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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Babies on the Therapeutic Couch

  • Paul Dean

    Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.

  • 2006 Oct 31
  • Comments

 

Psychotherapy doesn't necessarily require the probing of one's past any more. Of course, that development depends upon the age of the patient. Consider this new trend with a couple of excerpts from a news piece out of London with a few thoughts to follow.

 

According to the Telegraph in an article entitled "Babies on the Couch," "Tots as young as a few months old are being taken for psychotherapy, and not just in America..."

 

In a specific case: "Toby was eating well, sleeping soundly and was, generally, at one with the world. He did, however, have a seemingly insoluble problem that was causing him quite a bit of anxiety: he wasn't bonding with Sahar, the woman he loved most in the world. Therapy seemed the obvious, 21st century solution. Over the next 11 months, he spent several sessions with Dr Stella Acquarone, a psychologist and psychotherapist, at her private mental health clinic. Not only did his difficulties disappear, but his relationship with Sahar flourished into a loving, life-long bond."

 

Don't miss this:

 

"Toby began his therapy when he was just one month old, at Dr Acquarone's parent-infant clinic at the School of Infant Mental Health in Hampstead, north London. His parents are among an increasing number who believe that good mental health cannot be established early enough."

 

Or this:

 

"For Miss Mientakeivitch, 34 when Toby was born, the bond between mother and son was not established at birth. Suffering post-natal depression, she had panic attacks and suicidal thoughts at what she, wrongly, believed was her incompetence as a mother."

 

"In America, where therapy is, perhaps, still more common than in Britain, the notion that one had to wait until a child was at least five before tackling emotional problems is now considered out of date. "There is a growing awareness that we can identify mental health problems in infants and toddlers and that early intervention is very important," says Dr Joy Osofsky, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Louisiana State University, one of America's foremost experts on infant mental health."

 

What are we to make of such convoluted thinking? Of infant mental health?

 

First, consider the age at which Toby entered psychotherapy: just one month. The baby cannot even roll over but can begin therapy and be given a psychological diagnosis? Such a notion points to the psychologized worldview embraced by most. No biblical doctrine can be more easily defended by a vast measure of overwhelming evidence gleaned through simple observation than that of the total depravity of man and the accompanying noetic effects of sin. It is that reality that fuels the mad rush into psychological oblivion.

 

Second, how does one "establish good mental health" at the age of one month? "Well Doc, my experience in the womb wasn’t all that great. It was generally damp and cramped. I couldn’t wait to get out. Do you think I’m claustrophobic?"

 

Third, is it not reasonable to assume that a panicked and suicidal mother would have trouble bonding with her one month old baby? The immediate conclusion or underlying assumption was that something must be mentally wrong with the child: a child who was otherwise a healthy baby, (one who was "eating well, sleeping soundly and was, generally, at one with the world)." A psychological mindset is no benign opinion or set of opinions. Such a mindset necessarily eschews personal responsibility and seeks to lay blame at the feet of someone or something else. Furthermore, it seeks to create problems where there are none. Of course, when real problems exist, the root and cure are missed completely. Christian leaders and indeed all Christians who integrate worldly philosophy into their counseling must carefully consider the presuppositions upon which psychology is founded and the resulting applications that are by nature destructive of genuine health of the soul. "Blessed his he who walks not after the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1)."

 

Fourth, Dr. Joy Osofsky asserts, "There is a growing awareness that we can identify mental health problems in infants and toddlers and that early intervention is very important." As always, the question remains: what is the objective data upon which this assertion is made? Awareness is the wrong word. There is no doubt a growing faith commitment to a false worldview in opposition to Christ, but certainly not awareness. In the end, we must remember that "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3)."

 

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