Relationships Lead to Healing

Marilyn Berger

The post this month is written by Sister Marilyn Berger, CHM:

Sister Marcia Eckerman, CHM, holds the music
written and performed by Sister Marilyn Berger, CHM

We live in a war-torn world
So many people in pain
And I’m trying once again
To make sense of what I see
So many down and out…

This is the beginning of a song I started writing when I began working at Jefferson Center for Mental health in Lakewood, Colorado, in January of 2000. I’m still working on it.

I believe, as did Carl Rogers, that people are basically good. That given the right environment, they are naturally inclined towards wholeness. I also believe, as research has shown, that it is the therapeutic relationship, over and above any particular mode of treatment, that determines the extent to which a person will “get well.” And I am a relationship builder.

Sister Marilyn Berger, Licensed Clinical Psychiatrist
As a licensed clinical psychologist I work with an adult outpatient team and I love what I do. There are two types of people with whom we work: those who are chronically mentally ill and those who are emotionally ill. There may, or may not, be a great deal of difference between the two. 

Those whom I call chronically mentally ill are people whose brain chemistry is “a little off” and who, as a result, suffer from such illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, panic disorder or generalized anxiety. 

Those who are emotionally ill are those who, over the course of their lives, have developed poor thinking skills and/or poor coping skills and who, as a result, have great difficulty functioning in our society. 

My job? To be a resource person. To be an advocate. To be a teacher. To provide a supportive environment in which people can heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Into my 17th year here it has boiled down, for the most part, to focusing on each therapeutic encounter as a gift and attempting to be a conduit of God’s love. My work, as a Sister of Humility, reflects the work of the entire CHM congregation. 

In the movie, “In This House of Brede,” a particular sister was going out to serve and was asked how she could possibly leave Brede. She said, “I am not leaving Brede. I AM Brede.” 

Wherever I go, I do believe, there go the Sisters of Humility. We go where we are called to do the work, and where we go we go together. Wherever we are, may we continue to sing the Gospel song of faith, of hope and of love.