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What is Christian Counseling?


The question is not as easy to answer as it may seem as there are multiple views on the subject. However, Christian counseling is basically an integration of scientifically based psychology, theology, and to the extent the client is comfortable, spirituality. As Christian therapists, we want to hold the integrity of both science and Christianity and then give application in how to live out this integration which is spirituality.

Christians are called to interpret all knowledge with a commitment to the authority of Scripture as God’s word, however; we also recognize the importance of having a commitment to excellent research methodologies. We believe that the Bible is true in everything it teaches, but it does not say everything there is to say about every subject that exists. For this reason, there is a legitimate place for the study and application of psychology. Science is and must be based on an objective study of reality that can be directly observed and replicated by other researchers. While biblical truth is our foundation, Christianity is in no way diminished by acknowledging and using the findings of secular social scientists to inform our practice.


I think an excellent problem to use as an example is self-esteem. On the psychology side, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) (2022) confirms that there are clear links from research between self-esteem and mental health. They list the following as ways self-esteem can impact mental health: poor relationships, addiction, depression, and anxiety. In addition, there is much research that gives us information on how self-esteem is derived and structured (Byrne, 1996; Wylie, 1979; Skaalvik and Skaalvik, 2002).


However, there are intrinsic sources of self-esteem that we can offer from scripture. Christian belief states that we are made in God’s image and because of it we have intrinsic worth which is not dependent on our performance. We see this belief in our laws which are based on Judeo-Christian values and is the reason we stop for pedestrians -as human beings they have intrinsic value.  Additionally, Christianity displays the greatest act of love and value given to humans – Christ’s sacrifice for them so they could be reconciled to God.


So, both kinds of knowledge inform the practice of Christian counseling. Knowing the Christianity side can help clients explore a more hopeful answer than much of what research can offer.  As Myers (2010) suggests, psychology does not give answers to the ultimate questions in life.  It is limited. Christianity’s purpose is different – it does offer answers to the ultimate questions in life. 

 

by Deborah White, Ph.D., LPC

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