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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses & Medications

Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, practiced as a family physician for over ten years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is the author of the book "CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet," the minibooks "Asperger Syndrome;" "Chronic Pain;" "Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control;" and "Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength," and many counseling articles.
Find out more about Michael at

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder . . . these are no longer just technical terms and medical diagnoses, they are part of our common vocabulary and culture.
As Christians, we shouldn't isolate ourselves from this discussion or dismiss these important issues. But we also should be careful not to accept the entire secular psychiatric diagnostic and treatment enterprise without question. What we need is a balanced, biblically (and scientifically) informed approach that neither blindly accepts nor harshly dismisses psychiatric labels, diagnoses, and medicines that are prescribed to help those who are suffering.
As both a Biblical counselor and medical doctor, Michael R. Emlet, MD, gives readers a Christ-centered approach to psychiatry and guides both lay and professional helpers through the thicket of mental health labels and treatments with a biblical lens. In a clear and thoughtful way that puts the person experiencing mental health issues at the forefront, Emlet uses Scripture to show how the Bible engages in the discussion of psychiatric labels and the medications that are often recommended based on those labels. The first book in the "Helping the Helper" series, Descriptions and Prescriptions will give readers a biblical, gospel-formed perspective to help them understand and minister to those struggling with mental health issues.
You can visit HERE to see what others are saying about the book.
My Thoughts:
Before coming home to raise my children, I worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker.  I was extremely interested in reading this first installment in the Helping The Helper Series.  Descriptions and Prescriptions is a mere 98 pages in length; however, this resource geared toward pastors and lay leaders in the church is informative on both a technical and practical level.  Dr. Emlet provides the "science" perspective as well as a call for compassion and understanding for those who suffer among us with mental health issues.
I found the chapter, "Implications for Ministry" particularly helpful.  As a minister's wife and one who on occasion provides leadership in both children's and women's ministry, I was challenged and encouraged through the thoughts shared by Dr. Emlet in this portion of the book.
"We want to understand people so well and do such a careful job of re-interpreting their struggles through a biblical lens that a diagnostic label serves only as shorthand for their experience rather than the sum total of their experience.  We want to be watchful that the presence of a diagnosis doesn't give us tunnel vision that blinds us to other important aspects of the person's experience."
Short, but packed with a mountainous amount of information, Descriptions and Prescriptions is an invaluable resource that should be utilized as we reach out to love others as Jesus did.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.