by LaRonda Starling
Dr. LaRonda Starling’s efforts to remind the reader of the importance of self-care and provide practical guidance to mental health professionals in Be Still: Spiritual Self-Care for Mental Health Professionals provide a great beginning as they relate to self-care, faith practices, and mental health professionals. Starling posits that faith is self-care and uses Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…,” as the foundation for self-care. Each chapter combines an element of self-care with “being still” in or with God and provides suggestions on how to implement each element into daily life as a helping professional. Starling also uses the opportunity to parallel the self-care work and dilemmas experienced by mental health professionals with those of their clients, which offers an opportunity for greater self-insight as well as greater client insight. She successfully starts a conversation on the importance of incorporating faith-filled beliefs as a primary component of self-care as a Christian mental health professional. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting guidance, insight, and examples of how best to be a practicing Christian mental health professional as it relates to personal self-care. However, I would caution that Starling assumes the reader has a basic body of knowledge concerning Christian scripture.
Starling is an experienced licensed clinical psychologist and professional counselor and also has 15 years of experience within an academic setting, including the position of adjunct professor. She speaks openly about her personal faith relationship with God and her belief that this was a book God wanted her to write. Starling acknowledges the limitations in writing this book as a clinician and that her words, thoughts, and examples do not replace the advice of one’s personal therapist or treatment. While she cites her clinical experience and knowledge, Starling does not share her background as it relates to biblical theology.
Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the concept of “being still,” possible results of not being still, and difficulties with learning how to be still. Chapter 2, entitled “Be Still and Know,” outlines the journey of learning to be still by and through God. In this chapter, Starling describes the characteristics of God and His importance on the journey to being still as the foundation of self-care. Chapters 3 through 7 take the reader through practical areas for being still: praying, reflecting, studying, saying no, and taking care. The book ends by providing an opportunity for the reader to grow in their relationship with God and to know God better, and by suggesting salvation to the reader as the way to connect with God. Throughout the book, Starling provides questions at the end of each chapter to assist the reader with going deeper in their understanding of God and their need for self-care with God’s assistance. The questions provide a great way for the reader to self-reflect and to systematically rededicate themselves to the importance of spirituality in their life.
Overall, this book seeks to provide a starting point for the mental health professional to use their spiritual faith as the cornerstone to their self-care regimen. Starling generously shares her own Christian beliefs and invites readers to do the same. She boldly presents the subject matter in ways that the Christian counselor or those interested in incorporating faith into their personal self-care routine might find helpful. This book also stands as a resource for mental health professionals with clients that desire to include their spiritual beliefs and practices as a part of their mental health treatment. I recommend this book for clinicians, mental health professionals, and students who are looking for a way to clinically incorporate faith as a part of their self-care.
Starling, L. (2019). Be still: Spiritual self-care for mental health professionals. Grace Psychological Health Services, PLLC.
Reviewed by: Teresa Hills, PsyD
The Professional Counselor