Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice: A Four-Step Model and Workbook for Therapists and Clients, By Joshua J. Knabb alt

Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice

A Four-Step Model and Workbook for Therapists and Clients

Christian Association for Psychological Studies Books

by Joshua J. Knabb

Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Published: November 30, 2021
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0025
  • ISBN: 9781514000250

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Christians are hungry for a return to their own tradition to cultivate meditation practices that are both psychologically and spiritually fruitful. In recent decades, mindfulness meditation, which originates from the Buddhist tradition, has been embraced in many settings as a method for addressing a plethora of symptoms. What would it look like to turn instead to the Christian faith for resources to more effectively identify and respond to psychological suffering?

Over the last decade, Dr. Joshua Knabb has conducted a variety of empirical studies on Christian meditation, focusing on both building theory and testing specific, replicable practices. In this overview and workbook he presents the foundations of a Christian-sensitive approach to meditation in clinical practice. Filled with practical features for immediate use by Christian clients and their therapists, Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice provides

  • an introduction to the rich resources on meditation from eight major streams of the Christian tradition
  • practices from the early desert Christians, Ignatius of Loyola, Celtic Christians, the Puritans, contemporary writers, and many others
  • guidance for targeting transdiagnostic processes—patterns of cognition, affect, behavior, the self, and relationships that may lead to psychological suffering
  • research-based evidence for the benefits of Christian meditation
  • client-friendly tools for practicing meditation, including step-by-step instructions, worksheets, journaling prompts, and links to tailored audio resources

Using the approach of Christian psychology, Knabb's model dually builds on a biblical worldview and integrates the latest research in clinical psychology. As clients engage the variety of meditative exercises in this book, they will move toward healthier responses to difficult experiences and a deeper awareness of, and contentment in, God.

Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) Books explore how Christianity relates to mental health and behavioral sciences including psychology, counseling, social work, and marriage and family therapy in order to equip Christian clinicians to support the well-being of their clients.

"This is a wise and useful book that straddles the gap between faith and science in a way that does justice to both. Western science provides increasing support for the positive impact of the psychological processes of change engaged by meditation and contemplation, but Christians can feel left out of this conversation if the unique features of a Christian approach are not addressed and harmonized with what psychological science has found. Several other books link modern psychological intervention methods to the Christian faith, but this is the first book of which I am aware that dives deeply into the conceptual issues and practical psychological benefits of a Christian approach to meditation and contemplation, and then provides a step-by-step guide to implementing this understanding. The processes targeted by Dr. Knabb's approach to meditation, prayer, and contemplation—being better able to notice, to shift from a content (or 'earthly') perspective, to accept, and to act—are all empirically well supported. By laying them out so clearly and then providing practical methods to pursue them, the author empowers readers to judge for themselves how the practices in the book are landing in their life rather than being left to take the author's word for it. That is an honorable and empowering approach that is respectful of the reader. I highly recommend this book."

Steven C. Hayes, Foundation Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno, and author of A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters

"Research clearly shows that meditation is good for mental health and well-being. In this elegant book, Dr. Joshua Knabb explores the underlying processes of meditation and shows how to reap the benefits through Christian contemplative practices. It is a trustworthy guide for therapists and their clients who want to deepen their faith while managing psychological distress. Dr. Knabb offers truly beautiful practices that can be easily integrated into daily life. If you are Christian and want to learn meditation, you have come to the right place."

Christopher Germer, instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and coauthor of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook

"Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice by Joshua Knabb is a clearly written and substantial book on a distinctively Christian approach to mindful meditation based on Scripture and the writings of well-known Christian authors throughout church history. It contains very practical and helpful exercises in the practice of Christian meditation for repetitive negative thinking, impaired emotional clarity and distress intolerance, behavioral avoidance, perfectionism, and impaired mentalization, when associated with psychopathology, providing empirical support for the effectiveness of such Christian meditation interventions. A must-read for therapists, clients, researchers, and anyone interested in Christian meditation."

Siang-Yang Tan, senior professor of clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective

"Not only does Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice ground the reader in excellent scriptural and psychological principles, providing well-researched treatment guidelines and practical exercises for mindful practice, but the reader also gains a level of understanding of Christian meditation that can't be found anywhere else. Knabb's book is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and clearly written as a resource to therapists, spiritual directors, and anyone interested in growing in mindfulness as a Christian."

Jennifer Ripley, psychology professor and Hughes Chair of Integration at Regent University

"Mindfulness meditation is the current psychological bandwagon. But can it be Christian-compatible? Absolutely, argues Josh Knabb in Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice. It is a transdiagnostic treatment approach for people with one or several overlapping psychological struggles. Thoughtful. Practical. Hop on the bandwagon for an interesting and helpful ride."

Everett L. Worthington Jr., Commonwealth Professor Emeritus, Virginia Commonwealth University

"Christian Meditation in Clinical Practice is a helpful, practical guide through Christian meditation. Since the subject is often misunderstood by believers, Knabb delves into the history of Christian meditation as well as more secular types of meditation. It's a much-needed resource, because when we are hit by life's disasters, it can be tempting to view our suffering as something to avoid or defeat. Instead, Knabb encourages us to view suffering through the lens of faith and our eternity with God, so that we cannot fall prey to psychological traps that keep us fearful and anxious. By practicing the exercises in the book, readers can integrate meditation into their relationship with God and find better mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I highly recommend it to practicing therapists and their clients."

Jamie Aten, founder and codirector of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College

"For Christian therapists working with Christian clients, it is hard to express strongly enough just how long overdue is a therapy workbook such as this one: an evidence-based treatment of Christian meditation that (1) explains its unique psychospiritual benefits, (2) differentiates itself from secular and Buddhist forms of mindfulness meditation, (3) documents its relevance for transdiagnostic problems affecting a broad range of psychological functions, and (4) offers numerous practical strategies for incorporating Christian meditation in the therapy process. I personally hope that more research in the future will be directed to forms of Christian meditation with greater biblical and theological content, but for those wanting to practice distinctly Christian therapy, this is the single best workbook on Christian meditation for therapy available in our day."

Eric L. Johnson, professor of Christian psychology at Houston Baptist University's Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling

"Dr. Joshua Knabb provides needed clarity to an important issue in treating psychological symptoms today. He clarifies what Christian meditation is and how it can be used in practical ways to produce psychological and spiritual growth. Drawing on his years of experience as a practicing psychologist, researcher, and teacher, he addresses many complex issues with skill and practical advice. He bases his discussion of meditation on his wealth of knowledge of psychological research, Scripture, and the writings of early spiritual fathers and mothers. He is a practicing psychologist and researcher, and he communicates his synthetic understanding in easy-to-understand terms. After building a case for a transdiagnostic understanding of mental disorders and a four-step change model (noticing, shifting, accepting, and action), he provides useful exercises that will help clients deal with common symptoms impacting their cognition, affect, and action."

Clark Campbell, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University

Read an Excerpt


1. Transdiagnostic Processes: A New Approach to Understanding Mental Disorders
2. Transdiagnostic Interventions: Buddhist, Christian, and Secularized Meditation
3. Christian Meditation for Targeting Transdiagnostic Processes
4. Targeting Problems with Cognition: Christian Meditation for Repetitive Negative Thinking
5. Targeting Problems with Affect: Christian Meditation for Impaired Emotional Clarity and Distress Intolerance
6. Targeting Problems with Behavior: Christian Meditation for Behavioral Avoidance
7. Targeting Problems with the Self: Christian Meditation for Perfectionism
8. Targeting Problems with Relationships: Christian Meditation for Impaired Mentalization

General Index
Scripture Index


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Joshua J. Knabb

Joshua Knabb, PsyD, ABPP, is a board certified clinical psychologist (American Board of Professional Psychology) and the director of the PsyD program at California Baptist University.