Psychiatric medicine–It’s a red-hot-button topic among some Christians.
We at Biblical Counseling Center always encourage biblical counselors to cooperate with prescribing physicians and to defer to doctors’ directions for taking medicines and weening off medicines.
At our training seminars and in our workshops, we stress that every individual has a story that God cares deeply about. God has something to say both through words and actions to the mentally ill. If medicine can help these hurting folks hear more of what God has to say, then we are blessed that the medicine is being used of God.
Below is a cut-and-paste from our seminar notes on psychiatric medicine.
3 Questions to Ask About Psychiatric Medicine
Q: Is it wrong?
A: Alleviation of pain and confusion is a legitimate medical exercise. Medications are an issue of “Christian liberty” and wisdom.
Prescription drugs can be abused and cause medical harm.
Additional counseling is always helpful to help the hurting deal with legitimate medical issues or to ascertain the root causes of mental/emotional disturbance.
Q: Is it helpful?
A: Some people seem to function at a higher level with the use of psychiatric medicine. It helps them be a stronger mother/father and worker. It can aide in stability.
The stability that medicine affords some people makes it easier for them to be more loving to those around them.
Are they more glorifying to God on their medicine than off of it?
Medicine is not “the solution” unless the struggle is purely medical. However, our body responds to medical issues (outer man) with a spiritual response (inner man) to physical suffering, either for good or for bad. Focus your counseling on the spiritual struggle and sanctification process.
Q: Is it necessary?
A: Work through some questions to come to an answer. Have they first tried adjusting their patterns of rest, exercise, nutrition, and thoughts? Have they had a physical exam by a doctor to rule out neurological complications or disease? Can you begin counseling them without it? Are they stable enough to receive counsel?
Is it clearly a spiritual issue at its root? Have they identified the root?
Final Word of Caution
Since most biblical counselors are without psychiatric and pharmacological training, it is necessary to defer to the psychiatrist and to be a humble learner. Psychiatrists truly intend to help people, just like you do. Never make it your primary goal to help someone come off their medicine, and be humble enough to insist they follow the doctor’s orders if they intend to come off their medication.
Final Word of Hope
While there is clearly much confusion in this area of psychiatric medicine and in understanding all of the dynamics involved, what the hurting person needs more than anything is hope. Hope comes by knowing the Lord, obeying His Word and experiencing the joy of abiding in Christ. Make that your goal!
Join the Conversation
Have you formed an informed position on the use of psychiatric medicine? What is it? What are the reasons you hold to your position?