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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 III. Human Practitioners and People in Need


t PART III t Human Practitioners and People in Need ❖ C H A P T E R S I X ❖ Reflections from an Unlikely Portrait Gallery: Spiritual Fathers and Cognitive Therapists ithout theory, observations become as mute as statues and facts become as obscure as unintelligible inscriptions on the wall of a cave. In the past three chapters, we have discussed patristic and cognitive theories that give observations their voice and facts their Rosetta stone. In the language of psychology, both ways of understanding elucidate relationships between thoughts and emotion, thoughts and dysfunction, as well as thoughts and recovery. At some point, however, the models, meta- phors, and formulae that constitute a given theory need to be put into practice, and this can only be done through the human practitioner. The roles and ministries of the spiritual father (i.e., father confes- sor/spiritual director) and the cognitive therapist are so unmistakably different that their comparison may seem superfluous. And yet in day-to-day life, the unmistakably different are at times undeniably mistaken for each other.1 Spiritual fathers may be tempted to act as amateur psychologists in the confessional. Therapists may be enticed into playing the part of quasi father confessors at the office. While it is helpful for spiritual fathers to be informed about psychological factors and for therapists to be knowledgeable about the spiritual life, clarity about role and function is necessary for the overall integrity of each ministry and the discerning utilization of what the corre- sponding profession offers. Moreover,...

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