Psychology, Christianity, and Urban Need

Volume 6
Fall 1978
Psychology, Christianity, and Urban Need

Three kinds of experiences seem to characterize the existence of millions of America'€™s urban center dwellers: stress, negative self-regard, and interpersonal alienation. These experiences are fostered by several ecological, socioeconomic, and sociological factors, which need to be understood for effective mental health intervention to occur. Effective mental health intervention in urban centers requires: (a) understanding of these factors which have a common disruptive thread centering on unpredictability and perceived lack of control; (b) extensive identification with the community from which the clients are drawn; (c) multidimensional therapy, including explicit relating of the gospel in non-manipulative ways; and (d) a ministry rather than professional orientation. The Christian psychologist/mental health worker has a special mandate to become involved in urban centers due to the biblical emphasis on meeting the needs of the poor and oppressed. God has called his people to be agents of reconciliation and healing which includes redemption and restoration. The special contribution that the Christian can make through presentation of the whole gospel is to introduce hope, positive identity, personal worth, the comfort of the indwelling Spirit, and belonging. Factors hindering evangelical mental health professionals from such urban ministry include suspicion toward psychology on the part of those with needs, antiurban bias and prejudice toward the poor and minorities on the part of Christian psychologists, lack of adequate presentation of the need on the part of Christian psychologists, lack of adequate presentation of the need and cross-cultural training programs, lack of understanding with regard to ecological and social system relationships to mental health, and a professional success/comfort orientation.

Dr. C.W. Ellison
283 - 290
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