"Contemplation and Counseling" by P. Gregg Blanton. A Review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If humans are truly made in the image of God then there is necessarily a pious aspect to their make-up, their troubles, and to their recovery. P. Gregg Blanton, professor of psychology and human services at Montreat College since 1997, founder of the Center for Contemplation and Marriage, and active therapist in private practice, has interestingly drawn in contemplative prayer as part and parcel for helping others gain/regain well-being. This is all laid out in his brand new 232 page paperback, "Contemplation and Counseling: An Integrative Model for Practitioners". This volume is primarily for the sanative specialists, drawing from the mindfulness approaches of Kabat-Zinn and Siegel, as well as the centering prayer pathway of Meninger, Pennington and Keating. But it moves into the author's own direction.
In "Contemplation and Counseling" Blanton's contention "is that the Christian contemplative heritage provides counselors with a clear perspective on the three components of counseling: (1) a useful understanding of the client's situation, (2) guidance for establishing a helping relationship, and (3) effective interventions for resolving the client's problem" (17). To get to this three-fold conclusion that author unpacks what contemplative prayer is, shows how it can and does fit into therapy, the reason Christian counselors needs to practice contemplative prayer for themselves, and the ways this approach enhances counseling sessions and beyond.
Most of the book encircles and investigates seven qualities: presence, openness, attention, acceptance, compassion, resonance, and love. On occasion the author will add aspects to these qualities; but they remain central deciphering tools through the volume when looking at each angle of counseling and counselor. There is a very helpful description and definition of love in the final chapter that moves beyond a simple "feel-good-ism".
Since I'm not a counseling professional, I found the book a bit tricky here and there. But I was able to follow along, and get the point and practice the author was gunning for. My only real complaint is that I felt the theological and exegetical sides of the book were light, and at times slightly off-base. I recommend the book for Christians trained as helping specialists in psychology, psychotherapy, and counseling.
My thanks to IVP who sent me a free copy of the book on my request. And my thanks that they have given me the liberty to voice an honest review, no strings attached.
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