Sunday, April 14, 2013

Evangelical Churches and ...Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is somewhat related to Buddhist practice because in certain forms of CBT the client is encouraged to be mindful of harmful thoughts and activities, and to replace them with better ones.




One way to see this is that the books [evangelicals use] teaching someone how to pray read a lot like cognitive behavior therapy manuals. For instance, the Rev. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, teaches you to identify your self-critical, self-demeaning thoughts, to interrupt them and recognize them as mistaken, and to replace them with different thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapists often ask their patients to write down the critical, debilitating thoughts that make their lives so difficult, and to practice using different ones. That is more or less what Warren invites readers to do. He spells out thoughts he thinks his readers have but don’t want, and then asks them to consider themselves from God’s point of view: not as the inadequate people they feel themselves to be, but as loved, as relevant and as having purpose. Does it work? In my own research, the more people affirmed, “I feel God’s love for me, directly,” the less stressed and lonely they were and the fewer psychiatric symptoms they reported.


Because these churches seem to market themselves like Coca Cola it seems they latch on to any trend and "Jesusify" it.

Obviously the NY Times author is rather shallow not to have seen this.  Obviously too the folks who need this "evangelical CBT" are themselves hurting. 

While a good part of me wants them to see the "real" ways in which suffering is transcended (not to mention a better way to deal with theodicy), it's good that they're being helped at all, to the extent they are.  

I just wish they were helped more to transcend the whole strange evangelical thing.

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