristics and traits unique to the person) and that the personality is: "who we portray ourselves to be." The wider the difference between the temperament and the personality, the higher the anxiety/stress level a person will experience. This produces a stronger possibility of engaging in destructive and compulsive/obsessive behavior.
This author is a Licensed Pastoral Counselor and a Board Certified Clinical Supervisor with the National Christian Counselors Association, which endorses the Temperament Theory and has developed the Temperament Analysis Profile. From the questions answered, this profile reveals the temperament traits and characteristics of the counselee. This profile is quite accurate, which I can attest to, having used it with hundreds of clients as of the date of this writing.
The temperament is made up of three specific areas: Inclusion, Control and Affection. Scientists have been able to quantify these emotional need areas with the Temperament Analysis Profile. Temperament has not previously been identified as a part of the precise order or balance of man. Temperament is a missing link in this balance. The spirit (the source of the will and life of man) is the binding, balancing and blending agent, which provides order within man (James 2:26).
The temperament is able to meet its emotional needs by drawing from the regions of either the lower self (the flesh) or the higher region of the self (the soul). This higher realm is the area conducive to the Holy Scriptures (Romans 8: 12-14). If the body and spirit are to remain in balance, these three emotional need areas (Inclusion, Control and Affection) of the temperament must be balanced. If the body and spirit are out of balance, the physical man will break down. We can know this order, and Temperament Therapy helps to provide a means to achieve balance in this order.
Inclusion is the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relationship with people in the area of surface relationships, association and socialization. This need within the temperament, ranges from approaching a great many people for association (socializing, surface relationships) to approaching only a select few or wanting to be approached by many or wanting almost no one to approach us.
Control is the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relationship with people in respect to control and power. The Control area involves a decision-making process between people and can be described in such terms as: power, authority, dominance, influence, control, follower, anarchy, and submission. It includes a wide range from maintaining control over everyone's behavior to maintaining control over no one's behavior. It also includes wanting no one to control our behavior to wanting everyone to control our behavior.
Affection is the need to establish and maintain a satisfactory relationship with others in regards to love and affection. It includes wanting to express love and affection to everyone to wanting love and affection expressed to us from everyone or almost no one at all. It is unique within the temperament because it can only occur one person to one person .
Temperament Therapy (along with the word of God: Hebrews 4:12) is in part, a means by which man is given the understanding of his temperament and the knowledge to find balance and the perfect place that God has designed for him. Temperament Therapy is the mechanism by which man is given the ability to find balance of body, soul and spirit allowing him to be the best that God created him to be (1 Thessalonians 5: 23).
Since the emotional side of man is linked and will react with his physical side and his spiritual side, then, when the temperament needs are not met, it will affect the physical and spiritual side of man. To provide man with the foundation for spiritual growth and physical well-being, we must understand the temperament and provide a means to meet all the needs in ways, which are spiritually and physically healthy and pleasing to God.
The purpose of this section is to recognize the five temperaments by discussing the strengths and vulnerabilities of each temperament type. The five are: Melancholy, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic and the Supine.
The Melancholy is plagued, all of his life, by low self-esteem and the fear of rejection, because he does not like himself. No other temperament can focus in on their imperfections and shortcomings better than the Melancholy. Their inadequacies are usually only in their own mind and are not how others perceive them; yet, this low self-esteem causes this person to constantly search the environment for messages to confirm his low self-image.
These characteristics are not set in concrete, but do affect their interpersonal relationships, unless the Melancholy can reject these tendencies. Fear of rejection causes the Melancholy to reject others first, when he perceives that he could be rejected. Yet, the Melancholy has the greatest intellectual potential of all the temperaments. Melancholies are task-oriented.
The Choleric is the most difficult of all the temperaments to understand and counsel. Few of the people who come to the counseling office are the very strong Cholerics. This type of person does not seek counseling. Whenever they undertake a course of action, it is for a definite reason and they will rarely turn back from it. Whether right or wrong, they have the will-power to carry it through to the end.
The person with the Choleric temperament has the best mind for envisioning new projects and undertaking them. They also have a knack for choosing the people who will help get the project finished, while doing exactly what the Choleric wants. The Choleric seldom sees the pitfalls in a project, but with his extremely tough will, he will carry the project through to the end regardless of the pitfalls. Their need for accomplishment is insatiable and the things they accomplish are unending, not because their plans are better, but because they will carry out these plans till the end. Cholerics are project-oriented.
The Sanguine in a group of people, is the easiest to identify; they are the ones who are the center of attention, talk the loudest, tell the funniest jokes and wear the brightest colors. They bring life and energy into a room by their very presence. Their cheerfulness and humor brightens everyone's lives. When it comes to social orientation, the Sanguine is rarely found alone, and if he must be alone, he is talking on the phone, reading a book about people, watching a TV show about people, or anything that will give him the feeling that people are around or that he is involved in other people's lives.
When you need someone to inspire and affect people with enthusiasm, you find a Sanguine. Once their charisma and personality comes into full swing, they can inspire thousands to believe whatever they are saying even the loneliest of people. Of all the temperaments, the Sanguine is the easiest to be around socially. Sanguines are people-oriented.
The Phlegmatic temperament has a great capacity for tasks, which are tedious and must be performed with accuracy. They make great data processors, bookkeepers, librarians, accountants, records technicians, or museum curators. When someone is writing important books, the Phlegmatic is the best person to do and catalog the research. Any task that requires precision and accuracy, the tedium of which would irritate other temperaments, can be handled well by the Phlegmatic. Phlegmatics are detailed -oriented.
The Supine will not be found as a temperament type in any other temperament studies. This temperament was identified and researched at the National Christian Counselors Association. In some studies this temperament is referred to as the passive Sanguine, but we have found that their behavior is so unique and different that we cannot refer to them under the same heading as the Sanguine and any study on temperament would not be complete without a comprehensive study on the Supine. The Sanguine is basically an optimistic, upbeat type of individual with very direct behavior. The Supine, in contrast, is downbeat, with non-assertive tendencies. The Sanguine is very accepting of himself and other people; the Supine views herself as worthless and inadequate, while viewing others as superior.
The Supine is very hard to pick out in a crowd of people, because they appear to be a Melancholy. The Supine, in social situations is often found alone or in isolation; however unlike the Melancholy, the Supine is frustrated in that isolation. They express as an introvert, yet become frustrated and angry when people around them do not guess their need to be accepted. Supines are servant-oriented. They have the greatest capacity to serve God and be a blessing to others.
Recently, I counseled a single Christian who said that she doesn't feel good enough to begin a new relationship with a man. She hears repeating thoughts that say, "who would want You? Ugly? Old? Fat? He'd be bored and sick of you soon anyway. Who are you to dream again? Here was my response:
He sees our pain. He feels our hurts. He knows our hearts. And He cares! It is okay to be angry, especially for a good cause. I am proud of you for thinking through options before deciding on a course of action. Remember that we never have permission to be less that Christian for any reason. It is when we feel the lowest- that 's when we are ready to receive God's comfort. Let Him in and bring peace, even when "the tempest is raging and the billows are tossing high."
The LORD himself was not pleasant to look at. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:2-5)
Jesus the Messiah is familiar with suffering and rejection. He identifies with us when we suffer and are rejected.
We are like a fragrant flower to God. We must remember that, no matter what others may think of us, or even whatever we may think of ourselves. God looks upon us as, "the aroma of Christ to those who are being saved and to those who are perishing" ( 2 Cor. 2:15). It make no difference if you are a daffodil or a rose. You are a sweet fragrance to God when you do His will.
Remember Romans 12:3, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." So we shouldn't think of ourselves too low, or too high. God has given us a measure of faith, and He wants us to think of ourselves according to that measure. Your faith grows as you learn to lean on, depend on, and trust in God. He will see you through difficult situations, difficult choices, and difficult decisions. Think of yourself with that measure of faith and with the potential that God works through you to accomplish all things, "according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Also remember that the LORD has plans for you, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11). The LORD sees our pain. The LORD feels our suffering and rejection. The LORD gives us faith to keep going forward in the Lord. I believe in you.
Sometimes we might think that it is a sin to be angry. But it is not a sin. Anger is a feeling. Sin comes from our behavior. In their book Telling Yourself The Truth, Dr. William Backus and Marie Chapian list five basic truths about anger:
- Anger is not always bad. Anger can be normal and is an appropriate reaction in some situations. Remember, Jesus experienced anger when he drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. Backus says, "It is what you do when you are angry that has moral significance." Paul instructed the Ephesians (Eph. 4:26, 27) "Be angry, and yet do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your anger." It is important to get over being angry soon. Otherwise, it will give Satan a foothold to develop destructive, resentful self-talk. It is best to deal with the issues causing anger promptly.
- Sometimes it's better to express your anger. There are times when it is appropriate to express your anger. Jesus spoke up when he saw ungodly people making ungodly gains in God's house. What he saw angered him. Jesus also taught how to deal promptly with situations causing anger. He said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him" (Matt. 18:15-17). The Lord didn't say, "Go and scream at him," or "Prosecute him." Or "Go spread rumors about him." Rather, He told us to tell a brother his fault. It is a simple procedure. You could say, "I feel angry when you treat me that way. I need you to help me by not doing..."
- Anger does not mean yelling and throwing things, or other intemperate behavior. Some people think that it is "OK" to explode and get anger off their chest. But research shows that if such behavior is rewarded, the aggression increases. Eventually people with "steam-boiler" behavior may commit crimes and hurt people-all because they haven't learned how to deal with their anger constructively. Anger is a behavior. It is also important not to swallow anger and pretend everything is fine when it isn't. That is not wholesome behavior either. Self-talk is a deciding factor in what behavior we choose when we become angry. Every person can control his behavior during anger, because God gave each of us the ability to develop self-control. He told us, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs" (Eph. 4:29).
- I do not have every right to be angry when another person does not live up to my expectations. I have a choice whether or not I remain angry. Many people continually tell themselves misbeliefs when they are angry. And that keeps them angry. Anger is more frequently caused by our lying self-talk, than events that happen to us. To get out of this "anger cycle," try telling yourself, "I make myself angry. Other people cannot force me to remain angry over their behavior." By redirecting our self-talk to positive "truth statements," we take ownership for our own behavior. Unrealistic expectations set us up for disappointments, heartache, and frustrations. A person may blame others for his/her frustration, but the frustration is really the result of negative self-talk. In fact, having unrealistic expectations is the #1 problem in marriages today.
- It is not dreadful or even especially unusual if others do things I don't like or fail to treat me as well as I treat them. When we brood over how others treat us, we waste a lot of time, energy, and thought. The Word says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23). If we tell ourselves lies such as "others ought to treat me in certain ways," we confuse what ought to be with what actually is. It would be nice if everybody were loving, considerate, thoughtful, kind and fair. But, in reality, that doesn't happen all the time. God chose to forgive us when we do not always behave thoughtfully, lovingly and kindly (Rom. 5:8). He expects us to grow in these graces in our relationships with others. We do that by changing our self-talk, and choosing to love and accept people around us.
At Agape Counseling Center, we use a cognitive approach to teach people to tell themselves the truth in their self-talk. When a person believes the truth, it affects his/her thoughts, feelings and behavior. If you see a need to improve relationships that are strained with anger, self-centeredness, or lack of harmony, call to make an appointment to go through a counseling program. Learn to control how to act when you are angry. Your life and your outlook will be blessed because you made this choice.