Clinical Depression Is Real

For years, especially as a young Christian, I was encouraged to deny the reality of clinical depression. I am not completely sure why, though I have some educated guesses, but we seemed to believe that clinical depressions was the result of a sinful choice that the depressed person made which could reversed simply by thinking better and more biblically. I now see this as totally bizarre nonsense.

With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities. Some people have clinical depression only once in their life, while others have it several times in a lifetime. Major depression seems to occur from one generation to the next in some families, but may affect people with no family history of the illness.

What Is Clinical Depression?

A good answer provided by WebMD says:

Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according

By |October 3rd, 2013|Categories: Counseling, Personal|

A Pastor Who Learned How to Serve the Homeless On the Streets

authorDRMFor twenty-seven years Deb Richardson-Moore was a journalist in South Carolina. Then, after being a writer, mother and wife, she entered a Presbyterian seminary (Erskine) to become a Baptist minister. After graduating with her M.Div. she accepted a post at a run-down inner-city church, oddly named Triune. It was a place where the homeless routinely gathered for food and clothing in Charleston, South Carolina. She was, to put it quite mildly, shocked. She thought she knew what she was getting into but within a few weeks reality hit her like the proverbial freight train. Seminary, and life as a mother and professional writer, had not prepared her for this unique calling.

Deb tells her brutally honest and compelling story in a new book with a lovely title: The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets (Monarch, 2012). Her story is told as a personal memoir, a form that has become increasingly popular with modern writers. This allows Deb to relate the story from her perspective, as she recalls it and as she lived it.

Common Ground: God's Gift of a Restored Marriage

Common Ground: God’s Gift of a Restored Marriage, by Gordon Bals, is a book “God can use” according to best-selling author Larry Crabb. I agree and this is why I endorsed the book by writing:

Books on marriage are very numerous, but really good books on marriage are quite rare. This is a really good book! Couples will surely benefit by reading it. By practicing its truths they may enjoy much-needed growth and healing in their relationship. Highly recommended.

Dr. Gordon Bals is a professional Christian counselor who writes from the perspective of a flawed husband who is still trying to get it right. He doesn’t have all the answers but does offer a way to journey into wholeness that will lead married couples from entrenched places of battle to common ground.

Larry Crabb is right when he says a book cannot restore a marriage, only God can. But, says Crabb, “Common Ground is a book God can use. Gordon tackles tough issues with soundly biblical creativity, practical wisdom, personal integrity, and fresh insights that provide real

By |November 28th, 2012|Categories: Counseling, Marriage & Family|

Misusing the Proverbs

Perhaps no part of the Holy Scripture has been more frequently abused, at least in my background, than the book of Proverbs. In reading the Bible Through in 90 Days I read Proverbs last week in two days. I was struck again at the obvious: proverbs are general statements that affirm godly values and virtues. The proverbs are not promises but rather sayings that are meant to inform the life of the wise. Wisdom is the foundation of a godly life and these sayings will help you gain wisdom in daily living and decision making.

bible_with_candle The classic illustration of the way to understand Proverbs is found in Proverbs 26:4-5.

Do not answer fools according to the their folly, or you yourself will be just like them.

Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.

So which is it? Should we answer, or not answer, a fool?

It should be noted that Proverbs 26:1-13 describe the condition of a person who has little or no discernment.

By |February 23rd, 2011|Categories: Biblical Theology, Counseling, Personal|

What’s the Big Deal About Porn?

DINES-pornland-a No subject makes me quite as uncomfortable to speak or write about as pornography. I suppose this is because I know the problem is so profoundly difficult yet I actually know so little about it. I have read very little on the subject and never attempted to counsel porn addicts. I have, rightly I think, preferred allowing those more skilled to help men in the grip of this mind-numbing, soul-destroying  sin. I have known a few friends who’ve had serious struggles with pornography and I am keenly aware of how wide-spread the problem is in both the culture and the church. I suppose these facts, plus the reality that I  have never seriously struggled with it, explain why I was not particularly prepared for a recent book review in Newsweek (July 16) on a book titled: Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality (Beacon Press, 2010).

Researchers tell us that pornography and sex-related sites make up nearly

By |August 20th, 2010|Categories: Counseling, Sexuality|

The Problem of Teen Suicide

Boy Interrupted is an HBO documentary film that raises powerful and troubling questions. It asks how a boy can threaten to end his life at 6 and 7 years of age and then actually do it at the age of 15. This documentary, produced by parents who are gifted film artists themselves, struggles to find answers about what kind of family this troubled boy really had. By its very nature, it is a raw and revealing display of personal life at its most disturbing level. How can a mother, we may ask, make a film about the death of her own son? What defines this film as a remarkably unique and truth-telling achievement is the way it explores how filmmaking can create closure for its creators as well as its audience.

Evan2 Dana Perry gathered home movies, photographs, and a variety of different documents to tell the story of her son, Evan. Dana deals with Evan’s bipolar illness, his short and extremely troubled

By |October 5th, 2009|Categories: Counseling|

The Connection Between Medication and Counseling

In the common goodness and grace of God the twentieth century brought real advance in the area of psychiatry. New drugs were discovered and various schools of counseling were developed as knowledge increased regarding the human body and how the mind actually works. But a recent trend does not bode well for patients with psychotic and emotional needs. Health insurance plans show an increasing unwillingness to pay for real counseling. The result is that more psychiatrists are prescribing medications without therapy.

A recent study showed that in more than 14,000 sessions, the percentage of visits that involved actual therapy fell to 28.9% in 2005, down from 44.4% in 1996. The use of medication rose to 83.8% of all cases, up from the earlier number of 68.6%. Authors of a recent study based on these numbers suggest there is no hard evidence yet that this has harmed patients, but they are generally agreed that drugs and therapy should be kept together. The two

By |August 19th, 2008|Categories: Counseling|

Can We Develop a Truly Christian Psychology?

No subject is more divisive, at least in many conservative churches in America, than Christian psychology, or better stated, Christian counseling. Hope_crisis
One reason for this problem is that Christians who engage the social science of psychology often do a very poor job of submitting their reflections to biblical authority. The result is that there are many Christians doing psychology and counseling who are not actively submitting their practices to the types of biblical patterns and principles that offer real solutions.

Because of this confusion a virtual “war” has broken out, over the past ten years in particular, between the various types of counseling done by Christians. One side we have what has been called “biblical counseling” while on the other we have what is often referred to as “integrationist counseling,” or, to some who are very critical, non-Christian counseling.

A recent reader of this blog, who is himself a Christian counselor (Rev. Rick Sholette of Norman, Oklahoma), recently sent me

By |May 19th, 2008|Categories: Counseling|

Did Jeanette Sliwinski Get Justice?

Some court cases strike me as particularly intriguing. Not because they make Court TV, though they might for all I know, but because they involve complex factors in decision making and punishment. One such case in Illinois involved the sentencing of Jeanette Sliwinski yesterday to eight years in prison. Jeanette’s crime was fairly straightforward. She, now 25 years old, got into her auto in July of 2005 after a verbal fight with her mom, and then decided to take her own life. She ran into a stopped car and in the process killed all three occupants, young men on lunch break who were 29, 35 and 39 years-of-age.

Jeanette was initially going to be tried for first-degree murder but the charge could not stick so a lesser degree was sought by the state. She was tried, not by jury but by the bench, and found guilty by Judge Garritt Howard. Most critics testify that this judge is both fair and tough at the same time.

The families of the deceased victims are most unhappy with the verdict. Jeanette has already

By |November 27th, 2007|Categories: Counseling|

Albert Ellis and the Birth of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Albert Ellis (1913-2007) died a few days age. He was the father of a counseling method called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. When he was only 19 years old he devised a therapeutic technique to help him deal with his personal shyness. He sat on a park bench at the New York Botanical Gardens and decided to speak to every woman who sat down alone. Over the course of one month 30 women walked away but 100 stayed and chatted with him. This direct approach led him to believe that emotional hang-ups could be altered by discipline and rational choices. The National Institute of Mental Health says that today more than two-thirds of all therapists in the U.S. use this method in their counseling. When you consider where we were before Ellis, with the influence of Freudianism so strong, this is nothing less than a massive shift. It was Ellis who famously referred to Freud’s doctrines as "horseshit." He got that right.

No matter what a person had suffered or struggled with in the past Ellis argued that "Neurosis is a high-class name

By |August 7th, 2007|Categories: Counseling|

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