Interest in mindfulness and contemplative thought is growing among Christians, and it’s time to consider the place of contemplative prayer within the field of counseling. Can contemplative prayer be integrated into therapeutic work? Can it in fact serve as a foundation on which to build a new approach to counseling?
In Contemplation and Counseling Gregg Blanton presents a new paradigm for integrating contemplative prayer with counseling practice. He contends that contemplative prayer can illuminate the purposes of counseling and suggest interventions that help us accomplish these goals. This paradigm builds an alliance between science, theology, and Christian contemplative thought to create a dynamic approach to counseling and balance various dimensions of the human person: emotion, cognition, and action. And by recognizing the power of both words and silence, it harmonizes their functions.
Based on this integrative foundation, Blanton offers eleven fundamental interventions to fit the needs of clients (including silence, empathy, and teaching contemplative prayer) and a practical four-stage process for helping clients change, using examples from his own counseling experience and from the Bible. Ultimately, contemplative prayer leads us to the healing power of love. How we view our clients, the ways that we relate with them, and the strategies that we use to help them change are all informed by our loving search for God in contemplative prayer.
Particular topics include
how Christian contemplation compares with therapeutic uses of mindfulness
insights from interpersonal neurobiology understood in light of Scripture
psychological and spiritual benefits of lectio divina and centering prayer
how practicing contemplative prayer can help counselors develop traits that correlate with positive client outcomes
when and how to teach contemplative practices to clients
the role of the body, emotions, conscious and unconscious mind, and behavior in contemplative practice and counseling