One of the criticisms that I hear of biblical counselors is that we have little or no interest in what science has to say about the emotional struggles of life. We are considered science deniers when we disagree with the current societal definitions and treatment of those struggles. While it is true that at times we disagree with the conclusions at which science arrives, that does not mean that we do not value the truth to be found in research. We need real, factual, scientific research in the biblical counseling movement and we have nothing to fear from it any more than we should fear truth.
As biblical counselors, we need to stay informed about research that impacts the things we see in counseling. On a regular basis we see individuals who come with labels such as OCD, BPD, ADHD, TBI, and schizophrenia, to name a few. If we are going to serve those who carry these kinds of labels well, it is necessary to learn what those labels mean and what current research says about them.
The writer of Proverbs tells us, “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it? The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:13-15). If we truly want to help people who come with these kinds of labels in their struggles, then it is wise for us to find out as much as we can about them. One way to do that is to survey the current research.
A few years ago, I found a website called ScienceDaily.com and I find it an amazing help in keeping up with news in the field of science. This website will send you a daily email that contains links to 10-50 one-page summations of newly published research. For those of us who are statistically challenged and who may have a phobia for scientific acronyms, these summations are put in plain English! Each summation comes with the link to the original article and includes easily copied footnotes.
Not every research project arrives at useful conclusions, but the information in the studies can be very useful when it comes to helping individuals with depression, OCD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Before writing this blog I took a few minutes and worked my way through several days of Science Daily titles, and below is what I found. And you can have the same access that I do.
The first article that caught my attention was titled, “PTSD, certain prescriptions for PTSD may raise risk for dementia.[i] The use of psychotropic medications is a topic of great interest in biblical counseling. The article related that many of the medications used to treat PTSD may increase the risk of dementia in those who are treated. It highlighted the truth that medications commonly prescribed for depression may have significant risks associated with their use.
The second article, “Traumatic brain injuries may be helped with drug used to treat bipolar disorder,” related that the bipolar disorder medication lithium carbonate may have a protective benefit to those who have significant head injuries. The researchers found that the drug reduced the damage to cells that the injury caused. It is early research, but anyone who has counseled those who struggle after head injuries can understand its importance.[ii]
A third article, “Discovery of new pathway in brain has implications for schizophrenia treatment,”[iii] outlined research into the way nerve pathways operate. For centuries there has been much speculation as to the cause of schizophrenia, including things like demon possession, family dynamics, and infectious disease. This article adds to the growing body of research that identifies a genetically driven change in the immune system as the cause.
The researchers found a pathway that connects receptors in the brain that are associated with learning and memory. They hoped that this new understanding would lead to new treatment in the future. Such research gives hope to those who have schizophrenia, their loved ones, and those who treat and counsel them.
The last article I found is a stretch for biblical counseling, but stick with me for a moment. It is titled, “Why does so much of nature rely on sex for reproduction?”[iv] The article details how it is a less efficient model than asexual reproduction or cloning. It goes to great lengths to demonstrate the truth of their claim in a study of snails. Their conclusion is that evolutionary biologists are correct when they assert that sexual reproduction is inefficient. And they are right.
The amusing thing about the article is that there is a reasonable explanation why most all of nature relies on sexual reproduction to continue their species. There was a common designer/creator. If the same “inefficient means” of perpetuating species is used in most plants and animals, then evolution would say that it should disappear given enough time. Unless, of course, there was a Creator who made it that way.
And that brings to an end my tour of an easy way to start reviewing the scientific literature on all kinds of subjects that are important to biblical counseling. I hope you will use it. See you soon at Sciencedaily.com.
Questions for Reflection
Do you have a healthy appreciation for scientific research in the field of social science? What have you learned from scientific literature that has made an impact on your counseling?
[i] American Geriatrics Society. “PTSD, certain prescriptions for PTSD may raise risk for dementia.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170508184907.htm>.
[ii] Rutgers University. “Traumatic brain injuries may be helped with drug used to treat bipolar disorder: Rutgers research indicates lithium may prevent brain cell damage.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170508083242.htm>.
[iii] Tufts University. “Discovery of new pathway in brain has implications for schizophrenia treatment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170504131902.htm>.
[iv] Wiley. “Why does so much of nature rely on sex for reproduction?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170504110543.htm>.