Psychology or Biblical? – Part 2

Four Lenses of Diagnosing Problems.

General medicine does not make Christians too nervous. If you have a troubling symptom you go the Internist or Specialist and hope for an accurate diagnosis and plan of treatment that will bring you back to health. Many times this may involve a prescription. If we are told we have a thyroid disorder and need Synthroid, we go fill our prescription and take our dose. If we have high blood pressure we may need medication.

Let’s dive into a controversial subject. When it comes to a Psychiatrist and diagnosis of some psychological disorder and a suggestion for medication we often balk as Christians. Milan and I have had to beg, plead and cajole many clients into seeking this kind of help. Sometimes there is a flat refusal. Why is this? Somehow this kind of help is labeled unspiritual. If we had faith, a close walk with God (whatever exactly that means) and read our bible and prayed we should not be depressed, anxious, have mood swings, compulsions etc.

While all these spiritual disciplines and practices certainly help, sometimes they are not enough. Milan and I like to look at all problems; medical, psychological and spiritual though four lenses.


Most problems we encounter are a mixture of all of these areas. The difficult question is, what’s what? For example, years ago I saw a client who was 53 years old. We will call her Sue. The last of Sue’s four children had just moved out to attend college. She was an empty nester after being a stay at home mom for 25 years. She was not sleeping well. She was tired and unmotivated. She was a devout believer for many years and described her relationship with God as “close and life giving” until recently. Now her prayers seem to be “hitting the ceiling” Upon further questioning, I learned her best friend had died of leukemia the previous year. She described this loss as devastating and felt no one but God understood the degree of sorrow she experienced. Her husband was a high level executive and worked long hours. She loved him and the life style he provided, but longed for more emotional and spiritual intimacy in her marriage.

Let’s take these presenting issues and look briefly through our four lenses:

Physical: She is at a menopausal age. Her hormones are changing. Does she exercise?
How is her eating? Does she pay attention to nutrition?

Emotional: Sue has experienced a great deal of loss. She is in a major life transition
which is equivalent to a man retiring or losing his job. Who can she go to for
comfort? Is her husband willing to come in and learn to grow in his ability to
see and meet her needs for comfort and connection? How are her other
friendships? How has she dealt with this grief? Alone? Can she bring
her vulnerable need for comfort into relationship? What did she learn about
connection growing up? Is she a avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller or
victim? How is her love style impacting her? Is she anxious? What is her
level of self-awareness? Is she a giver or receiver…can she be in both roles?

Spiritual: Is this a spiritual crisis/transition? Has she ever experienced this downturn in
her prayer life before? What is her church involvement? What is her level of
spiritual maturity? How much has she suffered? How does she integrate
suffering with God’s love? What is her level of vulnerable, real, connection
within her church setting and friendships? Where and how is spiritual opposition
operating? Does she know how to pray against the enemy?
Are her sleep problems due to hormonal changes? Is her thyroid low?
When was her last physical? Is she depressed? Are her sleep problems due to
depression? Is there a family history of depression? Anxiety? Panic attacks?
What medications is she on? Are her symptoms a side effect of any

This is just a quick overview… the point is all areas are important to investigate. Leaving out one section means I may miss important information. In Sue’s case, what we discovered over time is that she was indeed depressed, but was uneducated about the symptoms of depression. In fact, as I explored Sue’s history, she had suffered post-partum depression after the birth of her last child but had never been diagnosed or treated. Her Father had serious alcohol addictions, which may have been his attempt to medicate depression or anxiety.

After three months of treatment addressing all four areas and no alleviation of her symptoms I suggested Sue schedule an appointment with my favorite psychiatrist and be evaluated for anti-depressant medication. (I prefer psychiatrist for this kind of evaluation because this is their area of specialty. Out of 20 or more possible choices of medication, a psychiatrist is trained to distinguish between all these options and select the best possible choice of medicine.)

I explained to Sue that depression can be situational and resolve on its own, or it can be clinical…that is caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. Most any condition for which we take pills or vitamins is an attempt to alter some chemical system in our body for the better. Initially, Sue resisted feeling she should be able to trust God more and that would help her feel better but after another month of sleeplessness, indecision, lethargy, frequent crying and anxiety she agreed to make an appointment.

Sue was astounded at the results. She said what I have heard so many clients say when treatment is successful… “The difference in how I feel amazes me. Overall, I feel I have my feet back on the ground and can manage stress so much better. I’m sleeping again and I can make decisions without agonizing. My head feels clearer and every little thing does not make me cry. I was afraid I would not feel like myself on medicine but it’s just the opposite. I feel like myself again.”

After treating her depression, she was in a much better place to work on her marriage. Her husband learned to understand the depth of her grief and learned to comfort her. This deeper level of vulnerability translated into some of her close friendships. She developed some new hobbies she had never had time to pursue. Spiritually, she felt more able to see suffering as part of the life of every believer and was more accepting of periods of stress.

I have heard a similar speeches countless times. Sometimes psychology (symptoms of depression) and medicine can make all the difference in helping someone regain their emotional health. To ignore this avenue of help can make suffering unnecessarily prolonged.
As Christians, we need to see life through all these lenses as we face trials, temptations, and stresses. God can use any and often uses all of these to help heal, restore and replenish a struggling believer.

Psychological or Biblical?

Psychological or Biblical?

Milan and I encounter this question many times as we teach and speak around the country. Is psychology unbiblical? How can psychology be helpful if it is humanistic and man centered? Just in case you readers are wondering how we integrate all this into our beliefs as Christians, here is what we teach on the subject.

Psychology by definition refers to the study of the human mind and mental states by observations, categorizing and labeling characteristics of human behavior.

Psychology is man’s observation of human behavior and the categorization of these observations into names of illnesses or disorders by lists of symptoms. Medical journals observe and categorize illness in the same way. If you have a certain list of symptoms the Doctor says, “You have a cold or virus.” If your medical symptoms match another list, perhaps you have gall bladder problems. Are medical journals “biblical”? No. Are psychological journals “biblical”? No. Do they contain wisdom to label and diagnoses problems? Yes. Do they give the ultimate solutions on how those problems originated or are solved? (Sin and Salvation) No. Can they be helpful to identify diagnosis and help a person identify exactly how they need to be treated or where they need to grow? Yes.

Yes, No, Yes, No….did you follow that? Think of it this way. If we look at the world from a Biblical perspective, we know the world is broken because of sin. You are broken. I am broken. All of creation is broken. Roman 8:20-22 says, “For the creation was subjected to futility , not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. All creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now.”

Christ is the solution. “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life.” Christ’s work on the cross rescues us from sin and brokenness. As we accept the sacrifice of the cross on our behalf as payment for our sin, we are adopted into God’s family and given the Holy Spirit. God then calls us to grow into the likeness of Christ. After salvation, God sees us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Of course our mate has a hard time perceiving us as seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places! (Eph 2:6). Rather, they see us as imperfect and incomplete and lacking in many ways. This is because we are not yet transformed practically into being Christ-like.

How does God show me where I’m not like Him? How does God show me what parts of my being still resemble brokenness rather than holiness? The Bible is certainly the primary source. The more I know God and His character the more I will see the goal; what I am becoming in the process of sanctification. Milan and I see psychology as a secondary source of identifying brokenness.

Milan and I were married for 15 years and very serious about our commitment to Christ and open and willing to grow. We did some changing during those years. We learned a lot about our faith. But we were still very stuck in some tenacious marriage dynamics that were hurtful and no amount of prayer or bible study had changed these frustrating patterns. You might say we were still blind as to what was at the root of some areas of brokenness.

God used my studies in attachment theory (psychology) to pinpoint some injuries (sin done to us) and resulting behaviors (our own sin) that were blocking growth in our marriage. I believe it was an answer to our prayers for wisdom as I read these studies. As I discovered the characteristics of an Avoider and how this imprint occurs I clearly saw my own experience in my family of origin. As I read the adult characteristics of the Avoider, I clearly saw how that brokenness affected my parenting and marriage.

I began to confess. I don’t really know how to bond. I am afraid of my feelings, especially painful feelings. I am too independent. I don’t really know how to need God or others on any deep or vulnerable level. I could go on and on. These confessions turned to prayers. God, help me learn to feel. Help me learn to risk being vulnerable. Help me learn to show my pain to you and others. Help me learn to receive comfort.

There was a giant leap in my growth. God was the source in leading me. God was the source in giving me the Holy Spirit as a guide. God was the source in helping me identify and make these healing changes. He just used a sprinkling of psychology along the way to help my confession and prayers go from vague (help me be the wife and mother you want me to be) to more specific requests I just mentioned above.

Next week, I’m going to talk about one more benefit of psychology and medicine in terms of spiritual growth.

Upcoming Events


Here are some upcoming events in California that we wanted to let you know about!

October 1. 2016
How We Love Workshop
The Journey Christian Church
4849 Alton Prky.
Irvine, CA 92604
Saturday: 9:00am – 4:00pm
For more information or to register for this event, please click here.

October 7-8, 2016
How We Love Workshop
Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church
10 Moraga Valley Lane
Moraga, CA 94556
Friday: 7:00pm-9:30pm
Saturday: 1:00pm-5:00pm
For more information or to register for this event, please click here.

We would love to see you at one of these events! Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Therapist Continuing Education Seminar

Therapist Continuing Education Seminar
“Attachment Theory”

Early Registration Pricing Ends July 15, 2016
Please register today!

Hello All,
Kay and I are teaching our six-hour therapist workshop on July 29, 2016 in Mission Viejo, CA and we wanted you to know about it! Here is what it’s all about:
• This course equips Psychologists, MFTs, LCSWs, interns, Pastoral Counselors and others to use attachment theory as a framework for couple’s therapy. Presenting issues that bring couples into therapy can frequently be dissected to reveal how attachment injuries give rise to the presenting symptoms.
• A review of attachment theory and research contrasts five common injurious attachment styles that block intimacy and further an insecure attachment. By teaching participants the interplay of the couples’ attachment styles and the common core pattern of interaction they produce, the therapist is equipped to target root issues rather than focusing on the surface symptoms.
• Specific therapeutic interventions are demonstrated, giving therapists the tools required to achieve treatment goals. This course teaches current peer reviewed research in the field of adult attachment and then goes beyond theory to practical application that creates a structure and map for effective couples’ therapy.
Register at on the “events” page. You can also call the offices of Relationship 180 at (949)830-2846 for further information.

Psychologists, therapists and interns will earn 6 C.E. credits that meet the requirements of the American Psychological Association and the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners.

If you or anyone you know might find this workshop beneficial to their counseling practice or ministry, please pass this information along.

Milan Yerkovich

Date: Friday, July 29, 2016

Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM with a lunch break from 12-1

Location: Mission Hills Church, 24162 Alicia Parkway, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Cost: Boxed Lunch is included
Early Registration for Licensed Practitioners: $179, After July 15, 2016: $229
Early Registration for Interns and Others: $99, After July 15, 2016: $149

Focus on the Family Broadcast

Focus on the Family Broadcast

We are excited to announce that Milan and Kay will have a two day Focus on the Family broadcast titled, “Discovering Your Love Style”. It is scheduled to air Thursday, July 7, and Friday, July 8, 2016. Please note, however, the air schedule is subject to change.

On the scheduled airdate, the streaming audio of this broadcast will appear on our broadcast page – – along with a brief description. Our Facebook and Twitter pages will also link to the website on the airdate

Also on the broadcast page, look for the Focus “Station Finder” to find stations that carry the program in your area. In addition, a downloadable podcast will be available on iTunes (just search for Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast).

Therapist Training

Therapist Training

Mission Viejo, CA

Therapist Continuing Education: “Working with Couples Using Attachment Theory” with Milan and Kay Yerkovich: Friday, July 29, 2016
6 CE Credits
This six hour course equips Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Interns and students to utilize Attachment Theory as a framework for couples’ therapy. Presenting issues that bring couples into therapy can frequently be dissected to reveal how attachment injuries give rise to the presenting symptoms.
A review of Attachment Theory and research contrasts 5 common injurious Attachment Styles that block intimacy with Secure Attachment. By teaching participants the interplay of the couples’ Attachment Styles and the common core patterns of interaction that they produce, the therapist is equipped to target root issues rather than focusing on the surface symptoms.
Specific therapeutic interventions are demonstrated, giving therapists the tools required to achieve treatment goals. This course teaches current peer reviewed research in the field of adult attachment and then goes beyond theory to practical application that creates a structure and map for effective couples’ theory.

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the American Psychological Association authorizes Relationship 180 to provide training and continuing education units to counseling professionals. This course provides 6 CE Credits.

Hosted by Relationship 180:

For more information please click on the Events tab at

Exciting new versions of the How We Love book now available

We are pleased to announce that you can now get the following versions of the How We Love book on our website:

Audio CD Version: This is the How We Love book narrated onto CDs. For those of you who don’t like to read or don’t have the time and would like to listen to the book while driving in your car, this is for you!

Chinese Version: The book has been translated into Chinese for the Chinese community!

Romanian: We also have the Romanian version of the book available on the website.

For all of these options click into the store and then click on the books tab or you can find them here.

Mercy In Your Marriage

Mercy in Your Marriage Seminar with Milan and Kay Yerkovich

Do you want to improve your family and work relationships? Are you wasting time in needless conflict? Do you find yourself overreacting to stress at work and in your home? Do you feel like your kids are constantly pushing your buttons?
We all have relationship patterns and habits that interfere with closeness, but you can learn how to identify and change the most common stress responses that harm relationships, creating better relationships with your kids, friends, and coworkers.
Join relationship experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich, authors of How We Love and hosts of the popular radio show “New Life Live,” for this practical seminar that will provide you with tools to help you parent without anger and grow in every relationship in your life.

Saturday, May 21 9:00 AM–Noon
Saddleback Lake Forest Worship Center (SEARCH: Marriage) Questions? Call (949) 609-8555.

We would love to see you there!

Holding Time – Week 7

Holding Time: Exercise #4

Holder: Hold your spouse until you are both relaxed and your breathing is in sync. Ask your spouse to share a difficult childhood memory. (Avoiders: this may be more about what you missed than a traumatic event). Ask your spouse to share three feelings about this memory. Don’t fix or problem solve. Try and see your spouse as a child experiencing that event or absence of connection.

Think of a child that you are around in your current life that is the same age as you were when you experienced the memory you are sharing. Sometimes we forget how young and vulnerable we were! Try and visualize the memory as you share it.

We hope you have enjoyed this series on Holding Times. The more you practice the more natural and comforting it will become.

Milan and Kay will be in Chatsworth, CA on May 7th for a How We Love Workshop. For more details, please click on the Events tab at

Holding Time – Week 6

Holding Time: Exercise # 3

Hold your spouse until you are both relaxed and your breathing is in sync. Ask your spouse to describe a current stressor. Ask them to pick three words off the list of Soul Words to describe how that stressor makes them feel. Listen and empathize. Don’t fix or problem solve.

While you are learning to have holding times, pick a stressor that is not about your spouse! It is easier to learn to hold and listen when it’s not a personal complaint.

Switch Roles