Featured Post

When You've Reached Your Limit

I was listening to the radio station KLOVE today as I was driving and heard a Christian singer talk about a time in his life when he was de...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Is It About Your Care Team That Makes A BIG Difference?

You are in a position to choose what makes the difference in your mental health care starting with your care team. Some of it is a little harder to find, but if you're willing to be flexible with your time and distance then there's a really good chance you can find the people you need for your care. And the power of prayer makes a big difference, as well. What am I talking about specifically? YOU NEED CHRISTIANS ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH CARE TEAM. Starting with a counselor/psychologist-do your research. There is nothing wrong with coming right out and asking the person who answers the phone, "Is this a Christian counseling (or psychology) service?" If not, move on. You can start your research on the internet or ask friends who may know someone in your community. FINDING A CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR/PSYCHOLOGIST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON ON YOUR CARE TEAM. Why? This is the person you are going to share everything about your depression with, your triggers, discussing anything you want to aid in your care. In turn, your counselor should provide you insight about your yourself, your depression, tools you can use in situations when you need help getting through something that triggered your depression, for example. You should always be talking more than your counselor/psychiatrist in your sessions. Your first session may require he/she talk more, but typically you should be talking about yourself. Then they interject what they notice or ask questions about something you said. I went to a Christian counselor I was referred to out of my first hospital stay, but it didn't work out. I met with her twice. She talked about herself both times a lot. So, I moved on to another one who happened to be my social worker from the hospital I stayed at. She worked at the private practice my Christian psychiatrist--who I also met and was my doctor at that same hospital--had outside of working at the hospital. I've had quite a few counselors or psychologists through my life before I got saved and after so I learned what made a good one and what didn't. And sometimes the Christian counselor you find just isn't a good match and that's okay. Go looking for another one. You will be so happy you did.

What about a psychiatrist? If you have spent time with your Christian counselor/psychologist and he/she recommends at some point you seeing a psychiatrist then this would be your next care team member. (A psychiatrist can write prescriptions for medications, but a counselor/psychologist cannot.) It would be fantastic if your Christian counselor/psychologist knew a Christian psychiatrist for your referral, but it may not be the case. He/she may know a very good one, but they may not be a Christian. In my opinion, when it comes down to medicine, I would rather just have a good doctor, Christian or not. Remember, nothing is impossible with God and He's in control. This person (psychiatrist) of your care team may be someone you may have to travel outside of your home boundary to go see if you live in a small town. And you may have to do the same to find a Christian counselor/psychologist.

So, the only obvious question that may be lurking in your mind might be, "Why do they have to be Christian?" You might be surprised how this is not so obvious to Christians as you would think. There are certainly more Christian counseling services now probably than when I was seeing one. When I was my lowest at the hospital and then naturally found out that several people working there were Christians was such a comfort to me--that I just knew I wanted to keep going to the Christian psychiatrist when I got out and the counselor who worked out of his office. That was like a given to me. I wouldn't have had it any other way. The big difference about your care team being Christian is that for one--they will pray for their patients. To me, that's huge. They will relate to you and your problems from a Christian perspective, not introducing non-biblical ways in handling your emotions, behavior and attitudes. He/she will be positive and optimistic in always approaching things knowing God's in control and focus on what you can do in the here and now and keeping God in the equation. A non-believer won't do that. You can talk freely about being a Christian knowing your counselor can relate and understand you from a spiritual standpoint. 

If you find there is a huge difference in your beliefs with a supposed Christian counselor/psychologist--meaning they are believing in something that is not biblical then I would switch to a new counselor/psychologist. My husband and I did that with a counselor he had known for a long time. This counselor had seen my husband on his own for a while and then we together saw him. One day we got into a discussion about homosexuality. And then this counselor made the statement that shouldn't everyone be allowed to marry if they love each other. That broke the deal with me. We walked away. As you see, not every Christian or supposed Christian counselor, in this case, to Christian patient situation will be perfect, but you move on until you find the right match--just as you would in the secular world with secular counselors.

I hope this has helped in understanding how important it is who you choose for your mental health care team. God has put Christian health care providers in this field to help people, just as in any other field. But they have a unique understanding of mental health patients and mental illness that, simply non-believers won't have. And they will have it and see it from God's perspective and His love that secular counselors will have no depth in understanding.