As a psychotherapist, I use psychology as one of my tools. It’s not my primary framework for healing the “whole person,” but it complements my Main tool. Let me share with you why and how.
Psychology, by itself, is good if taken as a discipline like medicine, engineering, law, business, sociology, anthropology, astronomy, or fine arts. For me, psychology is a “neutral” study of facts. It’s defined as a science dealing with realities surrounding the mind of man and his emotional processes.
If you go by theological presuppositions, I consider psychology as part of “general revelation” in creation. It’s complementary to the so-called “specific revelation” of Scripture. Both, therefore, can be taken to be not in competition with one another within a specific framework of establishing all truth.
However, here’s the deal. I say that there are two very common “traps” or extreme views regarding psychology that people often go into. We need to avoid these extremes. One is what I call “over-respect” or “unwarranted authority.” And the other is, “under-respect” or “unwarranted dismissal.”
When we endow psychological principles/statements with final authority or we accept everything that comes from it, that’s “over-respect” or giving psychology “unwarranted authority.” Like other sciences, psychology has limited scope. It cannot bring about world peace, abolish death, or lead us toward our Creator. Psychology therefore cannot be the center of authority.
For instance, secular psychology can view man as a material “what” purely guided by raw instincts coming up from an evolutionary monkey. Here, human persons are not “who.” The “Me-first-ism” principle, implied in secular behavioral sciences, teaches us that only the fittest can survive, that we can transform ourselves based on our own efforts. These are not true. They are unhealthy, incomplete, or inaccurate humanistic presuppositions of mainstream psychology.
On the other side of the extreme, you dismiss everything and anything that smells of psychology without a deeper assessment of its facts and discoveries from honest research. This is the error of “under-respect” or “unwarranted dismissal.” It’s like throwing away good medicine for a specific disease. It happens when we don’t take time to discover what objective realities are being presented by psychology as a science, perhaps out of personal pride or cultural bias.
Psychology has significant and widespread contributions in education, media, entertainment, politics, law enforcement, and other fields of society. It helps the world advance technologically and in its human resource development. An example is a set of psychological principles to understand our family systems and organizations better in order to heal individuals and function more effectively as a team.
Based on years of observing and experimenting, detailed descriptions of human behavior are published in books on mental disorders. They provide doctors and other people helpers with relevant information on treating psychological disorders that destroy families and societies. We do not deny these helpful statements of fact for people helping. We welcome such well-studied frameworks with thanksgiving to contribute to helping heal broken persons in holistic, substantial ways.
A balance, therefore, is called for. Hence, in using psychology to complement psychotherapy practice, it’s a matter of being able to differentiate the good from the bad. In that way, along with the Main tool, the healing of “whole persons” becomes a distinct hope and well-informed possibility.