Do Christians need a Psychologist?

As a Psychologist and Parenting Coach, this is a topic close to my heart.
Early in my career, a religious authority once told me, “We don’t need Psychologists, we have God.”
This pained me, but it also made me realize the lack of awareness, skepticism and misunderstanding of Mental Health.
We have come a  long way from Biblical times, where disease and illness were considered consequences of personal sins or those of our forefathers.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go from breaking away from our misconceptions, stereotypes and judgements of individuals struggling with Mental Health.
As someone who was diagnosed with childhood depression and suffered for more than 2 decades with it, I know. My struggle was always to be kept in hiding to avoid criticism and questioning from well wishers.
My Spiritual Director, Br. Dermot Barrett used to say, “Don’t put spiritual bandages on psychological wounds.” This quote has guided me often in my walk and in the walks I share with others.
Here are some things I want you to remember:
  •  God wants to heal us.

He is interested in our personal life, our daily struggle, our emotional and mental battles.

He wants us to go to Him.

  • Healing may come in various ways.

I haven’t had an episode of Depression for almost 3 years now. I had accepted it as the root in my sole and the cross I had to bear. God uprooted it in my life so I may give Him glory. I think the turning point was putting my hands up and saying ‘Lord, I surrender.’ The healing I received is part of my story and for His glory.

Do you know, there are saints who struggled with OCD, Depression and Anxiety their entire life? It didn’t stop them from becoming saints. On the other hand, God used that to minister to others in their care and ultimately brought glory to Himself.

Don’t box God into your expectations.

  • Doctors treat, God heals

I read this at the hospital where I delivered my first born. When we are faced with a physical illness, we seek a good doctor. We trust him with his experience and qualification. Mental health professionals are qualified, specialized and trained. They are there to help us in our process of healing. Saying we don’t need them is like saying we can grow in Holiness by ourselves. We know, that’s not true. We need priests, spiritual directors, elders, mentors to guide us and nourish us spiritually. Who else can we go to for confession? And from who else will we receive the Holy Eucharist?

Similarly, we are given mental health professionals as instruments on our journey. Their service is part of God’s way to bring us wholeness, live in fullness and joy.

  • And no, you don’t need a Catholic Psychologist only

It might be ideal to find someone who understands your faith. But just because they are Catholic is no guarantee that they will be able to support you better. We have enough examples in the Bible of how God uses people who do not know Him, in ways that bless His people. Don’t wait to find a Catholic Psychologist. Say a prayer and know that God will use their experience and wisdom to glorify Him in your life. Having said that, it is important for me to mention that you do have the right and choice to let your therapist know if you feel uncomfortable with any technique or suggestion. A good therapist will appreciate that.

Mental health is just as important as our physical health, if not more. Don’t take it for granted. And don’t let the stigma prevent you from living the life God wants you to. Make sure it doesn’t come in anyone else’s way either.