I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 17. Since that time, I’ve continued learning and growing by reading the Bible and Christian books, attending church and listening to sermons, and applying what I learn to my life. I consider my faith to be a relevant part of who I am as a therapist, as God gives me insight, guidance, hope, and care in all I do.
I attended Azusa Pacific University for my PsyD degree because it was a Christian faith-based program. I wanted a Christian lens to understand human behavior, mental illness, and healing. The curriculum and research/training requirements were comparable to secular graduate psychology programs. The curriculum included 12 units (about 4 classes) of ethics and spiritual formation. Professors also shared how Christian values and beliefs applied to psychology theory and clinical skills.
Integration of Faith and Clinical Practice
Introduction To My Practice: I am trained as a Clinical Psychologist; I don't have a degree in pastoral or biblical counseling. I use evidence based practices, educating patients about the science behind the techniques, and discussing what would be most helpful. I disclose my Christian background on my website, professional profiles, and new patient forms. I leave it up to my patients to disclose their religious/spiritual beliefs and the role it plays in their journey. No matter what our personal beliefs are, the patient and I develop a safe, trusting relationship and work towards healing changes.
Mental Health: Religion and spirituality can be helpful or harmful for how someone copes with emotional distress. I help patients to identify how depressed or anxious thoughts and behaviors influence their spiritual beliefs, practices, and relationships and vice versa.
Physical Health: Therapy with me can be a support to achieve whole person health. There are so many physical symptoms and health conditions that interfere with emotional, relational, and spiritual functioning. Knowing how psychological coping can impact physical health can enhance one’s coping with these conditions and improve quality of life.
Relationships With God and Others: Our relationship with God and with others influences our mental health and vice versa as well. Clinical psychotherapy is not the same as biblical or pastoral counseling. Therapy can also be used to identify and overcome relationship barriers and facilitate personal growth and healing. Patients are encouraged to talk with trusted church goers, lay leaders, or other local church leaders/pastors/priests as appropriate.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call or send me a note. I look forward to hearing from you ! - Dr. Melissa Soo Hoo
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