Integrating Psychiatry and Community in Boston
December 21, 2016
by John Peteet, MD
Integrating the promotion of mental health and faith is something we all desire. It is happening in Boston, Massachusetts in several innovative ways. First, a listserv of Christian therapists has been developed and used by 60 or so Christian clinicians to share information and facilitate referrals. Members might post a notice asking who could help someone with a particular problem, with a preferred location and insurance type. Anyone who could help would respond to the requesting clinician, who would then pass on the information. Pastors who are not clinicians do not use the listserv, but they do provide questions and comments to a colleague or clinician who is a member, and then that person can post the information. Members can also use it to find resources or others interested in discussing issues that are challenging both the church and clinicians.
Second, a small monthly meeting is held where Christian therapists discuss cases, relevant topics and ways to network. The group has been meeting for more than 20 years and currently meets in a private home. Third, a series of sessions for those interested in faith and mental health are held three or four times per year at a local church after the second service. Guest presenters discuss topics including trauma, healing prayer, Celebrate Recovery, spiritual direction, counseling couples, etc. The sessions are open to the public and are well attended. Finally, a yearly informal dinner for Christian psychiatrists, residents and interested medical students is held at a local home. It has become a valued tradition where fellow believers meet and discuss issues we all struggle with in psychiatry.
This is a snapshot of what is happening in Boston. Are similar things happening in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix or Los Angeles? Are these approaches to faith and practice only happening in large cities, or are they happening in smaller towns as well? What about your hometown? Are you involved? Why, or why not? What does it take to establish just one of these noteworthy activities? It is exciting to see God move among us to grow us and grow our ability to treat patients effectively. Please take five minutes and let us know what is happening where you live by commenting below.