Psycho-Babble Faith Thread 482701

Shown: posts 1 to 25 of 26. This is the beginning of the thread.


Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Dr. Bob on April 11, 2005, at 8:44:05

Hi, everyone,

I'm pleased to announce that Chris Williams, MBChB BSc MMedSc MD MRCPsych, Director of the Glasgow Institute for Psychosocial Interventions, has volunteered to be our guest expert for a week (until April 17).

He's particularly interested in discussing Christian approaches to depression and anxiety, the subject of his book, "I'm Not Supposed to Feel Like This".

If you have any questions for him, just post them here with "Williams: " at the beginning of the subject line to flag them.

Discussion about the how this works -- or doesn't -- is welcome, but should take place at Psycho-Babble Administration.

OK, any questions? :-)



The participation of a guest expert is intended to provide information and not advice. His responses should not be considered diagnosis or treatment. He may suggest an option to consider, but do not infer that his professional opinion is that you personally should choose that option.

During the past 24 months, he has not been a full-time employee of any commercial organization with an interest in the topics he will be commenting on, and neither he nor any immediate family member has had a significant financial interest in or affiliation with one. He has, however, authored CBT self-help books and CD-ROMs for which he receives royalties.


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Dena on April 11, 2005, at 9:14:11

In reply to Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dr. Bob on April 11, 2005, at 8:44:05

Dr. Williams -

Welcome to Psycho Babble Faith! I appreciate your willingness to be here, and as well for the book that you've (daringly!) written!

It's very much needed, in my (not so) humble opinion...

As a Christian of many years, and as a woman who was depressed for even more, I was certainly a recipient of the messages of shame -- that I didn't have "enough faith" to overcome my condition, that my depression was due to my own sinfulness (selfishness - introspection, etc.), that I must not be doing something right (i.e., "enough" Bible reading, "enough" prayer, "enough" serving others), and was, therefore, depressed due to my own laziness, etc.

I certainly tried -- and tried hard -- all the various methods that others told me to try, in order to be "a victor over my depression" (in hindsight, all that effort was mere "self-works"...).

After years of therapy (with too-many-to-count counselors, LCSW's, psychologists, psychiatrists, pastors, ministry-leaders, etc.), 5 in-patient treatment centers (the depression was linked to bulimia - which I had for 21 years), trying every marketed antidepressant, and standing in every prayer line (you name the denomination - I went to them for help)...

... I failed at all of them.

And, since each had given me the "very best" they had to give, it was deemed to be MY fault that I'd failed. The mantle of shame was a burden, heaped on top of an already overwhelming condition...

I was regularly dismissed as a "most stubborn and hopeless" case.

I certainly lost hope.

And I certainly felt as though God had abandoned me (or ELSE, I was, somehow, and probably due to my own fault, spiritually defective).

Almost 5 years ago, I did find hope. I experienced God going to my dark places, the wounds of my past, and replacing the deceptions there with His truth... in a very personal and profound way. Within 3 weeks of this experience, I realized that I was no longer either bulimic, nor depressed.

I've had no episodes of bulimia or depression since then -- no temptations to wrestle with, no daily decisions to make, nothing to "maintain".

Life isn't perfect, of course. But I'm no longer bulimic, and I no longer suffer from depression. And when the elephant is out of the living room, it's not that big of a deal to clean up what the elephant left behind...!

I'd love to hear your personal thoughts and insights about how Christianity, the Church, and even our culture, has done a disservice to those who struggle with emotional/mental disorders ...

... and what you believe (or have discovered) are the solutions to this problem.

Additionally - what sort of feedback (positive or negative) have you received from the faith community? Have you been more supported or villified?

Again, thank you for coming here to interact!

Shalom, Dena


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Dena on April 11, 2005, at 10:40:32

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dena on April 11, 2005, at 9:14:11

Hmmm... it seems there's no way to edit my post...

Well, I did forget one aspect of my healing, which I believe is important.

I received my healing from a ministry that was outside of my former church. My church had done all that they could to help me (though their methods were heavily shame-based), and I was in despair of ever finding true help. I believed that I'd exhausted the best that the Church and the world had to offer.

The ministry that I turned to was new, but was based on the age-old healing that Jesus Himself had done when He walked this earth. Confronting error and replacing it with Truth.

He did so for me -- He Himself revealed the lies I was believing, and then gave me His truth to replace it. If another human being had done so, it would have merely lodged in my rational mind, having no affect on what was in my belief system.

But because this truth was given to me by God directly, right into my "believer", it had a profound and immediate effect.

The problem came when I tried, in my enthusiastic joy, to share my healing with my former church. They were skeptical, to say the least, and downplayed both the ministry, and my healing -- saying they wouldn't believe it was true until I'd been healed for a year or more. Fair enough. But when the year, in fact when four years of healing, had passed - they remained skeptical.

I couldn't keep quiet about my healing -- that which had dominated me, nearly killed me, for 21 years was GONE. I was free. Even when Jesus healed the blind man, telling him to be quiet, he still couldn't keep silent.

I was then accused of trying to split my church (as some believed me, and sought their own healing from the "outside" ministry, and others were "loyal" to the pastor). I was accused of having a "jezebel spirit", and even of practicing witchcraft (hearkening back to 1620 perhaps?).

I know what God has done for me. I can't renounce it.

We've since left that church, as things progressively worsened, and other abusive and legalistic things were revealed ... (my husband, who was ordained in that denomination, sacrificed all of his training and future plans, to stand by me, and to stand by the various healings that God has since done with me -- within us).

and while my attitude toward many churches has become jaded, my love for Jesus, my desire to follow Him, has increased.

We don't yet know where we "fit" in, regarding a place to fellowship. We've found our needs to connect with others being met in various - even surprising - ways.

I believe it's a shame that many of us who claim to follow Jesus continue to "shoot our wounded".

May God have mercy on us...


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 11, 2005, at 13:57:45

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dena on April 11, 2005, at 9:14:11

thanks for the post
i should say at the start that the book i wrote with colleagues was aimed at bringing together some of the insights from an effective form of psychotherapy - cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and using this with a Christian perspective. having said that the issues are i suspect likely to be relevent far more boradly than just among Christians

The book has three main themes:
1). that in many churches there seems to be a double standard - that there is an emphasis on forgiveness/acceptance but also a usually unspoken set of rules of how we should/must/ought to interact. this can make it feel difficult for people to say that they have struggled/felt down/dismal or distressed. this is in many ways bizarre because looking through the bible very many people of faith had significant struggles/challenges not least Jesus. the title "i'm not supposed to feel like this" is meant to illustrate the situation many christians find themselves in when feeling anxious or depressed

2). the CBT (Cognitive behavior therapy model was developed by an american psychiatrist professor aaron beck. it emphasises that when someone is depressed or anxious they tend to both alter how they habitually see things (by becoming quite negative/anxious/catastrophic in their thinking, and often by becoming very preoccupied by what others might think of them - for example mind-reading that others don't like them or find them boring, and finding it difficult to see a positive future. because what people think/believe can affect how they feel such thoughts worsen mood/make the person feel worse. these beliefs often revolve around negative views of how the person sees/judges themselves, their current situation and their future. from a Christian perspective such thoughts often focus on issues such as sin, guilt, worthlessness and doubt. At the same time a consequence of the low mood and lack of enjoyment is that experiences that might previously have been rich and supportive such as prayer time, reading the bible, going to bible class or church can become difficult to do and lack enjoyment. God and others can seem very distant. part and parcel of low mood is that physically we also feel low with low mood/motivation and often experience a lack of enjoyment in things. the consequence is often that we get trapped one of three possible vicious circles:

a). a vicious circle of reduced activity (driven by depression where we struggle to do things, and slowly cut back on things that usually we might have enjoyed/given a sense of pleasure - such as hobbies/time for us, going to church etc
b). or a vicious circle of avoidance which is driven by anxiety- e.g. we lose confidence and become fearful e.g. of meeting others/going to large places such as shops/churches. one understandable consequence of anxiety is that we all tend to avoid those people, places or situations that seem anxiety-provoking. for someone who is a believer this may well include the very act of going to church - where when you are feeling low there are many challenges -e .g. what to say to others if you do go and feel down. its often the case then that we can avoid going, or avoid other things that seem difficult. the danger is that a downward spiral of avoidance saps confidence and leads to increasing isolation and further restriction in what we feel capable of doing

c). i'll mention the vicious circles of helpful and unhelpful behaviour at a later stage if anyone is interested!

3). the main thrust of the book brings the cbt and a christian faith togetehr to look at some faith based (prayer, use of the bible/church others at church/our relationship with God and the promises of the bible) and also pragmatic cbt approaches to treatment (ie challenging extreme and unhelpful thoughts, learning ways of practical problem solving, building confidence in a planned step by step way, and also breaking the various vicious circles by reintroducing some things that give us a sense of pleasure /achievment, planning achievable goals (e.g. in bible reading/prayer/church going) and by tackling avoidance

the whole things is structured in a way to ask readers to pray for each other as they read through the book and we have tried to create a community type feel. this is being built on in the reprint of the book (current) where we have created a website to accompany those using the book

although aimed at Christians with mental health difficulties there is also a section for church workers/leaders that asks them to think honestly about how much mental health issues are approached positively (rather than hidden) in the church and how people are actively supported. this includes asking them to consider their own beliefs about faith/mental illness etc.

hope this gives some pointers to the focus of the book

thanks for the questions

chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 11, 2005, at 14:08:08

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dena on April 11, 2005, at 10:40:32

just replying to your follow-up post - i guess that sometimes the perspective of family therapy can be helfpul. this emphasises that we all live in different "systems" of relationships. we often think of the most powerful relationships as being our own family one's - and as we all know some families are more supportive/honest/helpful than others. Churches can also provide sometimes exeptionally powerful relationships - and as with families can be helpful/positive or sometimes unhelpful. what is often true of systems is the idea of "homeostasis" which is the idea that we are generally in relationship with others in relationship systems that "work" at least to some extent - and we tend to maintain certain patterns of relationships and roles. these tend to stay the same unless something occurs to change it. a classic example is that when a child with anoreixa begins to put on weight, sometimes the relationship with the parents actually worsens - which might act to cause weight loss again (forgive me if anyone is in this situation - but its an oft quoted example and not always true). maybe its the same in churches. if soemone changes dramatically, there can be forces to "push" them back to how they were. which is a shame because if the change is positive that should be seen as "great- how can we help you?" it sounds as if your change upset the homeostasis around you - and others reacted at least in some way to push things back to how they were.

change can be painful --- and not just for the person making rhe changes!

chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Spriggy on April 11, 2005, at 16:01:08

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by psycjw on April 11, 2005, at 14:08:08

Dr. Williams,
Like the others, I am grateful to have you here answering our questions.
I think it's interesting you want to know more about Christians approach to depression/anxiety.
My husband is a pastor and we have dealt with people who have suffered with depression and/or anxiety throughout our ministry years, never realizing, that I, myself, would go through the same thing.
When I was giving the advice to fellow church members suffering, I would always encourage them to seek God through their "valley." We of course, would pray for healing from the depression but always encouraged them to seek professional help if it continued. We never took it lightly because my own father is bipolar, as was my grandmother (and although she was a wonderful Christian women, she ended her own life because of her battle with depression).

The last four months have come as a suprise to us because I have found myself suffering from the most intense anxiety/agitation/depression ever. I even was admitted into a psych ward in February because I became so unstable.

We are still in the process of finding out what is wrong; I have just been diagnosed with hypoglycemia and my thyroid tests are abnormal so I am being sent to endocronologist this week. But my doctor "suspects" i may also have a form of bipolar; becuase of my symtpoms lately and of course, my family history.

I admit, that as a Christian, and especially a pastor's wife, this has been especially difficult to accept. I have felt like an utter failure in my faith. How can I lead other's when I myself have this disease? I have so many questions for God but this journey is just beginning for me, at this point, I am just doing my best to survive the day.

We have faced my depression openly within our church. I stood up and shared to my entire church body how difficult this road has been lately and how overwhelming the depression is. It was a "no holds barred" testimony. When I finished, I asked if anyone else was suffering with depression to come forward for prayer- we were absolutely astonished (amazed in fact!) at the NUMEROUS church members that came forward weeping for prayer. People we never suspected suffered with depression or anxiety.

It was a very real eye opener that this disease/illness plagues the church like any other disease.. We aren't immune to pain just because we follow Christ. And following after Christ doesn't mean we won't be required to walk through some painful roads like the rest of the world.

I think the above approach is the only way we know how to handle it anymore. Depression/anxiety can just be a physical part of living on this earth and we shouldn't try to over spirtualize it (although it is sometimes a spiritual issue).

Anyway, there is my two cents. Thanks again for the oppurtunity to share with you.


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Buckeye Fan on April 12, 2005, at 7:59:31

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Spriggy on April 11, 2005, at 16:01:08

Thanks for the honest , candid post Spriggy!

And Dr Williams, it is a pleasure to have your expert opinions here ( Thanks too to Dr Bob)

I too am a pastor of a small non-denominational Protestant church

also have had a love for physcology all my life.

I have stated before that it seems like disorders
of the mind and enotions are treated SO differently in the church...and that it is a shame. The same folks who developed Adult Onset TypeII Diabetes for example...would not hesitate to go to their physician and get treatment.
The church readily agree's and embraces this.

But to take that same person and find out that they have visited a physcologist or( heaven forbid..a Physciatrist lol!~ )now they are labeled and stigmatized as crazy, possesed,unstable, and in need of being institutionalized!!!!!!! How sad.

I long for the day when mental and emotional disorders are percieved by the patient and the public, as equally valid as a physical injury...and that it BE OK . to seek treatment from an medical expert in THAT field...just as we would from a MD.

Thanks for your work...and keep it up!

God bless
Pastor John ( aka Buckeye Fan)


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 12, 2005, at 13:54:41

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Buckeye Fan on April 12, 2005, at 7:59:31

its very difficult to see how things can change other than i slowly. practical changes e.g. by mental health issues being a topic which is actively discussed in church e.g. in bible classes, sermons, inductions to church membership etc may help. in essence churches need to clearly say we know many members will struggle from time to time and we are there to help support you at those times and at times when you feel well.

for real change to happen there prob also needs to be a real sea change in how these areas are discussed in pastoral training courses/courses for the ministry. such a large amount of pastoral work must be around supporting people who are distressed - but i think much of this is "hidden" from the general congregation. sometimes thats a good thing (confidentiality/privacy) however sometimes its more to do with peoples feelings of shame that they feel distressed. shame is an emotion we don't often talk about in churches (- we tend to focus on guilt or "positive" emotions such as love/joy etc). however an important part of many peoples lives as human beings is that it really matters what other people think of us as well as what God thinks. Perhaps by making it really clear in church magazine articles, sermons, outreaches etc that as a church we are interested in people as they come - with all our respective strengths and weaknesses, then we can begin to talk evenly about emotions such as shame, anxiety and anger

after all Jesus is clearly desribed as anxious (garden of gethsemene) and angry (turning over the money changers tables). these emotions are part of us and i agree with you are as much to be discussed as any other

we put a section in the book specifically aimed at church leaders for this reason - to actively consider how they react to mental illness. theres lots of practical things that can be done - and also in developing partnerships with mental health practitioners. i dont know what the situation is like in the States, but in the UK there often exists a state of mutual suspicion between mental health workers and church workers which is a shame.

its been great getting a mix of Christian church workers and also psychiatrists supporting the feeling like this project. we have set up some discussion forums to get people discussing these topics at and this is moderated by church workers and medics. this is a very much smaller and newer forum (- in fact only a month old) than the psychobabble one.

it will be interesting to see whether we can get a dialogue going between health and church based workers
chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 12, 2005, at 15:28:22

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Spriggy on April 11, 2005, at 16:01:08

hi spriggy
thanks for the post- theres a couple of things i was really struck by:
1) i completely agree that spiritual aspects of our lives are important during depression - but in exactly the same way that they are a central part of our lives anyway however we are. God promises to be with us whaever happens - including during bad times, HOWEVER depression can really focus in on our relationship with God - and can cause problems esp as a key part of depression is to cause a general emotional numbing. in personal relationships that might lead to a ditsancing from others (e.g. not feeling anything when with our children or others who we know intellectually we love - yet we feel nothing). the same can apply to how we feel aboutour relationship with God - where we can feel nothing when we pray, read the Bible etc.

This is esp difficult for people if a large part of their faith life is focused on the "feeling"/relationship aspects of their faith ie this symptom of emotionlessness (called anhedonia medically) will have a more distressing effect on such people than someone who places more emphasis on head/intellect oriented faith

2). The second thing i was struck with is what a great experiment it was to ask people to come out for prayer if they were feeling depressed. its a great testimony to your own courage re this and how God was able to use your talk. CBT is really into "experiments" to test out a belief or thought - so its great to see this living experiment where you tested out how many people were living with such problems in your own church. hopefully it gave the church community a really good opportunity to offer sensitive and appropriate support
chris w


Hi Dr. W. Have you seen my post below? (nm)

Posted by Miss Honeychurch on April 12, 2005, at 16:05:45

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by psycjw on April 12, 2005, at 15:28:22


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by Phillipa on April 12, 2005, at 23:14:46

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by psycjw on April 12, 2005, at 15:28:22

Dr. Williams, Welcome. I am following your posts in an attempt to gain more insight into the role of Church and mental illness. Again welcome, and Thank-you for coming. Fondly, Phillipa


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 13, 2005, at 13:25:06

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Phillipa on April 12, 2005, at 23:14:46

Its an interesting issue what role different churches see themselves as having in mental illness - and importantly also in mental wellness. There is a bizarre truth that sometimes when people become Christians it can actually cause them new problems they didn't have before - as well as hopefully bringing many new benefits (forgiveness, acceptance, new relationship/beginnings etc.). One thing about commitment/conversion is that people come as they are - with all the life long views and life rules they already hold. for example many Christians are naturally people who have high standards (with must/should/ought rules etc).

I have inserted below a segment on the book addressing this - because it strikes me that sometimes the way we teach each other in Church (to live lives of victory etc) can interact badly with such high standards - especially when someone is struggling to keep going.

I insert below part of the "I'm not supposed to feel like this" book which illustrates how high standards can backfire for us as Christians. I guess what its suggesting is that we need to be honest in our talk and preaching in Churches - times can be hard, but God is always there to support us thought. Christian life is about victory- but also about struggle. Love is about accepting people as they are - as God does

chris w

Setting yourelf realistic spiritual goals.
Reading the Bible and praying can be especially hard work when we feel depressed or anxious; these basic devotional exercises, however, are part of the solution and not part of the problem. What do we mean by this?

Talking to God can be very difficult when you are feeling distressed. As well as the poor motivation, concentration and energy already mentioned, you may also notice that it is difficult settling your mind, and that upsetting or negative thoughts and distressing memories intrude again and again. If you are someone who has high standards and expectations as a person, you may approach a time of prayer with a long list of things and people you should be praying for, and a belief that you must spend at least half an hour in God’s presence, and that if you can only pray hard enough and long enough your distress will go away. The problem with these sorts of rules is that if five minutes later your mind has wandered a dozen times, and you are only on item three on your list, you may give up in despair and want to stop praying altogether. A different approach is therefore more likely to be helpful.

Two of the feelings that most frequently accompany anxiety and depression are guilt and a sense of failure. We may bring a sense of guilt upon ourselves by having unrealistic expectations of what we can do. Deciding that we will pray for half an hour or more each day, and read seven or eight chapters of the Bible, starting at Genesis and completing the whole Bible in six months, are almost certainly unhelpful targets. If you set unachievable goals this will be unhelpful for you and your relationship with God. The danger is that during times of anxiety and depression, you will find it increasingly difficult to achieve these targets. You may give up after the first few days and then become self-critical, feel guilty and judge yourself a failure. These thoughts come from yourself, not God.

The problem is that although having high targets for prayer and Bible reading may seem like a good idea – instead, for many it reflects personality traits and rules that we have learned over the years and were part of our make-up even before we became Christians. If the motivation to pray and read the Bible is because we should/must/ought/got to rather than to meet God and learn from him, the motives reflect our own self-imposed human values, rather than spiritual ones. Even if to begin with you achieve your target, the prayer and reading may become lifeless, because it misses the real purpose of prayer and Bible study.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Q. Do I set unrealistic targets in what I expect of myself?
In prayer? Yes  No 
In reading the Bible? Yes  No 
In going to Church? Yes  No 
In what I do at home/work? Yes  No 
In other areas of my life? Yes  No 

The consequence of these high standards and black or white ways of seeing/judging things is that you may become so discouraged that you completely give up any prayer or reading at all and then go for several weeks without talking to God or reading any of the Bible. This is sad, because the truth is that Bible reading and prayer are the most reliable ways of communicating with God and hearing what he has to say to us.

Instead, a better approach is to set yourself realistic goals. Instead of an ‘all or nothing approach’, find a middle ground, where you may spend less time praying and reading the Bible but you still manage to do it at least to some extent even when you feel unwell.

> Dr. Williams, Welcome. I am following your posts in an attempt to gain more insight into the role of Church and mental illness. Again welcome, and Thank-you for coming. Fondly, Phillipa


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxie » psycjw

Posted by NikkiT2 on April 13, 2005, at 13:53:47

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by psycjw on April 12, 2005, at 13:54:41


I'm not a Christian, but I suffer mental illness and also live in the UK!

I've been really interested to see the increase in how spirituality is being accepted into mental health services here. We regularly run workshops and networks on Mental Health and sprituality, and have had some truly fascinating speakers.

Today I listed to, and spoke to, the Iman of a local prison. He felt that there was a uge increase in how mental health professionals are now embracing the support that a persons religion can afford them.

I just wondered really whether you do much education with other professionals.. Education and peer support seem to be a huge way for lessons to be learned, and greater understanding of all spirituality is incredibly important in my opinion.

Thanks, Nikki


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxie

Posted by psycjw on April 13, 2005, at 16:32:57

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxie » psycjw, posted by NikkiT2 on April 13, 2005, at 13:53:47

hi nicki
tricky one to answer

my main focus on cbt training is based on training courses in how to use a range of written and computer based cbt self-help materials aimed at depression, anxiety and bulimia with one on anorecia on the way (details at - written materials focus)

the i'm not supposed to feel like this book essentially took another book called Overcoming Depression: a five areas approach and re-wrote it from a faith perspective.

in the clinical setting where i work (glasgow, uk) we've done a lot of training in how to use these self-help materials and especially the five areas approach (helping the person consider the various situations, relationships and practical problems facing them, and considering their altered thinking, feelings, physical symptoms and behaviour that occur as part of anxiety and depression. The Overcoming depression: a five areas approach version doesn't mention God/prayer etc per se, but allows people to identify any problems/thoughts they themselves face - and this might for them include spiritual issues. the "I'm not supposed to feel like this" (Christian) version was generated to meet a separate need that i and some friends perceived (ie how depression is a tricky issues in churches and how often non-evidence based approaches are used to help people).

Training wise most of my "work" focus is on disseminating and evaluating the effectiveness/impact of these sorts of packages. i have done very little training so far on the i'm not supposed to feel like this (christian package) - so far just to the Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK ( - and later this year to another uk-based group the association of christian counsellors.

i personally see no incompatability between faith and cbt approaches. practitioners though who have a faith need to be very careful in how they work with others who are unwell. if for example someone is referred to see a doctor/practitioner then what they should be offered is good treatment. in the uk for example if someone comes to the national health service what they are coming for is a treatment like a psychological therapy or antidepressant not prayer/a faith based intervention - that can be sought through churches.

i guess what i'm coming round to say is that i think practitioners of all faiths and none need to be aware of/knowledgable about spiritual issues in the people they work with as there are often doubts/fears/issues that may be important for the person to consider- yet never impose their own faith in health care settings - there's just too much scope for abuse.

my own solution to this dilemma is the idea of this cbt self-help book aimed at christians with depression. this will allow the effective cbt style of working to be more widely used (i hope!) by a range of chrch workers and directly by the individuals involved - hopefully with support from their church. this is not too dissimilar to my work focus which is in disseminating cbt self-help (the secular kind!) to provide wider access to cbt delivered through these self-help methods and by non-cbt specialists

interestingly in the UK (and US) there are increasing focuses on this idea of using cbt self-help built into clinical services as a means of providing care to many many people - and this style of working is recommended to be offered as an equal alternative to antidepressants for moderate depression, and preferable to antidepressants for mild depression.

sorry its a rather convalated answer! - basically in reply the question, i do lots of work/training around cbt self-help, but so far relatively little training to date in the faith based approach - and then only to people with a specific faith. i agree though that these are perhaps wider skills/issues that people should be aware of as practitioners.

chris w


Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me...

Posted by Dena on April 13, 2005, at 18:45:18

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxie, posted by psycjw on April 13, 2005, at 16:32:57

You know, I've got to tell you, I received a whole boat-load of Cognitive Behavior Therapy throughout a period of 21 years (dealing with bulimia).

It had no effect on me -- at least, not to the postive.

I went to 5 separate 30-day intensive inpatient treatment centers (Washington Hospital Center, The Willough at Napes FLorida - twice, Rapha in Atlanta Georgia, and Remuda Ranch in Arizona...), PLUS numerous therapists/psychologists/LCSW's etc.

I was always the "ideal patient", cooperating fully with the treatment plan, and always followed up with out-patient treatment - for years at a time. I was given an optomistic expectation of recovery.

I was also involved with 12-step support groups - again, for years.

BUT - none of it had an effect.

What worked - completely, immediately, without any "effort" on my part -- was Theophostic Prayer Ministry

It's worked without a single relapse, a single temptation, and without the need to "make a daily decision", or the need to wrestle with a single thought. I'm simply free.

I was bulimic to the point that professionals held out no further hope for me.

Within 2 sessions of Theophostic Prayer Ministry, the bulimia was GONE.

Never to return.

I have no fear of relapse... I'm simply no longer bulimic.

It's VASTLY different from CBT...

I offer it for your consideration. I believe anyone who partakes of it can likewise be free.

Shalom, Dena


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by MidnightBlue on April 13, 2005, at 20:07:09

In reply to Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dr. Bob on April 11, 2005, at 8:44:05

When I was suffering from severe depression, I was too sick for CBT with a Christian therapist to work. I left every session feeling worse about myself. Fortunately, I later found a Christian psychiatrist who could mix medication, therapy, and my faith. He saved my life and taught me so much.

I live in another city now and have not been able to find a psychiatrist I am comfortable enough with to really trust. I feel like my faith has to be "off the table". I can't talk about it without it being considered a psych symptom. It is hard to get better when you have to ignore a huge part of who you are-- How do you find a psychiatrist who will not belittle your faith? And it helps if they are on your insurance!

I have found almost no one in the church (many different congregations) understands "mental illness." They sure don't like to talk about it, and it is not a "socially acceptable" prayer request at prayer time.

I look forward to reading your book. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to answer our questions.



Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me...

Posted by psycjw on April 14, 2005, at 3:37:09

In reply to Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me..., posted by Dena on April 13, 2005, at 18:45:18

sorry to hear that numerous attempts at cbt werent helpful

lots of things come to mind:
1) looking at the website and their definition of what they offer:
Quote "Theophostic Prayer Ministry believes a person's primary present emotional pain comes from the misinterpretations (lies) learned during life experiences and not from the memories of these events themselves. For example, a child feels shame not because his father divorced his mother but because he may believe it was his fault (the lie). When I have negative emotional response in the present, it can almost always be traced back to an earlier event. In this earlier event there will be a belief that was established from which this negative emotion is rooted. My present feelings are generally indicative of what I believe.

Theophostic Prayer Ministry recognizes that behavior is greatly influenced by the knowledge stored in the mind. "

This sounds quite like rational emotive behaviour therapy - a form of cbt - where unhelpful beliefs are termed irrational - rather than "lies". Quite a lot of the above sounds quite similar to cbt in approach

- there is a focus on calling things lies rather than extreme and unhelpful beliefs - but many of these rules are learned in past experience (as suggested by cbt)
- there is a focus on the site on biblical truth helping set people free- this could be that this form of approach focuses on using these truths and using a central cbt approach which is to build on new helpful (in this context "true" rather than "lies") beliefs through testing it out (experiments again -see previous posts) and also the use of prayer (which is emphasised in the i'm not supposed to fgeel like book i/colleagues wrote ( By acting on helpful beliefs, and acting against unhelpful one's ("lies") in this context helpful change can occur

ie from the description is sounds to me to be quite like a faith based form of therapy somewhat like CBT - BUT with quite a black or white language ie the traditional language of cbt is one of helpful/unhelpful, accurate/inaccurate, and unhelpful thinking - which doesn't blame the person. i'm a bit concerned that the approach of calling these "lies" may have the potential to be seen as blaming the person - but this may not be how its delivered in practice

2). it's great the approach worked, but maybe this is about horses for courses. cbt (assuming it was cbt that was offered in the past as in the uk sometimes there are all sorts of claims cbt is being offered but its not delivered by fully trained and accredited practitioners) - has an evidence base for bulimia (see another review of effective thereapies for bulimia at and seems to be the most effective proven therapy for bulimia. its an entirely reasonable approach to help improve things - but doesnt work with everyone (its the same for treatment in virtually every branch of medicine - whatever the treatment some people do well, others less well, and some experience adverse consequences).

My main concern regarding the small part of the website you mentioned is around emphasis: e.g. statements that e.g. ".. Jesus is the only one who can truly release the wounded person from their emotional/mental bondage. This does not invalidate the role of the counselor/minister as a listener and intercessor but acknowledges that apart from Christ we are ineffective in accomplishing God’s desire for the wounded soul."

This perhaps rules out the fact that God has given people talents/skills/science and the capability to help each other through health systems etc. In the same way as most Christians would have their leg put in pot and take antidepressants if they fractured a leg and it got infected, but they might also pray and be prayed for really helpfully, i have a few concerns that quotes like that above might be read as impying that the only "real" healing is through this route. People can find real benefit from cbt - but not always. CBT (unless faith focused) can be used separate from or in addition to prayer etc - i don't see it as a second best - just something that can be effective

rather a long reply i'm afraid - as i said its great you have found the help you needed and its sounds like others have as well, but as with cbt perhaps even the site you mention will not be fully helpful for all?

chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 14, 2005, at 3:42:22

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by MidnightBlue on April 13, 2005, at 20:07:09

sorry to hear about thes problems

i completely agree re cbt that it can be hard hard work at times - and this is esp difficult when depression is at a high level. antidepressants may be the first step to help get to a stage where energy/concentration and motivation levels then allow the person to make good use of cbt

its really difficult to understand why mental health issues are so badly dealt with in chucrhes. long-term this should be an issue for those training courses for the ministry. it sounds likeyou have ordered the i'm not supposed to feel like this book. perhaps you could pass it on to your minister/pastor etc after you have read it (if you found it helpful).

its currently being reprinted having sold out about 2 months ago - i know its back in uk stores like in the Uk from next Monday- so it might be better ordering from there than the site as i dont knopw what the delays wd be there - they may not be that long

chris w


Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me... » psycjw

Posted by Dena on April 15, 2005, at 10:12:24

In reply to Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me..., posted by psycjw on April 14, 2005, at 3:37:09

Thank you, Dr. Williams, for your well thought out reply. We agree about much of what you wrote. My purpose is not to argue about the superiority of one methodology over another...

Only to relate my personal experience, which, in the end, is all I have.

What I experienced with CBT was this:

- I received good "information" that entered my cognitive mind, and gave me something to think about. But the proverbial "journey from the head to the heart" proved to be a far-too-difficult one to make. When faced with temptations, I had to mentally wrestle with them, try to remember the "coping techniques" (or find the piece of paper upon which they were written), and then struggle to apply them. Given that I had multiple daily temptations assaulting me (even after 18 or so months of "abstinence"), this proved to be exhausting, and a lousy way of life.

- I discovered that all the mental energy I'd put into being bulimic (planning my binges, gathering food, carrying it out, purging, cleaning up, covering up the lies, etc.), was merely transferred into "maintaining recovery". I had to make a daily decision to "do the right thing", deal with temptations as they arose, take care to keep myself out of places that caused me difficulty, attend numerous support-group meetings, and "manage" my recovery by thinking about it, just as much as I'd previously thought about carrrying out my addiction. I'd merely switched my focus from one all-consuming thing to another.

- When I received Christian-based CBT, I also received definite messages of shame, when I inevitably failed... after all, these people gave me the best they had to give -- and if it didn't "work", well, then it must be my fault (not enought faith, not enough obedience, etc.).

By contrast, this is what I experienced with Theophostic Prayer Ministry:

- I received God giving me a "knowing" that I'd believed lies about myself, and then He gave me a "knowing" about the truth instead. This was NOT condemning -- it wasn't my FAULT that I'd believed lies, just a result of processing painful/traumatic experiences through a child's mind. There was NO message of shame.

- This "knowing" completely replaced the "lies" -- with no effort on my part. It was as if the light bulb went off. Rather than operating from the basis of the lies, I now could freely operate from the basis of the truth. Another term for this is "mind renewal".

- There have been zero temptations to deal with. None. Bingeing and purging have never once occurred to me. Whereas, they used to rule my every waking thought.

- There has been nothing for me to "maintain". No support group has been necessary. I'm simply no longer bulimic. My weight is normal and healthy (I've been most *thoroughly* examined by medical and psychological specialists).

- I'm free to live a "normal" life. I don't have to do anything to "keep" my healing. A permanent transformation occured within me. At a deeper than cognitive level.

- I expend no mental energy in "not being bulimic". I just live life as it comes to me. I enjoy eating, enjoy living, enjoy (finally!) being who I am.

Now, it may be that others find complete freedom through CBT ... but I haven't run into them. Nor have the counselors with whom I previously received CBT. What most of the CBT-recipients find is a "better way of coping", a way of "tolerable recovery". But they don't find complete healing - complete freedom.

To me, it's the difference between hearing Jesus say, "Take up your mat, and limp as best as you can -- and here's a crutch to assist you.",

AND: "Take up your mat and WALK".

I believe - I KNOW - that He still heals like that. And, just as He never turned anyone who asked Him directly for healing away -- He never turns away anyone who comes to Him in this manner -- because it's not about physical healing -- it's about replacing deception with Truth - which He Himself said He came to do.

For me, the choice was either:
- learn how to limp better; or,
- be transfsormed so that I could walk, even dance!

The people who are most skeptical about Theophostic are those who have been trained in other methodologies, and who never try Theophostic - for themeslves - first-hand. Those who do receive it, those who do taste of the transformation that results, are never the same. And they just don't go back to the former.

And, amazingly (to some), one doesn't even have to believe in Jesus to be healed by Jesus... (which is quite Biblical).

I don't mean to stir up controversy. I don't mean to sound as if I have some sort of superiority. It's not about me...

I commend anyone who tries to help others find relief from their suffering. And, yes, CBT has helped many, many people to cope better..

But there's SO MUCH MORE!

Shalom, Dena


Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me...

Posted by psycjw on April 15, 2005, at 10:51:05

In reply to Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me... » psycjw, posted by Dena on April 15, 2005, at 10:12:24

its great that things have changed so much for you
-that the bulimia has gone and that you feel so charged up in your faith as a result as well

perhaps a key difference is that in the cbt approach for you meant being trapped in a non-winnable battle ie constant struggles/mental turmoil and needs to keep re-challenging things

in cbt terms there are two possible explanations (if thats of interest!)
1). you have moved from a position where core beliefs/schemas about yourself perhaps failing/struggling/not coping - to one where victory is assured - not in your own strength but God's - and you are absolutely sure of that - ie He has done the change not you .

this can help you move away from a situation where in cbt you are invited to challenge schemas - and this often causes them to fight back - by tempting the person to do things that conform their failure/uselessness/badness/etc. this ccyle was broken, and i suspect a major schema change may have happened - ie no longer believing bad things about yourself (sorry - not implying you do or did, but most of us have at least some negative views of ourselves at least some of the time)

2). it sounds a bit like some of the fight against bulimia had some obsessional/rumimative aspects - constantly going over things in a compulsive type way that was unwinnable? (i may well be wrong). imagine that when we feel like that its like a pressure cooker on a stove, every time we act/respond and try to get things right we just end up turning up the gas. it sounds like the prayer ministry turned off the gas and let off the pressure that you felt that you should sort things out. you could allow God to do that, and trust it, and just let things be.

by taking the pressure off you having to fight at staying well, it sounds like you could just step into a new way of being (healed) - with nothing more to prove/argue. a cycle of mental/behavioural compulsive activity may just have been thrown off.

two examples to illustrate this:
a). if we are struggling hard to cope we often try hard not to think things. if readers could try for the next 30 seconds not to think about a white polar bear and see what happens

(30 secs later) if youre like me you'll have thought of nothing but a white polar bear (or expended quite a lot of mental energy thinking about somethign else instead like a black bear!)

the lesson there is that trying not to think about something often worsens it

b). imagine youare in a room by yourself reading a paper and a large bluebottle flies around the room noisily. we have two choices - keep reading or get up and try and swat it. if we get up and try to swat it the danger is we miss and end up dancing round the room chasing it fruitlessly with it just getting noiser and noiser

lesson: with thoughts that we are obsessing about/preoccupied with, its better to let them be - trying to swat them (challenge them/think our way out of them etc etc) just doesnt work

perhaps the prayer you had helped you accept that God not you had swotted the fly (if thats not a naff metaphor!)

it all sounds like a very positive experience and i'm really glad things have imporved

chris w


Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me... » psycjw

Posted by Dena on April 15, 2005, at 11:02:47

In reply to Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me..., posted by psycjw on April 15, 2005, at 10:51:05

Mmmmmm... sort of.

But I do thoroughly enjoy your exuberant use of metaphors! Very fun and lively reading!

Shalom, Dena


Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me...

Posted by psycjw on April 15, 2005, at 11:30:32

In reply to Re: Williams: CBT Didn't Work for me... » psycjw, posted by Dena on April 15, 2005, at 11:02:47

as with all these things its only worth taking whats helpful
i'll keep working on the metaphors
chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by nameste on April 17, 2005, at 4:18:38

In reply to Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by Dr. Bob on April 11, 2005, at 8:44:05

Re: Williams: CBT is something that helped me....but only after the biochemical/hormonal problems had been corrected. When I would get depressed, my brain would not work enough for me to exercise what therapists had taught me about the power of thoughts. It was hard for me to pray, as well, and that is the time when the prayers of Christian friends and Church prayer groups were critically important for me.

I am curious about your book and it's content...I did read the 5 star review on Amazon...I appreciate your effort, with this book, to help Christian friends, Clergy and Christian Counselors with CBT combined with the is sorely needed.

I will look into this more. But, in my experience, the value of learning about and using CBT is dependent on the chemical imbalances being corrected first. I use CBT all the time now. I was taught using the book "Feeling Good" by Burns. I had lay counselors and Christian counselors over the years, and combining Biblical references with CBT took a lot of work.

Your combining these important elements has to be a plus for people whose Faith is shaken badly once they feel the pain and "abandonment by God"
that come with Depression/Anxiety.

Thank you, Dr. Williams.



Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by psycjw on April 17, 2005, at 16:36:16

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by nameste on April 17, 2005, at 4:18:38

thanks for your post
one thing I really like about CBT is that it deals with us as whole people - it doesn't separate us into completely separate boxes of thoughts/feelings/physical/relationships/actions - instead it suggests that each area affects each other

i completely agree that sometimes antidepressants are an essential first step to recovery - when someone is feeling really down, not enjoying things, has low energy and motivation and feel hopeless, it can be the key to starting making changes - without this it may be just seem (and in fact be) too hard to use cbt approaches.

Just exploring a little bit about what it means in practice that each of the five key areas (realtionships/problems, thinking, feel;
ings, physical symptoms, behaviour) affect each other, it means that changes in any one area can affect any of the others. So for example, antidepressants which are a physical treatment can be prescribed when indicated and that means usually when there is a significant physical (sometimes called biological or somatic) aspect to depression. This physical treatment may (if the tablets are effective) lead to:
improved mood
greater energy and activity
less negative thoughts
and a greater confidence to tackle practical problems

ie an intervention in one area leads to benefits in all. Similarly, intervening by increasing activity levels in a planned way (esp to increase the things done that give a sense of pleasure and/or achievement) can be an effective treatment for depression. In the UK "prescribed" physical exercise is available in many centres for example as a way of boosting mood (those readers who do things like play squash, run etc may well notice that it gives them a "buzz" - - ie physical activity can also boost mood/ make us feel more positive/energetic etc.). In exactly the same way, CBT focusing ona ctivity or on changing extreme and unhelpful thinking, also can boost how we feel (as focusing on negative unhelpful thoughts can worsen how we feel and unhelpfully alter what we do)

the key point is that tablets and these sort of cbt interventions can be done togther - its not an either /or. some research evidence suggests that cbt and tablets taken together is better than either alone, and cbt + tablets gives less chance of slipping back/relapsing than tablets alone.

ie i do agree that chemical imbalances are part of depression, and these can be altered by antidepressants - however they can also be altered by being more active/challenging negative thoughts etc. it is the case though that the degree of chemical imbalance in really severe depression may require antidepressants first to have a good chance of cbt helping change things

hope this explanation helps - i guess the key point is we are whole people - neither emotion alone, nor thought along, not physical (chemical) alone etc. in sum i agree that integrated approaches - and one's that take into account peoples faiths is a very sensible approach

chris w


Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety

Posted by nameste on April 17, 2005, at 17:17:12

In reply to Re: Williams: Guest expert on depression and anxiety, posted by psycjw on April 17, 2005, at 16:36:16

Thank you so much for your response.

You did put together such an excellent summary!

I understand and believe your "take" on the truth that we must "bring all good things/techniques together for true and lasting healing of the Whole Person from Depression and Anxiety.

I am definitely going to add your book to my
collection of studies/tools to help others.

I ask God for His Best Blessings for you and your book...which is sure to help so very many people! Thank you, Dr. Cris, thank you!

Sincerely, Nameste

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