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Researchers Discuss Faith-Based Interventions for Mental Disorders

By Sarah H. Dolan | January 29, 2010

For many people, maintaining clarity of mind and thought is easy. Yet studies show an estimated one in four American adults are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Dr. George Hurst and Judy King, authors of "Faith-Based Intervention in Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Disturbances" published in the Southern Medical Journal, visited Regent University in late January to discuss their research on the role of faith in mental healing as part of the Psy.D Colloquium series.

"It's an achievement and a rare thing," said School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC) Acting Dean Dr. Bill Hathaway about the publishing of faith-based treatment research in a national medical journal. He also said that though rare, studies on "intentional religion" (biblically based intervention programs such as Teen Challenge) are gradually starting to increase.

"Much of what we are discussing now I didn't know for a good part of my life, despite my being an elder in the church," Hurst said. "We live in a spiritual world, and the mind is a battle ground."

Hurst and King discussed the method and results of their research with Regent students, staff and faculty. They explained that mental illness is both common and costly, and as a result, many people go without any form of treatment.

The model featured in their research, Steps to Freedom, is biblically based and uses a comprehensive spiritual inventory approach to help individuals resolve inner conflicts. The study results showed an overall decrease in depression and anxiety in individuals who participated in Steps to Freedom.

King gave examples of people who have stories of overcoming mental disorders through faith-based intervention methods. King also emphasized the need for counselors to understand and balance between physical and spiritual treatment because both are necessary.

Regent's student chapter of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) helped sponsor the event. The Psy.D. Colloquium series brings outstanding professionals and scientists in psychology and related fields to the campus. The series has featured leading psychological researchers, anthropologists, military psychologists, American Psychological Association representatives and philosophers to give the Regent academic community access to the world of psychological science.

To learn more about SPC programs, visit the school's website.


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