Many of us struggle with anxiety, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy. We know that God created us in his image, but how can we be loving when we feel burned out? How can we be free when we struggle with addiction? Will we ever enjoy the complete healing God promises?
Changes That Heal by renowned psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud offers a down-to-earth plan to help us recover from the wounds of the past and grow more and more into the image of God. Combining his professional expertise and personal experience, Dr. Cloud guides us through four basic ways to become joy-filled, mature followers of Christ:
Connect more deeply with others
Separate from others in healthy ways
Understand the good and the bad in ourselves and others
Grow into greater emotional and spiritual maturity
With fascinating case studies and helpful techniques we can start using immediately, Changes That Heal reminds us that God promises to complete his good work in us.
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A book like this is hard to write, let alone explain well. The concepts in it are based on a developmental theory of growth and development called Object Relations or some adaptation of that theory. When I came out of college in 1994, I was given the idea by God, after reading the Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard and The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, that spiritual maturity is indeed a developmental process. In my study of psychology, or the human psyche, the idea that our spiritual growth and development follow along the same lines as our physical and emotional growth and development through Erik Erikson's theory was born.
So, I can appreciate Dr. Cloud's attempt here, but it is always tough to try and explain such a massive or comphrensive topic so that the causal reader can understand. Sometimes, Dr. Cloud explains things so simple it's hard to understand, if that makes sense. The concepts in such theories of development are very complex and the words are important to not water down. For example, I would have liked to read how Dr. Cloud understands how the stages of growh are dependent on each other, which they are. They are supposed to build on each other, but this is not explained very well.
All in all, though, writing a book like this is very original in the Christian culture and there will be misunderstandings since the study of psychology is still seen as demonic within that culture. It is not demonic anymore than the study of biology or ethics.
Not Very Helpful For Me
Several years ago my wife and I took part in a monthly Changes That Heal study that we did with a few other people from our organization. Dr. Cloud takes the reader step-by-step through the four basic tasks of becoming mature image bearers of God - bonding to others, separating from others, sorting out good and bad in ourselves and others, and becoming an adult. Dr. Cloud not only explains and describes each task, he also identifies the problems that result when we fail to accomplish that task and shows us what changes to make in our lives in order to bring about healing. Although I enjoyed the people I met with in the book study, I really struggled reading this book. I felt the book was rather boring and not that useful for me. Perhaps I am inclined to give most books of this subject matter a poor review since it is my preference to read nonfiction books containing more theology and less psychology. My wife on the other hand found Changes That Heal to be very beneficial, and I can understand why many might like such a book.