Ever since Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, human thinking has been marred by sin. People distort truth, embellish stories, and abuse others with their words. The absolute truth-telling that exists in the mind of God is unfortunately uncommon in His Creation. In this paper, I will focus specifically on how sin has affected the world’s approach in counseling, and whether that approach can be redeemed through biblical counseling.
“We can show you the way to a happy, fulfilled, self-actualized living.”
This is the world’s approach to counseling. It is focused on the self, control, power, and the potential within rather than a way that honors God. For example, Sigmund Freud believed the problem of the individual was societal because it built a wrong set of values into the individual—causing guilt. Thus, instead of owning up to one’s own mistakes, Freud advised the individual to blame shift his wrongful behavior.
This is counter-intuitive to the Bible. When God confronted Adam about eating from the tree, he said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it (Gen. 3:12).” Adam not only blamed the woman, who is part of his environment, but he also blamed God for creating her. Then, when God confronted Eve, she also blamed her environment. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate (Gen. 3:13).” God was looking for both of them to confess their sins and take responsibility. By doing so, God forgives and purifies us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9).
Another secular-focused counselor, B.F. Skinner, believed all humans were conditional animals. His treatment plan consisted of rearranging the environmental expectations by reprogramming the person through the use of reward and punishment. By training the person to behave in a manner acceptable to society, he or she would adapt and become fulfilled.
However, this mode of thinking doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. God’s word not only tells us to change our sinful behavior—anger, deceit, sexual deviance, bitterness, etc. He also tells us to replace those ill-behaved mannerisms because God’s word teaches us to conform to the image of Christ, not the image of society.
Carl Rogers, the founder of the humanistic approach to counseling, believed humans are essentially good and have the innate ability to handle their own problems. His treatment plan was to listen to individuals and urge them to look within themselves to discover their own solutions. He encouraged his clients to find their own solutions through self-discovery.
It is true that we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) and can find solutions through self-reflection and introspection. However, the word of God teaches that we have a wicked and deceitful heart. We are not to lean on our own understanding, but rather let the Lord direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
In conclusion, it is evident there are differences between secular-based thinking and biblical thinking. The world’s approach says man is essentially good, the environment is the main problem, and truth can be found through deep introspection. The Bible says man is essentially sinful, the environment and individual responsibility are the main problems, and truth is found in God (Jn. 14:6), not within our human psyche.
Logically, since both of these worldviews are diametrically opposed, only one of them can be right. In my opinion, I think the biblical perspective is truer because it corresponds more closely to reality. What are your thoughts? Please feel free to comment below.
 Jay Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling, p. 166.