Discussing spirituality and religion in the therapy room is increasingly accepted, some even forgetting that integration of psychology and Christianity was once a rare thing. Yet even as the decades-long integration movement has been so effective, the counselor's lived context in which integration happens grows increasingly complex, and the movement has reached a new turning point. Christian practitioners need a fresh look at integration in a postmodern world.
In Embodying Integration, Megan Anna Neff and Mark McMinn provide an essential guide to becoming integrators today. Representing two generations of counselor education and practice, they model how to engage hard questions and consider how different theological views, gendered perspectives, and cultures integrate with psychology and counseling. "Many students," they write, "don't want models and views that tend to simplify complexity into categories. They are looking for conversation that helps them dive into the complexity, to ponder the nuances and messiness of integration." More than focusing on resolving issues, Neff and McMinn help situate wisdom through personally engaging, diverse views and narratives.
Arising from conversations between an up-and-coming practitioner and her veteran integrator father, this book considers practical implications for the day-to-day realities of counseling and psychotherapy. Personal stories, dialogues between the coauthors, and discussion questions throughout help students, teachers, mental health professionals, and anyone interested in psychology and faith to enter—and continue—the conversation.
"Embodying Integration is, bar none, the most exciting innovation in integration since the pioneer days, fifty years ago. Instead of creating tightly reasoned relationships between psychology and theology, Megan Anna Neff and Mark R. McMinn have an extended daughter-father conversation. And that conversation transforms integration into a living, embodied, conversational quest for wisdom and connection—between psychotherapists and patients, among professionals, and between ourselves and God. This book will be the new standard textbook for integration courses."
"The world of the integration of Christianity and psychology is ripe for a shift. Although they have served an important function in their time, classical texts on integration were largely predicated on models that were both theoretical and abstract. Furthermore, these models were assumed to transcend context, being equally applicable to individuals of varying dimensions of identity. Indeed, while our faith identity represents the starting point and central facet of who we are, it does not negate the many other facets that also reflect God's handiwork in creating us as uniquely—us. This is perhaps most evident when I teach integration in other parts of the world. I am realizing more and more that what I have learned about integration is not integration par excellence but rather Western psychology and Western theology, integrated in a Western way. And while this is still helpful, it does not represent all there is to say about integration. A new conversation needs to be started that offers a fresh look on the topic, taking local context seriously. Embodying Integration, written out of a posture of humility and life that has been lived, represents such a text, and I am happy to offer it my wholehearted endorsement."
"I expected a great book from Neff and McMinn, but I didn't expect to be so moved, and challenged, and changed. This book wrestles with the ultimate questions of living, not just for my patients or students but for me. The authors share personal stories and experiences that literally put flesh on a totally new way of integrating faith and psychology. God is doing something new here."
"As Megan Anna and Mark state, this is a 'novel and somewhat messy approach to integration'—one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and welcome to my classroom. I have long been a fan of Mark McMinn's writings and use them frequently in my teaching and writing. He taught me the field of integration from afar, for which I am grateful. In this volume, however, they go a step further. I've known for quite some time that we need to have deeper conversations about integration as it emerges in the counseling office. I've felt this from my students and have tried to accommodate. Mark and Megan Anna did not give the formula, but they modeled how it can be done with biblical and theological wisdom, psychological refinement, and academic depth. Thank you for taking us a big step further along in the integration journey."
Introduction: Reflections on Contemporary Integration
Part 1: Facing Difficulty
1. Lament: How Do We Make Sense of the Deep Aches in Life?
2. Uncertainty, Meaning, and Enjoyment: Does Anything Make Sense When the World is Such a Mess?
Facing Difficulty: Final Conversation
Part 2: Pondering God
3. Imaging God: What Does my View of God Have to Do with my Work as a Counselor or Psychotherapist?
4. Considering Atonement: From What are We Being Saved?
Pondering God: Final Conversation
Part 3: God in the World
5. Mission of God: What is God Up to in the World?
6. God with Us: Where is God Amid the Deep Uncertainties of Life?
God in the World: Final Conversation
Name and Subject Index