Power of Christian Faith in Therapy
Dr. Alff's practice was like no other. Her views on the Power of Christian Faith in Therapy are powerful and can help to build up your own personhood as you search for answers in all areas of life. These next paragraphs-- in Dr. Alff's own words-- have much to say about who we are in Christ.
"The research of Dr. David Larson, M.D., M.S.P.H., Founder of The National Institute for Healthcare Research in Rockville, MD, USA, has shown that a person's faith, prayer, and relationship to God increases the process of healing physically and emotionally. He pointed out that people with emotional problems seek out help from clergy as much as they do from mental health practitioners. Seventy-two percent of Americans consider themselves to be religious as compared to only 45% of therapists. This gap means that Christians and People of Faith are a large under-served mental health population. Larson stated that therapists who do not support a client's faith run the risk of mishandling therapy, or discouraging the client's participation in treatment."
[The National Institute for Healthcare Researach was closed upon Dr. Larson's death.]
"I see a person [a couple, a family, a business], and the presenting problem, within the framework of intergenerational, physical, spiritual, emotional, and personality factors. I see every individual as a composite of everything he/she has ever experienced. These experiences come from family, community, school, others, and ethnic heritage and nation. Each person also participates in this composite by interpreting and reacting to what he/she experiences, thus changing experiences. So a person impacts who he/she becomes.
I conceptualize personality formation as a process that begins with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ rejoicing over each one of us before the foundation of the world [Proverbs 8:22-31; Zephaniah 3:17]. The process extends through conception, and birth, throughout life and into eternity [Psalm 139:1-18; I Corinthians 13: 12].
I see an individual as a spirit, who lives in a body, and who has a soul. Our spirit is our personality that sets us apart from all others. It is the area that becomes alive as we have a personal relationship with God. Our body is the physical part of us that we see when we look in the mirror, and it is also unique from all others. Our soul is our intellect, will, and emotion.
The process of health, then, begins with God's love and forgiveness for us [John 15:9], which enables us to love God and put Him first in our lives. This then empowers us to love ourselves and others as ourselves [Matthew 22:36-40; John 15: 12; Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13, 9-10]. And love our enemies as well [Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:14, 17-21]. This bring us to a state beyond happiness to one of overflowing peace, joy, and gladness [John 15:11].
Peace is a person: the Lord Jesus Christ [Micah 5:2-5a]. Note that health grows within a personal 'knowing' relationship with this God of Peace [Philippians 4:6-7, The Amplified Bible]. And this indwelling of Christ is founded on an ever deepening understanding of and living in His love [Ephesians 3:14-21; John 15: 9-17, The Amplified Bible].
A continuously deeper love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is crucial in dealing with the abuse / persecution that comes with a personality disorder, who strips others of joy, love and peace. The victim's love can grow cold because of the lawlessness and iniquity of the abuser [Matthew 24: 12]. But with an unlimited flow of love from God within, the persecuted can continue to grow in health.
But what if a person could not receive the love of God because authority figures convinced them that they were worthless? That agreement with a lie will affect all parts of the person--body, soul, and spirit, as well as relationships, and success in life. The lies [or cognitions] need to be addressed and resolved to receive love.
Nationally and internationally, I have watched a growing focus on repentance and remittance of sin for past wrongs committed, that hostilities may cease, and blessings flow on all involved. Many times within a person, there is a need for the same type of reconciliation over past thoughts and behaviors, that hostilities may cease within. I consider reconciliation an important component of psychotherapy."
"I believe all spiritual journeys begin in the heart of God, our heavenly Father. Each journey is simply an ever-deepening love relationship with Him. God Most High, Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth created each of us to enjoy His intimate presence throughout eternity. He knew us before He founded the world. He made each one of us an eternal soul in His image from the moment of conception: All are distinct individuals, unlike any other; He has a plan of good for each life, and has been wooing each one to Himself. God wrote of His love and redemption of mankind in His book, The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
Our journey is 1) founded upon the unchanging character of God. The names of God reveal His character and His deeds, because He is the only one who is totally whole. That means that His names are lived out in His character and in His actions. El Shaddai, translated God Almighty, the All Sufficient One, really means “nursing mother who supplies all of our needs.” It is God’s character to love us and care for us and yearn for a closer relationship with us. Abba, Papa, means Daddy; it is the name Jesus taught us to use when praying to God the Father. Another name is Yahweh, meaning the self-existent God that continuously and increasingly reveals Himself in the name “I Am.” This is the name of redemption that He used when He brought Israel out of Egypt during the Exodus. It is the name Jesus used of Himself when He came to redeem us for God.
Our journey is 2) impacted by man’s free will and sin. God is completely holy and pure. Sin cannot exist around Him. Mankind is sinful [meaning that they do not seek, inquire of and for God, and require God as their vital need]. Therefore, mankind cannot approach the holiness of God. God gave mankind free will to seek Himself, Whom to know is Life, or to seek lesser gods, which is sin.
Lesser gods are anything that takes God Almighty’s place in our lives. For example, other Gods could be focusing on outward deeds/behavior to earn salvation, or seeking power, money, or people, to name a few. Lesser Gods are also created spirits of darkness that work through people. They are all under the authority of satan, [also known as lucifer, the angel of light] whose jealousy in wanting to be as God resulted in his being evicted, with his angels, from before the throne of God in heaven. God Almighty has allowed him to trouble the earth [and those on the earth] for a time. Satan works only through and under this “derived” authority. His character is to kill, steal and destroy mankind, and that is seen in his deeds. He does this by deceiving mankind into following himself in lesser religions, and into believing the lie that there is a difference between good and bad witches and white and black magic. They are all satanic. His goal is to prevent mankind from having an intimate love relationship with God Almighty through Messiah Jesus Christ, thereby hurting God and mankind.
Our journey is 3) made possible by Jesus paying the price for our sin. God hates and judges sin, because sin hinders God's blessing and a deeper relationship in our lives. However, God, to satisfy His heart’s desire to have us intimately close to Himself, died for our sins through His Son, Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross. Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit of God and born of the Virgin Mary, was fully God and fully man and without sin. He defeated satan at the cross. He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and is reigning at the right hand of the Father. The name of Jesus is all-powerful, ranking above all principalities and powers. Yet He lives in our hearts. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and joyfully and reverently acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
Jesus is the only way to the Father; the only Name by which mankind may be saved. By accepting Messiah’s payment for our sins and turning from them, we become a born again member of God’s family. Christ is the only one who said, “It is finished.” The way to God and heaven was now open to all. He ended all striving and works to get to God, and all intermediaries. We must come boldly to the throne of Grace and commune with God alone. This is not a religion; it is a living, nourishing, heart relationship.
Our journey is 4) energized and led by the Holy Spirit of the Living God. God didn’t stop with securing our salvation and our redemption from sin. He is intimately involved in growing us into a closer love relationship with Himself. We learn personally from God Almighty Himself who He is, the only true sovereign Lord. We understand and know that Jesus Christ is the eternal King of Glory, the only way to the Father, and our Lord. We experience the comfort and teaching about The Lord Jesus Christ from God's Holy Spirit.
In the maturing process, God is intimately involved in breaking sinful emotions and behavior patterns holding us captive from our ancestors through the generations of the DNA. Yet He celebrates us and enjoys us as we are. Nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom of God. Just as energy [the Holy Spirit of God] is neither created nor destroyed, just changed, so Our Heavenly Father takes all the things of our life, of which we are ashamed, and clothes them with His immortality. He makes a solid foundation in Himself upon which to build our lives. In the process, He helps us to forgive others and ourselves. He is delightfully involved in bringing us back into relationship with others. He said our love for Him and His love for us is shown in our love for others, especially our enemies. As the Father and Jesus are one, and one in us, so we are one in Him and with other Christians.
Our journey is 5) leading to identity and health. God not only shows us His calling/purpose for our life. But He also prepares us to receive more of Himself and His power to accomplish the call. This healing causes us to have an identity as a person. The more of His love we live in, the more our hearts and minds are healthy. And He rewards us: the obedience of our fellowship with God in our earthly life determines the authority we will have throughout eternity in heaven with God.
Yet God does it all. He planned a relationship with us from before He founded the world. He became the payment for our sins so that we could come to Him. He is the power that does the maturing and the working through us. Then He is the One who praises us with “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” He is the highest God, Who brings us home to live with Him in Heaven through eternity."
"I have been asked about Zechariah 4:6 as my logo. There was a time when I had no hope of graduating with the Psy.D., the doctorate in psychology. Due to circumstances and people outside my control that were involved in my dissertation research, I could not finish by the deadline. This meant that I would totally lose 10 years of hard work and credits that could not be transferred to another school. I was numb with this grave reality. At that time, I clearly saw:
”Not by might,
Nor by power,
But by My Spirit,
Says the Lord of Hosts.”
"That was the turning point. I watched my Lord give me the degree. It was as though He went outside the problem to bring a change on those involved within the problem. Zechariah 4:6 is my logo, and scriptures are on my office walls, because my degree, licensure, and practice all came from Him and belong to Him."
Christian Psychologist Dr. Brian Campbell has developed a resource website that would be helpful to Christians and Christian Counselors. Visit www.Counseling4Christians.com.