One of the driving questions for Dr. Karl Benzio, the Medical Director of the American Association for Christian Counselors (AACC), is how faith-based and scientifically minded professionals can come together to “have more synergy” in the field. The AACC is an organization that brings education, advocacy, support, and clinical services to a wide array of professionals, volunteers, and laypersons who seek to integrate faith and science into their vocations.
In this video, Dr. Benzio describes how “spiritual belief system[s]” can affect a person’s decision-making ability and brain chemistry. Because of this unique connection, Dr. Benzio advocates for blending “faith” and the “scientific understanding of the mind” together into a holistic care approach. Even though he has witnessed the benefits of faith-based practices, Dr. Benzio warns that the behavioral health establishment has not completely opened the door to the spiritual domain. In response to current restrictions, the AACC seeks to inform individuals of their legal rights to use faith-based curriculums or content in their work. Clinicians also frequently struggle with knowing whether they can use personal or spiritual self-disclosures in their sessions. A common result of this uncertainty is that patients miss out on opportunities to connect with their providers on a deeper level.
In addition to working with clinicians, the AACC supports laypeople who are interested in using faith elements in their vocational or volunteer lives. Dr. Benzio describes what continuing education opportunities are available through the AACC, including national and international conferences that offer tracks in various specialty areas to help you apply what you’ve learned in the setting of your choice.
Along with his duties as the Medical Director of the AACC, Dr. Karl Benzio is also the founder of Lighthouse Network and a Christian psychiatrist. He has consulted with church leaders and clinicians about openly exploring the benefits of psychological and spiritual approaches. If you’d like to read more about the opportunities available at the AACC, we encourage you to visit the AACC’s website.