I used to think there was only one type of counseling, but that is not the case. This past year I began learning about biblical counseling. To better understand the differences between secular and biblical counseling I decided to write this article.
What are the differences between biblical counseling and secular counseling? The difference between Biblical and secular counseling is Biblical counseling uses God’s word as the source to assist the client. Secular counseling uses techniques developed by medical professionals to assist the client.
Time to dive into the differences between secular and biblical counseling.
3 Differences Between Biblical And Secular Counseling
Both Biblical and secular counseling focuses on helping you find healing from life’s issues. However, biblical and secular counseling are entirely different forms of counseling with three main differences.
These differences completely separate these two different forms of counseling and show why Christians should lean more towards biblical counseling.
1) Worldly Perception V.S. Biblical Perception
The first difference is the perspective from which both forms of counseling are influenced.
Secular counseling works from a worldly perspective. This means that all of what is practiced is influenced by the world.
All solutions and techniques are taken from mental health professionals and based on science. This causes the client’s success to be based on how they’re viewed by the world and the results of tests based on science.
Biblical counseling solely focuses on the Bible alone as the center of its practice. All techniques, advice, and beliefs come from God’s Word.
Since God is the creator of everything and all-knowing we can rely on His Word for every problem we face. This causes the client’s success to be based on how much they are seeking God in their lives and feeling like they are in a better spot spiritually.
2) Happiness From Self V.S Happiness From Christ
The second difference between Biblical and Secular counseling is where each believes happiness to be found.
Secular counseling believes that true happiness can only be achieved through one’s self. Because of this, the treatment plans focus on having the person change or achieve what they are desiring.
For example, if a client comes in struggling with loneliness, the counselor would most likely help them get to a point where they can either find a spouse or feel content with singleness. This however is only a short-term fix to a long-term issue.
Biblical counseling believes that true happiness/ joy can only be found through Christ alone. The treatment plan created by Biblical counselors focuses more so on helping the client obtain a closer relationship with Christ. They walk the client through their specific problem by using the Bible.
Unlike secular counselings view, this is a long-term fix to a common issue. We can find this in 1 John 15:9-11,
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.1 John 15:9-11
Through our heavenly father’s love for us we are able to receive true never ending joy.
3) Human Categories V.S Biblical Categories/Terms
The third and final difference that I’ve discovered between Biblical and Secular counseling are the categories and terms used by each.
Secular counseling uses human categories/terms in its practices. This means that they use techniques discovered and created by humans and categories as discovered by mental health professionals.
It focuses on the belief that humans are able to create solutions to problems with the help of science.
Biblical counseling uses biblical categories/ terms in its practices. Examples of these categories/terms are sin, repentance, the enemy, salvation, etc.
All of the terms are found within God’s word. As Christians, it’s important that these are terms we become familiar with and address because God alone is the way, truth, and life.
Though they both use different terms it’s important to note that each type of counseling may agree on a specific thing, but just be using a different term.
Biblical And Secular Counseling Defined
Now that I’ve explained the differences between the two it’s also important that I define each type of counseling.
What Is Biblical Counseling?
Biblical counseling is simply using the Bible as a guide for what to do and to provide comfort to the person receiving counseling.
When we dive deeper into it though it is really one disciple discipling another follower of Christ as they walk through different trials in their life.
Biblical counseling focuses on not only God’s word but also His character. Using the Bible as the foundation for counseling allows for truth and love to truly be united in counseling.
God’s Word is truth and He is love, putting both together allows for the counselor to shine a light on what’s really going on in the other person’s life and to do it in a way that is caring.
The ultimate goal of Biblical counseling is the same as secular counseling, to help people find solutions for the problems they face.
8 Benefits Of Biblical Counseling:
Biblical counseling has it’s own specific benefits to help Christians receiving counseling.
- It is Christ-centered
- Helps the client grow in relationship with Christ
- Offers long term solutions
- Helps the client grow in the knowledge of God’s word
- Helps the client become more vulnerable with God
- Offers hope to the client
- Helps the client learn how to fight spiritual warfare
- Helps the client to become independent in seeking healing through God’s word.
Biblical counseling works to provide inner healing in a Christ-focused way.
What Is Secular Counseling?
Secular counseling is when a licensed counselor uses science-based techniques to provide guidance to their client. It has a worldly mindset around mental health disorders and is usually goal-oriented.
In this setting, the counselor does not advise. Instead, they listen and use the client’s own words to help them find their solution.
Secular counseling allows the client a safe person to go to when facing trials and receive answers. It allows the client to feel a sense of belonging by feeling understood and cared for, though the counselor-client relationship is strictly professional.
It also focuses on helping the client to find happiness through doing whatever will bring them joy.
4 Benefits Of Secular Counseling:
- Offers opportunities for healing
- Helps client feel understood
- Gives client helpful techniques to grow
- Helps client cope with struggles
Secular counseling does have benefits. Christians need to use wisdom with secular counseling.
Healing only comes from God, not ourselves.
Before you make your decision on which type of counseling will work best for you, I recommend that you spend time in prayer. Go to your Heavenly Father for His advice, and know that biblical counseling will help you invite Him into the problems you are currently facing.