How do psychology and biblical counseling work together?

Nouthetic counseling (also called biblical counseling) views the Bible as having all the resources and tools needed to address any situation. One key verse is 2 Timothy 3:16–17: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

"Biblical counseling" is different from "Christian counseling," which may integrate the theories and practices of secular psychology into counseling yet do so from a Christian perspective. This is not to say that Christian counseling is not biblical; the approaches are different. Some biblical counselors reject secular psychology whereas many Christian counselors view it as a useful tool when used through a biblical lens.

Biblical counselors see many human problems as spiritual problems. Much of secular psychology relies on the findings and theories of non-Christians such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. Non-Christians are described in the Bible as spiritually dead, so biblical counselors believe these psychologists would have a false view of the human condition and therefore could offer little help.

Much of secular psychology is also humanistic—focused on finding the solution within the human. Some psychological theories reject the spiritual aspect of life; most do not uphold the truth of God's Word or an absolute moral standard. Often psychotherapy addresses each person's perceived need for self-esteem, love and acceptance, and significance. It is believed that when these needs are met, a person can live a fruitful, functioning, happy life.

Biblical counselors see people's problems as primarily stemming from spiritual causes. They know that each person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). The Bible addresses humanity's nature, spirituality, fall into sin, the consequences of sin, and humanity's current relationship with God. The Bible, then, is the best resource for helping people with these difficulties.

Furthermore, biblical counselors point to the Bible's declaration that each person's heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and that only seeking wisdom from God (James 3:17) and applying the truth of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:3–4) will address any difficulty effectively. Biblical counselors often try to "get out of the way" and let God speak to a person through the Bible. They are focused on ministering God's love to counselees in a way that deals with sin and produces godly obedience.

Simply put, secular psychology does not work with biblical counseling. Secular psychology is rooted in the theories of man and meant to provide clients with more fulfilling lives. Biblical counseling is rooted in the Word of God and intended to further sanctification.


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