There are many psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors offering ‘non-judgemental’ services today. This term sounds good but what exactly do they mean by ‘non-judgemental’ and what are the fruits of this ‘non-judgemental’ approach?
The Cambridge dictionary (online) states that ‘if a person or thing is non-judgemental, they do no judge or criticise’. The Collins dictionary (online) defines ‘non-judgemental’ as ‘not making or expressing an opinion regarding a person or thing’. If we apply this definition to psychological services, one must ask the question: why do psychologists and other psychological professionals require any training if their only task is to nod their head, keep eye contact and say ‘mmm’, ‘go on’ or ‘that sounds tough’ every now and again? (Note: these are honestly some of the ‘listening skills’ I was taught on an initial introduction to counselling course). If they are not trained to assess, evaluate and judge what exactly is the use of their training? Would you not be better off going to someone who you can trust, who has time to and wants to listen to you (and doesn’t use their ‘listening skills’ techniques to emphasise that they are listening), who has common sense and some life experience and who doesn’t charge you a substantial amount per hour? If psychological professionals are not able to or cannot make a judgement based on the information a person shares with them, then how can they direct anybody?
The Appeal of ‘Non-judgemental’ Services
People who are experiencing psychological distress are looking for someone who will listen to them but, in the majority of cases, they are also looking for some direction. Many people come to psychological services with a niggling conscience or with a confused mind. Most people fear sharing their personal information with a complete stranger. This is understandable. They fear the reaction from the stranger when they share their story. This seems to be why psychological services call themselves ‘non-judgemental’. It is more of a marketing tool than a reality of the services they provide as they definitely judge.
For example, many psychologists would say that they provide ‘non-judgemental’ services, especially when it comes to issues in relation to homosexuality. (As I have detailed elsewhere, this ‘non-judgemental’ approach to homosexuality is now a policy of the PSI). However, their services are not ‘non-judgemental’. Rather, they have made a personal judgement about homosexual behaviour or have gotten onboard with the PSI’s erroneous assessment of homosexuality. People engaging in homosexuality will feel judged by their own consciences, even if only dimly. This niggling of conscience when we do something against the natural law is a gift from God as it alerts us to the dangerous path we are on. When this happens, we must do what St Bernard implores his wayward nephew to do, ‘Believe not every spirit. Be at peace with many, but let one in a thousand be your counsellor. Gird yourself, cast off your seducers, shut your eyes to flatterers, search your own heart, for you know yourself best. Listen to your conscience, examine your intentions, consider the facts.’ (‘St Bernard of Clairvaux – As Seen Through His Letters’, translated by Fr Bruno Scott). The conscience can be dimmed but it can never be completely turned off as outlined by Thomas A Nelson in his powerful book, ‘How to Avoid Hell’, ‘[The sinner] can never completely convince himself that a sin is not a sin, because God created his mind to work unerringly, and therefore he is unhappy, for his conscience keeps working as God created it to work, reminding him of his guilt, despite his having developed (by his sin) a ‘callus’ on the reaction element of his conscience, whereby he no longer experiences the proper reaction to the gravity of his sins.’ Because society, particularly Western society, is immersed in vice and immorality, behaviours that used to be seen as wrong and immoral are now seen by many in society as acceptable. The pro-homosexual propaganda, e.g. the ‘pride’ parade, has also played a huge part in this acceptance and they have cynically used aspects of nature that are beautiful, e.g. the rainbow, to promote something which is far from beautiful. (I spoke about this briefly in a talk on modern psychological theories, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O93cTu0ROXo, the relevant section begins around the 33 minute mark). But still, the conscience of people engaged in homosexual behaviour, irks them to a larger or lesser degree. Psychologists of the PSI offer those engaged in homosexuality a ‘non-judgemental’ service where the professionals will judge their behaviour as ‘normal’ and affirm it as positive. This gives those engaged in homosexuality validation from a psychological professional and helps to explain away their niggling conscience. The damage caused by this ‘non-judgemental’ approach is huge and many people are encouraged to continue on the road to desolation, misery and, eventually, perdition.
The ‘science’ of the PSI:
While this observation can be applied to any number of immoral behaviours, e.g. abortion, drunkenness, fornication, homosexuality is picked out here due to how toxic this sin is (see here for an excellent outline of this by St Peter Damian and its effect on the priesthood – http://radtradthomist.chojnowski.me/2017/09/how-gay-friendly-was-catholic-church-in.html) and because one of the largest associations for psychological professionals, the PSI, have an official policy on it. Therefore, the PSI and its members have adopted a subjective, unscientific judgemental position in relation to homosexuality, i.e. they judge homosexual behaviour as a positive behaviour. The PSI claim that their stance is based on ‘objective, scientific evidence’ and that those who believe homosexuality to be a vice are only pushing their religious beliefs on people. However, this ‘objective evidence’ mainly comes from the American Psychological Association (APA) (see here for the inherent bias of the APA: https://www.therapeuticchoice.com/why-scientific-integrity-matters) and poor academic research (see here for one example of this: https://nypost.com/2016/12/01/gays-bias-and-phony-science/). Rather than look at what the evidence actual says (see: https://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/B390_Doctors.html), the PSI and its members push falsehoods and an incredibly toxic agenda. Like pharmaceutical representatives who claim that their latest blockbuster drug is based on ‘objective scientific evidence’, psychologists claim that their approach is based on objective evidence, when really it is based on the prejudices of academics, propaganda campaigns and feelings.
Alternative to a ‘non-judgemental’ service:
So be careful when you see the signs for a ‘non-judgemental’ psychological service. Often, these professionals are sheep in wolves’ clothing (whether these professionals are conscious of this fact or not). Now, sometimes, one’s conscience is mistaken, and one imagines that one is sinning when one is not. This can verge into scrupulosity and anxiety. But, most of the time, our niggling conscience is a reliable indicator that we are not on the right track or that there is something that we should address or examine. We should follow St Bernard’s advice and be careful where we seek advice on this and check our conscience against the facts and reality. The major danger is that we trust the advice of a modern psychological professional over our own niggling conscience, which is indicating to us that we are going astray. In this way, we could end up talking to professionals who try to explain away our conscience or who, more than likely, will encourage us to act against it (even when it is correctly formed, i.e. we know certain acts or behaviours are objectively wrong or sinful). Along with this, there is a distortion and misuse of words today by health professionals and words such as ‘non-judgemental’, ‘holistic’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘merciful’ are often only used as ways of promoting diabolical schemes and agendas.
If you are troubled by life and your mind is ill at ease, try to find somebody to talk to who is truly compassionate and merciful. This often means talking to someone who will tell you the truth directly, clearly and with charity. This is not done to harm or beat you down but to lift you up so that you can experience the liberty that St Paul speaks of: ‘Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ (2 Cor 3:17). The truth may come through a friend, family member, professional, from a member of the clergy or from those who write on the equivalent of the subway walls of the internet (see here for why I say this). Find people that at least try to imitate Christ in their manner and in how they treat sin and sinners. ‘Christ was very tender towards the imperfect, but relentless towards imperfection…Christ never deviated a hairs breadth from His principles out of consideration for men’s failings or prejudices or even their good will. He never met men half-way. Gentle in His dealings with them, He was inflexible in His demands on them.’ (Fr Edward Leen, ‘Why the Cross?’)
A ‘judgemental’ service?
‘The Christian souls knows that though sin is objective, the guilt of the sinner is subjective, that is, relatively proportionate to the sinner’s dimmed vision, weakened will, and passionate nature, that it is proportionate to the suddenness and violence of the temptation, and to every circumstance that influenced the sinner in his transgression.’ (Fr Peter Geiermann, ‘The Narrow Way’)
The psychological service provided here is a ‘judgemental’ service. It is not meant, by this, that the service provides an outlet for me to condemn people to hell! (I won’t delve into the answer to those that may object and say, ‘Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that you may not be judged’ (Matthew 7:1) but instead point people towards this article that helps to give some clarity about what is meant by this statement – https://www.catholicbible101.com/judgenot.htm). The service I provide involves making judgements about people’s thought patterns and behaviour based on the information people share with me and, hopefully, it operates in accordance with the quote from ‘The Narrow Way’ above. The judgements made are grounded in the Faith. Using reason is the essential to this service. To assess whether one’s conscience is guiding one correctly reason must be used as Professor Dubray outlines in his excellent book, ‘Introductory Philosophy’, ‘Moral judgement, or conscience, is an intellectual judgement proceeding from reasons, based on implicit or explicit, actual or habitual, deliberation, comparison, and reasoning, and capable of truth and error. In order to answer the question: Is this action which I propose to do right or wrong? I appeal to reason and try to solve my doubt by making use of higher, better known, and more certain principles. All this is essentially the function of reason.’ Judgements that I make are informed by common sense, experience working with people who are distressed and an understanding of science. The service tries to avoid making rash judgements. What people share with me and how they share it with me is weighed up carefully. I try to filter out any erroneous prejudices that I have so that the judgement I make is as objective as possible and based on reality. Sometimes, these judgements can be wrong. This could be due to a number of factors, e.g. lack of accurate or sufficient information to make a clear judgement, allowing some subjective bias to impact on my objective analysis, lack of prudence or patience or wanting to make someone feel better rather than give them a honest appraisal of their situation. Having worked in the mental health and addiction fields for ten years and having seen people in front of me in incredible distress, I understand the temptation to say ‘a little white lie’, to help someone feel better. While holding back on saying something may be the best option at times, lying or distorting the truth to make a person feel better is never helpful or justified. Fr Ripperger, in his comprehensive and insightful book, ‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’ explains this clearly, ‘Psychology has caused an enormous amount of damage by preventing people from appropriating their problems. This occurs when someone commits a horrific act which later affects them mentally. The psychologist comes to knowledge of it but tries to assure the person that he is ‘OK’ and that he should not concern himself with it. Often this is done in order to avoid causing emotional disturbances. The problem is that it is a denial of reality and denying reality has never helped any mental patient. One should not necessarily conclude that one should rudely point out a directee’s faults. Sometimes because of his state the psychologist must lead him slowly, but the process should lead him to a recognition of the problem and not away from the problem.’ Therefore, prudence is essential for psychological work as one needs to know when to say or share something with people. I only pray, and I ask anyone reading this to pray, that I make prudent judgements in this work.
As a psychological professional, it is important that people and their circumstances are assessed accurately, and that people are not led astray through erroneous judgements or given advice based on inaccurate judgements. Unlike many psychological services today, the primary goal of Truth and Freedom Therapy is not to make people feel better but to help them to see better, i.e. to see themselves and reality more clearly. Reality can sometimes initially slap us in the face and can be hard to adjust to, but this adjustment to reality is the first necessary step to happiness and freedom. Reality will either make itself known directly or those around the person who is living a disordered life can make it known to them. As Bishop Fulton Sheen points out, ‘As a drunkard will sometimes become conscious of the gravity of his intemperance only through the startling vision of how much he has wrecked his own home and the wife who loved him, so, too, sinners may come an understanding of their wickedness when they understand what they have done to Our Divine Lord.’ The loving wife here can be the one who points out the reality to the husband. Woe to those who cannot or refuse to see the signs of destruction around them or who do not have or refuse to listen to people in their lives who point out these signs to them! Once people get back on the straight and narrow path and start to see themselves and reality more clearly, and live in accordance with reality, an increase in life satisfaction generally follows. This can be a tricky path as people may have been immersed in lies and errors for years. This can lead to a lack of uniformity in the mind as people grapple with truth and falsehoods. The need for uniformity and homogeneity of the mind is essential for psychological health as outlined by Professor Dubray: ‘The mind tends to homogeneity and consistency. Self-contradiction, i.e. the presence in the mind of irreconcilable judgements, is painful. Attempts are made to find the means of reconciling them or to see which should be eliminated. Moreover, the mind strives after harmony between itself and the external world of things and persons, either by trying to conform its ideas to the reality of things and to adapt itself to surroundings, or by trying to conform the environment to its own desires and purposes. Consistency, harmony, uniformity, are sources of pleasure; dissension is a source of unhappiness.’ There are many attempts by people and psychological professionals to ‘conform the environment to [their] own desires and purposes’ but this only ends in increased, and potentially eternal, misery. It can take time, effort, patience and charity to get back on the right course and establish order in the mind again but this is what is required.
‘Happiness for men, and the true life for men, are identical motions. To live perfectly is to be perfectly happy.’ (Fr Edward Leen, ‘Why the Cross?’)
Increasing people’s life satisfaction is a consequence rather than a direct aim of Truth and Freedom Therapy. To assess how closely people are living in accordance with the truth requires a judgement of people’s thoughts and behaviour to see how much they know about reality and whether they are living in accordance with it. This requires the professional to have a good understanding of reality and psychological issues. This is acquired amongst other ways, through prayer, practicing virtue, reflection, education, research, reading reliable books, having a strong sacramental life, regular spiritual direction and avoiding modern psychological nonsense. It also requires one to refer to or liaise with the appropriate people where necessary, e.g. priests, doctors, nutritionists, etc. Finally, compassion, understanding, gentleness and mercy are key to running a psychological service but it is neither compassionate, understanding, gentle or merciful to hide obvious truths from someone when you know they are engaged in activities that are destroying their body and/or soul or you know their minds are filled full of falsehoods and error.
Conclusion – Promoting A ‘Judgemental’ Service:
So, there you have it, Truth and Freedom Therapy is a ‘judgemental’ service. This is the service that I propose to ‘sell’ in these modern times where the majority of people are terrified of being judged and often run to ‘non-judgemental’ services. I don’t think this sales pitch would pass the test on Dragon’s Den! (Note: For non-Irish readers or non-TV watchers, this is an Irish TV show which I watched years ago where you had to pitch business ideas to millionaire business owners – I do not think I’d be going away with an investment given the sales pitch above). All joking aside, I endeavour not to be rash in my judgement and to be prudent in the advice and information I give people. Truth and Freedom Therapy, offers a service that endeavours to be as objective as possible, that desires to be driven by charity and that is grounded in reason and the Faith.
All in all, it would be hypocritical to say that I provide a non-judgemental service. So, if you need help or support from a ‘judgemental’ psychological service but one that is aware of this rather than those that claim to be ‘non-judgemental’ but are unaware of or disguise their erroneous judgemental attitude, please get in touch here.