The Lectio Letter - Issue #75 - Part III of "You need Therapy!" - Interview with Anne Harrington
“So many Christ-followers have not had an experience of Jesus as our ultimate healer; deep down they fear that if they allow their wounds to be exposed, Jesus will not meet them there, and their faith will be shaken or shattered.”
— Anne Harrington
"Spiritual transformation, not self-knowledge, is the goal of Christian spirituality… With God's help, we need to break through our illusions and see ourselves as we truly are in relation to God…[This includes]…knowing three things: our self as deeply loved, our self as deeply sinful, and our self as in the process of being redeemed and restored"
— David Benner
“Scripture consistently offers a picture of a God who joins us in our pain, responds in love, patience, and strength, and continues to meet us in our pain. In other words, God co-regulates with his people.”
— Anne Harrington
It’s coming to you a few days late I’m afraid, but it’s a bumper edition this time!
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This is the last in a three-part series where I have been interviewing our friend Anne Harrington, a trained therapist and theology graduate.
In our increasingly secularised age, counsellors and therapists have begun to become the defacto priestly order for self-understanding and growth. There has been a societal shift away from biblical language that names our pain and shame to a therapeutic one. My concern is that, now even for Christians, it becomes easier to turn to Sigmund Freud than Jesus of Nazareth.
At the same time, clinical psychology has identified, named and cured conditions that the Church has never had the perspective (or perhaps the responsibility) to delve into. Specialist fields will always be required even if the Church and her people are operating as they are called to be.
As I’ve shared in the previous introductions of this series, Rachel and I have benefitted personally as well as in our ministry context by understanding psychological uses of terms like ‘attachment’ and ‘shame’ to shine a light on the very real challenges many of us face as we grow to become more like Jesus.
In this final part of the interview, I asked Anne whether the mental health crisis we hear so much about is about the increase in our ability to name something that has always been there or whether the conditions of the 21st Century really are ‘breaking’ us at a psychological level. We then delve into the nature of anxiety and how to distinguish this from more common level ‘worry’. Finally, she shares the concept of “co-regulation” and how this is curatively applied to those experiencing anxiety.
Finally, I’m so grateful to Anne for her time and openness to engage in this interview.
What I hope has become clear from this interview series is that;
Our growth towards the likeness of Jesus is whole-person growth and can’t be sectioned off into just religious activities. Our emotions, motivations, bodies, minds and souls all require the good news of the Gospel in order for us to be the kind of witnesses we are called to be.
We need more people like Anne in the world who are committed to the cure of others and can translate, connect and de-stigmatise the connection between psychology, theology and discipleship.
That receiving care from a mental health care professional should be as normal as heading to a medical doctor and that we don’t need to wait until we are coming undone to gain health in our thinking and feeling. To use a metaphor, I hope we can grow into seeing the worth of a therapeutic context in our discipleship as a kind of mental/emotional oil service rather than just a Tow truck after a crash!
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