Christian Counseling

Overview of Christian Counseling

Christian counseling degrees provide students with an introduction to concepts used in the evaluation of mental and emotional issues, along with basic psychological theories and counseling techniques. Taught from a biblical perspective, christian counseling programs offer a broad foundation in human behavior, brain function and theoretical approaches to counseling. Degrees in christian counseling are typically available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels.

A bachelor’s degree in Christian counseling provides a wide-ranging introduction to human behavior and prepares graduates for non-licensed counseling roles. Master’s degree programs are designed to for graduates who intend to pursue state licensure and professional counseling work in hospitals, churches, and other clinical settings. Doctorate programs provide advanced training in specialized areas of counseling, including pastoral marriage and family counseling, pastoral counseling, and psychotherapy.

Career Paths with a Degree in Christian Counseling

There are many career paths open to graduates of Christian Counseling programs, depending on the degree level. With an associate or bachelor's degree, it is possible to find entry-level positions in case management, community relations, advocacy and Christian counseling. Graduates can become involved in crisis intervention, family support, and helping people with developmental disabilities. Other options include positions as worship leaders or pastoral counselors.

By earning a master's degree in Christian Counseling, even more opportunities are available. A graduate degree program provides a more in-depth exposure to methods and techniques which serves as preparation for a counseling career in a church, agency or private practice.

Christian Counseling Degrees Online

In order to pursue a career in Christian Counseling, you need to have a degree. Undergraduate degree programs at accredited institutions provide a strong foundation with a combination of coursework and capstone experiences. Graduate level programs allow students to delve deeper into psychological theories while integrating Christian faith and sound counseling principles. The next section will examine the objectives and curriculum requirements for earning an associate, bachelors, or master's degree in Psychology-Christian Counseling.

Associates in Christian Counseling

A two-year Associate in Christian Counseling program helps students understand the multi-faceted aspects of the profession. Students are challenged to integrate faith and the study of human behavior in an academic environment. Many students transfer to a bachelor's degree program in Psychology - Christian Counseling after graduation. By the end of an associate degree program, students should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Understand the major doctrines of the Bible.
  • Integrate a biblical view with an understanding of the relationship of Christianity to the counseling process.
  • Identify personal areas of spiritual growth.

Sample Associates Degree Curriculum

The coursework in an associate degree program consists of a combination of core competency and elective classes. General Education requirements include communication, humanities, mathematics, physical science, social science and biblical studies courses. Major Core requirements include psychology course such as those in the table below:


Introduction to General Psychology

Overview of the rapidly changing science of psychology that introduces principles and approaches believed to guide human behavior.

Introduction to Social Psychology

Broad introduction to the scientific study of human social influence and interaction that explores the various ways people think about, affect, and relate to one another.

Integration of Psychology and Theology

Critical examination of the implications of a Christian worldview for counseling and marriage and family practice.

Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships

Survey of basic psychological principles that emphasizes self-disclosure, trust, verbal and nonverbal expression of feelings and more, as well as the value of cultivating diverse relationships.

Bachelors in Christian Counseling

A Bachelors in Christian Counseling program prepares students to work in any field that requires an understanding of human thought and behavior from a Christian perspective. Graduates may pursue careers in areas such as business, ministry, social work, or continue their education in a master's level program. By graduation, students should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of psychopathology and psychotherapy.
  • Display a strong understanding of psychological statistical research methods.
  • Demonstrate a solid grasp of basic theories and techniques of counseling.
  • Communicate biblical principles within the context of a counseling setting.

Sample Bachelors Degree Curriculum

The bachelor's degree curriculum focuses on human behavior and development, listening and assessment techniques, counseling theory and skill building. In addition to General Requirements and Electives, students must take a number of Psychology and Christian Counseling courses, including those in the following table:


Statistics in Psychology

Basics of conducting psychological data analysis and hypothesis testing, including an overview of statistical tests and the concepts behind them.

Abnormal Psychology

Examination of psychological disorders, including theories for their development, symptomology, and system of classification.

Issues of Christian Counseling

Recent research and strategies for dealing with problems such as AIDS, homosexuality, violence and eating disorders including practical, professional guidance.

Christian and Counseling in Marriage and Family

Examination of ways in which psychologists have investigated human nature and investigation of the development of psychological theories and investigative methods.

Statistics for the Social Sciences

Fundamentals of analyzing numerical data in a social science context with an emphasis on an intuitive understanding of statistical formulae and models and their application.

Introduction to Research Methods

Introduction of the language of research, ethical principles and challenges, and the elements of the research process within quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches.

Additional possible topics covered:

  • Hone self-knowledge as a foundation for interpersonal skills work
  • Trauma and addictions knowledge and procedures
  • Survey of basic concepts and techniques of modern psychology as a behavioral science
  • Survey of historical models of Christian psychology
  • Understanding of Christ’s life as archetype for various issues and afflictions that patients experience
  • Examination of selected topics pertaining to human information processing
  • Evaluation of the importance of attention, memory, pattern recognition, consciousness, language, dyslexia, decision making, and problem solving
  • Analysis of the above mechanisms through a Christian ideology
  • Introduction to current research and theory for children's social, cognitive, and physical development from 0 - 13
  • Interdisciplinary study of the mind and intelligence
  • Cognitive science’s perspective on philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology
  • Contemplate central questions about the nature of thinking
  • Survey of the core concepts of mental representation, computational models of mind, selfhood, otherhood and consciousness.
  • Developmental exploration of issues associated with cognitive, emotional, sensory, spiritual and physical differences and challenges.
  • Introduction to the science of social behaviour and social influences on behaviour
  • Research on current theories on attitude change and persuasion, and faith conversion will be explored.
  • Self-inventory of stereotypes and prejudice, conformity and obedience to authority, altruism, conflict, attraction and love in individual, religious and pro-social dynamics.
  • Discuss the emergence of Christian counseling as a clinical model for healing.
  • Understand the modalities of those clients with whom you wish to work
  • Consider the ethics of creating a sound Christian practice

Online Christian Counseling Masters Degree

Christian Counseling Masters programs are designed to integrate Christian faith with sound clinical practice in counseling. Students develop counseling skills necessary to work in churches, church-related institutions, Christian counseling clinics and secular counseling facilities. By graduation, students should be able to meet the following objectives:

  • Articulate essential theological and philosophical doctrines.
  • Ability to integrate psychological truths within a theistic worldview .
  • Knowledge of psychological theory, assessment, and therapeutic processes to begin professional development and credentialing.

Sample Masters Degree Curriculum

A master's degree program in Psychology-Christian Counseling curriculum allows students to explore counseling theories and methods, family system, developmental psychology, group therapy, and career development from a Christian worldview. Most programs include a capstone course designed to integrate students' theory, faith and clinical field experiences. The table below defines some of the courses found in a Psychology-Christian counseling master’s degree program:


Ethical and Professional Issues in Psychology

Examines and discusses the value of empirical evidence, tolerance of ambiguity, ethical behaviors and other values that underpin psychology as a science.

Methods and Techniques in Christian Counseling

The philosophical and theoretical foundations of the helping process integrated with a Christian worldview.

Clinical Psychopathology

Diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology, included introduction to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Addictions and Compulsive Disorders

Theories, etiology, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of addictive and compulsive disorders from the resiliency, recovery and medical models.

Diversity and Multicultural Issues

Investigates interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches that address complex multicultural and diversity impacts on healthcare and education in contemporary society.

Personality Assessment

Introduction to the assessment of personality and behavior, including assessment techniques used in planning for remediation and treatment.

Spiritual Formation

Study of the nature of spiritual life through examination of biblical, theological and sociological foundations for Christian spirituality.

Pursuing a Masters in Christian Counseling shows a candidate’s intent to counsel individuals, families, couples and groups through their personal issues, problems and addictions using a counseling methodology centered in Christ’s life and teachings. Christian counseling students work independently or in group practice to become licensed counselors and therapists.

Additionally, some graduate students view the Master’s degree in counseling as a way to enter the world of business or private practice. While graduate studies do vary, candidates hone skills to help others by applying different techniques and treatments targeted to each client’s situation, such as:

  • Introduction to theories and models of counseling including temperament theory; research impacts of models across modalities to gain a clear idea of strengths of each
  • Research into the personal of the counselor through ideologies of the various founding fathers of psychology
  • Feminist critiques of Christian Counseling theory and method
  • Evidence-based practice and data tracking in the Christian counseling setting
  • Research psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies
  • Research common outcomes and hurdles to effective Christian counseling
  • Research and practice empirically-supported treatments that align with cognitive therapy, and the role of the counselor in this process
  • Gather data on the common factors of change, and draw archetypal generalities based on evidence in order to deduce thematic elements of struggle
  • Research the client as a common factor amongst counseling interactions - focus on solutions and narrative therapies
  • Practice psychotherapeutic integration of the four main factors of the counseling dynamic: patients, counselors, relationship and expectation
  • Research the counseling model as the common factor in the dynamic. Assess and develop milestones for treatment using this rubric
  • Consider the counselor-patient relationship as a factor for success. Discuss ethics and coping techniques to manage vicarious stress
  • Managing hope, expectations, and placebo effect in the counseling dynamic

PhD in Christian Counseling

While students who pursue a PhD in Christian counseling may indeed intend to practice as a licensed counselor, the primary aim of any PhD program is to ensure an exacting degree of expertise in research in a specialized area, while also ensuring that candidates have a solid foundational background of information to relate their research interests appropriately. While each area of specialization is slightly different given a candidate’s aptitude and approach, most PhD programs will have the following elements:

  • Engage in focused research endeavors from the outset of the PhD program
  • Gradually attain academic independence from chosen advisor as specific research interests are developed
  • Study a range of topics that focus on both the behavioral and neurological hallmarks of the patient
  • Work with the overarching goal to advance Christian counseling’s clinical level of expertise
  • Commit to empirical approaches to using testable hypotheses while advancing theory and practice by this method
  • Appreciate the field of Christian counselling as a foundation for meaningful inquiry and practice
  • Hone knowledge of a broad array of evidence-based psychological theories and research as well as the Christian framework and archetypes for practice
  • Commit to integrating science and Christianity in practice in order to further patient well being both at an individual and societal level.
  • Contribute through theory, research and practice in ways that are meaningful to clinical practice
  • Prepare exemplary and clear research proposals
  • Ensure that research endeavors remain relevant to avenues of clinical practice
  • Develop adroitness at disseminating and communicating research findings to a broad audience
  • Hone ethical and professional standards in academic and Christian clinical settings
  • While endorsing the Christian archetypal and behavioral framework as goals, support multicultural and diversity aspects of counseling and relationships
  • Develop assessment, program evaluation and action plans using evidence based theory
  • Exercise professional communication skills, including teaching and supervision