Distinctly Christian, Mental Health Care - WLCFS


By Dr. Joshua Mears

Clinical + Christian = Unique in the World of Mental Health

When Jesus began his ministry on earth, he amazed many people with his approach. He healed both physically and spiritually. What does it mean to pattern our work after Jesus’ ministry? Dr. Joshua Mears, Clinical Director of Faith Integration for CFS, answers some key questions about the unique work happening at Christian Family Solutions.

Q: Christian Family Solutions has “Christian” in its name. What does it mean to deliver distinctly Christian care?

Dr. Mears: The 110+ mental health practitioners at CFS have embraced the calling to be exceptional counselors in the mental health sector. That’s who we are. Our calling demands that we aspire to be the best possible clinicians and use the best possible techniques grounded in clinical research. Compare this diligence to other Christians who serve in vocations such as teachers, medical doctors, or construction workers – these Christians do their work without being overtly Christian but nonetheless serve with a high integrity and exemplary stewardship of God’s gifts. The nature of who we are as Christian counselors compels us to have a high threshold for quality, a love for the neighbors we’re serving, and a faithful sense of duty to our clinical work.

Aside from who we are, what we deliver matters. We have a counseling soul care therapy process that can be uniquely connected to a client’s faith and values. When clients choose us as a mental health provider, they choose to add this values-driven set of faith integrated interventions into their care plan. Our CFS clinicians strive to be well-trained and competent in both of these areas – clinical techniques and faith integrated interventions

Q: How did the field of secular psychology become so opposed to integrating personal faith with mental health treatment?

Dr. Mears: The secularization movement within the field of psychology dates back to the founding fathers of the field who came from an era when psychology, philosophy, and theology were interrelated disciplines. Modern psychology has attempted to divorce the heritage and connection between faith and the helping tradition. As a result, the majority of training programs and graduate degrees acclimated to a model of separation between the medical and spiritual aspects of care.

The origin of the word “psychology” literally means “the study of hurting souls.” We believe it is wise to include all aspects of soul care in the counseling process. Our Creator gave all human beings a body, mind, and spirit. Our approach includes this comprehensive view of humanity.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles to overcoming the cultural biases against clinical faith integration?

Dr. Mears: Many of those pursuing the field of psychology are being educated with a secular worldview. Recruiting more Christians into the field is essential. Then, we need to help these young clinicians overcome an education that likely reduced comprehensive soul care to a view of human nature that engages only the psychological and negates the spiritual. We’re currently developing formalized training to help our clinicians develop expertise around the comprehensive care of souls and how to properly integrate evidence-based counseling strategies with a Christ-centered worldview.

Another obstacle is gathering the data that proves better outcomes from this comprehensive approach. Secular psychologists (and even some Christians) might look down on our approach to care as more spiritual and less-than-effective mental health care. Documented outcomes will help us refute this view of our work

Q: What is CFS doing to overcome these obstacles?

Dr. Mears: For much of the history of Christian counseling, practitioners of care have integrated their faith with counseling techniques without a formalized manner of delivery. This led to eclectic practices that are hard to define and even more challenging to replicate or measure for research purposes. CFS is determined to have a manualized delivery of spiritually integrated treatment. We are examining all of our client interaction – from the diagnostic assessment and treatment planning, to the techniques used in session, to data collection during and after the treatment process. The documentation and data will not only help us prove positive outcomes; it will also help us adjust and improve treatment methods.

Q: Spiritual matters are personal. How can CFS measure outcomes?

Dr. Mears: Gathering data on progress of the soul and mind is difficult. There is no measure for the work of the Holy Spirit – only evidences in behavior and client self-reporting can be gathered and quantified. Furthermore, our clinicians are busy giving soul care and it’s difficult to carve out time to collect data. Yet it is essential that we do so. We want to overcome the bias that remains in the field of clinical psychology against the Christian faith and its effectiveness within clinical intervention. There is a growing body of research to confront this bias. We want to add to these findings, so that we can be salt and light to the world of mental health.

By engaging in this unique integration initiative, CFS hopes to demonstrate that Christ-centered therapy models should be available to those who prefer them, and that we have a team of highly qualified providers delivering that service with consistency.



Within the last several decades, many clinical studies have been done on the integration of evidence-based therapy practices with Christian counseling. The results suggest that “spiritually integrated therapies are at least as effective, if not more effective, in reducing depression and anxiety than is traditional, nonreligious therapy for religious clients” (Pearce, M. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Christians with Depression, 2016).

The challenge for Christian clinicians, according to Dr. Mears, is making documentation of outcomes a priority. “Especially at this time of mental health crisis, it can seem less than dutiful to divert resources from soul care into research and data collection,” he says. “Meanwhile, the world continues to tempt us all to move away from or soften our Christian approach.

“The investment we make in faith-informed work at CFS is a commitment to quality treatment and to an approach that properly and consistently submits to the healing power of the Gospel.”

Make An Appointment Call Us Back to All Articles

CFS icon

Summer Counseling at CFS has immediate availability

Learn More Here