Saints who Struggled with Mental Illness

On All Saints' Day, we wanted to share with you the profiles of four saints who are patrons of those who struggle with mental illness as a source of hope and intercession. 

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

St. Benedict Joseph Labre, “The Beggar of Rome”, was born in 1748 in Amettes, France.  As one of 18 children, he left home at a young age to study under his uncle to become a priest.  After several years of studying and not being accepted into an order, Labre left everything behind to devote himself to the Church, with special devotions to the Blessed Mother and the Blessed Sacrament.  Labre spent his life traveling from shrine to shrine through Europe relying only on the generosity of others. As a beggar he slept on the street and begged for sustenance. However, he was known to share what little he had with those around him.  In his 30’s Labre slept in the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, until he died in 1783 at the young age of 35. St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint for those living with mental illness and the homeless.

Prayer to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money, and home for love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by. Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us. Amen  

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna was an Irish girl with lived in the 7th century.  She was the daughter of a pagan king, Damon, and a Christian mother.  At a young age Dymphna devoted herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity.  When her mother died, her father, who’s mental illness with progressively getting worse, looked for a new bride that looked like his late wife.  After not finding a woman who bore his late wife’s resemblance, Damon became infatuated with his daughter Dymphna because of her resemblance. At the age of 14, Dymphna fled Ireland to escape her father and settled in Geel, Belgium where she opened a hospice and for the poor and sick.  After her father searched for and found her, he was enraged that she would not return home with him and beheaded her. To this day the town of Geel, Belgium has become a hub for those who are suffering from mental illness to seek refuge and healing. Saint Dymphna is the patroness of those who suffer from mental and nervous disorders.

Prayer to Saint Dymphna

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need.  [Mention it.] Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. [Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be.] Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.  

Saint Christina the Astonishing

Saint Christina the Astonishing was born in Brustem, Belgium in 1150.  In her early 20’s she suffered a seizure and was pronounced dead. During her funeral, she arouse from her coffin during the liturgy and was completely healed and full of vigor.  Saint Christina said that while she was dead she visited Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. She was given the option to stay in heaven or continue her life on earth as penance for the souls in Purgatory.  She spent the rest of her life performing acts of penance such as throwing herself into fire and rivers and living in poverty. She was imprisoned on two occasions for being a danger and being mentally ill.  She died of natural causes at the age of 74. She is a patron saint of those who live with mental illness.  

Prayer to Saint Christina the Astonishing

St. Christina, you lived a life of poverty and loneliness in the eyes of others.  But you knew that in the eyes of God, you were wealthy and has His love and the companionship of saints and angels.  Help us to see beyond the things of the world and to realize we are never alone. Pray that we remember to offer up our sufferings for those who do not see beyond the material and who are seeking love and fulfillment, that they may come to know God and realize that they are never alone. Saint Christina the Astonishing, pray for us.  

Venerable Matt Talbot

Matt Talbot was a man who lived in Ireland from 1856-1924.  He came from a family of heavy drinkers and at the young age of 13 was considered a hopeless alcoholic.  When Matt turned 28 he decided to take the pledge and commit to a life of sobriety. For the last forty years of his life Matt remained sober, finding strength in prayer, daily mass, and religious studies.  Matt was a hard worker working in the timber yard and choosing the most difficult jobs. After his death Matt was regarded for his piety and a bridge was named after him in Dublin. Although not yet canonized, he may be considered a patron for those suffering from alcoholism and addictions.  

Prayer to Venerable Matt Talbot

Lord, in your servant, Matt, Talbot, you have given us a wonderful example of triumph over addiction, of devotion to duty, and of lifelong reverence for the Most Holy Sacrament.  May his life of prayer and penance give us the courage to take up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Father, if it be your will that your beloved servant should be glorified by your Church, make known by your heavenly favors that power he enjoys in your sight. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. ---- Divine Mercy University offers psychology and counseling graduate-level degrees that help train students to become mental health professionals.
Request degree information today to help those who suffer from mental illness.

Why Values Fail & Virtues Succeed in Marriage

Personal values may be why 50% of marriages fail. Behind the smiles of the family portrait lies the stress from the trials of raising a family that can weigh heavily on the family as a whole, from economics and finances to the fast-paced environment and differing values. These trials can create a great tension within the family and, if they’re not addressed, could bring devastating complications and outcomes including troubled marriages, separation and divorce. Contributing columnist for Catholic Moral Theology suggests that the problem leading to struggling marriages and a decline in family and relationship values is a confusion between “values” and “virtues.” In his article “Family Virtues Not Family Values,” David Cloutier describes virtue as “a habit, a settled disposition, a kind of ‘second nature’ that inclines a person to respond in particular ways and not others.” Like most habits, they need to be repeated in order for them to become second nature, much like the professional athlete who constantly trains in order to maintain the ability to perform at the highest level. Virtues are crucial to marriage and family life, and can only really be developed through generating a culture of virtue that’s reinforced throughout the whole of life. In the Online Master’s in Psychology program, you can gain the skills necessary to decrease the alarming rate of divorce by getting an understanding of vocations and virtues and how they align with human behavior.  

Abuse & Trauma in the Church: DMU Responds

“Kresta In the Afternoon” host Al Kresta interviews Fr. Charles Sikorsky, President of Divine Mercy University, concerning the abuse scandal in the Church. Live from the Authentic Catholic Reform Conference: https://rn189-f69d0b.pages.infusionsoft.net/ Al Kresta: Hi! Good afternoon! I’m Al Kresta here in Washington, D.C., at the Conference on Authentic Catholic Reform, sponsored by the Napa Institute. With me right now, Father Charles Sikorsky, who is president of Divine Mercy University, and you can learn by going to divinemercy.edu. Great to see you again! Fr. Sikorsky: Nice to see you, Al! Al Kresta:  We usually run into each other in California at the Napa Institute. Fr. Sikorsky: Normally California, yes. Al Kresta: I think we’ve run into each other at other conferences too. Fr. Sikorsky: We have! Al Kresta: But it’s good to be with you here. Let me just ask: Divine Mercy University...when a crisis like this comes about, that seems to touch Catholics everywhere--institutions, individuals--what does Divine Mercy University offer to help us in the midst of a crisis like this? Fr. Sikorsky: Yes. So, we are a graduate-level university; we have have two masters programs and a doctoral program that are focused on psychology and professional counseling, based on a Catholic understanding of the human person, and what a Catholic view of flourishing is, which is fundamental to doing psychology well, it’s fundamental to doing therapy well and counseling well. One of the areas is we also have a center for trauma and resiliency studies. So our students are trained in a way where not only do they appreciate what the human nature really is, but also how trauma plays into that. Or, excuse me, how much trauma is out there. So they’re trained very well to be able to treat victims of abuse; to understand the causes, to help others understand how to deal with victims of abuse, all kinds of abuse and trauma. So that’s one area where we’re really able to help. Al Kresta: And this is a unique type of trauma, too, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not only the psychological dimension of this but, for a victim who’s been abused by clergy, they’ve been abused in that area of their whole idea of the sacred. You know what I’m saying? It’s not just “some authority figure who abused me”, it’s “somebody who stood in the place of Christ abused me”.     Fr. Sikorsky: It’s aggravated trauma, you could call it, because of that. I mean, it’s bad enough as it is, but when you also throw in that spiritual element--that betrayal of such a sacred nature--it just really destroys a person. Right now, we have about 325 students. Virtually all of them are really solid Catholics who understand the importance of faith, the importance of spirituality, and I think that helps them and gives them a better, different perspective on this, and a different ability to help people heal. And a whole sense of the healing would be not only psychological, but also emotionally, spiritually, and so forth. Al Kresta: Do you have any clergy that you teach? Fr. Sikorsky: We do. We have, I’d say, probably between 5-10 percent of our enrollment is our priests in the different programs. We also have several consecrated women of different orders and so forth who are there. But by and large, though, we form laypeople. We have a Master’s in Counseling that’s online, we have another Master’s in Online Psych, and we have a doctoral program which is in our campus here in the Washington area.         Al Kresta: At this time, you’re a priest: what are you going through amidst a crisis like this? I mean, it’s gotta be...if you wear a collar, right? You have to be thinking that some people are not going to think well of you. Fr. Sikorsky: Right. Al Kresta: How to you deal with that? Fr. Sikorsky: Well, I think, first of all, we probably experience probably what most of the rest of the church experiences at first, right? There’s anger at how this could happen. Al Kresta: Right. Fr. Sikorsky: There are a lot of good questions that people have. Maybe in a way there’s an additional...you know, going around, walking around with a collar, you really can’t hide. But I think that we have one or two responses. We could either allow this to somehow draw us closer to God or into despair, and I really think there isn’t any middle ground. I think it’s a challenge for all of us. It’s kind of when St. Paul talks about the thorn in the flesh, and how the whole point of that was that God wanted Paul to rely on Him, and to be humble, and to really cling to our Lord. And he says (it’s in 2nd Corinthians, 12), before he goes into that story, “So as not to be too elated, God gave me a thorn in the flesh”. Al Kresta: Isn’t that an interesting phrase? Fr. Sikorsky: I think that’s one of the most important verses in the Bible, personally. It’s helped me so much to think about that and to say “God allows humiliations, He gives us crosses that we can’t run from for a reason”. That reason is to draw closer to Him, to realize that, apart from Him, we can do nothing. And I think, as a priest, that’s what’s helped me throughout this. I also think that in Romans 8:28, there’s a verse we can’t forget: “That all things work together for good for those who love God”       We just can’t forget that. I think God wants us to go there and really live that out, and realize that, on the other side of every cross, there will be a resurrection. If we open our hearts--if we accept this and embrace our Lord--go to Him first and realize that it’s Christ’s Church. He’s the one. It’s not about a hierarchy, although we need one. It’s really Him, and that’s where we gotta go. If we get too focused on other things, I think it does lead to unhealthy anger. There’s righteous anger; there’s unhealthy anger that leads to despair, that leads to so many things that we really don’t want Al Kresta: Just a little personal story here: at one point, the news was bad. It just coming and I was shaking my head thinking, “what the heck am I gonna do with this?” I mean, I’ve had the opportunity to help many people come into full communion with the Church, and they want to know what to do. Fr. Sikorsky: ‘You’ve trapt me’. (laughing) Al Kresta: (laughing) Right! And then what I did was fell out of the web of all those concerns. And I just asked the question: did Jesus rise from the dead or not?         Fr. Sikorsky: Mm hmmm. Al Kresta: He did! And knowing that changes everything. Because then you come back to “ok, He’s alive, He’s at work. Is this His Body, His Church?” The answer as a Catholic is: yes, absolutely. Knowing that, everything else comes into focus, and you can deal with it. For me, that’s what I’ve felt. I just go back to basics. I’m sure you must know priests that have had faculty suspended, or whatever they’ve done. Why? Why do you think this happens? Fr. Sikorsky: I think one of the things we need to remember is sometimes priests get so busy.  I think there’s a real crisis in the spiritual life of many priests, and one thing is to fall in a moment of weakness. Another thing is to habitually be doing and to not even seem to be care about it and cover it up and just go along. And you wonder how could they have a real spiritual life, and I think there’s a real crisis of that: in prayer life, in Eucharistic life and really putting their heart into their Breviary. One of the  things I think about is: God gives us so many means to be holy, so many means to connect with Him. Sometimes when you connect and read the Breviary, sometimes it can be “oh my gosh, I need to get this all done today”, but then you see how beautiful it is, how renewing it is. Maybe my morning prayer or my mental prayer didn’t go as well as I thought, but then you pray the Breviary and you think “wow, this is God is speaking to me here”. So I think that’s where the biggest crisis because if we’re not men of the spirit, if we’re not men of prayer, we’re gonna go wrong one way or the other. And some of them, for whatever reason or whatever their own personal background is, they may be more susceptible for falling into sexual sins--same-sex attraction, these kinds of things. I think that’s the most important thing. I once knew a priest psychologist who told me he worked with many perpetrators. Over 100, I think he said. And what he told me was that there were two common things with all of them. One of them was that none of them had been to confession in more than a year. And the second was that virtually none of them had been to spiritual direction since they were in seminary. Al Kresta: Isn’t that something?                    Fr. Sikorsky: And so I think that’s a big part of all this. And then, of course, the governance issues are a different thing, but this is at the heart of why priests have fallen into this.   Al Kresta: Sure. How big of a problem is careerism among Catholic clergy?   Fr. Sikorsky: In my role, I don’t see it alot. I’m not close to it. You do hear things when you talk to priests. I think it’s definitely a significant issue with how widespread. We’re all human, and priests are still human and sometimes there’s ambition or wanting to do things for the right reasons. But on the other hand, who would want to be a bishop today?   Al Kresta: (laughs) That’s partly what I’m thinking: what’s the attraction? Fr. Sikorsky: I know your friend if you remember, Fr. Benedict Groeschel C.F.R., Al Kresta:  Oh yes! Yeah, yeah. Fr. Sikorsky: I once heard him giving a talk and someone said “what’s the definition of a bishop?” And he said, “It’s a priest with bad luck”. But, power attracts people and, again, it’s the same thing. If you’re not really in it to follow our Lord, to bring people to His love and bring people to the faith, then you’re gonna fall into human goals and ambitions. Al Kresta: Right. You have graduate students, so they’re doing some research, and you got doctoral students doing some original research. Are they working in this area of clergy and sexual abuse? Fr. Sikorsky: We have several who have done dissertations related to priestly formation and priestly life. We’ve had many graduates doing dissertations, so they research this and have focused on different aspects of the Church. Right now, I don’t how many we have doing abuse, but it’s something that’s definitely right up their alley. Like I said, we see many students looking for more training in trauma and to help people with trauma. There's a great opportunity to do that, and what I say is we have real academic freedom and many things you can study at Divine Mercy University that you would not be allowed to do in other universities in that regard. There are many opportunities for us to help in some way with that, and I’ve talked with a few bishops recently to try and ask if there’s anything we can do along those lines that could help the conference, that could help the different bishops have a better understanding in those areas. Al Kresta: Are they responsive? Fr. Sikorsky:  In general, yes! Al Kresta: Glad to hear it. How do people get a hold of you? Fr. Sikorsky: Well, our website: divinemercy.edu. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or help whoever wants to contact us. Learn more about Divine Mercy University and all of our programs at enroll.divinemercy.edu.

Challenge of Christian Psychology Today

Interview by Jordi Picazo*. Reprinted with permission. PUBLISHED IN SPANISH IN REVISTAECCLESIA.ORG, the online magazine of the Conference of Bishops of Spain. Link to original

“Right now, Christian psychology, philosophy and theology together make a most exciting intellectual challenge”

JORDI PICAZO - In your 1977/1994 book Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self Worship you argued that psychology under the influence of some contemporary theories and practices can seriously damage people at times, instead of provide support or healing. PAUL VITZ- Yes, but fortunately the field of psychology, though not our culture, has gotten better and wiser in the years since I first wrote that book. Now, I am working on connections between contemporary psychology and Christian faith, particularly Catholicism. I am part of a team at Divine Mercy University (DMU). We are working to show that psychology and Christianity can be coherently and usefully integrated. We are convinced that valid psychology, and the social sciences in general, and in many ways also neuroscience, are surprisingly supportive of the traditional understanding of the human being as found in many Christian and especially Catholic positions. So, we at DMU are expanding the psychology of the person to include the person’s vocations, virtues and spiritual life. We introduce an explicitly ethical content to replace the often implicitly moral relativity used by most psychologists. We use Catholic anthropology and its understanding of the person as a framework for integrating psychology with theology and philosophy. Being Christian is not easy in our present cultural and academic climate, but I think that right now Christianity is the only positive and major intellectual worldview that makes sense and it remains un-developed in important ways. In contrast, both the political left and right are based on old, mostly exhausted ideas begun in Europe in the 1800s and culminating with large scale oppression and death in the 20th century. JP - In your 2013 book Faith of the Fatherless you say that “The enormous cost of the absence of fathers to the society it the most frequently demonstrated finding in social science”. PV - The absence of fathers has an enormous cost to the society. I would propose that it is the most frequently demonstrated finding in social science. Over the last 60 years there is published research from all around the world showing that boys raised without fathers (or with fathers who are abusive) have a very high rate of criminal behavior. In the United States our prisons are filled with boys without fathers, and the financial cost of that alone is enormous, but nobody is factoring that into our social policies. It is not that it’s just a disaster in terms of the cost of crime and prison, but it’s also a disaster in terms of all these young men who could be otherwise helping the society with work, with being fathers, and having families.

Forget debate, just do it!

«Our neglect of fatherhood is an enormous problem in the United States and in Western society in general. Men must rediscover their importance as fathers and they don’t have to debate this in a feminist world that says this isn’t the case. Frankly, in my opinion, and from both a moral and a psychological stand, it’s absurd to debate this issue. Forget debate, just do it! Just show that you can be a father to your children. And in doing that you will be providing something probably far more beneficial than anything else you do. One related observation is that a big reason why Asian students in America are doing so well, is that they reliably come from intact families, and thus with fathers; and divorced-family kids and other non-intact-family kids very commonly have poorer school records».

The Trans-modern Self – A form of self-creation that turns the book of Genesis upside down

JP - Dr Sha from “The Berkley Center for Religion and Society” at Georgetown University, recently told me in conversation that the current gender ideology is ‘anti-Genesis,’ meaning that society no longer views God as the creator, rather it views the ‘self’ as the creator. Through radical self-transformation it is said that one can become anything one wants to be, for example transforming one’s gender. In your 2006 book The Self: Beyond the Postmodern Crisis, co-authored with Susan M. Felch, you bring together scholars from the disciplines of psychology, philosophy, theology, literature, biology, and physics to address the inadequacies of modern and postmodern selves. You suggest what an alternative “transmodern” account of the self might look like: the transmodern self, you jointly argue, acknowledges meaning and purpose that transcend the individual. In other words, it reflects an understanding of the human person that rejects the twin delusions of absolute autonomy and cosmic meaninglessness that mark the present age. PV – «Self-worship is a form of self-creation, it is as though you are God, trying to create yourself not only psychologically, which is what people have tried for a long time, but now also trying to create one’s self biologically. The idea that you are already created doesn’t seem to occur to these arrogant, silly people. I think that this self-worship is clearly a form of both psychological and spiritual narcissism. It has also become so widespread as to be a form of cultural narcissism where all can do whatever they want, and everyone is now God. Of course, this is the oldest temptation of humanity since Satan first proposed it to Adam and Eve: “You shall be as gods.”

The Divine Right of the Self

«We are now in the cultural realm of the divine right of the self. And just as the divine right of the king got promulgated near the end of the French monarchy and aristocratic society, the divine right of the self has been promulgated near the end of our present culture. How it’s going to end I don’t know. Or when. But it’s going to end. I don’t know whether with a bang or a whimper, but it’s going to end».

“Our present textbooks are as anti-religious as our earlier books were racist”.

JP - In your 1986 book “Censorship: Evidence of bias in our children's textbooks” you showed how "a widespread secular and liberal mindset" within the leadership of the professional education community resulted in the removal of conservative religious, family, and economic descriptions of American life from children's textbooks. Even a "noble pagan", believing in the virtues of hard work, discipline, patriotism, and concern for others, has good reason to reject our state approved social studies textbooks. You claimed that the exclusion of accurate descriptions of contemporary religious, marital, economic, and political commitments, would make millions of Americans who hold traditional views on these issues seem alien. No wonder some black parents claim: "Our present textbooks, therefore, are as anti-religious as our earlier books were racist”. Earlier American textbooks were racist because they left out, excluded all reference to African-American life. PV – «In the United States there are now about three million children who are being homeschooled, and it’s not just religious parents doing it either. There are legions of secular parents, who are homeschooling because they think the public school system doesn’t teach much anymore, except for progressive attitudes. It certainly doesn’t teach virtues which modern psychology has recently come to understand, appreciate, and advocate. Our public schools don’t even teach much cognitive knowledge. The present school system primarily teaches attitudes and that isn’t very useful. In Detroit, the public school system is being sued because it has failed to teach elementary reading and writing to many students. Thus, secular parents increasingly put their children in Charter Schools or private non-religious schools or home schools or even sometimes in private religious schools which have also been growing in number. Another reason why people are pulling their children from the public (state) school system is because of their progressive sexual agenda with its emphasis on sex education even for pre-school children and first graders. There is pressure on children to consider changing sexual identity without parental permission. The state seems increasingly to assume that it owns our children and can do with them what it wants»

Home-schooled kids excel

JP – Talking to a father and son, where junior is homeschooled here in Arlington, this kid was telling me that he pursues his education at home because in so many schools they “say weird things about God” …. [we laugh]. PV – «This is, sadly very true. However, partly in response to such anti-religious bias there are now, as I said, lots of homeschooled kids. These homeschooled children are so good that universities are making special attempts to get them as students. Almost always they come from a strong, intact family and with an especially good formation. Home-schooled children usually work with other homeschooling families in a cooperative way. Home-schoolers usually take excellent courses, including college courses, often found on the internet. Christians, especially Catholics, have always understood that the primary educators of children are their parents. Our learning begins and is established in the family. We must reclaim and emphasize this important belief. To learn more about the work of Dr. Vitz, see here.

Deriving Meaning From Spina Bifida

October is National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, a perfect time to be educated about the impact disability can have on the family. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1,500 pregnancies are affected by spina bifida annually. That’s roughly 1 out of every 2,630 will be born with spina bifida in a year, making it the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. Spina bifida is a “neural tube defect” beginning within the first few weeks of pregnancy. It’s the result of the baby’s neural tube -- which develops into the baby’s spinal cord -- not closing properly, sometimes leaving the spinal cord protruding from the body in a fluid-filled sack. This usually requires immediate surgery after birth, or even before birth, as various types of antenatal surgery have become more common. The discovery of this birth defect can be shocking, even overwhelming for parents as they begin to wonder how they will cope with their child’s needs. These reactions can be common and are quite understandable. Dr. David W. Carroll, Ph.D summarizes the familial experience in his text “Families of Children with Developmental Disabilities: Understanding Stress and Opportunities for Growth”:
“Parents of children with disabilities confront a number of challenges and may be at risk for depressive or trauma-related symptoms. Changes in family roles and routines can cause stress for parents, siblings, and extended family alike as they confront multiple issues, including behavioral problems and frequent healthcare needs. Despite such challenges, many families derive a sense of meaning from facing their difficulties in a positive way.” 
The shock and fear incited by such a diagnosis can lead parents to make hasty decisions about their child's life. According to the Guttmacher Institute,
about 13% of abortions in the United States, are committed due to the possible health issues with the child (an estimated 130,000-150,000 children each year). A combination like this can cause deep grief and agonizing tension for each parent and in the relationship, but it doesn’t need to be suffered alone. Each person and each illness is unique. No two children with spina bifida are exactly alike, and each child’s health issues will be particular to them alone. Spina bifida itself has varying degrees of severity, from less to more severe: spina bifida occulta, closed neural tube defects, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. The more severe forms of spina bifida can bring other neurological malformations. [caption id="attachment_426" align="alignright" width="273"] (Photo courtesy of The Mighty: Confessions of Parents of Kids with Spina Bifida: This is Life)[/caption] Does this mean that those children, their parents and their families are cursed with facing a lifetime of stress and depression? Is there anything positive that can be said about cases of spina bifida? Absolutely. There are many people who live with spina bifida and their family and friends’ support all around them. “Overall, a warm and supportive home environment with good family communication in general has been linked to better chronic illness outcomes, including better illness management” (Helgeson & Palladino, 2012). One mother expressed their journey on the support blog, The Mighty:
“This is what spina bifida looks like. Spina bifida is a big mountain to tackle, but we do it one step at time, with crutches and leg braces. My [son] lives big and goes hard every day all while smiling and giggling. This life is full of miracle milestones and first experiences that are momentous. We have hard days and sometimes tears, but the next day we get up and try again. I use the term ‘we’ a lot. Jarrett does not live SB alone. We, his family live it and walk it with him. Ups, downs, highs and lows, we do it together. The buds and thorns come and they go, but the beauty of it all is one to rejoice. This is a photo of [him] age 8. He dreamed one day he would walk to the ocean and he did. This is a picture we cherish because he redefines his abilities every day. Nothing stops this amazing boy.” — Kerri K.
Support, resources and therapeutic interventions are extremely helpful in assisting parents and families along the path of loving and caring for their child. Divine Mercy University (DMU) offers graduate programs in psychology and counseling to prepare people to be the support a parent or family might need as they embrace and adjust to new routines for their child. Courses like Marriage and Family Counseling (COUN 670) and Relationship and Intervention Skills (PSY 555) detail how families work, analyze what stressors can cause breakdowns of communication and ultimately relationships, and present strategies on how to help a family grow during difficult moments. DMU students who graduate from its programs go on to become professionals well equipped to lend a compassionate ear and offer practical help with a vision of the transcendent value of life. A diagnosis of disability can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be tragic. There are many resources and ways of receiving support and growing in the process. Consider being part of that help for families. (If you feel called to be one of those to guide people in such a time, consider a graduate degree from Divine Mercy University.) Request information about psychology and counseling programs offered at Divine Mercy University.
About DMU
Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate university of psychology and counseling programs. It was founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. The university offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology, Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling, Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology, and Certificate Programs.