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How Effective Is Christian Counseling?

on Dec 31, 2011 | 2 comments

When I first started teaching at Lubbock Christian University in the Fall of 1993, I had students in my psychology courses who asked me why a Christian university taught psychology.  At the same time, I was working on my doctorate in counseling and had professors and other doctoral students question how I could hold Christian values and be an effective counselor.

Blessedly, times have changed opinions on both sides of the dichotomy that was created between counseling and religion.  Now, Christian counseling is a recognized profession. However, the research about the effectiveness of religious and spiritual therapies is just beginning.

In January 2010, the Journal of Clinical Psychology published an article based on a meta-analysis conducted by Hook, Worthington, Jr., Davis, Jennings II, and Gartner.  The article reported that statistically the meta-analysis of existing research found only limited evidence that religious therapy was more effective than secular therapy.  The researchers suggested that the effectiveness of religious therapies may be related to client preferences and counselor comfort with religious therapies.

The article strongly recommended that additional research needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of religious therapies.  I strongly concur.  While I readily accept the wisdom of Biblical teachings, demonstrating the effectiveness in utilizing Biblical concepts in counseling through scientific research becomes one more avenue for reaching professionals who would question how Christians can be counselors.


  1. I give Christian counseling much of the credit for emerging from 2011 whole and happy. After my life exploded, my counselor promised me: I PROMISE I will help you get through this. Now, 7 1/2 months later, people tell me I have come so far and that I am myself again. He has walked with me through the fire and I enter 2012 with emotional scars, yes, but scars are evidence of victory over pain. I look to the future gratefully now for all I have received through counseling.

    Karen Kennedy

    January 1, 2012

  2. I am happy to report that things are working much, much better for my wife and I, both individually and as a couple as a result of having teamed up with our Christian Counselor. I am not sure if her effectiveness has to do with having also a secular degree in Counseling or if it is solely the Holy Spirit’s leading of her Christian knowledge as to how to deal with the issues we bring..

    As a student in Seminary, working on a Master’s in Christian Counseling, I do appreciate my secular background in Social Work, as well as my now intense study of the word of God, and the methods necessary to interpret it to help others with their lives.

    Thanks for your insightful article.. Perhaps if I decide to pursue further studying in seminary, I can address research in the effectiveness of Christian Counseling alone, vs. Christian Counseling aided by Psychology and/or Social Work.

    Ed Fernandez

    February 28, 2012

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