The phrase we use in Regent’s PsyD Program to convey how we approach integration is Integration Across the Curriculum. From our philosophy and goals statement on our web site:
Our unique approach to training from a Christian worldview is “integration across the curriculum”. What this means is that rather than giving you separate learning experiences in psychology and theology that students must integrate on their own, our faculty members will both model and join you in the integration journey. Integration is central to the Regent identity and part of every core course and elective.
One approach to integration is to provide students with courses in psychology and theology and encourage them to bring the two fields together into a meaningful dialogue. With this approach, students are expected to figure it out on their own or with minimal input from faculty. But this is a particularly challenging task, and my experience is that many students turn to faculty members for guidance and modeling, which is appropriate. Students want to begin to sort out the issues in integration, and it is in everyone’s best interest to meet them where they are.Another approach to integration is to offer a course on theories of integration. What I like about this is that it helps students learn about various approaches to integration, which can help them discern an approach that resonates with them. The risk, however, is that integration may begin and end with just that particular course, because it becomes the class where integration is addressed.
My perspective is that integration cannot fit into one class, even though I think it is valuable to learn theories of integration and their practical applications. I believe integration has to be a part of each class that is taught. This continues to be an area for growth for me, but let me share an example. When I teach Family Therapy, integration entails critically engaging the existing models of family therapy. What are the theoretical and philosophical assumptions of Bowenian theory? What about structural family therapy? Or narrative approaches? In what ways do these approaches share some assumptions about human beings and families, and how are they different? In addition to engaging and critiquing these models, to me integration also entails laying a foundation for a truly integrative Christian family therapy. What are the theoretical and philosophical foundations for such a family therapy? How might one rely upon a Christian worldview to inform such an approach? To what extent will it draw upon existing models of family therapy? These are some of the questions for integration; they are best addressed in this particular class, just as similar questions will be addressed in other courses – as each subject is considered from a Christian perspective.
What are the benefits and drawbacks to the various approaches that exist? How do you prefer to see integration addressed?