Dr. Martin Nelson


Our intensives at the 2014 National Christian Counseling Conference were a booming success! Over 300 individuals participated in intensives, gaining specialized instruction and training over the course of the conference. Many of our intensive participants have sent us reviews and quotes about their experience – and one participant, Dr. Martin, sent us a blog article! We are happy to feature the below article from one of our intensive participants:


During the week of October 1, 2014, I attended the bi-annual American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) National Conference and participated in an intensive. The AACC holds two bi-annual conferences: the World Conference on odd years and the National Conference on even years. Despite the word “American” in the name, the AACC is an organization with international reach. The AACC World Conferences include many Christian counselors from all over the globe and sponsor international participants. The AACC is on the ‘cutting-edge’ of counseling research and this past week at Branson, MO reflected it.

This national conference presented Christian therapy research with three-day intensive classes such as: ‘Attachment-based Intervention Specialist Training,’ ‘Neurobiology and the Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders,’ ‘Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Recovery,’ ‘Advanced Cognitive Relational and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies,’ ‘Experiential Counseling and Coaching Techniques: Moving People Forward in Growth and Change,’. I was personally able to experience the training that took place in: ‘The BEST Model: Using Biblically-based Empirically Supported Treatments.’

The intensive class, ‘The BEST Model,’ was given by Dr. Siang-Yang Tan and Dr. Everett Worthington, Jr. In the intensive, Dr. Tan and Dr. Worthington trained the AACC intensive participants on constructing their own therapy practice using ‘Biblically-based Empirically Supported Treatments.’

Dr. Siang-Yang Tan is the senior pastor of First Evangelical Church, Glendale, CA; Siang-Yang is also professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary.   Dr. Tan explained that Christian therapy must be: “effective, efficient, and ethical.” Therapy must be effective or the counseling is perverting a soul; it must be efficient or the counselor is a thief; most importantly, it must be ethical or nothing is gained. Alongside his didactic instructions, Dr. Tan also provided the students with ‘hands-on’ role-play therapy.

Dr. Worthington, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, who is ‘an expert on the interface between psychology and Christianity,’ illustrated the ‘effective, efficient, and ethical’ of Christian therapy. In his research, he has found that “Patients in R/S psychotherapies (mostly Christian) showed greater improvement than those in ‘alternate secular’ psychotherapies both on psychological …and spiritual… outcomes.”

Drs Tim Clinton and Gary Sibcy presented an intensive entitled “Attachment-Based Intervention Specialist (ABIS) Level 1 Training.” Dr. Tim Clinton has more accolades than this article has space; however, if this author was to say in a nutshell who he is, the answer would be that Dr. Clinton is the president of American Association of Christian Counselors with its nearly 50,000 active members. Dr. Gary Sibcy, also has a list of praises; his unique area of expertise is in adult attachment disorders.

These two renowned scholars presented information about how a person’s attachment experiences affect both their worldview and their approach to all of their subsequent relationships. (Disorders in attachments can have dramatic consequences to the approach to and ability to form relationships.) Also addressed in this intensive were the connections between attachment style, brain development, and emotion dysregulation.

Along with these intensive classes, the old pleasant standbys, ‘Plenaries,’ were there: Dr. Diane Langberg did a very nice plenary class entitled ‘More Lessons Learned in the Therapist’s Chair.’ This class provided a pragmatic view counseling with the filth of sin and the sin-filled cultures in which we live. Josh McDowell illustrated the realism of our faith by physically providing a 1400 year old Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

Some question the role of therapy and counseling in the church. However, even though the Bible is not a therapy manual, it is fraught with therapy – from Genesis through Revelation.   Some would say that the very first counseling session was God’s attempted cognitive-behavior therapy with Cain in Genesis 4:6-7: “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Granted Revelation has a different type of therapy, but it is therapeutic none-the-less.


Dr. Martin Nelson is a freelance writer/reporter for an on-line news service, Examiner.com. Martin gives a Christian Apologetic perspective on current events.

Categories: Recent Research

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