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Christian psychiatry integrates biblical teachings and doctrine with secular psychiatric practices. Psychologists and psychiatrists who specialize in this branch of psychiatry treat emotional disorders from spiritual and behavioral viewpoints. Recommendations for changes in behaviors, lifestyles, and thinking patterns tend to be based on the instructions and advice contained within the Bible. Prescription medications and hospitalization may still be a part of the patient's treatment regimen, depending upon the severity and recurrence of the condition.
The main difference between Christian psychiatry and secular counseling is that the former uses the Bible as a resource for the types of behaviors that might lead to emotional issues. Rather than just getting patients to talk about the potential root cause of their thoughts and actions, a Christian psychologist will advise them to return to the roots of their faith. Secular counseling, on the other hand, might prod the patient to come up with a set of behavioral changes that he feels is best. The psychiatrist may make suggestions based on psychological theory, industry practice, and his experience with treating other patients.
By making recommendations based on biblical scriptures, Christian psychiatry attempts to get patients to modify their behaviors according to their faith. For example, an individual with an eating disorder might be encouraged to change his thought patterns according to scriptures that speak about revering the human body. Traditional or secular treatment recommendations, such as weekly weigh-ins and eating plans, could also be incorporated. Emotional triggers of the disorder would probably also be addressed, including any unresolved instances of abuse or trauma.
As a practice, Christian psychiatry can include outpatient and inpatient services for a variety of emotional issues. In some areas, recovery and rehabilitation centers cater to individuals seeking faith-based treatment for substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The branch of psychiatry does not necessarily rule out the use of prescription medications, but does not rely on them as an ultimate recovery solution. Christian psychiatrists try to get patients to see their problems from multiple angles and create a state of balance in their lives.
Similar to other forms of faith-based counseling, Christian psychiatry attempts to resolve problems by reminding the patient that he is connected to something larger than himself. Some psychologists may take the stance that disorders are caused by not following the teachings of the Bible, while others may put more of an emphasis on a balanced recovery plan. Those who practice the profession are usually licensed therapists or social workers who are also familiar with the foundations of the Christian faith.