Counseling & Coffee… Understanding the difference between traditional Psychology and Biblical Counseling

Counseling & Coffee… Understanding the difference between traditional psychology and Biblical counseling

by Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Recently a 6th grade student asked me a very insightful question after a chapel service for her home-school group in Orlando. She wanted to know the difference between the kind of psychology talked about on popular television programs and Christian counseling. It was a great question because every day the industry of psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy become more and more a normal part of our culture, but often this popular source of advice doesn’t include the kind of wise counsel talked about in the Bible. Here's how I answered her question with hopes that it will add value to your journey as well.

I believe that psychology is the study of human nature and behavior, which is extremely useful to reveal
Why people do the things they do.
However, psychology is often unreliable on guiding people with
What do to about their behavior
because it is based on a humanistic view of right and wrong which changes with each and every situation.

When people from different backgrounds are facing difficult situations- they tend to justify their decisions and excuse their choices to fit what is most comfortable for them at that time. God's Truth, as described in the Bible, is always the same and never changes. Having faith in Christ provides the main foundation for a person to view as they consider how to make wise choices in every other area of their lives.

As a Believer in Christ, my perspective on everything is changed, especially on how to provide wise counsel that is consistent to a Biblical world-view instead of from an ever changing secular world-view that tends to follow the advice or trends from different experts and authors who may be popular at the time.

Let me describe it through a word picture of a coffee-maker.

Psychology is like ground up coffee sitting in a coffee filter. It comes in hundreds of different flavors, consistencies and from different parts of the world. The amount you put into the filter may be slightly different each time, which gives you a different 'brew' each time. Sometimes its' too strong, other times it's too weak. When you open up the coffee container and take a big whiff, it might smell really good or it may smell quite bitter. It may be an expensive brand like StarBucks, or have special flavors like Barnies, but in the end, it's just coffee.

Human behavior is like the water that flows into the mixing area. It may be bottled water from a spring, or it may be tap water that has been treated with chlorine to be safe for drinking. Water is different if it's been flavored or has been mixed with chemicals or additives depending on where it came from in the world, (like the very good, but pricey Evian water from the Swiss Alps!) But no matter where it may come from, it's just plain old H-2-O, just water.

Faith in Christ and His Word is the coffee filter. That tiny paper filter is the most important part, because it sorts and strains out all the ground up ingredients of psychology mixed with whatever contaminants or impurities are in the water. You usually don't ever even see or notice a coffee filter, but who would want to drink a cup of all the muck it filters out?

Coffee filters are simple things that have an important purpose- safety & comfort. The safety is from not choking on the grounds. The comfort is what makes a cup of coffee enjoyable. You need both. Just like psychology needs Biblical Truth to provide a safe and comfortable place for people to build better lives.

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provided you leave the authors contact information intact in the box below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and partners with corporations and organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.

Access more complimentary counseling and coaching resources from The LifeWorks Group by visiting their extensive posting of blog’s and special reports designed to save you time by strategically solving problems at

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