Perspectives on the Compatibility of Christianity and Psychology

What should Christians think of the sciences of psychology and psychiatry? I'm not sure that it's fair to assume that all of our problems have a physiological or psychological basis. Aren't some issues purely spiritual in nature?

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God designed human beings as physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual beings. All of these aspects of human nature interact with each other, so it’s rare that we encounter a problem that’s exclusively spiritual. In saying this, we aren’t necessarily asserting that ” all of our problems have a physiological or psychological basis,” but we are contending that physiological and psychological factors are almost always an important part of the overall mix. As a result, it is possible for Christians to find substantial help with many of the difficulties they face in life by consulting with a qualified physician or psychologist.

It is true, of course, that there are many points at which secular psychology not only does not support traditional Christian teachings, but often contradicts them in very destructive ways. For this reason, believers need to exercise discernment in seeking psychological treatment. In fact, we strongly recommend that they receive therapy only from practitioners who share their Christian faith. This is why we take great pains to ensure that all of our staff counselors and Christian Counselors Network provide services solely on the basis of a practical Christian worldview. This includes praying for clients (before, during, and after treatment) and working with specifically scriptural concepts, principles, and references. We are concerned that the counseling we provide should be thoroughly biblical in character as well as scientifically sound. Ultimately it is not the wisdom of man but the work of the Holy Spirit that heals.

In short, we can’t possibly agree with those who maintain that Christianity and psychology are completely incompatible. This misguided perspective fails to take account of the fact that psychologists do far more than engage in the practice of psychotherapy. Among other things, they evaluate children for learning disorders, provide intervention in cases of alcoholism and drug abuse, and offer sensitive guidance to individuals who are dealing with family conflicts or contemplating a career change in mid-life.

For further insight into this important issue, we suggest you read Dr. Gary R. Collins’ classic book, The Rebuilding of Psychology, which summarizes the field of psychology from a Christian perspective. You should be able to locate a copy through online booksellers or a local bookstore. A more recent book by Dr. Collins that you might also find interesting is Christian Counseling which can be ordered via our Online Store. If you’d like to discuss this subject at greater length with a member of our staff, feel free to call our Counseling department.

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide 


Referrals

American Association of Christian Counselors

Hart Institute

Copyright © 2010, Focus on the Family.

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