Neuroscience Informed Christian Counseling (NICC)
The aim of Neuroscience Informed Christian Counseling (NICC) is to help people experience mental health wellness, using methods developed from the study of neuroscience and theology, doing so with accountability to high standards of excellence in practice.
NICC is largely a translational and integrative model. Building on and emerging from well-developed and researched models of therapy and Biblical soul care wisdom practiced for millennia. The result is a distinctly Christian clinical model articulated precisely for training, supervision, and research.
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The Theology Behind NICC
The following list represents a brief bibliography of theological writings that influence NICC. The list is not exhaustive and does not represent an embrace or endorsement of every perspective taken by the authors.
- Systematic Theology, Second Edition: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
- Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: 3rd Edition by William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.
- Grasping God’s Word, Fourth Edition: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays
- The Other Half of Church: Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation by Jim Wilder, Michel Hendricks
The Neuroscience Behind NICC
NICC theory and practice is grounded in the scientific research of mental health over the past one hundred years and the study of God over the preceding six plus millennia. The NICC Provider Manual covers in detail the neuroscience and theology of NICC. In this overview of the neuroscience behind NICC we will simply name the various theories and models that NICC draws on, with limited discussion of their influence on the model. We’ll organize the material in reverse chronological order, starting with the state-of-the-art evidenced based models and trace back to their earlier anecdotal theorist.
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
The leading developer for Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) is Diana Fosha. From AEDP we draw our focus on the phenomenology of affective experience, the primacy of affect in creating change, the operationalization of our therapeutic stance, understanding of anxiety, defense, and core affective experience, the mechanics of processing emotion to completion, meta-therapeutic processing, and a model of supervision based on direct observation of video, to name a few. In many ways NICC is a translation and expansion of AEDP and is primary in NICC’s application with individuals.
Further Study in AEDP
- Undoing Aloneness and the Transformation of Suffering Into Flourishing: AEDP 2.0
- It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
The leading developer for Emotion Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is Susan Johnson. From EFT we draw our understanding of attachment driven interpersonal cycles of interaction, organization of therapeutic work into stages and steps, and restructuring bonds through restructured interpersonal enactments. EFT is primary source for NICC’s application with couples and families.
Further Study in EFT
- The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection
- Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with Individuals, Couples, and Families
- Created for Connection: The “Hold Me Tight” Guide for Christian Couples
Attachment Focused Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (AF-EMDR)
The leading developer for Attachment Focused Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (AF-EMDR) is Laurel Parnell. From AF-EMDR we draw structuring of therapeutic work, use of imagery in processing traumatic memory, targeting and following of memory networks, verifying completion of processing, understanding of Adaptive Information Processing (AIP), and resource development through imagery work.
Further Study in AF-EMDR
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
The leading developer for Internal Family Systems (IFS) is Richard Schwartz. From IFS we draw our understanding of parts work and ego states.
Further Study in IFS
The leading developer for Schema Therapy is Jeffery Young. From Schema Therapy we draw limited reparenting and early maladaptive schemas.
Further Study in Schema Therapy
Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB)
The leading developer for IPNB is Daniel Siegel. From IPNB we draw our understanding of nervous system anatomy and function, mental health as whole brain integration, theory of mind, self-reflective capacity, and intersubjectivity.
Further Study in IPNB
The leading developer in Polyvagal Theory is Stephen Porges. From Polyvagal theory we draw our understanding of vagal nervous system states and window of tolerance.
Further Study in Polyvagal Theory
Right Brain Psychotherapy
The leading developer in Right Brain Psychotherapy is Allan Schore. From Right Brain Psychotherapy we draw our understanding of limbic resonance, regulation, and revision.
Further Study in Right Brain Psychotherapy
The leading developer for Memory Reconsolidation is Bruce Ecker. From Memory Reconsolidation we draw our understanding of the therapeutic reconsolidation process, transformation sequence, and the role of mismatching experiences.
Further Study in Memory Reconsolidation
Trauma Informed Practice
The leading developer in Trauma Informed Practice is Bessel van der Kolk. From Trauma Informed Practice we draw our understanding of trauma’s effect on the nervous system and trauma symptomology as protective features of the body.
Further Study in Trauma Informed Practice
The above-mentioned modern theories and models in neuroscience build and expand on the work of earlier theorist who lacked the scientific measuring tools to ground their findings in direct observation of the nervous system or to conduct widespread controlled studies. Still their keen observation and experiments in treatment have made meaningful contribution to our understanding. While NICC strongly disagrees with some of the conclusion these theorists drew from their observations, we find value in their observations when understood through the lens of the Bible.
These include the works of:
- Sigmund Freud in Psychoanalysis
- Harry Stack Sullivan, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Margaret Mahler, and Otto Rank in Object Relations Theory
- John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in Attachment Theory
- Carl Rogers in Person Centered Therapy
- Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs
- Erik Erikson and his contributions in Developmental Psychology
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