Biblical Counseling vs. Secular Counseling
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Articles by Patricia Jones, M.A.
Copyright © 2006 - 2014 Dove Christian Counseling Center. All Rights Reserved
Why Biblical Counseling is the only way to go ...
The very first thing that has to be decided by someone seeking counseling is whether or not they believe in God. If they do, then there is no reason to go to a secular counselor who many times does not believe in God, or who does not turn to God for help with life's challenges.
There are three types of counseling offered in the world to help us deal with human problems and dysfunctional lives. They are:
1.) Secular Psychotherapy
2.) Integrated Christian Counseling
3.) Authentic Biblical Counseling
Secular psychotherapy can be found in every city and is easily attainable. Secular counselors go to secular colleges and graduate school programs and their training is in the field of psychology and the humanistic approaches to human difficulties and challenges. Their philosophy is based on man solving his own problems, using his own resources, and not relying on any outside source to guide us. They do not address the spiritual dimension of humans, and they certainly do not bring God into the equation as having any influence on human issues or solutions.
Very rarely will they address moral issues and values and many times will go completely against what the Bible teaches. An example of this would be a client who comes to them because they are having an affair and they feel guilty about it and want to end it and confess the affair to their spouse. They are apt to tell the client to keep the affair a "secret" on the premise that "what they don't know, won't hurt them." By doing so, they have not helped the client with their "guilt feelings" and they have not helped the client with the consequences of having an affair.
Secular counseling depends upon human reason and research to answer life questions about people, problems, and solutions. Secular counseling assumes that there is no final answer or meaning to life. It does not address the spirit or the soul at all. And other than societies consequences, they do not help the client to go deeper to the eternal consequences of whatever issues they are dealing with.
Many people after counseling with a secular counselor come away with the feeling that they did not learn anything about their situation that they already did not know. This is because secular counselors rarely give advice that is active and requires action on the part of the client. Usually they just "listen" and "parrot back" to the client what the client is saying. So people become frustrated because they did not come there to have someone just "listen." They came because they needed actual advice, constructive criticism if the situation calls for that, and the actual TRUTH of the issue.
Integrated Christian Counseling “Integrated Christian” counseling, is also commonly found. These are good Christian people who have taken their secular degrees and training and “integrated” them with Scripture and prayer as they apply them to counseling hurting people. The problem is their knowledge of scripture is usually very limited, and other then saying they belong to a church, most of their counseling is secular with an occasional Bible verse thrown in for good measure.
The real truth is no matter how well intentioned they are, with the belief that they are providing “the best of both worlds”, they are NOT providing real, authentic Biblical counseling. They, are instead trying to integrate Scripture and secular psychology to help people.
Interestingly enough, psychology is a "new science" that has only been on the scene for about 100 years, while theology and the Bible have been around for thousands of years. So actually psychology grew out of theology, not vice versa. Many of the personality theories that secular counselors are taught are very similar to what Jesus taught, but they give it a different name and do not give Jesus any of the credit.
Authentic Biblical Counseling Authentic Biblical Counseling is based on the teachings of the Bible and a belief in God as our creator. It is based on the fact that we have the humility to know that God created us, and not the other way around. Since He created us, then He, above all others, should best understand how we think, how we operate, and how we work. Thus, He knows how to fix us. God can solve any problem that you could bring to Him.
ALL problems of the human race have SIN at their root. ALL dysfunctional problems that individuals and families face are the result of someone, at some point committing some sin that has resulted in turmoil, and suffering and destruction for many. Greed, lust, pride, adultery, stealing, lying, cheating, incest, sexual sins, arrogance, selfishness, murder, etc. are all sins that God tells us not to commit. And if we do He lays out the consequences of those sins.
Biblical counseling depends upon scriptural revelation to build a comprehensive, compassionate, culturally-informed approach to who we are, what went wrong, and how to solve the issues of the soul.
Biblical counseling, while appreciating our human limitations and understanding our cultural diversity, believes that in the Bible God has given us all that we need for life and godliness. The Bible provides real answers for real people with real problems.
God is the "source of wisdom" for every problem known to man. If you leave Him out of the equation and try to solve issues on your own, you will fail. A biblical counselor will work with you comprehensively. They will help you to identify the "root cause" of your problems, and show you the biblical prescription to solve them. They will help you to grow spiritually in Christ so that your relationship with God is restored and you will then have your own spiritual guidance to help you with life's many challenges.
They will help you to know God better, socially to love others more effectively, and self-consciously to apply and to understand who you are in Christ. Your biblical counselor will help you rationally to renew your relationship with Christ with the result that you will know the "mind of Christ" in all matters and be able to apply that to your life, others and yourself, so that you will have an eternal perspective on life, rather than a "no hope" secular one.
The difference really boils down to counseling provided according to “man’s best ideas on how things work” vs. “God’s best ideas on how things work”. I think the wise decision should be placed on God’s perspective on things given that He alone holds the title of Creator. Man is the creation; God is the Creator. Man cannot compete with God, on any level, for understanding how the life and the universe He created (out of nothingness) works.
Isaiah 55:8 tells us that “My ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts. As higher than the heavens are from the earth, that much higher are My thoughts from your thoughts and My ways from your ways”. (God does not think like us.)
In 1 Corinthians 3: 20 we are told “What is foolishness to God is wisdom to man; what is wisdom to man is foolishness to God”. Not only does God NOT think like us, but His ideas about how things operate often diametrically oppose ours. There are many reasons for this (i.e. He is ALL knowing and we understand very little) but the main reason for this fact is that He is HOLY and we are sinful.
So, in the end there are only two clear choices from which to counsel people: God’s Word, or man’s ideas –
The second distinct and profound difference between the two types of counseling, which flows directly from the first, is the TARGET of counseling. This is also of profound significance!
All secular approaches to human problems have something in common: they focus on the symptom of the problem, not the root of it. Secular counseling puts a "band aid" on the wound which temporarily covers it up. While Biblical counseling goes right to the "infection of the wound" and cleanses it, heals it, and erases it completely. Which would you prefer? A temporary fix that will come back or a permanent healing that will never surface again?
So biblical counseling goes to the "root" of the problem not the "symptom" of the problems. And the "root" of the problem really means the "heart of the matter." God tells us that all wickedness and sin come from the human heart.
The heart is wicked and deceitful, who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his sin. Proverbs 26:11
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 3
For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing” not knowing that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked”. Revelation 3:17
So a "change of heart" is what is necessary to solve human problems. When someone becomes a Child of God, they are a "new person." Most people are looking for help to change themselves or they are needing help with helping another person to change. God is all about CHANGE. While we alone cannot change another person, God, can change another person or circumstance. Many times He does this in ways we could never have anticipated, that are far better than what we thought should happen.
Secular counseling depends on biochemistry, genetics, and family of origin issues. And while these do factor in, they are not our destiny. Besides WHO gave you your biochemistry, your genes, or the family that you were born into? Was it not God?
A genuine understanding of what is wrong in our hearts and in the hearts of those we are dealing with is the true solution and healing. Only God can deal with our "sin problems" we cannot heal ourselves of our own sins. Simply because we are NOT GOD.
Some secular counselors will tell you that you are your "own God" and that as long as you love everyone and no one gets hurt, then there are many sins you can get away with. However, as you will find, sin has a circular life cycle. ALL sin, eventually leads to destruction and death. It never leads to healing and life.
So while the choice is yours, it is my desire that you will choose biblical counseling as the only way to solve life's problems. This requires a belief in God as our creator, and an understanding that we are the "created" and thus we are not capable of knowing what is the best for us without His guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit operating on our behalf and in our lives.
If you are in need of biblical counseling please do not hesitate to contact Patricia Jones M.A. by following the link below.
Patricia Jones, M.A.