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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 IV. Strategies for Therapeutic Change


t PART IV t Strategies for Therapeutic Change ! C H A P T E R S E V E N ! Following Ariadne’s Thread: Problems, Goals, Experiments, and Behavioral Interventions omparing theories and contrasting portraits are suggestive exercises that clarify our vision and hone our judgment. The utility of ideas and the impact of individuals, however, are ultimately tested by their proven ability to solve problems or reach goals through the creative use or innovative development of methods and tools that are adopted by others. These tools and techniques may be as simple as Ariadne’s thread attached to the door of a legendary labyrinth. What matters is that they enable any Theseus who employs them to emerge from an otherwise inextricable laby- rinth unscathed.1 Like unto the mythic Ariadne, both cognitive therapists and spiritual fathers proffer tools and techniques for the maze of problems and aspirations that drive a person to seek their aid. The continued use of patristic methods throughout the centuries and the established efficacy of psychothera- peutic techniques in contemporary clinical research indicate that we are dealing with practices that work. The question remains: Can “Ariadnian thread” spun in such divergent workshops be of use in both contexts? That is to say, to what extent are patristic and psychological techniques compatible and, even further, transplantable? In our last chapter, we noted that people with problems seek help when they are unable to find satisfactory solutions on their own. Michael Mahoney puts it with admirable simplicity, “there are two...

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