So, Ive been a bit quiet as I have had to write an essay… hmmm…. I really hate writing essays, but they must be done. I’m trying to do a certificate in counseling and had to do a 4000 word essay comparing and contrasting two counseling theories. I went for the humanistic Transitional Analysis, and the Cognitive Behavioral approach called Rationally Emotive Behavioral Therapy.
Epictetus was a First century philosopher who famously said; ‘Men are disturbed not by things but by the views which they take of them.’ REBT relies heavily on this philosophical rational. The underlying idea is that people not only get disturbed by actual events, but by the way they interpret those events. Thus people in essence create their own reality through their beliefs about what has happened to them.
This is something that I have observed in numerous pastoral situations in my work. People very often seem to have irrational beliefs and interpretations of specific events.
Albert Ellis (September 27, 1913 – July 24, 2007), was an American Psychologist who had an M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University and was the founder and president and president emeritus of the New York City-based Albert Ellis Institute. Ellis’ work has been extremely influential in the world of psychotherapy, and he would be considered to be the second most influential psychologist in history (according to the New York Times, December 16, 2006).
So, why am I telling you this?
I am telling you this because he came up with an incredibly easy and helpful model for helping people deal with their psychological disturbances (we call that ‘pastoral issues’!). It is the ABC model:
Using this model is very simple. You help people work through what their faulty beliefs about the activating event are, and then what the consequence of that is. Thus, all you need to do then (in theory!) is get their belief right about the actual event, and they will have better consequences.
But, I do believe that this has massive potential to be redeemed.
For example, how many times do we see people leave a church because someone “did something terrible“.
-Did that terrible thing really happen as they remember it?… 9 times out of 10…no
–Why didn’t they forgive them? …no one ever likes my asking that question
-Was it as bad as they are making out?... usually not
-Have they applied the gospel to the situation?... that would make a refreshing change!
The majority of pastoral situations I deal with are based on faulty beliefs – not actual events. Usually the activating events are mere trigger points that expose a underlying spiritual problem.
I am in no way taking away from the pain and frustration they feel, but stating an unfortunate fact.
So, what is the answer to all this?
I think we need to get our thinking right – our beliefs. For example, if we can get the gospel right, then we can learn to forgive and will not suffer from bitterness. If we can get the gospel right, then we will be secure and satisfied in Christ Alone, and not end up over analyzing comments, or being insecure in relationships.
Ultimately… preach the gospel to yourself and each other.