Secular Mental Health Treatment: Proceed with Caution

Today's guest blogger is Jennifer Miller. I know this post will prick your heart and conscience!

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:18-20

I have a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling. I have worked as a therapist in a Community Mental Health facility, as a Crisis Responder, and as a group therapist in an Alcohol and Drug Addiction program.  I chose not to pursue licensure because I believe that only Christ truly heals and it is my heart’s desire to work in a strictly biblical setting. God has not yet opened that door but I believe that He will, in His perfect timing. Sadly, we live in a time when many churches have delegated the responsibility of counseling to secular providers; they have accepted the lie that psychology is superior to biblical truth in dealing with the problems of life when the Word of God is sufficient in every way.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16-17

 I have seen the secular mental health system from the inside, and it isn’t pretty. There is great potential for damage when one is labeled with a mental health diagnosis. Consumers of mental health services need to understand exactly how such a diagnosis is made and proceed with caution. I do not claim to be an expert, but I believe that God sees people as people, not as labels.

“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the ‘bible’ of psychiatry and professional therapy, is created by a group of members of the American Psychiatric Association who meet, vote on which behaviors should be included, and basically ‘create’ disorders that they believe should be listed. They also vote to exclude behaviors that they believe are not abnormal, such as the removal of the homosexuality diagnosis from the DSM-II in 1973. Despite the testimony of millions of women regarding the emotional and mental harm caused by a past abortion, you will not find a single mention of this in the DSM-IV-TR. The men and women who put the DSM together are secular humanists with a liberal political agenda; this is beyond dispute.

 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

 The bottom line is a financial one: a DSM diagnostic code is required in order for a provider to be reimbursed for services by insurance companies. There is no blood test proving the often claimed ‘chemical imbalance’ said to be present in depression. There is no scan of the brain or objective test that can demonstrate that a person has PTSD, or Major Depressive Disorder, or any other mental health condition listed in the DSM-IV-TR. Mental Health diagnosis is similar to a cookbook in mentality. A recipe may sound something like this: a person’s behaviors must meet 3 of the 6 criteria listed in section 1, 2 of the 5 criteria listed in section 2, the behaviors must have been present for a specified amount of time, and functioning must be impaired. All of this is decided by a clinician based on an assessment, or interview, with a counselee.   It is purely subjective opinion, which leaves the field wide open for error. On any given day, based on behaviors reported by others or by self-reported struggles, the DSM cookbook can be pulled out and more than one diagnosis can be arrived at and justified by a provider.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  Proverbs 16:25

My personal observation from working in the field of mental health is that DSM diagnosis is often sloppy and done for the convenience of the provider. I cannot count the times that I have seen young and otherwise healthy adults given some sort of label and prescribed one or more psychotropic medication(s). Even more heartbreaking is the number of children who have been labeled and medicated in much the same way. I shudder to think of the damage that these chemicals are doing to the developing brains of so many precious children. It is a travesty, and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People begin to identify themselves by their labels. They begin to embrace the lie that they are inherently flawed and unable to function in society and go on to live lives of hopelessness and despair. All because a psychiatrist or professional therapist talked to them for an hour (or less), looked up a few of their self-described problems in the DSM, and casually assigned them to a certain category in order to be reimbursed for services.

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

The church should not be sending her people into this lion’s den. It’s past time that churches accept their God-given responsibility to disciple, counsel, and teach. People who struggle need Christ’s healing touch, not psychology and psychotropic medications. They need solid biblical counsel, not secular theories and techniques. As the mission statement of CCEF states so well, it’s time to restore Christ to counseling and counseling to the church. God will not hold us blameless.