So, I’m probably about to ruffle some feathers with this new topic, but it’s something that really is important to me. There are a lot of things said about mental health issues surrounding spirituality, especially in the African American community. I just wanted to give you my thoughts on it and possibly give you a few ways on how you could incorporate spirituality into therapy, or therapy into spirituality.
I go to church, almost every Sunday. My relationship with God has grown so much in the last two years (shout out to my Pastor and my church)! I know that God is the Alpha, the Omega, the everything! I know that God orders and guides each step that I make in life. Everything that has happened in my life, happened because God destined it to happen and I’m ok with that knowledge.
I also know, as a person that has been in therapy, almost all my life and who decided to follow that as my passion in life by becoming a Clinical Mental Health Therapist, that I can see both sides of spirituality and mental health. With that being said, there are a lot of memes and photos on social media, with which I agree, stating “You can have Jesus and a Therapist!”
Let me break it down for you from my point of view. I’m someone who has a history of Trauma, Abuse, Neglect, drug abuse, I have PTSD from both my childhood and my time in the military, and various other things that just happen in life. I grew up in the church, but I also grew up in therapy. I was in church almost every Sunday, every Wednesday, and even some other days throughout the week my whole entire life, so I have always known who God was and who He is in my life. The issue that I have with spirituality and mental health is when those with mental health stigmas tell me and others struggling to “just pray about it and it’ll go away…” The problem with that is that it doesn’t just always go away. I know that God is capable and able to do all things, but I also know that accidents happen, illnesses happen, bad things happen to good people, and God is still in control of all of that.
I pray to God all the time about my anxiety and PTSD, but I also love talking to a good therapist and developing coping skills to alleviate my issues. I believe both things can and do work. I just don’t agree with people who say one thing works better than the other. I’m a firm believer in communication, meaning when you openly communicate your problems, your fears, your good or your bad, that it is healthy for you. This is what a good therapist does for you, they just listen.
I’m also coming from the perspective of being a black girl who deals with mental health personally and has dealt with mental health professionally and I believe in Jesus and pray too! I just personally don’t think everything can just be prayed away. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain associated with some of the more severe diagnoses that medication is needed to treat and that it does help repair what is damaged in the brain. Medication management can aide in people who are diagnosed with more severe disorders lead and manage their lives. With proper medication management, those diagnosed would not be suffering with the symptoms associated such as hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, etc. and can be free to live their lives and be anything, including doctors, lawyers, therapists, or even pastors.
So perhaps creating a weekly or monthly To Do Prayer List where you pick a topic relating to your mental health to talk to God about, can be a good way to combine the two. Below you’ll find a list that I have come up with for starters:
1. Pray about what coping skills God wants you to learn.
2. Pray about what past issues God wants you to work on.
3. Pray about how to slow your thoughts down if you suffer with racing thoughts, like I do.
4. Pray and ask God how to improve your attitude and temper.
5. Pray to God about what self-care skills you can do to improve your daily life.
6. Pray to God about how to stay calm in the midst of what seems like a storm.
7. Pray to God when you cannot sleep.
8. Pray to God about recovering from Trauma.
9. Pray to God about recovering from Drug & Alcohol Abuse.
10. Pray about how to work through your relationship issues.
Feel free to add, change, and adjust to meet you where you are.
I agree that you should still pray about whatever it is you are going through and ask God to assist you in developing skills to cope. I know He is able. I just also believe that combining the therapeutic outlets out there, can aide in developing those skills even further. I believe you can have Jesus and a therapist too!