Contemplation and Counseling
Interest in mindfulness and contemplative thought is growing among Christians, and it's time to consider the place of contemplative prayer within the field of counseling. Can contemplative prayer be integrated into therapeutic work? Can it in fact serve as a foundation on which to build a new approach to counseling?
In Contemplation and Counseling Gregg Blanton presents a new paradigm for integrating contemplative prayer with counseling practice. He contends that contemplative prayer can illuminate the purposes of counseling and suggest interventions that help us accomplish these goals. This paradigm builds an alliance between science, theology, and Christian contemplative thought to create a dynamic approach to counseling and balance various dimensions of the human person: emotion, cognition, and action. And by recognizing the power of both words and silence, it harmonizes their functions.
Based on this integrative foundation, Blanton offers eleven fundamental interventions to fit the needs of clients (including silence, empathy, and teaching contemplative prayer) and a practical four-stage process for helping clients change, using examples from his own counseling experience and from the Bible. Ultimately, contemplative prayer leads us to the healing power of love. How we view our clients, the ways that we relate with them, and the strategies that we use to help them change are all informed by our loving search for God in contemplative prayer.
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"This book lays out the fascinating links between the tradition of Christian contemplation, mindfulness, and the process of change in psychotherapy. It puts all of these in the context of the vibrant literature that makes up these three fields. Christians everywhere will find it enthralling and practical."
"Brilliantly written, Contemplation and Counseling provides a practical guide to integrating contemplative practices into contemporary counseling drawing upon scientific research, clinician theory, and spiritual understanding."
"It is easy to be confused by the extravagant claims made for mindfulness in the media today. Here is a wise and measured guide to understanding the connections between the Christian-contemplative tradition and clinical-mindfulness practices. The book provides a rich survey of a wide range of helpful contemplative sources. It is more than a mere survey of practices and perspectives, it contains a clear invitation for readers to draw close to God through contemplative prayer."
"Gregg Blanton immerses us in a rich integration of the pattern of contemplative prayer, the discoveries of relational neuroscience, and the practice of psychotherapy. In lovely detail, he traces how the attributes of the relationship with God that emerge in centering prayer are identical to the attributes that help us be a healing presence for our clients. While this is stated in Christian terms, the process is applicable to anyone—both client and therapist—who senses that spirituality and psychotherapy are intertwined processes. In many ways, it is an invitation to clients as well as therapists to open to the inherent healing wisdom within and become mystics at the same time. This book is beautiful, inspiring, thorough, wise, and filled with heart."
"Gregg Blanton has provided a needed service to the integration world. Contemplation and Counseling sheds light on how a contemplative view of psychology and theology can enhance the therapeutic process. His approach is practical and intervention focused in nature and wisely underscores that contemplative prayer has the potential of leading to deeper awareness of the power of love through real relational connection with a present and communicating God."
"This is a must-read book for any Christian mental health professional wanting to cultivate the practice of contemplative prayer and to cultivate an experience of love in counseling. Blanton courageously illustrates how love is at the center of the contemplative counseling model that he is proposing, both as the goal and as the means to achieve that aim. He creatively blends findings from neuroscience and attachment science with a Christian theology of love as an antidote to human stress and fear. His contemplative-oriented style of counseling creatively weaves interventions influenced by Carl Rogers, Sue Johnson, Dan Siegel, and others together with interventions grounded in openness to receive God's love. In this inspiring and motivating book, Blanton presents a simple and accessible guide to centering prayer as a practice that can be taught to clients but only after the professional develops their own contemplative practice."
1. Two Voices
2. Contemplative Prayer
3. On Being Human
4. How People Change
5. The Counselor's Presence
6. An Overview of Treatment
7. Therapeutic Tasks
8. Building a House
9. Captured by Love