Book Review: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness

Book Review Score – 6 out of 10

Book Title: The Pastoral Handbook of Mental Illness: A Guide for Training and Reference by Steve Bloem (published by Kregel Ministry, 2018)

What drew me to reading this book was the subject. As a biblical counselor and pastor, I am always on the lookout for resources that equip me to be a better shepherd. Certainly, one area of counseling that seems to lack adequate resources – in my opinion – is mental health and how to counsel those who have been diagnosed with such an illness.

The book is structured to be a quick glance at no less than 21 different forms of mental illness. With each brief chapter, you will usually encounter a definition of that illness, the age it is usually diagnosed, the risk factors, options for treatment, tips for pastors who encounter this illness in their church attendees and members, and referral locations for further help.

I had hoped to find a reliable resource with this book because of the plethora of mental illnesses it addresses, but I was disappointed instead for the following reason: the author embraces and models a philosophy of integration in his counseling where one attempts to borrow secular counseling philosophy with biblical counseling philosophy, and I reject such a counseling philosophy.

In short, secular psychology approaches counseling from the perspective that man is basically good, and, thus, counseling begins and ends with man and his ideas. There may be a “nod” to the Bible for help or even a heavier consulting of Bible for guidance, but the Bible is often viewed as an equal authority to man’s ideas of treating man’s problems, and that certainly comes across in this book. The goal seems, at times, to build the counselee’s self-esteem and not their sanctification.

I would not recommend this as a helpful resource for biblical counseling tips, but there is value in having a resource like this one that gives you a quick glance at certain types of mental illnesses and what separates them from other mental illnesses.

I would like to thank Kregel Ministry for giving me a copy of this book to read, review and apply to my current ministry.

 

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