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  • Writer's pictureLee Freeman

The Cornerstone of My Counseling

Updated: Apr 13

A Bible turned to Psalms

When I meet or hear about a professional counselor, some of the most telling things about them are their primary therapeutic modalities—the theoretical frameworks and tools they use to approach counseling. These have profound implications for what sort of experience clients will have with them. There are over ten very popular modalities, but there are hundreds in total. As I continue to expand my knowledge of the evidence-based tools available to counselors, I have also gained a deeper appreciation for the cornerstone of my approach, which affects my professional practice far more than any therapeutic modality: the Bible.

When a person begins the holy work of coming to counseling, making themselves vulnerable, opening up wounds of the past, and humbling themselves to address issues in the present and/or seek input on plans for the future, a sacred space is created. Far too many counselors fill that space with their personal opinions or, perhaps even worse, culturally trendy advice. But there is a better option.

The God who created the universe, who knew your name before the earth was made, who has numbered every hair on your head—He has provided an owner’s manual for life written by the One who created mental health. Here are just a few examples of how the Bible sheds light in counseling:

  • It tells us about ourselves. Many people struggle with self-talk. Jason struggled with it mainly because of harmful messages he received during his formative years. Tragically, he was unconvinced by others’ positive appraisals of him, mainly for two reasons: 1) Those people don’t know him as well as he knows himself; they don’t see the things he hides, and 2) Those people are just people; the weight of their encouragements was insufficient to outweigh what others had believed, as well as what he himself believed. Jason found that meditating on what God says about him addressed both issues. God is omniscient. He knows Jason better than Jason knows himself. But God’s opinion of Jason is also infinitely more important than opinions of the imperfect people who made Jason believe he didn’t matter. Ironically, Jason found breakthrough in humility, believing that God’s opinion of him was more important than his opinion of himself. If the God of the universe knows Jason personally, wants to spend time with him, takes delight in him, sees every tear that falls, and names Jason as a co-heir with Christ, adopted as a child of God, destined to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven—who is Jason to deny God and undervalue himself?

  • It tells us about others. Just as we have immeasurable value, so do others. As we learn to love ourselves, we also learn to love others, learn to see them as God does. In so doing, we develop greater compassion for them and do a better job of extending Christlike love to them, even in their unworthiness. This is not the way of the world. The modern version of “an eye for an eye” is boundaries and blocking on social media. But Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us. “Because Jesus said so” is a good enough reason to do anything, but the Bible also says our unity and our love for one another will show the world we are Christ’s disciples. As if that weren’t enough, Jesus’s approach is actually better for our mental health because it involves forgiveness and love, two of the healthiest emotions. When we go the way of the world, we are left with bitterness and entitlement, not to mention a smaller support system. It’s a focus on others rather than ourselves. The Bible’s advice to help us not be so self-conscious? Be more conscious of God and of others.

  • It tells us about eternity. As a therapist, one of the most urgent problems I see in clients is a lack of hope. It’s a deadly deficiency. But tragically, all the hope this temporary world can offer is ephemeral. That’s why Jesus offers us living water so that we may never thirst again. We were not made for this world. We were made for eternity. When our hope is rightly placed there, everything else can be placed in proper perspective.

  • It offers wisdom. The Bible is a never-ending wellspring of insight for right living. This can be challenging for some people because some people misconstrue it as a set of rules that must be followed. A more biblically accurate interpretation would be an apprentice following a master. The master knows the best way to do things, and the good apprentice studies the master’s advice because he wants to be with the master and he wants to be like the master. Imagine using a screwdriver like a hammer. It would be frustrating and ineffective. Yet this is often what we do with life. God created it, and the Bible tells us how to use it.

As this post explores the merits of the Bible in supplementing our mental health, some readers may feel a sense of failure or shame at how they struggle with some of the above concepts. If that is you, please hear what comes next, for it is just as important as everything above: God’s ideal plan for humanity does not just involve reading your Bible and figuring your stuff out on your own; we need each other. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken!” The Bible says to “share one another’s burdens.” The utopian church in Acts shared “everything in common,” including struggles and needs. We need one another, as “iron sharpens iron.” In your journey of healing and holiness, God has purposed for both His Word and His people to play an integral role. The loving, omniscient God who created us surely knows how imperfectly we will pursue, yet he just as surely finds great pleasure in our pursuing him.


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