Secular psychology is based on the teachings of psychoanalysts such as Sigmund  Freud, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. Biblical, or nouthetic,  counseling, on the other hand, is based squarely on the revealed Word of God.  Biblical counseling sees Scripture as sufficient to equip the child of God for  every good work (2 Timothy  3:17). Biblical counselors teach that man’s basic problem is spiritual in  nature; therefore, atheistic psychologists, who are spiritually dead themselves,  have no real insight into the human condition.

On a related note, what  is usually called “Christian counseling” is different from “biblical counseling”  in that Christian counseling often uses secular psychology in addition to the  Bible. This is not to say that a Christian counselor is not also a biblical  counselor, but often Christian counselors are Christians who integrate secular  psychology into their counseling. Biblical or nouthetic counselors reject  secular psychology wholesale.

Most psychology is humanistic in nature.  Secular humanism promotes mankind as the  highest standard of truth and morality and rejects faith, the supernatural, and  the Bible. Therefore, secular psychology is man’s attempt to understand and  repair the spiritual side of man without reference to or recognition of the  spiritual.

The Bible declares that mankind is a unique creation of God,  made in the image of God (Genesis  1:26, 2:7). The  Bible expressly deals with man’s spirituality, including his fall into sin,  sin’s consequences, and man’s current relationship with God.

Secular  psychology is based on the ideas that man is basically good and that the answer  to his problems lies within himself. The Bible paints a very different picture  of man’s condition. Man is not “basically good”; he is “dead in trespasses and  sins” (Ephesians  2:1), and the unregenerate heart is “deceitful and beyond all cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore,  the biblical counselor takes a drastically different approach: rather than  seeking solutions to spiritual problems within one’s own mind, he seeks to  confront sin, obtain wisdom from above (James 3:17),  and apply the Word of God to the situation.

Biblical counselors, as  opposed to psychotherapists and some Christian counselors, see the Bible alone  as the source of a comprehensive and detailed approach to counseling (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:4). Biblical  counseling is committed to letting God speak for Himself through His Word.  Biblical counseling seeks to minister the love of the true and living God, a love that deals with sin and produces obedience.

Psychotherapy is needs-based. The needs for  self-esteem, love and acceptance, and significance tend to dominate. If these  needs are met, it is believed, people will be happy, kind, and moral; if these  needs are unmet, people will be miserable, hateful, and immoral. Biblical  counseling teaches that true satisfaction and happiness can only be found in a  relationship with God and a pursuit of godliness. No amount of psychotherapy can  make a selfish person unselfish, for example, but the obedient servant of God  will be satisfied in his joyful, unselfish giving (2  Corinthians 9:7).

So, how does psychology work with biblical  counseling? In fine, it doesn’t. Secular psychology starts and ends with man and  his ideas. True biblical counseling points clients to Christ and the Word of  God. Biblical counseling is a pastoral activity, a product of the spiritual  gift of exhortation, and its goal is not self-esteem but sanctification.