"In a report released Tuesday, Barna found that 33 percent of surveyed non-Christians said they have sought counseling, versus 15 percent of respondents who identified as practicing Christians. '[T]here's a chance some of the faithful are simply confident in their mental health — after all, science confirms that religious belief and a loving, stable community can be healing and have psychological benefits,' explained the report. [However] this may also reflect the strength of stigma within Christian circles, as many churches have been slower to accept mental illness as a legitimate struggle
“I propose that Christian mental health professionals operate on a middle ground, the bio/psycho/social/spiritual model, which considers both our dignity and depravity as humans.” The Integration of Christianity and Psychology: A guest post by Sarah Rainer
From Voice, Sep/Oct 2014. Used by permission.
I am thrilled to be a witness of the rediscovery of biblical counseling! “Now in order to rediscover something, it must have been lost,”1 says David Powlison. Unfortunately, that is true. Powlison explains:
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, American Christians basically lost the use of truths and skills they formerly possessed. That is, practical wisdom in the cure of souls waned…. The Church lost that crucial component of pastoral skill that can be called case-wisdom—wisdom that knows people, knows how people change, and knows how to help people change.2
As a result, Christians sprinkled man-centered psychology with a few Bible verses and called it “Christian psychology.” The outcome has been confusion, hopelessness, and the abandonment of biblical faith. John MacArthur is right when he says Christian psychology “has diminished the Church’s confidence in Scripture, prayer, fellowship, and preaching as means through which the Spirit of God works to change lives.”3 It is sad to think that God’s Church could lose something so basic and essential as the skill and conviction to use Scripture to help people work through their problems. Yet that is where the American church is. Those who embrace psychology as the answer are in the majority by far. There is no reason to pretend they are not. But to know that God is, in our lifetime, calling His people back to His Word as a working manual for life is exciting to say the least. This is what is referred to as biblical counseling.
Is it possible that almost 90% of Americans who are diagnosed with clinical depression are diagnosed incorrectly? Is it possible that most of them are really just going through a natural process of normal sadness that happens to most people when they suffer loss of one kind or another? The stakes in a massive misdiagnosis of thousands of people for the same illness are huge. The sector of the drug industry that produces medication related to helping people cope with medical depression, bipolar and the like is vast, well-funded and has a lot at stake in the continual diagnosis of these diseases. Through varied sorts of advertisements, one could draw the conclusion that a huge number of people could be (or are) suffering from medical depression and similar ailments. In fact, it is estimated that over 25% of Americans at any given time are believed to be suffering from depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder (p. 20).
No doubt there are people who genuinely suffer from an abnormal type of sadness that is sometimes unexplained, such that it is proper to call it a disease and treat it accordingly. I know of three family members and long-time friends who have dealt with depression and bipolar. This issue is very real to me and I have put a lot of thought into understanding the disease, diagnosis and treatments.