Interview with Dr. Stephen P. Greggo

02.11.2020  |  Season 1  |  Episode 3



SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. Madison Pierce and Dr. Josh Jipp interview Dr. Stephen Greggo, who is Chair of the Counseling Department and Professor of Counseling here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

We talk about Steve’s passion for equipping Christians to practice soul care, various approaches to counseling, and some of the great courses that Steve and his department are teaching here on campus.

If you enjoy the interview, we encourage you to pop over to IVP and grab a copy of Steve’s latest book: Assessment for Counseling in Christian Perspective.

But before the interview, Josh and Madison talk about Enneagram. (Don’t worry: we don’t really think it’s a helpful counseling tool!)

 

Transcript

Season 1 | Episode 3 | Dr. Stephen P. Greggo | February 11, 2020

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro

[00:00:03] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Madison Pierce
[00:00:21] Hi! Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m Madison Pierce.

Josh Jipp
[00:00:25] And I’m Josh Jipp.

Pierce
[00:00:27] In our episode for today, we’re interviewing Dr. Stephen Greggo, who is professor of counseling, as well as the chair of the counseling department here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Greggo is a licensed psychologist in New York and Illinois, and an ordained minister. His personal mission statement is, “Equipping a new generation for Christian ministry of soul care.” He is consistently published in peer reviewed journals and most recently written, Assessment in Christian Perspective, which I think we’ll hear a little bit more about later. First, Josh, you mentioned that you had something you wanted to talk about today.

Jipp
[00:00:59] So today on our podcast, we’re going to be talking with Steve Greggo, Professor of Mental Health Counseling. And Madison, that kind of makes me think of…since you’re joining the faculty here at TEDS, I’ve heard much more about the Enneagram from you than I ever had before.

Pierce
[00:01:14] Yeah. I mean, if we’re talking about, like, really serious approaches to counseling—

Jipp
[00:01:17] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:01:17]—I think obviously Enneagram is where you go first.—

Jipp
[00:01:20] Right, right.

Pierce
[00:01:20]—I mean, Myers Briggs, Enneagram…these are like the tools of the trade, right?

Jipp
[00:01:29] I don’t… I don’t know if they are. That’s what you’ve told me—

Pierce
[00:01:34] Well, I can’t wait—

Jipp
[00:01:34] —and you’ve kind of, like, boxed some of my behavior into numbers, “wings,” um…

Pierce
[00:01:39] [LAUGHS] We’ll have to…we’ll have to check in with Steve and see if that’s like—

Jipp
[00:01:42] Yeah, ok. ok.

Pierce
[00:01:42]—cutting edge counseling technology.

Jipp
[00:01:44] Um, you know it’s kind of…I actually think it’s kind of fun. Uh, you…I have another friend who loves to categorize people into certain numbers.

Pierce
[00:01:52] Oh, that’s like a huge no-no.—

Jipp
[00:01:54] No? Okay, that’s my friend that does that.—

Pierce
[00:01:54] That’s like the number one rule of the Enneagram.—

Jipp
[00:01:55] But it’s kind of fun.—

Pierce
[00:01:56] But everyone does it.—

Jipp
[00:01:57] You like…you like to guess people’s numbers, right? Or is that Michelle?

Pierce
[00:01:59] Um, I mean I think it’s fun. I don’t know that I’m very good at it, actually, which is kind of humorous. But, um, I like to hear what people are and to kind of figure out if it’s like in my top two or three—

Jipp
[00:02:10] Okay, yeah.

Pierce
[00:02:10] —that I’ve come up with. Yeah.

Jipp
[00:02:11] Yeah. So what are you?

Pierce
[00:02:12] I’m a four.

Jipp
[00:02:13] A four. And what does that mean, exactly, for—

Pierce
[00:02:14] I mean, fours typically, like, want to be really special and different.—

Jipp
[00:02:18] Mmm. Yeah, I see that.

Pierce
[00:02:19]—And… [LAUGHS] thank you, Josh.

Jipp
[00:02:22] You’re welcome.

Pierce
[00:02:23] Um, they…on the positive side, sometimes they are actually special, but they do tend to be really introspective—

Jipp
[00:02:30] Okay.

Pierce
[00:02:30] —and emotionally intelligent and things like that—

Jipp
[00:02:32] Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Pierce
[00:02:35] —And so, that’s a kind of nice thing about being a four.

Jipp
[00:02:39] Right, right. What about like, uh…when I think of you, I think of a lot of things, but one of them is you’re a great manager. You keep people on task. You’re very organized. And is that related to your Enneagram number? Is that…or is that your wing…side…?

Pierce
[00:02:57] As far as my managing, I wouldn’t say that that’s a huge part of my personality, but that has kind of been my de facto role with the podcast—

Jipp
[00:03:05] Yeah, yeah.

Pierce
[00:03:06]—So I feel terrible for y’all! [LAUGHS]—

Jipp
[00:03:07] Yeah, no, you’ve been thrust into that, you’re really good at it, and of all the four guests, I know I’m the one that needs the most managing. So I…you know…unfair question.

Pierce
[00:03:16] No, Josh, you’re awesome. I never have to wonder if you’re doing what you’re supposed to.

[LAUGHTER]

You know what, maybe Enneagram is like, not the most important counseling tool.—

Jipp
[00:03:36] —Really?—

Pierce
[00:03:36] —I think we probably need some help from Steve, yeah.

Jipp
[00:03:38] Okay, okay.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Jipp
[00:03:45] Today on the podcast we have Steve Greggo, professor of counseling at TEDS. Steve, thanks for being on the podcast.

Steve Greggo
[00:03:52] Josh, thanks for having me. Madison, good to be here.

Jipp
[00:03:55] Now, Steve, you’re a trained psychologist. You’re the chair of the Mental Health Counseling Department here at TEDS, but you’re also an ordained minister. Can you share with us a little bit about your journey and how those two spheres came together?

Greggo
[00:04:11] Mmm. You know, when I hear that introduction, it sounds pretty…pretty formal to me. When I really think of myself, I’m…I’m a youth pastor that sort of found his way here to TEDS. I began my work after attending Denver Seminary at a small, rural church in upstate New York. And it was a wonderful ministry—I had a youth ministry there with an exciting pastor. And, in a small town and in a small community, you wear many hats. And because I had quite a background in counseling, I found myself in youth ministry doing more and more counseling. And the humorous thing—it was pretty funny at the time—is that the pastor would refer some of the counselling cases to me, and then some of the other small churches in the area began to refer their accounts in cases to me. After all, a youth pastor only works on weekends anyway, so he has plenty of time to do this kind of work. And I really came to recognize I did not have all of the training and expertise that I needed to do the work, and so backed away and went to school and found my way here.

Jipp
[00:05:22] What year did you join the faculty here at TEDS, Steve?

Greggo
[00:05:26] Uh, 1995-96 academic year.

Jipp
[00:05:28] And was that anticipated?

Greggo
[00:05:30] Uh, no. I never would have anticipated teaching at a seminary. I probably wasn’t the most stellar student at Denver Seminary. I was working three jobs while going to…going to school. I saw myself moving off into, perhaps a branch of pastoral ministry that wouldn’t include preaching, so I never thought I’d find my way into a seminary. That’s been one of the most exciting ways that God has worked, because it certainly has been a role that I have been thrilled to participate in, and it’s been an extremely exciting ministry. Yeah.

Jipp
[00:06:06] Steve, one of the things I’ve always admired about you is your love for theology. It comes across in your teaching and conversations with you. I’d love to hear—was that something that you came to TEDS with, or did your love and engagement of theology develop after you came to TEDS?

Greggo
[00:06:24] I do think it’s a long term…a lifelong passion. I had the real honor—there’s a name in the field, Dr. Vernon Grounds, is…was president of Denver Seminary during the time at which I attended there. And he was a theologian—theologian, professor, mentor, counselor. I was in some of his formation groups, and I picked up a love for theology through his…through his ministry. And that stayed with me throughout my time in pastoral ministry, and then youth ministry. When I came to TEDS in the 90’s, the real controversy in the area of Christian counseling, or counseling that was attempting to be Christian, was whether or not we should be using secular materials or delving into the science—the good science that was out there—and how we should filter it and bring it in. And I think the questions in the field have changed somewhat, and have become more…that there’s a need to look very, very deeply at the theological—the worldview underneath and have a theological mindset that can bring discernment to many different questions. And so I think what’s happened is my interest in theology has been fueled by the changing nature of the field and what clinicians need today. I’m an advocate for my students, and for those in the field of counseling, that we need more of a depth in theology to do the exegesis of culture, and of people’s narratives and stories, far beyond just what’s going on psychologically or socially in their lives.

Jipp
[00:07:55] Yeah, yeah.

Pierce
[00:07:57] Thanks for that. I mean, along those same lines, I would say that one of the things that I’ve really appreciated—you know, I have noticed that you certainly are really conversant in theology, but it does seem that overall that you’re really interdisciplinary—or at least you’re able to interact and be involved in interdisciplinary conversations really, really well. You know, for example, we have around campus the Deerfield Dialogue Group, where we get together and read each other’s papers, and I just feel like you’re always really great at being able to engage with all the papers equally. I don’t know that I always feel like I can do that myself. Are you really intentional in that? Do you have some things that you do to make sure that you can engage well with other disciplines?

Greggo
[00:08:42] Well, thanks for the compliment. I don’t always feel that way, but I think part of being a part of a campus community—an academic community—means there’s a…there’s a life amongst ourselves, of fellowship. And I think being a part of that fellowship—just interacting and rubbing shoulders with experts in other disciplines—has helped me to absorb and to become somewhat fluent in certain areas. But I will say that I learned fairly early on that we all go to our professional guild meetings and we stay in those categories, in those lanes, and the questions of the church—the questions of our culture today—are interdisciplinary, and the only way, I thought, to have New Testament people or theologians interact with the council was to get in their face or to show up and to ask questions. And so that’s been part of my interest, just to sort of learn.

Jipp
[00:09:45] Now, Steve, you also do some work with the Evangelical Theological Society. It’s a…I know you’re the program chair of a specific unit. What’s it called again?

Greggo
[00:09:55] Theology for Counseling and Pastoral Care. So that’s been a real long-term effort, and it’s…it’s generated quite a bit—we’re actually on sabbatical for this next year, so its…its future is a bit up in the air, but I can still talk about what it’s done and what I hope will happen. That group formed as I was presenting at the Evangelical Theological Society and realized that there were a track of people that were interested in counseling and doing more in-depth pastoral care, but did not have a platform or a set form at ETS to do that. And so several of us formed that study group—Eric Johnson, John Auxier. Others were involved with that—Keith Plummer, another…another member of that…that group. And so we also decided that we weren’t just wanting to share papers with one another, and so each year we try to invite other disciplines to sort of set the agenda—“What would you say to counselors?” And we see ourselves as not so much just forming a group at ETS, but to try to generate a literature. We’re encouraging our participants to write an article for mental health counselors or church pastors that…that speaks to them, from whether you’re a New Testament scholar, Old Testament or theologian— “Feed us with papers that we can understand.”—

Jipp
[00:11:25] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:11:26]—And that’s been so fruitful.

Jipp
[00:11:27] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:11:28] Very exciting.

Jipp
[00:11:30] Yeah. That’s great, Steve. Um, what would—I’d love to hear, like, what are some of the topics you’ve addressed? What are some specific examples of topics the ETS section has…has engaged?

Greggo
[00:11:42] Well just…we had a fascinating topic this year. We were talking about issues regarding Alcoholics Anonymous, and what—How do you define alcoholism addictions, from an Evangelical perspective? Josh, the year that you were involved in our section, we were looking at issues of mental health overall. Are we hospitable in the church to those who are suffering with mental health issues? What can we do to better improve the way we welcome those with mental…with mental illness? We’ve looked at gender issues. We’ve certainly looked at same-sex attraction issues. And we’ve looked at one of the areas where there’s quite a bit of division still in Evangelical circles is—what approach should we use? How much comes from the Scriptures? How much comes from social sciences, and what’s the relationship between the two?—

Jipp
[00:12:33] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:12:33]—That’s still one of the hotter topics and where our section has addressed that time and time again.

Jipp
[00:12:38] Yeah, that’s great.

Pierce
[00:12:40] I’m curious, it sounds like y’all are navigating some really contemporary issues. How are y’all identifying these? Is this just kind of keeping your hand on the pulse of…of Evangelicalism, or is there something more methodical?

Greggo
[00:12:53] Uh, I really do think that we are listening to the students that speak to us. Most of the folks that are involved are teaching in some seminary or…or Christian university, and so we listen to what our students are saying. We look at what our literature base is offering as responses and say, “We need more from a Biblical theological perspective on this particular topic.” It isn’t that psychologists or counselors haven’t written on the area. It’s that we haven’t seen enough weigh-in by some of those in other disciplines, and that’s what we go to ETS for.

Pierce
[00:13:28] Okay, that’s great. Thanks, Steve.

Jipp
[00:13:31] Steve, in a minute, we want to turn to ask you some questions about your own research and your own work, but you’ve touched on it a couple of times, so maybe I’ll just go there and ask you explicitly. Tell us a little bit more about the fraught nature, or controversial nature, of different approaches to counseling. I remember I had Steve into one of my classes. We were looking at a book by Heather Vacek, called Madness, on Protestant approaches to mental health. And you said, “You know, there’s a missing chapter in here.” I think you said the missing chapter was by Jay Adams. And I’d just love to hear for…you reflect upon—I think our listeners would appreciate just a little more guidance—for what…what are some of the controversies?

Greggo
[00:14:16] I….to summarize the controversies in a few minutes is always difficult, but if you think about it in terms of, “What is the authority of Scripture when you are doing the interpersonal work of counseling?” “How does that come into play?” and “What do you…do you glean from, what you borrow from, from the scientific literature?” which is now pretty well established to address very specific mental health issues and concerns. Well, maybe even if I…do I use the term “mental health issues” or “concerns,” or do I use only Biblical terminology—

Jipp
[00:14:48] Right.

Greggo
[00:14:48] —to talk about what people are suffering with—

Jipp
[00:14:51] Right.

Greggo
[00:14:51] —or struggling with. So you would think that we’ve…we’ve resolved some of those matters, but there’s still quite a bit of heat.

Jipp
[00:14:58] Okay.

Greggo
[00:14:59] Um, part of it has to do with, who do people turn to for assistance? Who should they turn to? Should they turn to their pastor? Should they go to someone designated by their pastor, or do they see a specialist—a mental health counselor? And if they do see a mental health professional, what training does that mental health professional have? And on what basis will they offer assistance? So those are still very live questions. One of my sort of lifelong projects has been trying to, uh, to help those who come from various perspectives, such as a Biblical counseling perspective, where there’s a strong emphasis on wanting to draw from the Scriptures to provide the solutions to people’s…to people’s issues. I admire that position a great deal, and seek to apply it in my work, but I also want to bring the best of what the social sciences or medical research has told me is helpful to people who are…are struggling. But it…it…there’s so much tension over issues of authority and the narcissism of our culture has made it such that we’re even more suspicious as believers of anything that seems to promote individual differences or distinctions. And so when I thought we were making progress on respecting what each different approach brings to the table, and in particular, which approach fits better in different settings, one of the difficulties we have is trying to make each approach fit all settings. But my students go out and work in an addiction treatment center. Some are working in a domestic violence center where churches are sending their people. Each of these settings are unique—

Jipp
[00:16:46] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:16:46]—and those approaches find their way to be the best fit for those settings, and we haven’t looked at the contextualizing factor in counseling enough.

Jipp
[00:16:56] Mmhmm. It sounds like an approach that isn’t going to demonize the other. Or, if I hear you right, you’re…you’re trying to look for context, specificity, making connections. I mean, often, I’ve felt as though these conversations, when I’ve heard them, have been very divisive, and “us versus them,” and “you’re on the right side or the wrong side,” and people lose jobs over them. That’s not the approach I’m hearing you advocate here.

Greggo
[00:17:23] No, it’s not my approach. I…I find myself enriched by crossing the lines and reading different approaches and listening to some of the reminders, the rebukes, the challenges that come from those who might not share my identical approach. But I think that mental health clinicians who go into the field ought to be fluent enough in these various approaches to adjust to the client they’re serving, and adjust to the expectations that are around them—both by the culture or by the ministry. It behooves us as experts to be able to move our position rather than how we deliver care, as opposed to saying, “This is how I deliver care, now everybody else adjust to what I’m going to provide.” You know, just a tiny bit of history—I…I came after Gary Collins left here at TEDS, but, um, that’s the heritage at TEDS, was the work that Gary Collins did in the area of integrating psychology and theology. And he always wanted to give theology to the church—I’m sorry, counseling to the church—and find things from the literature that could be useful to people in the church. And so we’ve continued that tradition in the department. But we’re really looking to build bridges with those who take another position.

Pierce
[00:18:46] That’s great. And, to give a little bit more background for people who are listening, Steve has the opportunity to teach not only in the Mental Health Counseling program, but also um, I mean the counseling department covers our “Intro to Counseling” class that every MDiv takes, so Josh and I have also had the pleasure of taking that course at some point. And so when Steve is talking about educating pastors, mental health professionals, you know, he really…he’s doing all of that and does have to kind of hold those things in tension as he’s thinking about educating the people in different roles around here. Do you…do you want to say more about some of the programs and influence that you have here on campus, Steve? You may not want to phrase it as “influence you have,” but—

Greggo
[00:19:30] Well, it’s…it’s really what makes life here at Trinity interesting and fascinating—the learning community and the different directions. Our students come in with a heart to follow God, and they want to develop the expertise in handling the Scriptures, and in their discipline, to be able to fulfill their calling, but they’re going into very diverse settings. So I was just speaking with a woman today who’s so enthusiastic about a future in chaplaincy. And she recognizes that she’ll be working in an extremely public and pluralistic setting—bringing her convictions, yes, but having to serve the public in a very unique way, at the bedside of a crisis. And so she has to learn how to communicate her presence in a way that’s going to be received by the patient, but also endorsed by the hospital and following the ethics code. So that’s one branch of students that I would work with. And then this weekend I was…this past weekend I was with MDiv students who are getting their one course—everything they need to know about counseling in two credits or less. And so we have to talk about the problems they’re going to face and whether they realize it or not as a student, they cannot get away from face-to-face, interactive work when people are in crisis. It’s just…as much as you may aspire to be a preacher or to be an academic, if you get close to people, you’re going to be in their lives.—

Jipp
[00:21:04] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:21:04] —You’re going to be relating to them. So that’s a group of students that’s fascinating. And then, we do have a program that helps students to become licensed as mental health professionals, and that’s a particular niche. We’re a CACREP accredited program, meaning we meet the highest level of the secular standards for that training, and those students go out and get a state license. That’s very different than ordination or board certification as a chaplain.—

Pierce
[00:21:30] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:21:30]—Three very different constituencies.

Pierce
[00:21:32] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:21:32] Hmm.

Pierce
[00:21:33] I think, you know, you were mentioning that there’s only one required course, but I will say that  I consistently speak to our MDiv students and a number of them have told me that of their few—or of the electives that they can choose from—they actually are opting to take some of the really neat courses that you offer in your department. So, I mean, if you don’t mind giving us a really quick overview, what are some of the things that you and your department are teaching and some issues that you’re trying to interact with?

Greggo
[00:21:59]—This is…this is…for the prospective students who are considering TEDS, I think it’s something to notice, because they may look at the MDiv curriculum and think, “Gee, there’s not a whole lot of counseling in there.” Our MDiv students find their way into our courses and that’s a growing trend. Um, they’re…they’re thriving and enjoying the Multicultural Counseling course—

Jipp
[00:22:20] Mmhmm.

Greggo
[00:22:21]—which really delves into how difficult it is to have conversations across diversity and to talk about the hard things. It’s one thing to develop a light relationship, but to really talk about the hard issues of social justice and where people are at—and that course does that. Um, others find their way into our course on addictions. You know, you don’t always know why they’re finding their way into that particular course, but Christians are not immune from those difficulties.—

Pierce
[00:22:51] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:22:52] —So that’s another popular course. And I think any course that we have that emphasizes the interpersonal skills—how to develop a good enough, an intimate relationship, to thicken the relational lines between people, is attracting MDiv students. There’s more to ministry than proclamation.—

Pierce
[00:23:16] Absolutely.

Greggo
[00:23:16]—I’m not diminishing that. I love what TEDS does. We train people to understand the text so they can teach it to proclaim it. But in order to receive it, you have to work with a person’s heart and they have to be open, and that sometimes takes that personal touch.

Pierce
[00:23:32] Mmhmm. Now we all do some kind of counseling. Hopefully, we’re trained at least a little bit for it. I know that professors have a little bit of that in our job description as well.

Greggo
[00:23:42] That’s right. If you lead a formation group, it can easily move into something that feels like strategic dialogue, which is a way I define counseling.

Pierce
[00:23:52] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:23:54] Um, Madison, I’m wondering—well, I want to get into some of Steve’s research, but I think…would it be okay if we did a few personal questions—fun questions for Steve?

Pierce
[00:24:03] [LAUGHS] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:24:04] Okay. Are you okay with that, Steve?

Greggo
[00:24:06] Sure!

Jipp
[00:24:07] All right. I’ve got a couple of questions I’ve been wanting to ask you. Would you think of yourself as a cat person or a dog person?

Greggo
[00:24:15] Oh, there’s no question about that. You don’t know the answer because I—we actually raise Labrador Retrievers. I have two dogs—

Jipp
[00:24:23] Okay.

Greggo
[00:24:23] —uh, at home.—

Pierce
[00:24:26] I would have guessed that.

Greggo
[00:24:26] —One’s a chocolate lab and one’s a yellow lab, and yeah, they’re an important part of my daily routine—

Jipp
[00:24:30] Okay.

Greggo
[00:24:30] —and my nighttime routine, just about all of it—

Jipp
[00:24:34] Okay. Yeah, yeah, that’s great.—

Pierce
[00:24:35] That’s great.—

Greggo
[00:24:36] —And we’ve bred them, so it’s more than, um…just…just a companion animal.—

Jipp
[00:24:44] Yeah.—

Greggo
[00:24:44] —We’ve done breeding to improve the breed—

Jipp
[00:24:46] Yeah.—

Greggo
[00:24:46]—and to work with them. It’s a great deal of fun.

Jipp
[00:24:48] That’s very cool. You never hear about therapy cats, do you?

Greggo
[00:24:51] Uh, I…I can’t see it—[PIERCE LAUGHS]—but I do know that people love cats. And some cats have personalities that are quite warm.—

Jipp
[00:25:01] Yeah, but they don’t love you back, really, too much.

Greggo
[00:25:04] Uh, I’m not going to comment—

Jipp
[00:25:05] Okay.

[PIERCE LAUGHS]

Greggo
[00:25:05] —You asked me before, I’m not trying to be divisive in the field—

Jipp
[00:25:09] No, I was just curious your own personal preferences, and—

Greggo
[00:25:13] Yeah—

Jipp
[00:25:13] I mean, I…you’re not gonna say there’s not such a thing as like, a therapy cat.

Greggo
[00:25:18] Well, the cats…cats in my life are very therapeutic. They keep the mice out of my house, and they have a purpose in life—but not into my house, right around my chair.—

Jipp
[00:25:26] Okay.

Greggo
[00:25:28]—They’re not in my lap.

Jipp
[00:25:29] Okay. Um, you look like someone who lived through the 70’s. I’m not going to ask you to share your age, but is that—

Pierce
[00:25:37] [LAUGHS] What does that mean?

Jipp
[00:25:40] [LAUGHS] I’m wondering, do you have any favorite 70’s bands?

Greggo
[00:25:43] I mean, I liked all the folk entertainers. I…you know—Peter, Paul and Mary; James Taylor—

Jipp
[00:25:48] Okay, yeah!

Greggo
[00:25:49] —those kinds of—

Pierce
[00:25:50] Nice.

Greggo
[00:25:51] Jo…Joan Baez—

Jipp
[00:25:51] —What’s your favorite James Taylor song?

Greggo
[00:25:53] Oh, come on. “You’ve Got a Friend”—[LAUGHTER] —I think has to be the one, yeah—

Jipp
[00:25:56] Do you want to—

Greggo
[00:25:57] I’m not going to sing it for you, no—

Jipp
[00:25:57] — Should we sing a little? I’ll do it with you, if—

[LAUGHTER]

Greggo
[00:26:00] You have the big mic in my face, but there are some things I should just not do.

Jipp
[00:26:05] [LAUGHS] Okay. All right.

Greggo
[00:26:06] Now, if you’d like me next time to bring my labs, then they’ll be glad to sing for you.

Pierce
[00:26:09] Oh please, yes. Absolutely.—

Jipp
[00:26:09] Okay. That’d be great, that’d be great.—

Pierce
[00:26:12]—I love dogs.

Jipp
[00:26:13] Um, I’ve seen your wife bowl. Who would you describe as a better bowler?

Greggo
[00:26:19] Well, now, that’s not a hard question, it’s just one that can get me into a lot of trouble—

Jipp
[00:26:24] Okay.

Greggo
[00:26:24]—when I answer it. I’m clearly the better bowler. —

[PIERCE LAUGHS]

Jipp
[00:26:27] Oh, really? Okay, okay.—

Greggo
[00:26:27]—We don’t bowl very often. We’ve only bowled a few times in probably the last 10 or 15 years, and you caught that one occasion—

Jipp
[00:26:36] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:26:36]—um, but I have to say—

Jipp
[00:26:37] I thought she was impressive! It was…the form was—

Greggo
[00:26:40] Well, you know, when she was in college, they actually talked with her about going professional with bowling, but I did beat her during that time period. She was eight months pregnant when I did beat her in bowling—

Jipp
[00:26:52] Okay.

Greggo
[00:26:53] —and I have not done a rematch—

Jipp
[00:26:54] Yeah, yeah.

Greggo
[00:26:54] —since that time, so I’m still ahead.

Jipp
[00:26:57] Okay. Alright.

Pierce
[00:26:58] That seems like a good place, to…to transition. I’m glad that you were able to get that in there. Um, I would—we’d love to hear more about what you’re currently working on, researching—are there any projects that you’re particularly excited about? I know you probably have a lot in the pipeline, but what is the one that you’re really excited about?

Greggo
[00:27:18] Well, the one that’s still developing in my mind is, I do want to help the next generation of those who are going into the field of counseling who have a strong passion to bring their Christian convictions into that work—not only because it’s been personally meaningful to them, but because they believe it’s helpful to the people that they serve. The field is pretty divided right now on where faith should end up in…in practice. And so I’m trying to do more work in the area of how Christians can work in the public sphere and allow their Christianity to come to the surface. So that’s….that’s ongoing work that I’m doing. Most recently in the past year, I did publish in the area of Assessment for Counseling in Christian Perspective. It’s a book with InterVarsity, and that book represents an attempt to challenge those in Christian work—in Christian…who are doing Christian counseling—to be able to track outcomes, to be able to show that the work that you are doing with individuals or with groups of people is really reaching the mark that you say it’s going to reach, and that the quality of our work is at the same or better standards than…than others. And I talk about treating each case as an individual research study, where you can demonstrate that this client gained from the experience in the ways that they wanted to gain. So that’s been an exciting work.

Pierce
[00:28:47] Yeah, that’s really interesting.

Greggo
[00:28:49] And then—there’s not time for everything, but sort of over my life…lifetime of work, I think sometimes in ministry and particularly in church work, we’re missing out on the power of using small groups to work on pointed, particular issues that people are facing. Not everything needs to come through a professional counselors office—the richness—so any ministries that thicken the relationships between people and use community as a way to allow people to talk and to speak, that’s been…I’ll continue to find ways to…to champion that particular cause.—

Pierce
[00:29:28] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:29:28] —there’s a vacuum out there that we still need to fill, even though some churches have discovered their potential there.

Jipp
[00:29:35] So related to that, how…how could, um—let’s say you’re talking to a pastor, and he wants—he or she wants to know, “What are…what are ways that I can contribute to the mental health of my congregation?” What—um, I hear you saying small groups are a good way to do that. Um, how might she, how might he be able to—what practical steps could you offer the pastor in terms of, “Here’s how you might go about implementing that”?

Greggo
[00:30:07] There are…there are so many ways, Josh, so I appreciate the question. But I think one thing to do is just for them to get aware of what resources are happening in the area, not just in terms of clinicians to refer to, but in particular, what other help groups are there. There are…there are groups—The Alliance for the Mentally Ill has groups that people can meet—Al Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous. I know that not all of these groups are going to promote a uniquely Christian perspective, but a pastor can partner, knowing that they’re getting something from that group, as well as the discipleship that would come from the church ministry. And then beyond that, some churches do offer groups.—

Jipp
[00:30:50] Uh huh.

Greggo
[00:30:50]—Maybe this is one of those areas we have to walk—work across church lines, so that one church is offering them a marriage mentors group or another church is offering for…for parents who have lost a child. These are…these are important—

Jipp
[00:31:06] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:31:08] —places where pastoral care really falls short, and we can use the resources of the community—

Jipp
[00:31:16] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:31:16]—to…to help to address them. That’s a start.

Jipp
[00:31:19] Yeah, yeah. No, that’s great!

Pierce
[00:31:21] That’s wonderful. I think one of the themes that I’m picking up from you, Steve, in all of these different areas, is this desire for cooperation and kind of working beyond these different lines, whether it’s disciplines or, you know, church or denominational lines. I think that’s really…really interesting. And so, if we’re talking about how to execute these sorts of things and help our people on the ground, how would you assess your effectiveness as a counselor? How might a pastor or practitioner assess that effectiveness?

Greggo
[00:31:56] So if…if counseling is strategic dialogue in a defined relationship to produce growth or change—so there, I’ve put a definition out on the table. If it’s that type of dialogue, where do you want to see the growth—the change? What are you after? I think getting some clarity on that at the outset, finding some ways to track that particularly, whether it’s using an assessment tool, or just come back in developing your own rating scale or counting how that’s doing, so that you can…when you’re finished with work, describe how your behavior has increased the way you communicate with your spouse, or decreased the number of times that you reach or move into a destructive behavior. Those are some ways. And I think reviewing that steadily with the people we’re helping, um, to look at its effectiveness, rather than to assume that somebody who stopped coming just didn’t want to get help. We instead get feedback along the way to be sure that our work is relationally attuned and destination—uh, there’s clarity about the destination.

Pierce
[00:33:06] Moving in a slightly different direction, I’ve noticed that North American culture around work and vocation can sometimes be kind of damaging—that people really press themselves to the limits, and I think that that does certainly have some negative effects on mental health on a really practical level. What are some healthy habits or thought patterns that some of our students, our alumni, and even our colleagues could do to remain well?

Greggo
[00:33:30] That’s a…that’s a complex question because the lines that divide our various roles are very, very permeable today. Your device follows you everywhere, and so…and your work is perhaps in the Cloud, so there are so many opportunities for work and and home and personal life to…to intermix. So gaining some clarity on where those lines are, and how to create some realistic divisions so that you could provide enough care for yourself and dedicated time for the other relationships in your life that’s important, is pretty important. And I’d say that there’s a piece—it’s not embedded in your question directly, but what does work mean? What’s the…what’s the…is it to pay the bills? That’s part of…that’s part of what work is, but Christians having a sense of what stewardship they have been given, what they are—how they are to use their abilities and their talents for the Lord. Some of that gets dedicated into a career area, but other of that goes into things that we do with other spheres of our lives—investing in a community project or a team. So that actually helps people to reduce tension and stress if they have a sense of how the meaning that they’re finding in the expression of their vocation, their gifts, has different outlets in different ways.

Pierce
[00:35:07] Thanks, Steve. Hopefully starting a podcast is one of those kind of exercises—

Jipp
[00:35:11] —that will help people with their mental health?

Pierce
[00:35:13] Or, you know, we’re…we’re part of a team now—

Jipp
[00:35:16] Yeah.—

Pierce
[00:35:16] —and, you know, sometimes—

Jipp
[00:35:17] —some kind of community.

Pierce
[00:35:18] —Yeah. Sometimes…sometimes I personally am not causing all of you lots of stress.

Jipp
[00:35:23] —Yeah, yeah.

Pierce
[00:35:24] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:35:24] What I heard—one thing I heard Steve saying was, um, “Those who don’t have smartphones are probably making good strides toward ment…” [PIERCE LAUGHS] Were you trying to say that, or..?

Greggo
[00:35:37] Maybe that, ah…in some way, but I do think that simplistic solutions are hard to come by—

Jipp
[00:35:44] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:35:44]—um, you’re waiting for a call from a family member about the health status of someone you care about. You can’t put your smartphone aside during that particular time. The problem is…is that five emails come in from work while you are waiting for that call. So it’s a…it’s a trickier process than just…than just…

Jipp
[00:36:06] Yeah. Steve, I don’t have a smartphone, and it will probably come up in every podcast, so I apologize. You didn’t—

Greggo
[00:36:13] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:36:13] —didn’t know I was even setting you up for that right there.

Pierce
[00:36:15] Yeah, that was a really loaded question.

Jipp
[00:36:16] I’m sorry.

Pierce
[00:36:17] The thing is that last time this came up, you implied that it, like, “Oh, woe is me. Everyone always talks about this,” but then you brought it up.

Jipp
[00:36:23] I know. I felt like you were expecting it, so…

Pierce
[00:36:25] I actually wasn’t—

Jipp
[00:36:26] Okay.

Pierce
[00:36:27] —but thank you so much—

Jipp
[00:36:28] You’re welcome.

Pierce
[00:36:28] —I will always like the opportunity to talk about that.

Greggo
[00:36:30] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:36:31] The funny thing with Josh, though, is that rather than carrying around a smartphone, he actually just carries around his laptop or iPad, and so he…it’s not like he’s unplugged.

Jipp
[00:36:41] No, it’s true. That’s true.—

Pierce
[00:36:41] —He’s got a…a…like, much weightier symbol of his reliance on technology that he’s toting about, so…

Greggo
[00:36:49] Right, technology is just…is just everywhere. It’s around us.—

Jipp
[00:36:52] Yeah.

Greggo
[00:36:52] —The problem is…is that I’m not always smart enough to use it. Not that it…it’s not the phone’s fault.

[LAUGHTER]

Pierce
[00:36:59] That’s great. Well Steve, thank you so much for coming in to join us. We really appreciate it.—

Jipp
[00:37:01] Yeah. It was really fun. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

Greggo
[00:37:03] You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me.

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Pierce
[00:37:07] But that’s just the Forward. You can learn more about Steve’s life in ministry from his faculty page on the TEDS Website, or by picking up his recent book from IVP, Assessment in Christian Perspective. Thanks very much to Dr. Stephen Greggo for being with us today. Thanks to our producer, Curtis Pierce, and thanks also to you for listening along with us. I’m Madison Pierce.

Jipp
[00:37:27] And I’m Josh Jipp.

Outro

[00:37:31] Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Pierce
[00:38:11] So to indulge Josh, we are now going to see if he can anticipate what song I’m going to sing—or the words of my song.

Jipp
[00:38:19] This was actually Madison’s idea, but—

Pierce
[00:38:20] —It was not my—

Jipp
[00:38:22] Yes it was. You—

Pierce
[00:38:22] —[LAUGHS] No. No.—

Jipp
[00:38:23] Okay.

Pierce
[00:38:23] —Josh tried to anticipate—

Jipp
[00:38:25] That’s not true.

Pierce
[00:38:25]—what I was going to say—

Jipp
[00:38:26] No. No.

Pierce
[00:38:26]—verbally—

Jipp
[00:38:27] Okay, that’s true.

Pierce
[00:38:27]—then we talked about the Saturday Night Live skit where the two—the couple actually, like, puts together some strange songs.—

Jipp
[00:38:33] Mmhmm.

Pierce
[00:38:34] —Is this ringing any bells for you?—

Jipp
[00:38:35] Fred Armisen—

Pierce
[00:38:36] And Kristen Wiig, yeah.

Jipp
[00:38:37] Okay.

Pierce
[00:38:38] Um, so now we’re going to try it and see—

Pierce and Jipp
[00:38:42] [SINGING TOGETHER] Here we are… [LAUGHTER] We’re podcasting…We’ve been interviewing Steve Greggo… He’s a counseling—

Jipp
[00:38:54] [STILL SINGING] —professional…

Pierce
[00:38:56] [LAUGHS] I was going to say professor!

Pierce and Jipp
[00:38:59] [SINGING TOGETHER] And biblical counseling…isn’t the full answer…—

Jipp
[00:39:04] [STILL SINGING] —You have to have an integrated approach…

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