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Mercy Ministries / Mercy Multiplied Christian "Counseling"


closetcagebaby
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http://www.slate.com/articles/life/cover_story/2016/04/at_mercy_multiplied_troubled_young_women_come_to_believe_their_mental_health.html

 

Slate has this really great in depth article about this network of Christian counseling centers - and how its services have affected so many young women and their families. Some of the personal stories are just heartbreaking. It's pretty amazing to me that something like this can exist with no oversight from any government body. It just seems so shady and yet it pulls in so many people because they supposedly have a religious focus.

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4 minutes ago, hoipolloi said:

Seems like this is nothing but a scam & a variant of nouthetic counseling, which is a widely discredited & very harmful form of mental health care. 

They also do adoptions. :pb_cry:

Off to look over their IRS 990s...

Ugh, and I thought it couldn't get any worse! I can't imagine being a poor woman trapped in one of these hellholes, and pregnant, to boot. I imagine there's a lot of pressure to "sacrifice" and give up a child, probably because they get a cut for facilitating. Speculation, of course, but it's not like we haven't heard that before.

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I knew someone who was a questionable nurse practitioner to begin with, and all of a sudden she set herself up as a christian counselor. I wouldn't have gone to her for medical care that at least she'd had some education for. Her beliefs really changed her away from a person of scientific, rational approach, to a rabidly religious approach. I shudder to think of the harm she's done' over the years.

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Nancy Alcorn seems to be quite the piece of work. After working the TN prison system she goes to work for Nashville Teen Challenge, then Jeebus tells her to establish Mercy Ministries. 

Looks like Mercy Ministries brings in enough $$ to keep Nancy blonde & tan.

 

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2 minutes ago, hoipolloi said:

Nancy Alcorn seems to be quite the piece of work. After working the TN prison system she goes to work for Nashville Teen Challenge, then Jeebus tells her to establish Mercy Ministries. 

Looks like Mercy Ministries brings in enough $$ to keep Nancy blonde & tan.

 

More like Jeebus tells her to be like L. Ron and do anything that gives her a nice cushy salary (as mentioned in the article, she makes well over $200k a year, I believe). 

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Ugh, this whole thing sounds awful. I fully support people incorporating the spiritual practices of their choosing into their mental health recovery if they want to, and have seen incredibly positive results from that, however it is a supplement to evidence-based therapy, not a replacement!

Edited by Mercer
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I wondered if recovered memory therapy was going to come up in the article and I was right! Considering the crazy drivel that people believed during the day care sex abuse hysteria in the 80s and 90s in our secular society I can't imagine the effect this recovered memory would have in an atmosphere like this. 

It saddens me how so many of the girls profiled in the article thought Mercy was their last/only hope but they got cheated. On top of their problems going in, now they have the damage from Mercy to deal with. 

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And this is why I really am hesitant about christian counseling: if there is something more than anxiety, the medical doctor or psychiatrist who needs to evaluate and treat the issue is not part of the team.  it is like going to a chiropractor who promises to cure cancer or diabetes. 

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I remember looking into these programs years ago. They're attractive for a lot of people because they're free, while most other treatment centers are incredibly expensive. I've actually talked to a few girls who went there and had good experiences, but I've also read many, many horror stories from those programs.

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They are very effective for some, especially if you are part of that religious world. Others can be damaged.

The women seem to exagerate how "bad." They were before they entered the home. Lots of tales of sex abuse, prostitution, drug addiction, etc. Seems like they are under pressure to create redemption stories, and each one has to be more extreme than the last.

Reminds me of Carson's stories of how wild he was, almost murdering someone, when he was obviously a nerdy kid.

Edited by Johanna25
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My husband sent this to me, and I immediately check FJ to see if there was already a thread about it.

The part that got me the most was in the beginning where they said that this fills the gaping hole in the American mental health system. And I agree. 

A system like this leaves the patient feeling like their mental health issues are their fault. You can't sleep? It's not because of a chemical imbalance in the brain, it's because YOU didn't pray hard enough. You are having an anxiety attack? It's not because of a natural feedback loop that you can't disengage from, it's because YOU didn't read enough scripture today. Or it's because God doesn't love you enough because you are a sinner who won't repent.

To attack mental illness in this way, as something that is brought about because of something the patient did or did not do and not as a natural arrhythmia that can be dealt with but not cured is so harmful for everyone involved. When I was told I would never be cured of anxiety, at first I was so incredibly sad, but then I realized a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Because it wasn't my fault I have anxiety. It wasn't anything that I did. No amount of planning, making lists, staying up at night, checking the doors multiple times every night, or getting every detail right was going to cure me. It was just going to exhaust me and make me more likely to miss something crucial. Instead, I needed other tools to help me live my life as anxiety free as I could.

Before I saw my anxiety as a failing. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I didn't tell my doctors or my family. Now that I see it differently, I am very open to telling people about it. It has helped me so much in terms of recovery when people know my shortcomings. If someone had a bum knee, you wouldn't make them climb a mountain, would you? People are welcoming to accommodate my mental health needs. And these girls never get that with a place like Mercy. Instead they are blamed and probably feel the need to keep it in the dark like the rest of their "dirty laundry."

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The piece on Mercy made me sick. I am a Christian with mental health issues, both psychological and neurological. My faith is a HUGE part of working towards developing a set of coping skills, but so is my therapist and psychiatrist. I am working towards a recovery that doesn't mean that all my issues are gone, but a recovery where the issues no longer take over my life and cause me paralyzing fear, panic attacks and constantly dealing with triggers. 

The Christian program I am active in doesn't tell me that my medications are unneeded. It also highly recommends being under the care of whatever other medical professionals needed to keep myself on an even keel. I've been in this program for 14 weeks and can see an improvement in myself. Much of it has to do with being in a community that is full of people that are just as messed up or more messed up than I am, and the love and acceptance that I find there. 

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32 minutes ago, feministxtian said:

The piece on Mercy made me sick. I am a Christian with mental health issues, both psychological and neurological. My faith is a HUGE part of working towards developing a set of coping skills, but so is my therapist and psychiatrist. I am working towards a recovery that doesn't mean that all my issues are gone, but a recovery where the issues no longer take over my life and cause me paralyzing fear, panic attacks and constantly dealing with triggers. 

The Christian program I am active in doesn't tell me that my medications are unneeded. It also highly recommends being under the care of whatever other medical professionals needed to keep myself on an even keel. I've been in this program for 14 weeks and can see an improvement in myself. Much of it has to do with being in a community that is full of people that are just as messed up or more messed up than I am, and the love and acceptance that I find there. 

This is SO important. Many people respond well to faith based treatment, but that doesn't mean it can be totally based on junk science.

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1 minute ago, closetcagebaby said:

This is SO important. Many people respond well to faith based treatment, but that doesn't mean it can be totally based on junk science.

Before I got involved in the Christian program, I investigated it thoroughly. Being the cynical skeptic I am towards "faith based" anything, I wanted to know what was the focus of this program. The sense of community is the most important to me. I can let my "freak flag" fly there. I don't have to deal with the exhausting need to act "normal" there. The leader of the program where I attend is a recovered alcoholic, crack addict and has a few other issues. He's also a licensed therapist, not from some fruitcake "Christian" school, but a secular university. 

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On 4/26/2016 at 2:53 PM, closetcagebaby said:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/cover_story/2016/04/at_mercy_multiplied_troubled_young_women_come_to_believe_their_mental_health.html

 

Slate has this really great in depth article about this network of Christian counseling centers - and how its services have affected so many young women and their families. Some of the personal stories are just heartbreaking. It's pretty amazing to me that something like this can exist with no oversight from any government body. It just seems so shady and yet it pulls in so many people because they supposedly have a religious focus.

Unfortunately, title protection for mental health professionals only goes so far. While non-licensed "Christian Counselors" cannot formally diagnose people or bill insurance (public or private), as long as there are people willing to self-pay to see them (or their salaries are getting paid by a third party, such as a church or charity), they're not going to go away unless states start seriously cracking down on them. I don't see that happening; too much potential for these quacks to claim that they're being harassed and persecuted for their beliefs and too much popular demand for their services. Facilities are just as bad for the same reason; all it takes to run an unlicensed treatment facility is careful wording in the contracts and enough money to keep the doors open. 

 

4 hours ago, sophie10130 said:

The part that got me the most was in the beginning where they said that this fills the gaping hole in the American mental health system. And I agree. 

A gap that exists because of the voting patterns of people utilizing these services. "Hey, small government! Let's cut Medicaid down to the bone, bar adults from enrolling in it, and then wonder why so many people don't have access to therapy when they need it! ...then helpfully start establishing 'treatment' for those people which conveniently serves our purposes."

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The problem is not with faith based counselors themselves: they can be useful and helpful if trained properly and can help someone like a crisis line volunteer would. 

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3 hours ago, JesusCampSongs said:

A gap that exists because of the voting patterns of people utilizing these services. "Hey, small government! Let's cut Medicaid down to the bone, bar adults from enrolling in it, and then wonder why so many people don't have access to therapy when they need it! ...then helpfully start establishing 'treatment' for those people which conveniently serves our purposes."

Yes, and often times their mental health makes it impossible for them to have a job, so they cannot afford treatment outside of Medicaid/Medicare. I know quite a few people who have taken time off from work to get better. Some of them have been lucky have a great savings or someone like a parent or significant other who will take care of them financially. Some were not as lucky and had to go back to work against what they knew was best for them.

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IF you are looking for a Christian counselor, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors would be your best bet. The members of AACC are all LICENSED therapists who have a faith-based practice...IOW, they will integrate faith into treatment...but will not push faith on anyone. I had a student membership to the AACC when I was taking some classes. 

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I am one of those who wants to keep religion out of therapy. However, I do talk to my minister often. She would never go against the plan of treatment advised by my therapist.

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11 hours ago, feministxtian said:

To be fair, my husband was in a secular psych facility and they almost killed him. 

I agree the importance of always being very vigilant about educating yourself about the facility where you or a loved one gets treated. Mentally suffering people are extremely vulberable. One incapable, careless, indifferent or overworked doctor can have a lethal effect. Regardless of it being a faith based facility or not.

Within my social circle people have had excellent experiences with faith based mental help. But these facilities were under government supervision and all therapists were licenced. They prided themselves not in giving a different kind of help, but giving regular mental health care with the free extras of (optional) prayer, personal attention, (optional) Bible study and a non-commercial, family atmosphere.

 

 

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On 4/29/2016 at 4:21 AM, RosyDaisy said:

I am one of those who wants to keep religion out of therapy. However, I do talk to my minister often. She would never go against the plan of treatment advised by my therapist.

my therapist did a really good job at letting people insert religion at different points of the recovery process.

He said when I am feeling very overwhelmed with anxiety I should have a phrase to repeat. He said I could use a prayer, a meditation word or phrase, a bible quote, lyrics to a song, a poem, etc. 

I'm not sure if I want to keep religion out of therapy, I've never gone to religious therapy, but I for sure want to include therapy in religion. No more of this "pray the mental illness away" or "you're only like this because you're a sinner" bullshit.

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I work for a completely secular agency, but we encourage people to incorporate the religious practices of their choosing into their mental health recovery if (and only if) that is something they want to do. There's a lot of evidence-based and anecdotal support behind that. Most therapists I know would support a client-directed incorporation of spirituality, whether or not the therapist personally shares those beliefs.

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45 minutes ago, Mercer said:

I work for a completely secular agency, but we encourage people to incorporate the religious practices of their choosing into their mental health recovery if (and only if) that is something they want to do. There's a lot of evidence-based and anecdotal support behind that. Most therapists I know would support a client-directed incorporation of spirituality, whether or not the therapist personally shares those beliefs.

definitely. i just thought it was nice that he would give me ideas to incorporate it if i so chose.

He said he worked with one person who had really bad anger issues and would get mad at teeny tiny things and he said when this person found themselves in one of those altercations they would say to themselves "These are not the droids you are looking for" and it really helped them!

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