Monday, February 12, 2018

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christian Clients with Depression Book Review

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
 for Christian Clients
 with Depression:
A Practical, Tool-Based Primer

By Michelle Pearce, Ph.D.

Reviewed By

Geoffrey W. Sutton

I received Pearce’s book from the Templeton Press for the purposes of review. I submitted the review manuscript in 2016 to the Journal of Psychology and Theology, which was then reviewed and subsequently accepted for publication, March 1, 2017. I will provide links to the academic review below.

Michelle Pearce, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland. Her book provides a useful summary of cognitive-behavioral therapy and shows how it may be adapted to help Christian clients draw upon Bible practices and teachings to cope with depression.

I graduated from a school (University of Missouri-Columbia) where cognitive behavioral psychotherapy was the mainstay of treatment. But, like others from my era, we found our own way when it came to helping religious and spiritual clients with mental health concerns, including depression. Experienced clinicians will not find much that is new in the book, but they will find an organized set of strategies and links to recent research that can help ensure a best practices approach.

The book will be most useful to students in counseling programs as a supplement to various courses and supervised experiences focused on treating people with depression. I think the book can be helpful to pastors as well as they will no doubt encounter many people in their congregations who struggle with some form of depression.

I note a few suggestions for an improvement in my review. These are not concerns that would limit the value of the book, but rather ideas for a future edition. Here’s a quote from my published review:

Pearce acknowledges the forgiveness work of Christian scholars like Worthington and Enright but does not offer specific guidance as do Enright and Fitzgibbons (2015) in their chapter devoted to forgiveness therapy for depressed clients. Two, Pearce identifies the term spiritual struggles in the chapter about suffering (6) but does not include the extensive research by Exline and her colleagues (e.g., Exline & Rose, 2013), which has helped clarify many of the distressing beliefs held by Christians when they experience such struggles. And three, although she briefly mentions hope in the conclusion, the topic deserves a greater role in the treatment of depression especially given its critical role in psychotherapy and its prominence in Christian theology (e.g., Edwards & Jovanovski, 2016).

Review reference and document links

Sutton, G. W. (2017). Seven strategies for treating Christians with depression. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 45, 69-70.  Accepted 11/19/2016, Published March 1, 2017. 

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