The Therapeutic Implications of the Imprecatory Psalms in the Christian Counseling Setting (Report)

This article addresses the manner in which the imprecatory psalms provide a valuable mechanism for the cathartic release of negative emotion. The psalms in general work very well in providing voice to negative emotions in the Christian counseling setting. The difficulty with the imprecatory psalms is that if taken at face value, the client may find themselves trapped in justified anger. The vindictive language has value in Christian counseling but must be tempered with proper exegetical and theological understanding. When this is done, these psalms provide appropriate release and resolution of difficult emotions such as anger, hatred, and frustration. By reviewing the nature of the imprecatory psalms as well as the psychological benefits of cathartic expression this article presents some key ideas in how these psalms can be framed for positive interventions. The use of scripture in a Christian counseling setting is a common practice. Scripture can be brought into the therapeutic context either by the therapist or the client. The integration philosophy of the therapist is a factor in how it is used (Johnson & Jones, 2000) and can vary but its use is quite effective when working in a faith based context. Because many therapists are not theologians the need to respect certain boundaries in biblical interpretation is imperative so that scripture is not misused by either the client or the therapist.

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