The Steps to Freedom in Christ
is a practical application of Heb. 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.
For basic information about FICM and what we are about, click here!
For more information on the Steps to Freedom in Christ, please visit this page.
To learn more about FICM’s Message, Method and Ministry, click here!
The Bible is the inspired, infallible, and only authoritative word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 17:17; Matthew 5:18)
There is one true God, eternally existing in three persons–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–each of whom possesses equally all the attributes of Deity and the characteristics of personality. (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Peter 1:4; John 10:27-30; Acts 5:3,4)
Jesus Christ is God, the living Word, who became flesh through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His virgin birth. Hence, He is perfect Deity and true humanity united in one person forever.(John 1:1-4; Matthew 1:21-23; Philippians 2:5-11)
He lived a sinless life and voluntarily atoned for the sins of men by dying on the cross as their substitute, thus satisfying divine justice and accomplishing salvation for all who trust in Him alone. (Isaiah 53:4-6; 1 Peter 2:24,25; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-18)
He rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6; Luke 24:36-43
He ascended bodily into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and man, continually makes intercession for His own. (Acts 1:9-11; Hebrews 1:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 7:25)
Each human being is wonderfully and immutably created by God as either genetically male or genetically female. These two distinct and complementary genders together reflect the image of God. (Genesis 1:26,27)
All human life is sacred and of inestimable value. That includes the pre-born, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, as well as every other stage or condition of humanity from conception through natural death. (Psalm 139)
The original man sinned by disobeying God; thus, he was alienated from his Creator. That historical fall brought all mankind under divine condemnation. (Genesis 3:8-12; Romans 5:12-14; Romans 6:23)
Man’s nature from Adam is corrupted, and he is thus totally unable to please God. Every man is in need of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:12; Titus 1:15,16; Romans 8:7,8; Hebrews 11:6; John 3:5,6; Titus 3:3-7)
The salvation of man is wholly a work of God’s free grace and is not the work, in whole or in part, of human works or goodness or religious ceremony. God imputes His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, and thereby justifies them in His sight. (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 11:5,6; Galatians 2:15,16; Romans 3:21-26)
All true believers in Christ are children of God, new creations in Christ, saints who are free to walk in newness of life in Him though never achieving sinless perfection in this life. (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 6:4-7; 1 John 1:8)
It is the privilege of all who are born again of the Spirit to be assured of their salvation from the very moment in which they trust Christ as their Savior. This assurance is not based upon any kind of human merit, but is produced by the witness of the Holy Spirit, who confirms in the believer the testimony of God in His written Word. (Romans 8:15,16; 1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24)
The Holy Spirit has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ and to apply the saving work of Christ to men. He convicts and draws sinners to Christ, imparts new life to them, continually indwells them from the moment of spiritual birth, and seals them until the day of redemption. His fullness, power, and control are appropriated in the believer’s life by faith. (John 15:26; John 16:7-11; John 3:5,6; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; Ephesians 1:13,14; Ephesians 5:18-21)
Every believer is called to live in the power of the indwelling Spirit so that he will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, but will bear fruit to the glory of God. (Galatians 5:16-23; 2 Corinthians 3:17,18)
God has established marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union between one genetic male and one genetic female.(Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, which is composed of all men, living and dead, who have been joined to Him through saving faith. (Ephesians 1:23,24; Colossians 1:18-20)
God admonishes His people to assemble together regularly for worship, for participation in ordinances, for edification through the Scriptures, and for mutual encouragement. (Hebrews 10:24,25; 1 Corinthians 11:22-26; Matthew 28:19; Colossians 3:16)
At physical death the believer enters immediately into eternal, conscious fellowship with the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his body to everlasting glory and blessing. (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57)
At physical death the unbeliever enters immediately into eternal, conscious separation from the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his body to judgment and everlasting condemnation. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15)
Jesus Christ will come again to the earth–personally, visibly, and bodily–to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. (Philippians 3:20,21; Ephesians 1:9,10; 1 Corinthians 15:20-29; Revelation 1:4-8; Revelation 22:20,21)
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded all believers to proclaim the gospel throughout the world and to disciple men of every nation. The fulfillment of that Great Commission requires that all worldly and personal ambitions be subordinated to a total commitment to “Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.” (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:27-29; Revelation 5:9,10; 2 Corinthians 5:11-16; Galatians 2:20)
If you are a Christian, then the statements below are true of you. If you are not a follower of Christ and would like to know more, click here…
I am accepted…
John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
I am secure…
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
I am significant…
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
To view and purchase an artistic print of these statements click here.
Your Invitation to Life
Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV). Have you discovered the joy and peace of personally accepting Jesus’ invitation to life? Perhaps you have believed in the existence of God and His Son and have tried to live a good life, but have never consciously invited Him to be your Savior and Lord. No matter who you are or what you have done, at this very moment, you too can make the decision of a lifetime. Right now Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. He offers you the same wonderful life which millions through the centuries have received with life-changing results. He has already paid the penalty for your sin. He is asking you, in the quiet of your heart, to put your trust in Him. Here are four spiritual points that will help you discover how to know God personally and experience the full life He promises.
1. God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you.
God’s Love: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASV). “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). God wants you to know Him. Why is it that most people do not have a personal relationship with God? Because:
2. Our sin cuts us off from God so we cannot have a personal relationship with Him and experience His love.
We have all sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, NASV). We were all created to have a personal relationship with God, because we all choose to go our own independent way, our relationship with God was broken. The fact that we are selfish and self-centered is obvious because we either rebel against God or don’t really care about Him. This is evidence of what the Bible calls “sin.” We are cut off from God. “The wages of sin is death…” [spiritual separation from God] (Rom. 6:23). God is holy (pure and sinless) and we are sinful. A great gap cuts us off from God because He cannot tolerate sin. People often try to find a full and meaningful life through their own efforts. They try to live a good life or be religious. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one way to bridge this gap.
3. Jesus Christ is God’s only cure for our sin. Through Him you can know God personally and experience His love.
Jesus died in our place. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, NASV). Jesus rose from the dead. “…Christ died for our sins . . . He was buried . . . He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred . . .” (1 Cor. 15:3-6, NASV). Jesus is the only way to God. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6, NASV). God has done the work to bridge the gap which cuts us off from Him. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sin. But it is not enough just to know these truths. We must take the next step . . . and “cross the bridge.”
4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.
We must receive Christ. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASV). We receive Christ by personal invitation. Thus, receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins so that we can begin our personal relationship with Him. Just to know in your mind that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will. Would you like to accept Jesus’ invitation to life? You can receive Jesus Christ right now by faith through prayer. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Millions of people all around the world have already found new life in Christ. Here is a suggested prayer which can help you express your trust in Jesus, too:
The vision of FICM-USA is to establish and nurture a growing network of Community Freedom Ministries all across the nation. (Click the following link to view the FICM brochure: view the PDF.
FICM has always been committed to teaching the message of freedom, taking people through The Steps to Freedom in Christ and training individuals to use the “Steps” in their personal ministries. That has never changed. What has changed and is new (since 2010) is the vehicle by which people across the nation can be trained to not only help individuals find freedom, but also start and grow a healthy, viable freedom ministry in their home church or hometown.
For years, God’s people have been encouraged and strengthened by the books and teaching conferences FICM has produced and conducted. And many have learned how to minister freedom to others through our “encourager training.” But the most common heart cry of people over the years has been, “How do I get this started back home?”
Now FICM-USA has the tools and training needed to answer that question.
The mission of FICM-USA is to help people realize their new identity and freedom in Christ. Click the following link to view the FICM brochure: view the PDF.
Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM) was founded by Dr. Neil T. Anderson in 1989 while he was professor of practical theology at Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA. Dr. Anderson observed that Christian students did not know who they were in Christ and were not connecting with God in that intimate “Abba! Father!” relationship. As the result, he began teaching a course at the graduate level entitled “Resolving Personal and Spiritual Conflicts.” The response was overwhelming and soon Dr. Anderson began teaching this message of our identity, position, authority and victory in Christ in churches across the nation and around the world.
Out of this growing ministry, two best-selling books: Victory Over the Darkness and The Bondage Breaker were published in 1990 and updated in 2000. In addition, a practical, transferable tool, The Steps to Freedom in Christ, was developed and has been used globally as a thorough moral and spiritual inventory, inviting God’s people to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). The “Steps” is a guideline for repentance, providing opportunity for followers of Christ to walk in freedom so that they can grow and become fruitful disciples of Jesus. Since that time scores of other freedom resources have been written, published, translated and used around the world.
Originally, the headquarters of FICM-USA was located in La Habra, CA but is now in Knoxville, TN. FICM is now an international ministry with offices in the UK, India, Switzerland and Canada and has many representatives throughout the rest of the world. FICM-USA is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
Biblical churches in America have done a great job of preaching the gospel from their pulpits, and many people have been saved. In other words, evangelism has been strong. But discipleship, by and large, has been failing as many of God’s people struggle to move on spiritually. Church leaders long to see their people grow up and mature in Christ but too often it’s just not happening. What’s the problem? There is an overlooked link, a missing ingredient…a bypassed bridge…between salvation in Christ and maturity in Christ. And that is experiencing the freedom that Jesus alone can give. Without discovering the truth that sets us free, we cannot grow to full maturity in Christ.
Most of God’s people are spiritually stuck, running in place – expending a lot of energy but getting nowhere fast. Some are painfully aware of their struggles and yearn to be free from the guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, abuse and addictions that are suffocating their souls. Others are largely clueless … even complacent about their struggles … having accepted as normal a subnormal life in Christ, where faith is lived out on Sunday mornings but is largely irrelevant the rest of the week.
Believers need help to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles” them so that they can run with endurance the race set before them, with their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1,2). Spiritual freedom is necessary for believers in Christ to become growing, fruitful disciples, but is the “missing ingredient” in most Christians’ lives. Jesus Christ has come to bind up broken hearts and set captives free (Isaiah 61:1) to become growing, fruitful disciples. Followers of Christ desperately need to understand who they are in Christ; make that “Abba! Father!” connection with God as Father; and win the spiritual battles for their minds.
FAITH BASED INTERVENTION IN DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND OTHER MENTAL DISTURBANCES
George A. Hurst, MD, FACP, FCCP; Marion G. Williams, BS; Judith E. King, LMSW, ACSW; and *Richard Viken, MD
From the Office of the Director Emeritus and the *Department of Family Practice,
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler
Reprint requests to George A. Hurst, MD, University of Texas Health Center at Tyler 11937 US Highway 271, Tyler, Texas 75708-3154
Supported by Grants from Watson W. Wise Foundation, The Cain Foundation, Robert M. Rogers Foundation, East Texas Communities Foundation, and Willingham Foundation to the Ministry of Healing, and the R.W. Fair Foundation to the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler.
None of the authors have any commercial interest in Freedom in Christ Ministries, Ministry of Healing, or materials mentioned in the manuscript.
The Texas study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Regent University Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Objective: To determine if the effects of using the Steps to Freedom would be beneficial for a group of individuals who attended a Christian Conference.
Methods: A user-friendly 12-item questionnaire was used to monitor the outcomes of Steps to Freedom addressing six Symptom/Behavioral problems and six Function Areas. In addition, the Symptom Checklist-90 R (SCL-90-R) questionnaire was employed to document the validity of the shorter questionnaire. The questionnaires were completed before and after the administration of the Steps to Freedom. The Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Test was used to measure the significance of the findings for the 12-item questionnaire.
Results: 33 clients who went through the Steps to Freedom showed statistically significant improvement (P<0.005) at 3-4 months in all Symptom/Behavior categories (items 1-6). All Function Areas (items 7-12) also demonstrated statistically significant improvement (P≤0.05). A comparison group who did not attend the conference or receive counseling showed no significant changes during the same period.
Conclusion: These significant preliminary findings need to be confirmed by additional studies. Steps to Freedom model prayers, utilized by individual patients personally and/or with a counselor, could expand the care and hopefully lower the cost of mental illness.
In 2002, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, one in five adult Americans experienced a mental health disorder each year. Sadly, less than a third of these adults and even fewer children receive any mental health services.1 Mental disorder frequency is increasing. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 2007 reports that an estimated one in four (26.2 per cent) Americans 18 and older suffer from a diagnosis of a mental disorder each year. Mood disorders (depression) and anxiety disorders, the two most common mental illnesses, affect 20.9 million and 40 million American adults annually.2 Anxiety disorders include the following: generalized anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.2 In 1998 the reported total yearly cost for mental illness in both the private and public sectors in the U.S. was $205 billion with $92 billion coming from direct treatment costs and the remaining coming from lost productivity, crime and welfare costs.3
There has been an interest in the study of the relationship between religion and/or spirituality and health for 35 years with research reporting a connection between religion and health.4-7 Most of the studies that have addressed the relationship between religion and health have been what Johnson describes as “organic religion.”8 That is, the influence of religion practiced over time in an array of social and behavioral outcomes. A review of 669 studies of organic religion revealed that a higher religious involvement is associated with: less depression, reduced likelihood of suicide, as well as other health and social benefits.8 The studies also reported increased levels of well-being, meaning in life and other benefits.
In contrast to organic religion, Johnson states that there has been an overlooked dimension of the outcomes of religion in what is referred to as “intentional religion.”8 Intentional religion is the exposure to religion one receives at a particular time in life for a particular purpose. Examples would be faith-based programs to combat delinquency or drug use among teens,9 and to reduce recidivism rates in post release prisoners.10 Johnson found the two year post-release reincarceration rate among InnerChange Freedom Initiative graduates from Texas was 60 percent less compared to a matched comparison group.10 Steps to Freedom in Christ is an example of intentional religion. Steps to Freedom, when utilized by a counselor to facilitate the use of model prayers with a client, has been described as Discipleship Counseling.11
Certain disciplines of religion such as prayer and the act of forgiving and their impact on physical and psychological health have been studied many years.12-14 Lack of studies of intentional religion is particularly noticeable in the area of emotional/mental outcomes. With the cooperation of an interdenominational faith based organization, Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM), we surveyed outcomes of Steps to Freedom (Discipleship Counseling) in a multi-center study.15
This study used a new 12 item Likert scale questionnaire designed to test whether a faith-based intervention would have a positive effect in individuals with a variety of emotional/mental and behavioral difficulties. The outcome study was carried out on 33 individuals who attended a Living Free in Christ Conference in Edmond, Oklahoma or in Tyler, Texas. The three and one-half day conferences dealt with issues relating to resolving personal and spiritual conflicts. The conference subject is expounded in the books “Victory Over the Darkness” and “The Bondage Breaker” by Anderson.16,17
Announcements were made in the general session offering conference attendees an opportunity to make an individual appointment with a counselor. All of the individuals desiring to become clients filled out a “Request for Conference Appointment” (Figure 1). The conference staff verified the information and interviewed each group member. The process resulted in the selection of 38 clients in Oklahoma and 40 clients in Texas from the larger groups by the coordinator. The selection was made on the basis of the following priorities: 1) presence of significant depression including suicidal tendencies, anxiety and other typical presenting problems; 2) availability of the client during the three days following the conference. The clients were matched (women with women counselors) with trained lay (un-licensed) counselors.
A comparison “control” group consisted of 40 volunteers who attended the Tyler, Texas host church on the Sunday after the conclusion of the conference. These individuals had not attended the conference and had never gone through the Steps to Freedom.
Study participants were asked to read and sign an Adult Consent Form.
Steps to Freedom Format
Each Step to Freedom appointment utilizes prayers to ask forgiveness and have faith in God to enable clients to address and resolve past and present personal and spiritual problems. Steps to Freedom appointments were offered free of charge and lasted approximately 6 or 7 hours. In Discipleship Counseling literature, the lay counselors are referred to as encouragers and clients are referred to as counselees.11 Steps to Freedom addresses seven areas of beliefs and practices, and the details are outlined in chapter 13 of “The Bondage Breaker”17
A 12-item questionnaire was completed before the appointment. At the conclusion of the Steps to Freedom session the client was given a post appointment questionnaire and a self-addressed stamped envelope and asked to return the questionnaire in 7 days. Another post appointment questionnaire with a self-addressed stamped envelope was mailed 3-4 months later to each client. In Texas, each client and comparison (control) member was also given the SCL-90-R questionnaire along with the 12-item questionnaire. The lengthy SCL-90-R questionnaire has been subjected to extensive research, and has demonstrated scientifically acceptable validity and reliability.
The 12-item study questionnaire refined and expanded a 10-item questionnaire developed by coauthor JEK. Items 1-6 deal with problem Symptom/Behavior patterns. Items 7-12 reflect Function status in emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual areas of life. Pilot studies using both the 10 item and 12-item questionnaires were carried out in Michigan.18
A Psy D graduate student from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA analyzed the Texas data to determine the validity of the 12- item questionnaire compared to the SCL-90-R results in his dissertation.19 The averaged correlations between the first six items of the 12-item questionnaire and selected SCL-90-R measures are: Depression with Depression (0.721, P≤.000), Anxiety with Phobic Anxiety (O.724, P≤.000), Fear with Anxiety (0.740, P≤.000), Anger with Hostility (0.657, P≤.000), Tormenting Thoughts and Voices with Psychoticism (0.723, P≤.000), Habits and Behavior with Obsessive-Compulsive (0.521, P≤.000). Most SCL-90-R items did not match well with items 7-12 (Function status) of the 12-item questionnaire.
The changes in the pre- and post- (3-4 mos.) questionnaire replies to each item were tested for significance using the Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Test20 at the P< 0.05 level. This test is a nonparametric analog to the paired-sample t test and was used because the data provided the magnitude and direction of the changes.
Data from 33 clients at 3-4 months are depicted in Table 1. The post-counseling percent decrease (improvement) in Symptom/Behavior was: ─49% for Depression, ─44% for Anxiety, ─49% for Fear (irrational), ─45% for Anger (unhealthy), ─42% for Tormenting Thoughts and Voices, and ─46% for Habits and Behavior. All the changes were statistically significant for all categories at P ≤0.005. Statistically significant changes P ≤0.05 (improvement) occurred in all of the six Function areas. The greatest percent improvement was in Self-esteem (+45) and Satisfactory Relationships (+42).
The comparison group, which received no counseling (Table 1), showed some changes at 3 months which were not significant. Anxiety, Habits and Behavior scores increased.
The study results have demonstrated that clients receiving Steps to Freedom Counseling had significant decreases in all Symptom/Behavior categories at 3-4 months along with improvement in Function areas. The appointment length is designed to assist the client to explore every important area of beliefs and practices and to identify and resolve the hurts in their life. Whether the improved Symptom/Behavior scores resulted in betterment of Function Areas or vice/versa is not known. It is known that an individual’s spiritual, psychological and physical conditions are interrelated and affect self-esteem and various life functions.
Secondary study benefits were: the demonstration of the validity of the short 12-item questionnaire and that trained laypersons can serve as counselors. Most patients suffer from more than one negative Symptom/Behavior problem and the ability to use single questions to identify and quantify these Symptom/Behavior categories could prove useful.
There were study limitations including: possible client selection bias, the absence of a randomized control group, lack of clinical information regarding clients, and decreasing survey response from post 1 week to 3-4 months. Therefore, these preliminary results need further confirmation.
. We cannot with certainty attribute all positive results to what the client accomplished during the counseling session. Some of the Symptoms/Behaviors such as depression could have improved with time, but they also could have become worse. However, based on the Comparison group results, it seems unlikely that all the Symptom/Behavior categories would have improved with time without intervention.
Treatments for Anxiety disorders are benzodiazepines and anti-depression medications, especially those that increase serotonin (SSRI). Benzodiazepines can be habit forming. Any benefit from Steps to Freedom that would decrease or eliminate the dependency on medication has positive potential.
A majority of patients with depression have their initial medical contact with primary care physicians (PCPs) who have little or no time to provide counseling.21 Counseling has been shown to provide additional benefit to a SSRI medication in a study of chronic major depression.22 In addition to considering psychotherapy, the PCPs should refer patients with thoughts of suicide and/or harm to others to a psychiatrist.
A spiritual history of about four questions is recommended to be a part of a patient’s work up.23,24 One may need to ask only one or two questions to determine a patient’s beliefs and/or religious background as part of obtaining the initial personal/social history.25 A proposed ethic for physicians obtaining information about patient’s spiritual/religious matters has been addressed.13,25,26 If the spiritual history reveals an appropriate candidate for Christian faith-based intervention, the physician could recommend the following: suggest the patient obtain and read the book which contains the Steps to Freedom and follow the suggested prayers.17Additional information regarding the availability of Discipleship Counseling services can be provided by the FICM in Knoxville, TN.25
This outcome survey of the impact of Steps to Freedom on emotional/mental disorders reveals significant decrease in all problem Symptom/Behavior categories. There was also an associated improvement in Function areas. These benefits, we believe, are related to the client’s participation in the Steps to Freedom appointment. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary data. Steps to Freedom can be recommended in addition to medications and psychotherapy in mental/behavior disturbances and could reduce the cost of mental illness.
The authors are grateful to Hal Parks for coordinating the Steps to Freedom appointments, the many lay counselors, clients and comparison members for participating in the study, Dr. Fernando Garzon and Robert Kenneth Crabtree (PsyD candidate) for providing important questionnaire analyses, Tom Craig for supplying reference material, the several funding sources, Marsha Buchheit for administrative help during the study and Donna Patillo for technical support.
Table 1. Counseled and Comparison Group Results (post 3-4 months, 3 months)
Counseled Group N=33 Comparison Group N=18
Symptom/Behavior* Pre Post % Change** Pre Post % Change**
1. Depression (hopelessness) 4.79 2.45 -49*** 2.28 2.11 -07
2. Anxiety 5.12 2.85 -44*** 2.28 2.78 +22
3. Fear (irrational) 4.39 2.24 -49*** 1.61 1.61 00
4. Anger (unhealthy) 4.55 2.52 -45*** 2.17 2.22 +03
5. Tormenting Thoughts 4.53 2.64 -42*** 1.44 1.22 -15
6. Habits and Behavior over 4.59 2.48 -46*** 2.00 2.41 +21
which you have little control
*1 is no problem, 10 is severe; ** – Signifies improvement; ***Changes were significant at P
Counseled Group N=33 Comparison Group N=18
Function in Following Areas* Pre Post % Change** Pre Post % Change**
7. Self-esteem 5.50 7.97 +45*** 8.11 8.67 +07
8. Ability to Function in 7.30 8.30 +14*** 9.00 9.33 +04
9. Satisfactory Relationships 5.59 7.91 +42*** 8.28 8.56 +03
10. Physical Health 5.70 7.70 +35*** 7.72 7.83 +01
11. Bible Study and Prayer 6.48 7.85 +21*** 7.72 8.17 +06
12. Reality of God in your life 7.05 8.73 +24*** 9.22 9.28 +01
*1 is not well, 10 is very well; ** + Signifies improvement; ***These changes were significant at P
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