A Peaceable Psychology

Christian Therapy in a World of Many Cultures

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"Given the extent, speed, and vast impact of globalization, A Peaceable Psychology raises an important subject that is worthy of serious engagement. This book will indeed stimulate further dialogue in a crucial area."--Steven Greggo, Trinity Journal
In the past century psychology has been practiced in the manner of medical science, working from the assumption that therapy can transcend particular traditions. Seeking to move the conversation forward, Alvin Dueck and Kevin Reimer argue for a theologically, culturally, and politically sensitive psychotherapy whereby the Christian psychologist treats the patient according to the particulars of the patient's political situation and ethnic and religious tradition, while acknowledging the role of his or her own Christian story in therapeutic dialogue. A Peaceable Psychology encourages mental health practitioners to mine their own traditions for gifts of healing and to allow clients to bring their native ethnic or religious voice into therapy. The authors point to the life of Jesus as the foundation on which to build a therapeutic ethic, appropriating the story of his life to bring healing.

This integrative work considers philosophy, ethics, theology, and cognitive science in making an argument on behalf of and for the psychological community. It will benefit psychology professors and students, Christian psychologists and psychotherapists, mental health workers, pastors, and theologians.


"Dueck and Reimer set forth a non-violent, non-coercive approach to therapy as if faith makes a difference, as though ethical values matter. They ask, 'what if we took Jesus seriously in what he said and did as well as what was done to him?' This is a book for thoughtful caregivers who want to plunge deeply, those for whom floating on the psychological and therapeutic surface no longer satisfies."--David Augsburger, professor of pastoral care and counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is a remarkably compassionate and eye-opening book. It should be read by all present and future clinicians."--Nancey Murphy, professor of Christian philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

"What are the implications of Isaiah's vision of a peaceable kingdom on earth for psychologists, psychotherapists, pastors, and mental health workers who are committed to building on the work that Jesus began nearly two thousand years ago? Alvin Dueck and Kevin Reimer address this question by challenging the empire mentality of western psychology through learned but accessible discussions of the inevitable conflicts between objective science and indigenous religious traditions. Invoking Jesus's encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well as a paradigm for meeting the suffering on their own ground and their own terms, Dueck and Reimer have provided a visionary blueprint to guide and enhance the constructive work of their colleagues."--Donald Capps, professor of pastoral psychology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Drawing on philosophical and theological resources often ignored by those associated with pastoral care, Dueck and Reimer do nothing less than reimagine psychological theory and practice. This is a landmark book that hopefully will reshape the field of psychology for Christian and non-Christian alike."--Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

"Long overdue. By providing a theologically and morally compelling critique of Western culture, Dueck and Reimer succeed in challenging the reader to rethink the legitimacy of the very foundations upon which contemporary psychology--both in research and in practice--rest. Don't get lost in the exquisite writing or in the beauty of how their argument unfolds. Instead, allow this book to make you uncomfortable and then do something about it."--Peter C. Hill, editor, Journal of Psychology and Christianity, and coauthor, The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

"Dueck and Reimer don't pull any (Anabaptist) punches in this provocative and inspiring book. They offer a radical critique of contemporary Christian and secular psychology and psychotherapy, demonstrating how often Western theorists and practitioners unwittingly operate under the influence of political 'empire,' linguistic hegemony, and philosophical foundationalism. Their constructive proposals for a peaceable psychology are carefully argued and illustrated by gripping cases of suffering. Psychologists and anyone interested in the role of religion in contemporary human life will be challenged by Dueck and Reimer's insightful analysis of the complexity of therapy in our world of many cultures."--F. LeRon Shults, professor of theology and philosophy, University of Agder, Norway

"Finally, an interculturally sensitive treatise on the integration of psychology and theology. Dueck and Reimer invite us to explore a socially just psychology at the complicated intersection of religion, politics, ethnicity, and therapy. A Peaceable Psychology is a courageous vision and my vote for the most important book by Christian psychologists in the past decade."--Steven J. Sandage, associate professor of marriage and family studies, Bethel University

"In A Peacable Psychology, Dueck and Reimer have succeeded in communicating with thunderous passion and impeccable, interdisciplinary scholarship, a clarion call to embrace God's incarnational reign in this broken world. Professional caregivers of all orientations will be deeply challenged to rethink not only their point of departure but also the process and ultimate vision for their work. This is a transformational book."--Marie Hoffman, director, Society for Exploration of Psychoanalytic Therapies and Theology

"Dueck and Reimer offer a thoughtful engagement with psychology that avoids therapeutic individualism's inherent lack of accountability while attending to the nuances and therapeutic potential of particularity across cultures and contexts. Their prophetic voices resound most profoundly when they bear witness to the power of weakness in the formation and articulation of a 'peaceable psychology' that can nurture souls and heal wounds."--Keith G. Meador, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-director of the Center of Spirituality, Theology, and Health, Duke University

"Dueck and Reimer speak prophetically out of their Mennonite traditions to argue for a peaceable psychology founded on the model of Jesus Christ. This peaceable psychology will challenge us all to serve whatever neighbors God sends us and to do whatever we must to help them regardless of the oppressive regimes of epistemological, professional, and political power that interfere with God's work of love. Perhaps most importantly, this book asks and then leaves unanswered many questions that point toward the need for further communal discernment on how we can deepen the theory and practice of a peaceable psychology. All Christians, and certainly all Christian psychologists, should read this book."--P. J. Watson, U. C. Foundation Professor of Psychology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"I can think of few topics more timely and relevant than learning how to more effectively engage our increasingly complex and multi-cultural communities. Those of us who aspire to be God's image bearers in word and deed have much to learn from indigenous healing communities. A Peaceable Psychology is a thoughtful and much-needed contribution to a dialogue that is exceeding rare in even faith-based communities in Northern America and Western Europe. It offers keen insights and has profound implications for theory, research, and practice."--Richard E. Butman, professor of psychology, Wheaton College

The Authors

  1. Alvin Dueck

    Alvin Dueck

    Alvin Dueck (PhD, Stanford University), a licensed psychologist, is the Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of the Integration of Psychology and Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is coauthor of The Living God and Our Living...

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  2. Kevin Reimer

    Kevin Reimer

    Kevin Reimer (PhD, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology) is director of undergraduate programs and student affairs in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. He previously taught at Azusa Pacific University.

    Continue reading about Kevin Reimer


"This is a big, serious work and it deserves more accolades than I can bestow. This is a broad moral critique of Western culture, a thoughtful engagement with the ideas that have shaped us, and a truly innovative contribution to reframing things. It is asking, to put it simply, what the implications might be for Isaiah's vision of a peaceable Kingdom for those who work in psychology, counseling, therapy, or mental health work. . . . This is iconoclastic, radically Christian scholarship seeking a renewal of the very foundations of the discipline. . . . [The authors'] knowledge is remarkable. Their vision is audacious. This book is extraordinary."--Byron Borger, heartsandmindsbooks.com

"Dueck and Reimer ask the questions, how is it possible to practice psychology peaceably, across cultures, and how might Christian psychologists think about this challenge and live it out? They bring to these questions considerable academic reflection and therapeutic experience, and the rich prophetic and peacemaking voice of their Anabaptist Mennonite tradition. . . . The writers draw on biblical, theological, and philosophical resources to mount a sweeping critique of Western culture and psychology. . . . The writing style is clear and accessible, leavened throughout with challenging ideas, succinctly stated, and the compelling stories of clients and psychologists from three continents and many religious traditions. . . . I recommend this book to anyone working in a multicultural therapeutic setting who wishes to seriously reflect on the intersection of their professional assumptions and their faith. Be warned, though. The ideas in this book have significantly challenged and deepened the way this reviewer practises psychology."--Sharon Southwell, Zadok Perspectives

"A Peaceable Psychology is engaging, thought provoking, and logically coherent. There are numerous illustrations throughout the text of how therapeutic efforts were realized by exemplary helpers in local cultures where violence and tragedy struck deep into the lives of individuals and communities. If the success of a book is connected to the amount of personal reflection it provokes on assumptions and helping principles, the authors are to be commended. The articulate critique of modern psychology for the secular values it advocates and the ultimate press for individual fulfillment over community solidarity is penetrating. . . . The call to epistemic humility and a willingness to collaborate in cross-cultural conversations regarding health, wholeness, and religious experience is worthy of diligent consideration. . . . Given the extent, speed, and vast impact of globalization, A Peaceable Psychology raises an important subject that is worthy of serious engagement. This book will indeed stimulate further dialogue in a crucial area."--Steven Greggo, Trinity Journal

"A Peaceable Psychology is valuable in that it offers a new perspective on Christian and secular psychology and psychotherapy, returns to Jesus Christ as the foundation, and integrates psychology and Christianity using historical, philosophical, and theological viewpoints. . . . It is helpful for psychologists and psychotherapists who are committed to following Jesus Christ, for those interested in an open, meaningful dialogue with Christian practitioners from various political and cultural contexts, and for those who seek to integrate theology and psychology. Those interested in Christian psychology and psychotherapy, and in particular cross-cultural therapy, will find in this book valuable information and resources. Above all, this volume challenges pastors and theologians currently working in faith communities to rediscover and strengthen the central themes of Christian faith in the context of a discerning Christian community."--Jin Kyung Park, Koinonia

"How can Christians working in the field of mental health better address the suffering of the marginalized and cultural other in a manner true to the calling of Christ? In this volume Dueck and Reimer offer a thoughtful, accessible, and refreshing response to this timely question that will appeal to a readership beyond those working in the mental health area. . . . I appreciated the breadth and depth of the authors' analysis, the weaving together of ideas from a range of disciplines, and the illustrative use of examples. Further, I endorse the authors' call for a more collaborative, inclusive, and deeply respectful approach to therapy."--Vonda Plett, Conrad Grebel Review

"The content of this book is highly commendable to those in counseling, ministry, and therapeutic training."--Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Interpretation

"A most insightful, provocative and challenging read. The book fits within the broader multicultural literature on psychology but uniquely weds it to a distinctive Christian perspective. . . . The authors did a superb job in attempting to make their vision plain. . . . They drew upon a rich body of resources, including a variety of disciplines such as theology, philosophy, sociology and history among others, in order to provide breadth and depth to the subject. I found the journey into these various realms fascinating, mind-stretching and illuminating. . . . I came away from these discussions with my mind stimulated, my eyes opened in a fresh way and with new insights and concepts for understanding how psychology has been shaped by a western mindset. I also came away with new thoughts and perspectives on how different psychology might operate if it was grounded in Christ."--Anthony J. Headley, Asbury Journal

"The authors do an admirable job of integrating counseling and theology. . . . A Peaceable Psychology is a welcome alternative guide to Christian counseling. It challenges the notion that if one is a Christian counselor, then Christian values and beliefs will be imposed on the client. This text shows how understanding the life of Christ can help build the foundation for a therapeutic approach to counseling that values cultural differences and honors indigenous practices and beliefs while working with clients. . . . This book would be beneficial for the Christian counselor or more advanced graduate student who works with others from different cultural backgrounds. The text is also appropriate for academicians in universities with religious affiliations who want to pursue discussions about how their approach to teaching psychology or counseling may be distinctively different from that of their counterparts at secular universities."--Kim G. Brenneman, Mennonite Quarterly Review