The author offers observations about integrative addiction treatment from his viewpoint as a Christian psychologist. The author observes that God operates in the center of the career of the Christian professional and guides clinical discernment about addiction theory and practice—both at the micro and macro level. The author’s observations are autobiographical. Next, the author discusses eight areas of interest to faith-based psychotherapists regarding integrative addiction treatment; these include, the need for affordable care, faith and the medical model, spiritual diagnosis and the “whole” person, 12-step recovery as a recovery gem for Christian patients, forgiveness as a chemical dependency treatment, new medical technology and Christian discernment, yoga as an evidence-based Christian recovery practice, and integrative treatment options such as clinical neurotheology and Jungian innovations. Concluding, the author argues various means through which recovering people access God’s grace thorough Christian practice—worship, sacraments, fellowship, Christ-centered disciplines—and represent genuine addiction treatment in and of themselves and may be understood as culturally liberated approaches to addiction treatment—although integration of the Christian revelation and evidenced-based treatment is deeply important and potentially synergistic.
When Douglas Schoeninger, the Editor, asked me to write this article for the Journal of Christian Healing (JCH)-later to be submitted to the Global Spiral- I was pleased. For the 2009 Association of Christian Therapists (ACT) International Conference, I led the Best Practices Psychotherapy Initiative entitled “Treating Addictive and Compulsive Disorders with Best Practices and Christian Spirituality.” Next year the new Psychotherapist Group Chair, Dr. Benjamin Keyes, envisions leading a Best Practices Psychotherapy Initiative regarding compulsive sexual behavior. In fact, the 2010 International Conference is themed on an ACT-wide response to Spirit-galvanized addiction treatment. As an organization of Christian healers and psychotherapists, ACT wrestles with bringing the Christian revelation to a profoundly addicted age. As an organization we continuously seek the Holy Spirit as a Counselor to counselors and an Advisor to advisors. Partnered with God amid the loving, graceful, powerful work of the Holy Trinity, we strive to evangelize our clinical efforts in His divine economy and, necessarily, this ultimately Christian aspect of the ACT mission influences our perspective on our careers, clinical work, and the role of the Church in mitigating human suffering. Schoeninger observed that my recent work as a consultant in addictions treatment might be thought of as Spirit-led and that my formation in this area might be a topic about which to write. During editorial discussions, we also decided that I would write about treatment domains that strike me as important clinical points for treating chemical dependency but also challenge the orthodoxies and sensibilities of many of us in ACT from theoretical and theological perspectives. Finally, we decided some remarks about my own confidence in the Christian Community itself as an addiction treatment might be in order, since the Church is very much a hospital for all human kind including those captive to addictions and caregivers.
Developing a Friendship that Formed a Sense of Calling to Addiction Treatment and a Vision for ItSeveral years ago the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia invited me to lecture on how our Christian God interacts with patients during the course of psychotherapy. The audience was smart, spiritual, and progressive, and I made life-long friends. Among them was a British businessman named David Godfrey-Thomas. He was intrigued by my thesis that the Christian mental health professional can be a credible social scientist, integrate best practices in treatment, act in the mainstream of one’s profession, and marry Our Lord’s command that we love and heal one another with the rigors of professional pursuits in the real world of madness, self-interest, sin, and calamitous bad faith. I was intrigued by Mr. Godfrey-Thomas’s insistence that secular business can be an overt or covert instrument through which the Holy Spirit operates and that Christian effectiveness in business resides in a simple formula of competence plus good faith plus grace. The fact that all of his businesses have been international was simply impressive.We commenced conversations about how we might employ his business skill with my mental-health expertise. We discerned that God was calling us to use our professional gifts to bless the people and bless them unambiguously with competence and generosity and with the full understanding that professional gifts, like spiritual gifts, exist in the Christian moral universe to bless the people and to advance the experience of the individual—who is loved by God and sacred to Him. Unquestionably, God wants human beings to be joyful and happy with the gift of their lives. Our conversations also produced the epiphany that education and professional accomplishments are not valuable unless they service God and man. We discerned that currently the Holy Sprit is inspiring professionals to engage the world at all levels of endeavor—in church, government, and business—and bestowing Christ-consistent visions for moving forward in these arenas to bless people. We discerned that the Spirit of God is competent and reliable to guide us to live up to our best selves in a manner that blesses the people and pleases God. Right now the Holy Spirit is calling Christian professionals to a new level of activity. And we felt called by God to let us be part of this, to actualize this vision. So we made it our business to pray that God would bless us to work together on some noble project.