How People Grow Reflection Paper by Cloud and Townsend

REFLECTION PAPER OF HOW PEOPLE GROW BOOK BY CLOUD AND TOWNSENDVillatoro-Ramirez Counseling Department Denver Seminary Monte Hasz Psy. D. Elisabeth A. Nesbit, Ph. D. CO 631 01 Career Development and Assessment October 8, 2012 Reading How People Grow (Cloud and Townsend, 2001) has been an interesting experience because the author of this paper’s knowledge about counseling has been transformed in different ways. This reading has forced me to evaluate my own approach to counseling and my spiritual life has been impacted through the reflection about grace and law as well.
I appreciate that this book has already been translated to Spanish language, which has given me the opportunity to read faster and better understanding of some ideas because Spanish is my first language. I have already included this book as a required reading to the course of Pastoral Care, which is taught at Denver Seminary’s Hipic Initiatives because in my personal opinion this book is useful for all people in Christian ministry who wants to know how people grow. Thus, through this paper I will explain my understanding on how people grow according to Cloud and Townsend.
In addition, I will critique the book comparing it with two of the systems of integration presented in class by Drs. Nesbit and Hasz. To accomplishing it this paper has been divided in three areas. The first explains my personal understanding about what Cloud and Townsend (2001) say about how people grow. The second area compares this book with two systems of integration, which are Biblical counseling and the Integration approach. Finally, the rest of the paper focuses on reflection and application as a resource for clients.

First, I think Cloud and Townsend (2001) use the concept of Christian counseling and discipleship or personal growth in the same way. For them there is not difference between spiritual life and real life (21). The heart of their book presents the idea of working on relational and emotional issues back into the mainstream of spiritual growth (21). It can be seen in the chapter the Paradise lost where Cloud started to describe that at the time that he began his ministry there were four models of how people grow (16).
He was clear saying that he saw value in these four models practicing all of them in some degree even though he was inclined for the model of truth which held that the truth would the person free. If the person was not free or some area of life was not working it must be because lacked truth in the life of this person (16). However, and even though Cloud (2001) saw people improve, and prayer, learning Scripture, and repentance were very powerful elements in healing many clinical conditions he realized that something was missing in all these elements (18).
He realized that all these spiritual methods did not resolve some problems (18). People were helped but not cured (18). Thus, Cloud (2001) became disillusioned and went for further training and has experience with sincere Christian people who had been very diligent about spiritual growth but without success (19). However, he continued to work in Christian counseling for a few years more when he started to see processes that actually changed people’s lives (19). These processes were not the traditional Christian way to grow that he had learned.
These processes involved deep transformations of the soul and there was the spiritual life, where we learned about God and grew in our relationship to him, and then there was the emotional and relational life, where we learned how to solve real-life problems (19). In other words, both Cloud and Townsend (2001) believe that the issues why people come for counseling are not growth issues or counseling issues, but spiritual growth issues (21). In addition, Cloud and Townsend (2001) emphasis that spiritual growth should affect relationship problems, emotional problems, and all other problems of life (22).
For them there is no difference between spiritual life and real life because it is all one. They go through the major categories of Christian doctrine and talk about how each doctrine applies to personal growth (23). Second, about the comparison of this book with two systems of integration, I think in some point Cloud and Townsend (2010) are part of the biblical counseling approach which focus is on the sufficiency of the Scripture for counseling needs.
A definite strength for Cloud and Townsend’s book is their use of the Bible and appeal to its authority as well. Contrary to Scott’s presentation of Biblical counseling, Cloud and Townsend (2010) are not directive and sermonic. They are more practical and enlighten the process of how people grow through the emotional and relational life, where they share practical ideas about how to solve real-life problems. In this sense, there is not way to use their method out of the church or Christian environments, which I think it is a weakness of their method.
In other words, following this methodology a counselor would not seek the governmental endorsement of a professional license and cannot work in secular counseling settings as a rule. Because Cloud and Townsend (2001) at the beginning of their book expressed through some examples of Christian people facing mental problems in a hospital, I thought that they may lean toward the integration approach looking to secular models for treatment techniques. However, in the rest of their book they did not mention about a different way of treatment more than practical counseling application of the Bible.
In addition to this point I can say that it seems to me that Cloud and Townsend (2001) use group therapy as a source of help people even though they say that working in group is an external spiritual source that God has given us to grow. I think to working in a Christian environment, this idea of groups to help people to grow is powerful. However, it seems to me that Cloud and Townsend (2001) did not want to be related to the four methods that were at that time they began to work on counseling.
However, this book ends doing almost the same thing that biblical counseling in the sense that does not giving space for secular techniques as a source of help other than the Bible. Cloud and Townsend (2001) differentiate internal and external sources that God has given us to grow (126). For them internal sources are Bible, prayer, and Holy Spirit and external sources are all help that others can gives us as a way of help. In this sense, they talk widely about the work in groups, which I think it may be a secular technique however they did not recognize that.
It seems to me that they are ambiguous not telling that they are combining some secular techniques in their work at Christian environments. Finally, because Cloud and Townsend (2001) were clear to say that their desire that their book be practical, and help the reader (I think Christian reader) to understand how the growth process is theological. I agree that in my life they accomplish that desire because there are some areas of application that I can mention that would like to implement in my ministry. First thing that I learned in the reading of “How people grow” Cloud and Townsend, 2001) was the concept of grace and law. I think in our Christian world we have misunderstood the concept of grace and that is why we live under the idea of a God who is ready to punish us. At least it is what I discovered on my own life through this reading. I like how Cloud and Townsend (2001) explained that grace is something that we cannot give ourselves because it comes from outside of us, as unmerited favor; and we can not do anything to obtain grace (127). It was powerful to me learning that grace is an external source of healing that we can give and receive through the body of Jesus, the church.
I appreciate that Cloud and Townsend (2001) remind us that God created us to be in relationship with others so it is through others that people can grow as well. I love this concept because it is contrary with what our individualistic culture says. In addition, this concept is contrary with some teachings that say that people do not need other people at all because Christ alone is sufficient or that his Word or prayer is enough. These teachings actively and directly lead others to not depend on people at all because they think it is wrong.
I like how Cloud and Townsend (2001) explained that the Bible teaches that all these things are part of the process, including other people (121). Through the book both of them Cloud and Townsend (2001) emphasized loudly the role of the body in the process of how people grow. In sum, how people grow (Cloud and Townsend, 2001) is a great tool for counselors who work in Christian environments because offers practical ideas about based on the Scripture. Differently to the Biblical counseling approach, Cloud and Townsend (2001) focus on the grace instead of the law.
In addition, Cloud and Townsend (2001) emphasize the role of the body of Jesus as a source of growth in the life of the believer. Cloud and Townsend (2001) is not recommended for counselors who work in a secular settings even though the principles that come directly from the Bible must be applicable in the personal life that any Christian counselor no matter where his or her job’s place be. References Cloud, H. , and Townsend, J. (2001). How people grow: What the Bible reveals about personal growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan

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