Christian Counseling vs. Biblical Counseling Models

The labels of Christian Counseling and Biblical Counseling do little to clarify the difference between them nor do they define the distinctions within these two surprisingly dissimilar approaches. As a result, people looking for a Christ centered healing experience from a life challenge are likely to be surprised with what they find. It is important to understand the distinctions to avoid a frustrating and potentially expensive false start in trying to get help.

This list of key differences should provide some direction:

Key difference #1 – Foundational Approach

  • Christian Counseling is primarily focused on modifying behavior through the use of secular therapy delivered by a Christian counselor. A spiritual perspective may be added to varying degrees. Does not often include prayer.
  • Biblical Counseling is focused on using Biblical truth to change behavior and incorporates prayer as a key element.

Key difference #2 – Mechanism for change

  • Christian counseling functions under the belief that if you believe differently, you will act and feel differently. Largely avoids beliefs that are at the level of character, faith and values.
  • Biblical Counseling generally operates under the concept of “sufficiency of scripture” within which is the supposition that if you know what the Bible says, your awareness combined with your effort to comply will bring change.
  • Rock House Center Biblical Counseling relies on facilitating God-led conviction regarding the condition of one’s heart as compared to the character of Christ and responding in repentance as the basis for change.

Key difference # 3 – Mechanism for sustained change

  • Christian Counseling and virtually all Biblical Counseling attempt to sustain change through new beliefs empowered by one’s discipline to override the unwanted emotions or behavior.
  • Rock House Center Biblical counseling places trust in God to remove unwanted emotions and reduce the desire for the unwanted behavior, so that the client progressively makes more successful life decisions.

 Awareness of these key differences is a valuable guide in finding the counseling model that most resonates with one’s religious beliefs and practices. More importantly, following the guide should reduce the time, energy and resources expended before relief from the life challenge is realized.