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Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy

A Meeting of Minds


Alexis Trader

Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy details a colorful journey deep into two seemingly disparate worlds united by a common insight into the way our thinking influences our emotions, behaviors, and ultimately our lives. In this innovative study about mental and spiritual health, readers are not only provided with a thorough introduction to the elegant theory and practical techniques of cognitive therapy, they are also initiated into the perennial teachings of ascetics and monks in the Greek-speaking East and Latin-speaking West whose powerful writings not only anticipated many contemporary findings, but also suggest unexplored pathways and breathtaking vistas for human growth and development. This groundbreaking interdisciplinary volume in the art of pastoral counseling, patristic studies, and the interface between psychology and theology will be a coveted addition to the working libraries of pastors and psychologists alike. In addition, it is ideal as a textbook for seminary classes in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling, as well as for graduate courses in psychology dealing with the relationship between psychological models and religious worldviews.
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Preface xiii


t Preface t his pastoral study in patristic theology and cognitive therapy represents an attempt to seek answers to questions that the particularities of life, training, and circumstances have set before me. From an early age, the predictive power of science captivated my mind, whereas the transfigurational love of Christ captured my soul. In the monastic republic of Athos, where venerable ascetics have discerningly cultivated a way of life that can and does produce the fruits of sanctity, I also encountered the products of a very different vine. In addition to the perennial givens of human passions and sin, a quite contemporary nexus of psychological issues seemed to be hindering some very good souls from receiving and living monastic counsels in such a way as to bring forth fruit one hundred fold. Starting out with the intuition that contemporary scientific approaches might have something significant to offer to resolve those issues, I began a venturesome exploration whose final destination seemed at times obscure. Notwithstanding at journey’s end, the fathers’ teachings comforted my soul, renewed my zeal, and gave me hope. They also provided me with familiar surroundings in which to lay the valuable tools from cognitive therapy, so that they too could be marshaled for the task of helping others lead a healthy life in mind and spirit. I believe that what I have written can be beneficial for many people. It has certainly been so for me. Rigging a vessel and loading the ballast are hardly as invigorating as...

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