By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
The world we live in is full of sin, suffering, and confusion. We live with the consequences of our own sin, the sins of others committed against us, and the original sin that left us and our world broken. Every one of us needs help and hope. And praise God, there is help and hope to be found!
While most people I know, including myself, have received secular therapy and/or Christian counseling, I would like to familiarize you with biblical counseling and its benefits. As someone who has tried it all, biblical counseling is where I have found lasting results. And, as someone who now serves as a biblical counselor, I can tell you that the examples of hope and healing I have seen in the counseling room have been powerful.
Maybe you’re grieving, struggling with addiction or mental health issues. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed, depressed, or suffering from anxiety. No problem is too big or too complicated to be seen, heard, and addressed through the lens of Scripture. Join me in exploring six benefits of biblical counseling.
1. Biblical Counseling is more than a “pray it away” mentality.
People often hear “biblical counseling” and picture themselves sitting in a room with a Bible on their lap, praying about their problems. While you will reference Scripture, and you will absolutely pray about your needs, it doesn’t end there.
Biblical counseling is about equipping God’s people to handle the trials of this life by leaning on the author and sustainer of our lives (Col 1:17). It’s about seeing that God’s Word applies to every situation you might find yourself in. It’s about learning that He is the great physician (Mk 2:17), the ultimate comforter (2 Cor. 1), and truly the only One who can bring about change.
Counseling, in and of itself, is not a cure-all, regardless of what type of counseling you receive. But biblical counselors know that the Bible is not silent when it comes to struggles of the mind and heart. Biblical counseling addresses the whole person - body and soul - and points to the comfort, healing, forgiveness, and restoration that comes only through our heavenly Father.
2. Biblical counselors are trained to teach you life-changing skills.
Biblical counselors are trained to give you coping skills grounded in biblical truth. To illustrate how this works, let’s consider the technique known in secular therapy as “reframing.” A secular counselor might teach you “reframing,” a technique used in Cognitive Behavior Therapy to identify negative or triggering thoughts and replace them with more balanced ones.
In biblical counseling, you would learn a skill similar to “reframing” but through the lens of the gospel, meaning you would learn to practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, which tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” The goal would be to help you not only replace negative thoughts with positive ones but to take it a step further and help you learn to live with a mindset that is fixed on Christ (Phil 4:8). A mind that is fixed on Jesus is a mind that will filter all of life through Him (Rom 8:5-6).
Learning coping skills through biblical disciplines not only sets you up for success in dealing with the current trials of this life, but it also prepares you for the trials to come. If you are a Christian and believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, shouldn’t the Word be where you go for your deepest struggles?
3. Biblical counseling will remind you of who you are and whose you are.
As someone who has experienced abuse and trauma, I know firsthand how easy it is to take on a victim mentality, to be consumed by triggers, and to wrap my identity around the things that have happened to me. Through biblical counseling, I was reminded of who I am - I am a child of God. That is my identity. I was also reminded of whose I am. I was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:20). The trauma I have experienced is not the sum of who I am, and it’s not the sum of who you are either.
When you find yourself rooted in the truth of who and whose you are, it’s easier to look back on the trials of life and relate, for instance, to the account of Hagar, found in Genesis 16. In verse 13, after being mistreated and cast out, she realizes she “serves a God who sees.”
Biblical counseling takes you from feeling alone in your struggles to a place of being fully seen, heard, and known. It takes you from a feeling of solitude to seeing historical accounts of people who endured similar trials. These historical accounts give you the opportunity to see your brothers and sisters from the past relying on the Lord and experiencing the work of His mighty hand.
4. Biblical counseling reaffirms our commitment to one another as family.
Wanting to keep our struggles private is normal. We worry that if others knew our deep, dark secrets, they wouldn’t like us anymore. There’s fear of being misunderstood, judged, or having our issues minimized. However, I would argue that biblical counseling is a necessary extension of our covenant to one another as church family members. Even if we don’t belong to the same local church family, we are part of the bigger family of Christ’s church. We are family, and we should care for and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
This idea is difficult for those with dysfunctional families of origin. The thought of counting on family for anything might seem absurd. However, the family of God should look different. Does the family of God ever disappoint? Absolutely. After all, we’re all still broken and sinful. Jesus was the only perfect person to walk this earth, so no matter what type of counselor you seek out, you won’t find a perfect one.
Our brothers and sisters who serve as biblical counselors aren’t claiming to be perfect. They do, however, know the perfect One. Biblical counselors see you as they see themselves - broken and in need of a Savior. They are committed to seeing you thrive not only in your life but also in your walk with the Lord. We are counselors and counselees, co-heirs with Christ; therefore, part of what makes biblical counseling naturally fit into church life is that both are sinners in need of grace. This is why we look to Scripture as our authority in the counseling room and grow together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. Biblical counseling allows for deeper relationships.
Most secular counselors adhere to a strict rule of no contact with clients outside the counseling office. While there are many understandable reasons for this, biblical counseling is fundamentally different in that the counselor wants to form a relationship with the counselee. Again, we’re family. If you are blessed to have biblical counselors in your local church, you have the benefit of seeing them on both sides of the fence. You see them in the counseling room and their day-to-day lives. You likely see them serving your church family in other ways, and you know that they live out what they teach.
You can also be assured that your biblical counselor doesn’t leave you and your struggles at the door. They pray for you throughout the week. When studying God’s Word, they think of you and ask the Holy Spirit to direct them in their conversations with you. They aren’t relying on themselves, the training they’ve received, or on their continuing education. They are relying on God.
Biblical counselors are trained and knowledgeable, but they also know they aren’t the ones who will change your life. They know it’s God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that will provide for your needs, open the eyes of your heart, and direct your path (2 Pet. 1:3-7). They rely on God to work in your life because they rely on God to work in their own life. Counseling with someone who is invested in your soul care is taking counseling to a deeper and more effective level.
6. Biblical counseling emphasizes spiritual growth.
By God’s grace, He allows us to take part in our own sanctification (Phil 2:12-13). He could heal you on the spot from your anger, depression, anxiety, or grief. He could instantly relieve you of your intrusive thoughts or PTSD. He could take away your desire for substance abuse in your first session. But often, He chooses not to work this way. He often allows us to face our deepest fears or continue walking through circumstances that make us feel inadequate or uncomfortable so that we can grow in our reliance on him.
Through our trials, God invites us to dig in, lean on him, and tune our hearts to his ways.
In other words, our help comes from the Lord, and often, that help comes in the form of us dedicating time to spiritual disciplines. Just as secular counseling usually requires homework, so does biblical counseling. Biblical counselors will tell you that change doesn’t happen in the counseling room. Change happens during the week when you spend intentional time with the Lord and work alongside him in your sanctification.
In my own experience, as a counselee and a counselor, people who are invested in the process and devote time to the Lord concerning their current struggle start to see the presence of the Lord in other aspects of their lives. They begin to see the faithfulness of God, even in their struggles, and as a result, their faith increases. They begin to see how God works for our good and his glory, even in our struggles (Rom 8:28).
Counseling can be overwhelming, no matter what type of counseling you seek out. I encourage you to trust fully in the healing power of our God. Remember, biblical counselors don’t disregard the findings of psychology and the work of psychologists. Psychologists are doing good, hard work. Biblical counselors are, however, convinced that the Bible has better, more complete answers to human problems.
If you are a child of God, don’t take your cares to the world - take them to Him! Allow someone who has devoted their time to seeking help in His Word to guide you through life’s struggles. He will meet you there. He will see you, hear you, and guide you on the path to a deeper, more meaningful walk with him. You aren’t guaranteed a quick fix, but a sure solution.