Working with Doctors and Psychologists








Question: Steve, as a biblical counselor, would you work cooperatively with a physician? A psychologist? 

Answer: Biblical counseling is meant to address moral, spiritual, and ethical issues. It deals with the sickness of the soul, which is caused by sin. The soul affects the body, but the body can affect the soul at other times. There are times when I, as a counselor, would not be able to treat or help a counselee because his problems are more physical and material than spiritual and moral. The counselee may be experiencing a physical ailment that is hindering his obedience to God or making his sin temptations worse. In such cases, I do not have the expertise or the license fix his physical ailments. The power of sin can be treated through biblical counseling (as evidenced by passages such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Romans 8:1), but physical problems (such as migraines, vision impairment, cancer, internal poising, severe chemical imbalances, etc.) are meant to be treated by physicians.

God has purposed physicians for this end. Biblical passages that speak of physical healing and treatment are James 5:14, Luke 10:34, and Colossians 4:14. They are the Lord’s gift onto the believing and unbelieving world through His common grace. I would work cooperatively with a physician, although I would prefer Christian physicians because their worldview, being more rooted in Scripture, would not incorporate humanistic, evolutionary, or other futile theories that are not of any use to the counselee. I would try to have as much of a cooperative relationship as I can with this Christian doctor in the course of the counselee’s time with me. That way I can figure out the degree to which my counselee’s sin problems and struggles is related to physical ailment or if it is purely a disobedience issue.

However, I would not be very inclined to refer counselees to psychologists. Since psychology deals mainly with behavioral changes and not physical treatment, it is not something that biblical counseling cannot address or remedy. In fact, biblical counseling is the equivalent of secular psychology because both practices seek to influence the moral and ethical direction of a person. The only difference is secular psychology is rooted in a humanistic view that is anti-biblical and does not seek to conform its patient into Christlikeness. Furthermore, it does not kill the root problem, which is sin. Verses such as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and other verses that attest to the infallibility and sufficiency of Scripture demonstrate that God’s Word, mediated through biblical counseling, is fully appropriate and necessary to bring a counselee to healing, restoration, and sanctification in Christ. No other theories or methods are needed and should be rejected if they run contrary to the doctrines, teaching, or end goal of Scripture. To believe otherwise would be to place the counselee’s spiritual health in jeopardy, because he will not find the healing that he needs, and that the Bible promises to give to those who obey its commands (2 Tim 3:15-16; Rev 21:4).