When Anthony Evans realized what he was taught in church about mental health wasn’t quite enough to deal with major depression and anxiety, he decided to seek help.
After working with Stacy Kaiser — a nationally known, licensed psychotherapist — Evans decided to share his experience and the practical solutions she taught him in the newly released book, “When Faith Meets Therapy.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health was a widespread issue. Since then, with the impact of financial and social complications, this struggle has only increased. However, even now, many Christians are hesitant about seeking help because of a perceived stigma.
Kaiser acknowledged, “There seems to be this stigma about therapy in some circles. I feel like our intention is to try to break that stigma and tell people that you really can find a counselor who can give space for your faith and anything else that’s important to you, while also finding practical tools to improve your life and overall happiness.”
Evans — the son of pastor, speaker, author Tony Evans — said he wanted to write the book because of how much therapy helped his faith, showing him practical solutions for difficult areas.
“‘Be anxious for nothing.’ For some of us reading that, we need tools to not be anxious,” Evans said.
“I don’t think there’s any rule against finding practical help from somebody who’s been trained the way the mind works and acknowledges faith to figure out a way to work that out.”
Some may say therapy has no role in the church, but Evans shares a different perspective.
“Proverbs 11 talks about wise counsel,” he said. “There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about wise counsel and the company you keep. I have seen God multiply the efforts that I have made in therapy by adding practical tools to His word.”
When Evans first realized he needed help, he was one of those hesitant to seek therapy because of what others might think.
“I just had to get to the point where it was like, OK … what others think about you has gotten you to the point where you’re functional, but your heart is heavy constantly, and you can barely handle yourself anymore because you’re worried about what others think,” Evans reflected. “So, how about you try a new pathway, because that’s not working.
“I think that there is no shame in admitting that you need practical tools to [get] help. That’s how I personally feel and that’s how I’ve experienced the benefit — is by not allowing shame to freeze me in my tracks.”
Kaiser also noted a person doesn’t have to tell anyone they’re seeking counseling. Most therapists will work with clients by allowing them to enter the office through a back door or a virtual option.
Another barrier to seeking help can be shame from feeling like a Christian should have it all together, Evans said.
“Shame sabotages grace,” he declared. “So allowing certain scenarios that make you feel very, very shameful will sabotage grace and stop you in your tracks.
“There is no shame in admitting you need help. There is no shame in the blind man saying, ‘I can’t see Jesus. Can you do a miracle?’ There was no shame with the woman with the issue of blood reaching out and touching Jesus — there was no shame with that.”
“I think people get caught up in, ‘Oh, I’m supposed to pray it away’ or ‘Oh, my family will judge me,’” Kaiser added. “People spend so much time worrying about what other people think or whether or not this is right, that they don’t attend to meeting their needs.”
In the introduction of “When Faith Meets Therapy,” Evans writes, “I began a long, downward spiral into functional depression and anxiety.”
He continued working in public, sharing the hope of Jesus, even while he felt he was dying inside.
“There are athletes that can tape up an ankle and get out on the courts to play,” Evans said. “My issue is that eventually I knew that there would be a larger injury if I kept playing injured. If I kept playing and patchworking my issues, there was going to be a major breakdown and I’d be pulled out of the game for good.”
In hindsight, Evans said he wishes he had gone to therapy earlier and added its helpful tools to his faith, and would like others to do so.
The book is “not just story time,” Evans said. “Stacy ends [each] chapter with a reflection and practical tools to actually get started on your own journey.”
“When Faith Meets Therapy” can be purchased through Amazon or wherever books are sold.