There are many ideas and misconceptions surrounding the field of Christian counseling. There is also quite a lot of controversy in the discipline’s past. Debates about the legitimacy of the practice and questions about what truly defines Christian counseling are still common today, even in spite of the number of theology students and pastors choosing to pursue it. At Colorado Theological Seminary, we understand how important it is to stay apprised of the issues surrounding Christian counseling. That’s why we are going to take a deeper look at the differences between Christian counseling and secular counseling.
Secular counseling varies from Christian counseling in a couple of fairly obvious ways. One of the primary differences is in the way one goes about receiving a degree or certification in secular counseling. Typically, secular counselors will pursue higher education and will achieve Masters and/or Doctorate degrees in order to practice psychology/psychiatry. These fields are grounded purely in secular tenets and ideologies. While some are open to religion in general, many will dismiss the idea of Christian counseling altogether. Another key difference is that secular counseling relies on the theories and ideas of other prominent thinkers in the field; individuals like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. The problem with this type of approach is that it focuses solely on the psychoanalytical, ignoring moral, ethical, and spiritual issues altogether.
Christian counseling can be thought of as an umbrella term, covering both Integrated Christian Counseling, as well as Biblical Counseling. Let’s take a separate look at each approach.
Integrated Christian Counseling
Integrated Christian Counseling represents a “best of both worlds” approach, incorporating the scientific discoveries and theories of secular counseling and combining it with Biblical principles. This approach recognizes that there is value to be had in both methodologies, and applies principles from each to every patient and situation. There are detractors from both the purely secular and purely religious camps. Secular psychologists and psychiatrists (some, not all) argue that religion has no place in scientific and medical practices, while proponents of purely Biblical counseling argue that this approach does not actually incorporate Biblical knowledge or principles.
Biblical Christian Counseling
Pure Biblical Christian Counseling relies solely on the Word of God. Proponents of this path claim that Biblical Counseling is the most effective way to approach various issues because it relies on the Bible, God’s perfect plan for humanity. The argument goes that God created human beings and that His plan above all is perfect for our lives. Problems that we face on a daily basis all have their roots in sin, and the Bible teaches that there is only one cure for sin — salvation. All other theories and methods fall short of this solution.
No matter which camp you belong to, it is important to understand the differences and the issues surrounding your chosen field. As students of an online Christian seminary, we hope that you will continue to investigate and grow in your faith, in your education, and as a person in general. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to deal with issues and conflicts as they arise.
Contact Colorado Theological Seminary to learn more about our Christian counseling programs today!