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Counseling Professor Trains Chinese Healthcare Professionals

By Rachel Judy | September 10, 2010

Dr. Benjamin Keyes, M.A. in Counseling program director and associate professor in Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling, has been working with mental health professionals in China for more than 15 years. Along with his research partner, internationally known clinician and researcher Dr. Colin Ross, Keyes is providing significant training and research support to the Shanghai Mental Health Center. From Aug. 13-21, Keyes was in China once again to conduct training with both practical and spiritual components.

Keyes' research is focused on dissociative disorder (formerly known as multiple-personality disorder), as well as aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder. He has developed a model for treating these illnesses that combines secular treatments with a spiritual component that accounts for a patient's issues in and with their faith—the H.E.A.R.T. model (Healing Emotional Affective Responses to Trauma).

Keyes' latest trip was his second focused on training mental health professionals in China who encounter dissociative disorder. Until the last decade, mental health professionals in China were not familiar with the disorder or its existence in the culture. "Because they haven't had the diagnosis, it's a pristine culture. It's not in their literature, it's not in their films; they've had absolutely no contamination in their culture with exposure to this," Keyes explained of dissociative disorder.

Last year, Keyes was asked to present the entire model to a group in China—including the spiritual aspects to counseling he's developed. This year, he was invited back to an audience that had doubled in size.

With the current spiritual climate in China, Keyes was surprised when he was asked to present his model in its entirety. "The model as I presented it there was really done in two parts; the first part being sort of the secular process of this—how do you do therapy using this model?" he explained. "The overlay to it is a Christian one for folks who have had a Christian worldview that looks at resolving personal issues around God and allowing God to come into the healing process."

Keyes' most recent presentation was also filmed for use in future training sessions.

"What's important about the H.E.A.R.T. model is that it is one of the first models established in Christian counseling circles that parallels the work that is done secularly," Keyes said. "It's not a Christian model that goes against anything that's already established; it actually works in cooperation. The only difference is that there is a spiritual overlay linked to it to address the issues that people have in and with their relationship with God and allowing God in the healing process."

Keyes' work with the Chinese in treating dissociative disorder continues to open new avenues for research. Along with his research partner, he is about to undertake a five-year study that will treat 400-800 Chinese patients diagnosed with dissociative disorder.


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