What does it mean to be a Christian Psychiatrist?

I consider myself to be a Christian Psychiatrist.  To me, this is a distinction that implies something more than the mere fact that I am both a practicing Christian and psychiatrist.  As such, I incorporate spirituality into my treatment when appropriate:  this can manifest through discussion of appropriate verses from scripture to suggestions of daily personal quiet time and meditation.  I will pray before (and sometime while) seeing patients for God to give me the words to relieve suffering, to shed light on a situation, or to give me discernment in the proper path.  I believe fully that I am an instrument of healing and that God is the true healer.  I also believe that our bodies have an innate capacity for self-healing that we are to facilitate.  This does not mean that I consider myself a “spiritual healer” or that I don’t use psychopharmalogic tools; in fact, I would estimate that 95% of my patients are on at least one medication or another.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that God is at work: I have experienced times when I felt the Spirit was present and times when I have had responses that I couldn’t attribute to anything from my formal training. 


I do not consider my position to be one of proselytizing:  while I fully acknowledge the “great commission”, I think it an abuse of my position to do so in my practice, especially directly.  Beyond “bearing the burdens of another” (Gal. 6:2), I endeavor to reflect Christ in all that I do.  One risk inherent in promoting oneself as a Christian Psychiatrist is that of alienating patients of differing faiths and viewpoints.  I have noted patients’ comments “I know you’re a Christian but…”;  I welcome such opportunities to reassure patients that I am not here to judge and that my only ambition for them is whatever ambition they have for themselves.  Another responsibility inherent in Christian Psychiatry is the same for all who practice medicine:  continuing education.  I frequently say, “Whatever you feed grows”.  My own spiritual lifei is fed through a non-denominational bible study:  BSF (Bible Study Fellowship).  BSF is a seven-year, intensive study that I find both spiritually and intellectually fulfilling. (www.bsfinternational.org) 


Is it necessary for a psychiatrist to share the same religion in order to effectively treat?  As was referenced by the Shrink Rap blog-post “A Shrink Like Me”, (http://psychiatrist-blog.blogspot.com/2007/05/shrink-like-me.html) I agree that shared religious belief is a preference… not necessity, much like the preference for male or female therapist; but also something more…it speaks to a desire for more complete understanding.  In “my neck of the woods”, it is certainly more common than not.  Overall, I like to think that spirituality represents another tool to be utilized judiciously and I am pleased to have it as a part of my stratagem.  

~ by drdymphna on July 6, 2008.

3 Responses to “What does it mean to be a Christian Psychiatrist?”

  1. What if you encounter with a patient belonging to different religion.
    i think….as long as you can maintain your non judgemental stance ,its ok to be a christian psychiatrist.
    but if you feel it is difficult for you,then may be you are a good christian with collateral qualification as psychiatrist .
    i agree with you that spiritually has an important role in aleviating psychological probelems,but still should not be restictively applied.

  2. I frequently encounter patients of varied religious beliefs: Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, and others… as well as those who considered themselves “spiritual” but not religious. I have not been made aware of any problems by any of these individuals. I encourage persons to seek spiritual fulfillment (as part of becoming whole) in whatever tradition works for them. My function and position is not to judge; my aspirations for the patient are only what their aspiration is for themselves.
    Thank you for the comment.

  3. glad to see there are a few of you out there. Christian Psychiatrists, i mean. Meds dont alwys fix everything, and CAN BE highly abused!! i, too , am a Cristian…that is why i can live a somewhat “normal” life apart from drugs. i do know that there will likely be a time when i will need to be on meds again for short periods of time, but for the most part, my Church attendance, Bible reading and prayer time, keeps me pretty well. i do have ups and downs, but they are not as seere and my family is a great support as well….

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