Essay about Book Review on Care for Souls by David Benner

Words: 2014
Pages: 9

Reflection Paper -
Care of Souls: Revisioning Christian Nurture and Counsel

by Swanie Khoo

In the work of professional psychology, we have now a forray of theories, therapeutic techniques, and modern psychotherapies which has all too frequently ignore the spiritual element in human life. In Care of Souls, Dr David Benner recaptures the place of the spiritual in psychological work. Among the many benefits of the use of modern therapies and medical science, he has also emphasised putting God's priorities above one's own in the practice of Christian soul care. Care of Souls provides an account of Christianity's historical practices of soul care through a culmination of his many years of scholarship, teaching and clinical work.
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He provides us with practical advice for all of us in soul care to meet these demands and challenges in the vocation. I summarise them as follows, in my own version : -
Being Authentic – truthful, and avoid professionalism
Benner emphasises many times about about being authentic and the giving of our selves to the vocation, this he calls a 'demand' and also a 'challenge' of soul care. One of the ways in which he encourages us to do so is that we have a deeply personal engagement which can be founded in true dialogue. And true dialogue can only occur in a relationship between equals, according to Buber. This, in my lack of experience, I find rather unrealistic for the caregiver and receiver to be 'mutually' caring for each other although I agree with him about being real, and having a deep engagement with a counselee, I am still wondering how does 'mutual care' work in a counseling relationship between a counselor and counselee?
Though, most importantly, I agree with Benner about guarding ourselves against having a “professional” attitude. Benner calls it the emphasis of doing over being. We also run the risk of our relying on technical competence over giving of ourselves. Quoting from Benner, “The challenge is also to resist the temptation to reduce soul care to the skillful