Running a Faith-Based Practice: Our Growth in Service
The idea to set-up a Christian Psychiatric Practice first came to my mind while I was still doing my residency training. As a resident, I sought a lot of counsel from other psychiatrists who were Christians about whether or not to be upfront about being a Christian while practicing in the field. Initially, I was concerned that I might be criticized for being upfront about Christianity when setting up a practice. Much to my pleasant surprise, however, when we set up Next Step 2MH our openness about our faith was welcomed with open arms by both my colleagues in secular psychiatry and the community at large.
This can largely be explained by the fact that the field of Psychiatry has dramatically changed since the historical days of Sigmund Freud’s staunch atheism. Recognizing the value of religion and spirituality in the lives of patients, the field of Psychiatry has become much more open and accepting of religion over the past 20 years, and consequently respectful of mental health professionals seeking to adapt their practices to care for persons of faith.
Likewise, as the Church has developed increased appreciation and understanding of mental illness, our practice has been embraced and utilized by a large number of pastors and churches in the community.
Since establishing Next Step 2MH, we have been able to serve many believers. Many Christians in need of mental health services, who would normally refrain from accessing such services from mental health professionals who do not identify with them in terms of their faith, continually contact us for our services. For instance, I get a lot of people requesting to see me or are referred to our organization, who would typically not see other psychiatrists because they are afraid that the psychiatrists would not be able to respect their faith as Christians or that they will try and push an atheistic theology on them.
With regard to this, however, I must say as part of my professional responsibility, that such fear of secular psychiatrists is not well founded. This is because most modern day psychiatrists who are well trained and professionally competent will respect your worldview and not impose non-Christian beliefs on you. In fact, it would be considered unethical for any psychiatrist to attempt to change your basic fundamental Christian beliefs. Occasionally I hear stories of atheistic psychiatrists attempting to impose their worldview on Christians, but this is not common and is generally frowned upon by the majority of the psychiatric community (as an unethical violation of professional boundaries).
One of the main differences between us as Christian mental health practitioners and secular resources is that we are better able to work with people who are struggling with understanding how their spirituality and faith fit into their struggle with mental health issues. For example, existential issues that concern individuals asking themselves where they are going; what their purpose in life is in the midst of severe depression; struggling with severe anxiety or panic attacks and wondering why God is not delivering them from it; or whether they have such issues because they are spiritually weak; or because there something else going on. As a Christian Psychiatrist, for instance, I am better positioned to help Christian clients differentiate between a spiritual Problem and a psychological problem or a physical/ medical problem.
I would emphasize, however, that when it comes to choosing a psychiatrist, what matters most is not whether or not they are Christian or what their faith background is but their level of competence as a physician. One can get good care from a secular psychiatrist as much as he/she would from a Christian Psychiatrist. There are very few Christian psychiatrists in the community – too few to meet the overwhelming demand for care – hence, it is imperative that Christians feel comfortable seeking help from secular psychiatrists.
Having said the above, I put across an open invitation to anyone who may need to consult with us, especially on matters regarding mental health and Christianity. At Next Step 2 Mental Health, our vision is to serve as a conduit of God’s Grace. As a team of highly skilled and highly specialized mental health professionals, we seek to apply the best of modern medicine and science in an effort to alleviate suffering and to provide hope, healing, and restoration to persons who are struggling amidst the realities of a fallen world.
Please feel free to call us at 502-339-2442 to book an appointment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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