I consider myself to be a Christian Psychiatrist.  To me, this is a distinction that implies something more than the mere fact that I am both a practicing Christian and psychiatrist.  As such, I incorporate spirituality into my treatment when appropriate:  this can manifest through discussion of appropriate verses from scripture to suggestions of daily personal quiet time and meditation.  I will pray before (and sometime while) seeing patients for God to give me the words to relieve suffering, to shed light on a situation, or to give me discernment in the proper path.  I believe fully that I am an instrument of healing and that God is the true healer.  I also believe that our bodies have an innate capacity for self-healing that we are to facilitate.  This does not mean that I consider myself a “spiritual healer” or that I don’t use psychopharmalogic tools; in fact, I would estimate that 95% of my patients are on at least one medication or another.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that God is at work: I have experienced times when I felt the Spirit was present and times when I have had responses that I couldn’t attribute to anything from my formal training. 


I do not consider my position to be one of proselytizing:  while I fully acknowledge the “great commission”, I think it an abuse of my position to do so in my practice, especially directly.  Beyond “bearing the burdens of another” (Gal. 6:2), I endeavor to reflect Christ in all that I do.  One risk inherent in promoting oneself as a Christian Psychiatrist is that of alienating patients of differing faiths and viewpoints.  I have noted patients’ comments “I know you’re a Christian but…”;  I welcome such opportunities to reassure patients that I am not here to judge and that my only ambition for them is whatever ambition they have for themselves.  Another responsibility inherent in Christian Psychiatry is the same for all who practice medicine:  continuing education.  I frequently say, “Whatever you feed grows”.  My own spiritual lifei is fed through a non-denominational bible study:  BSF (Bible Study Fellowship).  BSF is a seven-year, intensive study that I find both spiritually and intellectually fulfilling. (www.bsfinternational.org) 


Is it necessary for a psychiatrist to share the same religion in order to effectively treat?  As was referenced by the Shrink Rap blog-post “A Shrink Like Me”, (http://psychiatrist-blog.blogspot.com/2007/05/shrink-like-me.html) I agree that shared religious belief is a preference… not necessity, much like the preference for male or female therapist; but also something more…it speaks to a desire for more complete understanding.  In “my neck of the woods”, it is certainly more common than not.  Overall, I like to think that spirituality represents another tool to be utilized judiciously and I am pleased to have it as a part of my stratagem.