The Anxiety Cure: A Critique of Archibald Hart’s Body Systems Approach
I agree that the competent Christian counselor “must have some familiarity with how to treat anxiety disorders” (Hawkins, n.d., slide 2). I also agree with the conceptual emphasis on recognizing the role and significance of biological influences on psychological challenges (n.d., slide 2). This fits well with my personal conviction that each client needs to be assessed as a whole person with all aspects of mind, body and spirit considered.
I did not personally see the need for understanding all the chemistry involved. Recognizing symptoms and understanding techniques for relieving anxiety do not require understanding what serotonin or benzodiazepines are or how they work. I did, however, appreciate the numerous self-treatment ideas that were presented and will likely incorporate some of those into my own lifestyle.
I also found the various “pull out” blocks of information (such as the Common Myths About Panic Attacks on p. 44) to be useful concise tools. I can see the value of putting together a few of these in “flier” format that could be made available to clients in the reception area of the office (with appropriate permissions and/or citations, of course). Since “anxiety is now the number one emotional problem of our day” (preface, p. v), there’s a good chance that each client at least knows of someone who suffers from anxiety related disorders. It’s good information to get out to the public as much as possible.
The most valuable portion of the book for me personally – both as an individual and as a future counselor – was the section on Christian Meditation. I agree that there is strong Biblical support for the practice of meditation (pp. 238-239). This is a technique that I will determine to learn and implement in my Christian walk and then incorporate into my therapeutic practice. I often refer to Proverbs 23:7, which affirms the concept that behavior is determined by thinking. As Christian meditation is an excellent tool for focusing thinking on God and His Word, I feel it will be a very useful tool for any client.
In summary, I agree with the basic precepts of the book – that biology and psychology are connected, that both must be considered in diagnosis and assessment, and that treatment should include both medical and psychological approaches. I disagree with the idea that the counselor or the client needs to understand the underlying chemistry on the biological/neurological side or how the medications work – that is what we have psychiatrists and physicians for. Most especially, I appreciate the numerous techniques presented that can be used either individually or in conjunction with therapy and the emphasis on personal responsibility for seeking help and making positive cognitive changes.
Hawkins, R. (n.d.) [Speaker]. The anxiety cure: The contribution of Archibald Hart. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University. (NOTE: this presentation is available only to students enrolled in L.U. counseling class COUN507_B01_200940)