Holistic approach to counseling

Christians should use the widest possible lens for understanding and addressing human behavior.

A vision of humanity based on Scripture provides us with a unique advantage for being holistically honest in dealing with human problems.

What do I mean by this?

Those who understand that God created us as physical, social, psychological and spiritual beings (with three dimensions to personhood: emotion, intellect and volition) will not disrespect any part or dimension when helping others understand and correct issues in their lives.

Those who accept the Biblical narrative of humanity take seriously what it means to be created in God’s image. They also acknowledge the subsequent fall of humanity from this glorious beginning. We learn both from Scripture and empirical evidence that human disobedience and departure from God (sin) is the most corrupting and alienating force in the world — affecting every part of life.

Counseling that does not take seriously this painful truth will be superficial at best and ultimately harmful. Counselors who accept the multidimensional nature of humanity are better positioned to avoid inadequate and hurtful conclusions on the sources behind behavior.

It is simplistically naive and potentially harmful to treat people as one-dimensional beings. It disrespects the way God made us and the pervasive effects of our fallen condition.

Take as one example the use of medicinal aids for behavior or moods. Many medicines are helpful for addressing actual physical needs but use of them should not preclude responsibility and accountability in seeking resolution to behavioral issues.

The need for medicines should temper our approach to people with large doses of compassion and mercy, but only in a context that preserves the dignity of exercising as much responsibility as possible — in the context of truth.

So I am suggesting that counselors and doctors should never view medicinal aids as a total solution for neurologically based needs. We are more than bodies with physical needs. Other dimensions of our being (spiritual, emotional, social) must receive thoughtful consideration and application of truth in our battle for health.

A biblically-based holistic approach to counseling respects all dimensions of personhood created by God in the full context of creation, fall, redemption, sanctification and final restoration.

Steve Cornell

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