Many of you realize that a group of us started an in-patient psychiatric unit in a Franciscan Hospital in 1989. In fact, we developed and oversaw one for teens and one for adults. It was a great experience that brought growth and healing to many people.
We knew nothing about the "Medical Model" and I was quite anxious because of my ignorance. I thought there must be something almost magical about the doctors and nurses who ran a hospital. Since they were treating the most distressed and dysfunctional people in a community they must know some deep dark secrets that the rest of us missed in graduate school.
I read everything I could get my hands on about how to build a therapeutic community and I read a lot of outcome research. (Research about what kind of counseling really helps people get better.)
What I read reinforced what I already believed and what I had done at my church. The most important factors were a combination of things not just one thing. For example, I assumed that the great insight and wisdom of the medical staff, including their knowledge of what medicines to use, was the single most important aspect of healing.
I was wrong. The most important factor is the Motivational Level of the Patient and the Support of Family, Friends and Associates other than the clinical staff. In other words, we needed to make sure the Patient was motivated to get better and motivated to help others get better. By giving, serving and loving the other patients each person helped himself.
So, we taught the patients how to love, serve and care for each other.
This also reinforced and supported the other key factor, having a strong support system. Remember, patients spend more time with other patients than anyone else. Doctors spend a few minutes each day with patients and Counselors and social workers a bit more. Nurses are with patients for eight hours but not with every patient alone.
Patients are with other patients all the time so we needed to train all of them how to listen, love and pray for one another. We did and it was a marvellous thing to behold.
Who spends the most time with church members? Pastors? Sunday school teachers? Small group leaders? All of these folks are important and influential in the church but not as important as family, friends and colleagues. So, we need to train EVERY MEMBER to care, love and pray for one another.