How Impact Family Christian Counseling Approach Differs and Aligns With Other Therapy Models

Section 1: Secular Counseling Models That Align With and Contradict Core Christian Beliefs

While effective at times in various contexts, secular counseling models are founded on principles and theories that can sometimes conflict with Christian theology and practice.

Here are some of the critical secular models and areas where potential conflicts may arise:

  1. Psychodynamic Therapy: This model is rooted in Freudian theory and emphasizes unconscious motives and childhood traumas as drivers of behavior. Conflicts with Christian theology might arise from Freud's generally negative view of religion, often describing it as a form of illusion or neurosis. Additionally, the focus on self and past over the potential for redemption and transformation through Christ can be at odds with Christian beliefs about healing and forgiveness.

  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on changing thought patterns to affect behavioral outcomes. While compatible in some ways with Christian practices (e.g., renewing the mind), the model can conflict with Christian theology when it emphasizes self-reliance or self-generated change without acknowledging the role of divine help or the power of the Holy Spirit in personal transformation.

  3. Humanistic Approaches:

    • Person-Centered Therapy: Developed by Carl Rogers, this model stresses humans' inherent goodness and self-healing capacities. It conflicts with Christian views of human nature, recognizing human sinfulness and the need for divine grace and redemption.
    • Gestalt Therapy: Focuses on self-awareness and personal responsibility, which can be viewed as neglecting the reliance on God and the community of faith central to Christian living.
  4. Behavioral Therapy: This approach treats behavior modification without necessarily addressing deeper spiritual or moral reasons behind behaviors. Christian theology would posit that behavioral change should be accompanied by heart change, something only achieved through spiritual transformation.

  5. Existential Therapy: While it addresses profound questions about meaning and existence that are also central to Christianity, existential therapy often posits that meaning is self-created rather than found through a relationship with God or in the truths of Scripture.

  6. Narrative Therapy: This therapy emphasizes constructing one’s own story, which may conflict with the Christian belief that our lives are part of a divine narrative crafted by God. In narrative therapy, subjective truth can conflict with the Christian view of an objective, God-given truth.

How Secular Models Conflict with Christian Practices

Authority and Source of Truth: Secular counseling often views truth as relative and self-defined, whereas Christian counseling upholds Scripture as the ultimate authority and the absolute truth that guides life and practice.

Human Nature and Sin: Many secular models operate under the assumption that humans are inherently good or neutral, fundamentally in conflict with the Christian doctrine of original sin and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ.

Goals and Outcomes: In secular counseling, the goal is often individual happiness or self-actualization. In contrast, Christian counseling aims for spiritual maturity, obedience to God, and usually self-sacrificial love by biblical teachings.

Role of the Counselor: In secular models, the counselor is a guide or facilitator to help the client find personal truth and healing. In Christian counseling, the counselor also acts as a spiritual advisor who guides and disciples, encouraging the client to form a deeper relationship with Christ.

Understanding these differences is crucial for Christians seeking counseling, as aligning the approach with one’s faith and beliefs is essential for genuine healing and growth. It's also beneficial for counselors to be sensitive to these differences to serve better clients who hold Christian beliefs.

Section 2: Christian Counseling Integration and Transformation

Christian Counseling encompasses a variety of approaches, each tailored to meet different therapeutic goals and client needs.

Here’s an overview of several primary types of counseling approaches, including those integrated with Christian therapeutic models:

  1. Psychodynamic Therapy: This approach explores unconscious processes manifesting in current behavior. It emphasizes understanding the impact of the past on present behaviors. It might also explore how spiritual conflicts influence these dynamics in a Christian context.

  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is action-oriented, focusing on identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking patterns that lead to negative emotions and behaviors. A Christian adaptation, often called "Christian CBT," integrates scriptural truths with cognitive behavioral techniques to reinforce positive change.

  3. Humanistic Approaches:

    • Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy): Developed by Carl Rogers, this approach supports the client's growth and potential through unconditional positive regard, empathy, and authenticity. In Christian counseling, this might be framed within the context of God’s unconditional love and acceptance.
    • Gestalt Therapy: This method emphasizes awareness of the present moment and the holistic nature of the self. Christian gestalt therapy might involve recognizing and acting by the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the present moment.
  4. Behavioral Therapy: Focuses on modifying specific behaviors, using learning techniques to change undesirable behaviors. Christian behavioral therapists might incorporate spiritual disciplines and practices as part of behavior modification strategies.

  5. Integrative or Holistic Therapy: This approach blends elements from different psychological theories and research schools, adapting to the client's unique needs. Christian integrative therapy combines psychological and spiritual disciplines, often incorporating prayer, scripture, and pastoral counseling.

  6. Narrative Therapy: This therapy centers on the stories people create from their experiences. Christian narrative therapy would involve re-framing these stories to emphasize divine providence, redemption, and spiritual growth.

  7. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): Focuses on finding solutions in the present and setting future goals. A Christian approach to SFBT might involve prayer and reflection to discern God’s direction for problem resolution.

  8. Family and Marital Therapies:

    • Family Systems Therapy: Looks at family communication patterns and their effect on individual psychosocial health. Christian family systems therapy might also explore family roles through biblical teachings on family and community.
    • Couples Therapy: Aims to improve relationship satisfaction through better communication and conflict resolution. In a Christian setting, couples therapy may also involve principles found in biblical teachings on marriage and forgiveness.
  9. Existential Therapy: Addresses internal conflict due to existential conditions such as death and freedom. Christian existential therapy incorporates these themes with a spiritual exploration of meaning, purpose, and faith in God’s plan.

  10. Art Therapy: Uses art-making to enhance mental and emotional well-being. Christian art therapy might incorporate symbols and stories from the Bible to foster deeper spiritual expression and healing.

These therapeutic models are often adapted to the client's specific needs and beliefs, making psychotherapy in Christian counseling a highly personalized and spiritually integrated endeavor.

Section 3: Biblical Counseling Integration and Transformation

In the realm of counseling, Biblical Counseling stands distinct as a therapeutic approach that integrates scriptural teachings directly into the counseling process. Here's an overview of various counseling approaches alongside an explanation of how Biblical Counseling complements, differs from and enhances these models:

  1. Psychodynamic Therapy: While traditional psychodynamic therapy explores unconscious processes and past experiences, Biblical Counseling focuses on how these can be understood and addressed through the teachings of Scripture, emphasizing the redemptive power of Christ in overcoming past wounds.

  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Like CBT, Biblical Counseling addresses dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors, but it explicitly uses Scripture to challenge and replace these thoughts, grounding change in spiritual transformation rather than just psychological adjustment.

  3. Humanistic Approaches:

    • Person-Centered Therapy: Both approaches value the inherent worth of individuals. However, Biblical Counseling also sees each person as created in God’s image, which adds a divine dimension to the counselor's unconditional positive regard.
    • Gestalt Therapy: Emphasizes awareness and holistic healing, but Biblical Counseling also considers these elements within the context of living according to the Spirit’s leading and biblical truths.
  4. Behavioral Therapy: Traditional and Biblical Counseling use behavioral techniques to modify behaviors. However, Biblical Counseling also considers the spiritual motivations for behavior change, often incorporating spiritual disciplines into the therapeutic process.

  5. Integrative or Holistic Therapy: This approach is naturally synergistic with Biblical Counseling, which integrates psychological insights with theological and spiritual truths to treat the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.

  6. Narrative Therapy: Both forms of therapy emphasize story, but Biblical Counseling frames personal narratives within the larger biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, helping individuals find their stories within God's story.

  7. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): While SFBT emphasizes solutions in the present and future, Biblical Counseling also involves discerning God’s will through prayer and Scripture, providing a spiritual framework for understanding and solving problems.

  8. Family and Marital Therapies:

    • Family Systems Therapy: Biblical Counseling approaches family dynamics, emphasizing biblical roles and responsibilities, aiming to foster healing and reconciliation according to scriptural principles.
    • Couples Therapy: In addition to communication and conflict resolution, Christian couples therapy deeply integrates biblical marriage principles, focusing on covenant commitment and Christ-like love.
  9. Existential Therapy: While existential therapy explores meaning and purpose, Biblical Counseling anchors these existential questions in a relationship with God, addressing spiritual crises with biblical assurances and the hope of the Gospel.

  10. Art Therapy: When used in Biblical Counseling, art becomes a means to express and explore one's faith, struggles, and redemption, often reflecting biblical themes and personal spiritual journeys.

Biblical Counseling itself is characterized by its direct use of the Bible as the primary source of guidance, wisdom, and therapeutic intervention. It views Scripture as sufficient for addressing life's problems and insists on the authority of biblical truths over psychological theories. This makes it both similar to and distinct from other counseling models, as it addresses psychological and emotional issues and deeply integrates the spiritual dimension, aiming for holistic healing that aligns with God's will and design.

Section 4: Biblical Counseling vs. Christian Counseling

Biblical counseling and Christian counseling are both approaches that integrate faith with therapeutic practice. Still, they differ in their methodologies, foundational assumptions, and sometimes in their application of Scripture and psychological theories. Here’s a closer look at each and how they contrast:

Biblical Counseling

Foundational Assumptions:

  • Scripture as Sufficient: Biblical counseling is based on the belief that the Bible provides all necessary counsel for life and godliness. It holds that Scripture is sufficient to address every issue about the human experience.
  • Direct Use of Scripture: This approach heavily relies on directly applying biblical passages, principles, and precepts to address specific issues in a counselee's life.
  • Problem View: Problems are often viewed as issues of sin or spiritual shortcomings, and the solutions are framed in repentance, forgiveness, and sanctification.


  • Counselor's Role: The counselor acts as a spiritual advisor whose primary tools are Scripture and prayer. The goal is to guide the counselee towards biblical truth and godly living.
  • Focus on Sanctification: The ultimate goal is spiritual growth and greater conformity to Christian values and behaviors as outlined in the Bible.

Christian Counseling

Foundational Assumptions:

  • Integration of Psychology and Theology: Christian counseling integrates psychological theories and techniques with Christian theology. It recognizes the value of psychological research and knowledge alongside biblical wisdom.
  • Broader Use of Resources: While Scripture remains a crucial resource, Christian counseling also utilizes psychological tools and theories that are not explicitly addressed in the Bible but are consistent with Christian doctrines.
  • Problem View: Issues are seen through both spiritual and psychological lenses. Problems might be understood as stemming from biological, psychological, social, or spiritual causes.


  • Counselor's Role: Christian counselors often have formal training in psychological counseling and theological training. They use a combination of psychotherapy techniques and spiritual disciplines.
  • Focus on Whole-Person Health: The aim is to promote overall well-being, encompassing emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational health.

Differences in Application

  • Theoretical Framework: Biblical counseling strictly uses the Bible as its theoretical framework, while Christian counseling is more open to integrating secular psychological theories as long as they do not contradict biblical principles.
  • Approach to Common Issues: For issues like depression, biblical counseling might focus on sin, spiritual discipline, and community support from a church, while Christian counseling could incorporate these alongside clinical approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy or medication if needed.
  • Professional Training: Biblical counselors may not always have formal training in mental health fields, but they are often trained specifically in theology and biblical studies. In contrast, Christian counselors are usually trained in accredited psychological counseling programs and may hold state licensure.


While both forms of counseling seek to incorporate Christian faith into the therapeutic process, they differ significantly in their approach to scripture, use of psychological science, and professional practice. Potential clients should consider their needs, beliefs, and preferences when choosing between these approaches to ensure alignment with their expectations and comfort with the counseling process.

Section 5: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian / Biblical Counseling

As practitioners of Christian counseling, we recognize the vital importance of being led by the Holy Spirit in our therapeutic practices. We believe that true healing and transformation are works of God's Spirit, who moves beyond human understanding and ability. Christian counselors, therefore, should be Spirit-filled, actively seeking the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit to transcend theoretical knowledge and engage in a practice characterized by spiritual depth and power.

We affirm that Christian counselors are free to be led by the Spirit and their conscience in determining the extent to which they integrate Christian models or adhere to a strictly biblical counseling approach. This freedom is crucial as it acknowledges that each counseling relationship is unique and that the Holy Spirit's leading can differ significantly from one situation to another.

In our commitment to therapeutic discipleship, we emphasize that counseling is not just about addressing mental and emotional issues but is also a process of spiritual formation. This discipleship involves walking alongside our clients toward Christlikeness, facilitated by an environment saturated with God’s grace. Through this grace, we are equipped to bring about healing, and through His power, we can participate in the divine act of transforming lives.

Christian counselors should, therefore, cultivate a deep sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's prompting, enabling them to apply biblical truths and psychological insights in a manner that is most beneficial to the client's overall well-being. Our goal is not only to resolve issues but to empower individuals to find their purpose and to use their lives for God's kingdom and glory.

In summary, Christian counseling is a dynamic and Spirit-led process where theory and knowledge are infused with the power of the Holy Spirit. This approach ensures that our counseling addresses the mind and emotions and profoundly touches the spirit, encouraging clients to grow in faith and spiritual maturity. We hold fast to the belief that through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can see lives improved and transformed, demonstrating the reality of God’s kingdom on earth.

Section 6: The Use of Scripture in Christian / Biblical Counseling

While not a textbook on counseling in the contemporary psychological sense, the Bible provides foundational principles for counseling and life transformation deeply rooted in spiritual and moral truths. Here are several key biblical teachings relevant to counseling and transformative life practices:

The Role of Wisdom and Understanding

  • Proverbs 1:5 - "Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance."
  • Proverbs 11:14 - "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety."

The Bible highlights the importance of seeking wisdom and counsel, suggesting that a community and a multitude of wise counselors can provide safety and guidance. This underscores the role of counselors in offering wise advice grounded in biblical truth.

The Importance of Inner Renewal

  • Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing your mind. Then you can test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

According to the Bible, transformation begins from the inside out by renewing the mind. This is particularly relevant in counseling as it points to the need to change one’s thoughts and attitudes in alignment with God's will.

The Power of the Holy Spirit

  • Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

The Bible teaches that true transformation is often a work of the Holy Spirit, manifesting in one's life through the fruits of the Spirit. Counselors can encourage clients to rely not solely on human effort but on the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

The Healing Impact of Confession and Forgiveness

  • James 5:16 - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

Confession and forgiveness are critical elements of healing and freedom in biblical teaching. These principles are integral to counseling, as they facilitate emotional and spiritual healing by addressing guilt, shame, and relational breaches.

The Necessity of Compassion and Love

  • Colossians 3:12-14 - "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

The Bible emphasizes love and compassion as fundamental to any interaction, including counseling. These virtues enable a deeper connection and facilitate a safe environment for healing and growth.


In biblical teaching, life transformation is primarily viewed as a spiritual process supported by wisdom, understanding, confession, forgiveness, and the active work of the Holy Spirit. Effective biblical counseling, therefore, involves applying these principles to help individuals overcome personal challenges, grow in their faith, and experience a holistic transformation that aligns with God’s purpose for their lives. This process is deeply relational and centered on scriptural truths, providing a profound and enduring approach to personal change.

Section 7: The Freedom Christian Counselors Have With Their Approach At Impact Family

In Christian counseling, we uphold the essential belief that the Holy Spirit is critical in guiding counselors through the therapeutic process. Christian counselors are entrusted with the profound responsibility of addressing mental and emotional health and fostering spiritual growth and discipleship. This dual role underscores counselors' need to be deeply attuned to the Holy Spirit's prompting and guidance.

We affirm that Christian counselors are granted the freedom, under the guidance of the Spirit and their conscience, to determine the degree to which they integrate various Christian counseling models or adhere to a strictly biblical counseling approach. This flexibility is crucial, recognizing that the Spirit’s leading can vary significantly depending on individual client needs and spiritual readiness.

Therapeutic Discipleship Emphasis:

Christian counseling transcends traditional therapy by incorporating a transformative process of therapeutic discipleship. This process involves more than psychological healing; it engages with the client's spiritual formation and quest for Christ-like maturity. Therefore, Christian counselors should be professionally competent and spiritually discerning, filled with the Spirit, and sensitive to His movements within the counseling session.

Integrating Christian principles and applying biblical truths are not merely theoretical exercises but are empowered by the Spirit to bring about real change. Counselors are called to rely on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, which enables them to go beyond human wisdom and facilitate profound spiritual renewal and empowerment.

Freedom in Counseling Approach:

Christian counselors should feel empowered to use their discernment in applying various degrees of integration between psychological theories and biblical truths. Whether employing methods that lean more heavily on scripture or incorporating broader Christian principles alongside psychological practices, the counselor aims to achieve the best outcomes for their clients spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

The liberty to adapt counseling approaches based on the counselor’s spiritual discernment and professional judgment is a fundamental aspect of Christian counseling. This flexibility ensures that the counselor can provide the most effective and appropriate care, uniquely tailored to each client's journey toward healing and growth.


In conclusion, Christian counselors are encouraged to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance in their practice continually. This allows for a dynamic and responsive approach that honors God’s sovereignty and reflects His love and compassion. By being open to the Spirit’s leading and integrating this with professional knowledge and techniques, Christian counselors can offer a holistic, transformative experience that promotes proper healing and discipleship, ultimately glorifying God and furthering His Kingdom.

Founder/CEO/Pastoral Counselor

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