As we were driving on a remote two-lane highway in western Wyoming to visit family in Montana, the front right tire of our van blew out. We kept control of the vehicle. Fortunately, we were blessed not to land at the bottom of a steep ditch. This road was so remote that we did not see a single car during the time it took to change the tire. Changing the tire was not optional. It had to be done. All four tires make the vehicle drivable. And we had miles to go. Without further incident, I got the tire changed and we got to our destination safely.
In psychotherapy, there are also “four tires” for stability and a smooth ride; a person needs to be well physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For many decades, psychologists purposely avoided religion and spirituality in clinical practice. Some early psychology leaders such as Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner had a dislike or aversion to religion or perhaps because psychologists generally lacked training in this area.1 In the past, some even considered religion as a symptom of mental illness.2 Finally, in the last 25 years or so, psychiatrists and therapists have recognized the role of spirituality in both assessment and treatment. This has become obvious by the numerous recent books and articles written on spiritual and religious values in counseling.3 As a therapist, my job is not to impose my values on my clients, but it is important to discover how their spirituality affects their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Flats Fixed Here
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, every six months we have the wonderful opportunity to receive guidance, counsel, and instruction from the Lord through His servants: prophets, apostles, and church leaders, to pump up our tires and to fix flats so we can reach our heavenly destination safely.
We find that we are not the only ones struggling with difficult issues: anxiety, depression, stress, relationships, struggling with perfectionism and scrupulosity, recovering from trauma, abuse, and addiction, dealing with grief and mourning, seeking peace and joy. Here are some of my favorites:
Just like you, the women of the previous Relief Society General Presidency and Board have experienced the ups and downs of mortality. No matter what, we can all find joy in Jesus Christ. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2019-05-1000-just-like-you?lang=eng
Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me! By Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, October 2019 General Conference. I testify that “thru cloud and sunshine” the Lord will abide with us, that our “afflictions [can be] swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me! (churchofjesuschrist.org)
Broken Things to Mend, Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up.
Overcome Fear and Commit to Christ, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Jan. 12 2020 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults. Anyone who truly does commit to Christ, to full discipleship, cannot fail. https://www.thechurchnews.com/living-faith/2020-01-12/elder-christofferson-worldwide-devotional-young-adults-fear-commitment-choice-171611
Until Seventy Times Seven By Elder Lynn G. Robbins Of the Presidency of the Seventy, General Conference April 2018. Amid a life full of stumbling blocks and imperfection, we all are grateful for second chances. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/until-seventy-times-seven?lang=eng
Agency and Anger, Elder Lynn G. Robbins Of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, General Conference April 1998. A cunning part of [Satan’s] strategy is to dissociate anger from agency, making us believe that we are victims of an emotion that we cannot control. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1998/04/agency-and-anger?lang=eng
Perfection Pending, Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference, October 1995. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1995/10/perfection-pending?lang=eng
He Is Risen with Healing in His Wings By Elder Patrick Kearon, Of the Presidency of the Seventy
General Conference, April 2022. Jesus has overcome the abuses of this world to give you power to not only survive but one day, through Him, to overcome and even conquer. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/24kearon?lang=eng
Doors of Death, Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference, 5 April 1992. We need not look upon death as an enemy. With full understanding and preparation, faith supplants fear. Hope displaces despair. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1992/04/doors-of-death?lang=eng
Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
General Conference, October 2017. If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2017/10/be-ye-therefore-perfect-eventually?lang=eng
Slow to Anger, President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference October 2007. May the Lord bless you and inspire you to walk without anger. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2007/10/slow-to-anger?lang=eng
Worthiness Is Not Flawlessness By Bradley R. Wilcox, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, General Conference, October 2021. When you feel like you have failed too many times to keep trying, remember Christ’s Atonement and the grace it makes possible are real. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/35wilcox?lang=eng
Be of Good Cheer, By President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, October 2020 General Conference. Our unshakable faith in the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ guides our steps and gives us joy. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/36oaks?lang=eng
Joy and Spiritual Survival By President Russell M. Nelson President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference October 2016. When the focus of our lives is on Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/10/joy-and-spiritual-survival?lang=eng
As we enjoy General Conference and receive guidance and counsel and spiritual impressions specifically tailored to our questions and needs, may the Lord bless us to fix our flats to help us safely reach our eternal destination.
[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]
- Abraham Verghese, Spirituality and mental health, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2008 Oct-Dec; 50(4): 233-237.) (Retrieved 3/21/2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755140/)
- Gerald Corey, Integrating Spirituality in Counseling Practice, Article 25, VISTAS Online, American Counseling Association, retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/integrating-spirituality-in-counseling-practice.pdf?sfvrsn=7ddd7e2c_10.)
- Kenneth I. Pargament, What Role Do Religion and Spirituality Play In Mental Health?, American Pshychological Association, 2013, retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/03/religion-spirituality)