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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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Part II. Theories of Thoughts, Pathology, and Recovery


t PART II t Theories of Thoughts, Pathology, and Recovery ❖ C H A P T E R T H R E E ❖ A Patristic Voyage through the Cognitive Model Some Maritime Knowledge: Charts, Shoals, and Winds n chapter one, we decided that the best method for making use of the Egyptian gold of cognitive therapy would involve an approach of discern- ing openness in which patristic teachings would be given logical priority over psychological concepts and serve as a context in which those concepts would be situated. In the previous chapter, we concluded that the therapeutic practices of cognitive therapy should be separated from certain metaphysical assumptions that are no less dangerous than the proverbial serpent of old. Now in this chapter, we leave those metaphors behind and begin the actual task of mining the allegorical gold and extracting the healing elixir of cognitive therapy. We will do this by examining the basic mechanisms underlying psychopathology according to the cognitive model: viz., meaning assignment, automatic thoughts, and schemata or beliefs. In line with our chosen method, we will first introduce each psychological concept and then more extensively present related patristic teachings that will be translated into modern idiom when necessary. In other words, at times we will attempt to formulate patristic teachings in cognitive terms, so that the two approaches can more easily enter into dialogue. Having thus established a patristic context, we will then lay out the psychological concept in further detail and finally compare the offerings of both...

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