The relationship between faith and mental health is a complex one. Without question, an individual’s personal belief system is a profound way to cope with life’s challenges and adversities.
Belief in a higher power is essential to a person’s mental health and overall well-being. But if someone has a strong religious faith or spiritual life, does that mean they can’t also be helped by traditional talk therapy?
Why Therapy is So Important in Mental Health Recovery
In my practice, I often work with people who have a religious faith. I have found there are two issues they tend to share that traditional therapy can benefit.
They are Waiting on God
It is one thing to use our faith to cope with the pain and challenges of life. It is another to use our faith in God as an excuse not to help ourselves and do the work. I have found many clients believe that if they pray hard enough, God will deliver them from their problems.
This reminds me of an old joke.
A hurricane has dropped feet of rainfall on a small town and most of the residents fled the day before when the news reports encouraged them to do so. One man now sits alone on his roof, the water rising.
He prays diligently to the Lord to save him.
Soon, a man in a boat comes along and tells the man to hop in. The devout man of faith says, “No thanks, God is going to save me.” The man in the boat speeds away.
A few minutes later, another man in a boat comes by and tells him to get in. “No thanks, I prayed to God and he is going to save me.”
About an hour later a third and final boat comes by, but the man refuses to get in, believing with all his heart that God will save him.
The waters rise and the man eventually drowns. When he gets to Heaven he asks God, “God, why did you not save me?”
God says, “I sent you THREE boats!!”
The moral of the story is, God works in mysterious ways. We cannot know His exact plans for us, but we can and we should be active participants in our own rescue. As a therapist, I can offer coping strategies and different perspectives that help my clients get off their roofs.
A Sense of Unworthiness
When people are struggling with depression and/or addiction issues, they feel completely broken, unworthy of God’s love. They find it difficult to reconnect with God because deep down they don’t believe they deserve his presence in their life.
I help my patients build their self-esteem and find their value so they can reconnect with God.
If you are hurting and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I work with people of all faiths and respect your beliefs. I simply want to offer you support and resources to help you on your path back to wholeness and light.