Here is the third post from a series of conversations that I had with a psychologist.  You can read the other conversations here, where it all started, then here, the response that he had to my post, then my response to him here.  Just so you know, we have a good friendship.  Neither of us is mad at the other in the least.  In fact, we both enjoy the discussion.  It keeps us thinking about why we do what we do.

So, what kind of counsel are you giving today?  We’re all giving some sort of counsel to almost everybody we come in contact with, even if it’s no counsel at all.  Is your counsel (or lack thereof) honoring God?

“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another…the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (Romans 15:14, 1 Timothy 1:5)

Here’s his response.  Mine will follow, tomorrow.

“I do not think our conversation is confrontational and enjoy the topic. I think it is a rare opportunity when we as Christians get to have real discussions about important issues. I value your thoughts.

I agree with everything you said but would add one thing. Diagnosis is not actually the problem though it is not always clear cut, you get a fair bit of agreement between professionals. The diagnostic criteria are pretty well accepted. I think what you are getting at is that we don’t know the cause. Was it biological? (testable through blood work or something) Faith based? Maybe poor parenting?  Living a life apart from God? I think we can say they are depressed but how then do we treat it? I think your example is right on. We use the medicine God gave us to heal the broken leg (i.e. we use what we know about treating depression e.g. improve sleep, decrease negative thoughts, engage in positive behaviors and thoughts, etc) and we look at the root cause. How is the person’s Faith? What is their lifestyle like? Do they attend Church, voluteer, pray, etc? We also of course look at familial patterns and history. An example that may illustrate both ways of approaching a situation (caution: self disclosure coming up) My mother, raised in faith, raised our family in faith, prays all the time, attends Church, yadda yadda yadda, but is completely co-dependent with my Alcoholic brother. Does she enable him out of a lack of faith in God’s power or could we approach her in terms of behavior modification (just stop doing those things that support his drinking). I think both are true and necessary ways of intervening.

Final note,  have your read “The road less traveled” by M. Scott Peck. I think it is very valuable for its attempt at merging Faith and Psychiatry. He talks about anxiety developing when people don’t do something out of fear. It is usually something they know they should or shouldn’t do but they continue to act out of fear. This idea of anxiety developing when we don’t do what we know we should to me is true of many people I see. They act in selfish ways and they are anxious because of the situation that develops. E.g. they know their boss wants something done but they disagree so they don’t do it and live in fear of being found out.

Anyways… Good discussion. I look forward to more.”