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Understanding and Counseling the Alcoholic by Howard J. Clinebell, Jr.

Howard J. Clinebell, Jr. Is Professor of Pastoral Counseling at the School of Theology at Claremont, California (1977). He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is a licensed marriage, child and family counselor in the State of California. His personal website is, and his email address is This book is the Revised and Enlarged Edition published by Abingdon Press, Nashville, 10th Printing, 1990. Used by permission. This material ws prepared for Religion Online by Richard V. Kendall.

Chapter 1: What Is an Alcoholic?
This chapter provides a working definition of alcoholism, then describes the types and developmental pattern of alcoholism, the problem of the woman alcoholic, and the size and seriousness of the problem.

Chapter 2: What Are the Causes of Alcoholism?
This chapter reviews the causative factors involved in alcoholism as they operate on three levels: (1) Biochemical and psychological factors. (2) Availability of alcohol and its attractiveness as determined by social attitudes, and (3) Physiological changes as well as cultural attitudes. Alcohol provides a "pseudo-solution "to problems and anxieties. It is when this collapses, the alcoholic turns to religious solutions.

Chapter 3: How Religion Has Been Used to Help Homeless Alcoholics
Dr. Clinebell takes a practical look at the evangelistic-authoritarian approaches of the rescue mission and the Salvation Army as they seek to help the alcoholic.

Chapter 4: The Emmanuel Movement -- Religion Plus Psychotherapy
Continuing the author's study in the psychology of applied religion, the now discontinued Emmanuel Movement had many elements of theory and practice worth emulating. It was the first church-sponsored psycho-religious clinic.

Chapter 5: Alcoholics Anonymous -- Our Greatest Resource
Continuing the practical orientation of the opening chapters, Dr. Clinebell describes in detail the way in which Alcoholics Anonymous began and grew,, and how it applies the insights of psychology and religion effectively to the sickness called alcoholism.

Chapter 6: The Psychodynamics of a Religious Approach to Alcoholism
This chapter discusses the distinctive contribution which can be made by a religious approach to alcoholism in contrast to a non-religious approach.

Chapter 7: The Ethical Problem in Alcoholism
A stumbling-block to many clergymen in dealing with alcoholism is the issue of the ethical problem: sin vs. sickness; the problem of responsibility.

Chapter 8 - Laying the Groundwork for Counseling Alcoholics
This chapter covers some preliminary considerations for a minister who intends to counsel alcoholics: his attitude, goals, preparation and resources.

Chapter 9 - The Process of Counseling with Alcoholics: Relationship and Motivation
The counseling relationship involves the motivation and attitudes of both the counselor and the Alcoholic. This chapter provides some specific guidance in these areas.

Chapter 10: Process of Counseling with Alcoholics Moving Toward Recovery
Part of the process of counseling with alcoholics is helping increase their understanding of their addictive illness. This includes help from AA, assistance from a medical expert, learning how to interrupt the addictive cycle, helping the person develop a new way of life without alcohol, and helping further his/her spiritual growth.

Chapter 11: Helping the Family of the Alcoholic
This chapter focuses on counseling the family of the alcoholic, dealing with the family crisis, using the resources of Al-Anon, and helping the children of alcoholics.

Chapter 12 The Prevention of Alcoholism
This chapter reviews the three levels on which alcoholic sickness can be prevented by the counselor and religious community: At the grass roots, through the influencing of symptom selection, and through early detection and treatment.

Chapter 13 -An Alcoholism Strategy for the Congregation
This chapter discusses the role of the Religious Community in dealing with alcoholism.

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