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Why Psychotherapy and Faith Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Fri, Mar. 17, 2017 Posted: 01:43 PM

For generations, it has been a topic of conversation that faith and science, more specifically faith and psychiatry, are somehow mutually exclusive. While that may be the thinking of those faiths that oppose modern medicine in totality, the mainstream religions should be able to understand that science and faith are not diametrically opposed to each other. The benefits to be had from much of our latest technology and many medical innovations can help believers live a better quality of life to practice the faith they adhere to. Psychiatry is one area that seems to bear the brunt of controversy, probably because reason is involved. Here again, reason and faith can reside together in the human psyche if you understand the underlying principles of each.

Reason vs. Faith – Are They Inherently Oppositional?

Part of the problem seems to be that man likes to control his universe. We have put men on the moon, have developed technology that enables us to communicate (in real time) with anyone and everyone around the globe and have machines capable of learning so that they can teach themselves as new obstacles are encountered in what they have been programed to do. We can now cure many kinds of cancer, prevent diseases through vaccines but we cannot cure the common cold. In other words, science which is based on reason is not infallible.

Where Does This Leave Psychiatry?

Then there is the field of psychiatry that, of course, tends to classify levels of sanity based on what a ‘reasonable’ person would think and do. However, does this mean that logic cannot coexist with faith? It all takes place in the brain, in how we perceive the world and there are billions of reasonable people on earth who believe in a power greater than themselves and medical science at the same time. If a person undergoes a crisis in faith and is asked to see a good therapist, does this mean that he/she has lost faith forever? What if a faith-filled person experiences the breakup of a relationship, the death of a loved one or other situations in life that they are unprepared to cope with? This doesn’t mean that their faith is dead, rather that they need the voice of reason, someone to talk through their issues with. They need someone who can stay impartial and separate so that they can work through their own crises as they crop up.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The long and the short of it is that you should never be afraid to ask for help if you are in the midst of issues that keep you from thinking and acting in healthy ways. When you have a cold or the flu and need the intervention of a medical professional, do you automatically think that you cannot see a doctor because you are Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu? Of course not! So why should you be reluctant to seek therapy if your mind is not acting as you know it should or your emotions have gotten the best of you?

Aren’t these simply other illnesses which can benefit from intervention? The bottom line is that psychotherapy and faith are not mutually exclusive and you should always be willing to ask for help where help is needed. If you are experiencing moments of doubt, talk to your spiritual advisor. If you are faced with psychological issues that could benefit from therapy (with or without medications) then seek psychiatric or psychological help. Reason leads you to understand that faith is a belief system and pain is medical. So you see, they can coexist peacefully if you understand they serve different purposes in the same human condition.

David Fournier