Christian Based
Marriage Counseling

Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Your Quick Guide to Relationship Success
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Christian Based Marriage Counseling is One Form of Religious Couples Counseling

Christian based marriage counseling, like any form of marriage counseling, aims to provide support and guidance to couples facing challenges in their relationship. However, in a Christian context, the counseling is often influenced by biblical principles and values. The specific practices and approaches may vary among counselors and denominations, but some common elements include:

  1. Integration of Faith: Christian based marriage counseling typically integrates biblical teachings and principles into the counseling process. The counselor may use relevant scriptures to guide discussions and offer perspectives on issues related to marriage and family.
  2. Prayer: Prayer may be a significant component of Christian marriage counseling. Couples may be encouraged to pray together and seek guidance from God in addressing their challenges.
  3. Values and Morality: Christian counselors often emphasize the importance of upholding Christian values and moral principles within the marriage. This may include discussions on topics such as fidelity, forgiveness, and the sanctity of marriage.
  4. Communication Skills: Like secular marriage counseling, Christian marriage counseling focuses on improving communication between partners. Effective communication is seen as crucial for resolving conflicts and building a strong marital foundation.
  5. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Christian teachings on forgiveness and reconciliation play a central role in the counseling process. Couples are encouraged to forgive each other and work towards healing broken relationships.
  6. Role of the Family: Christian marriage counseling may explore the roles and responsibilities of each partner within the family unit, based on biblical teachings.
  7. Counselor's Role: The counselor may serve as a guide, offering insights from a Christian perspective, and helping couples apply biblical principles to their specific situations. The goal is often to help couples develop a deeper understanding of their faith and how it can positively impact their marriage.

It's important to note that the approach to Christian marriage counseling can vary among different Christian denominations and individual counselors. Some couples may find this approach beneficial, while others may prefer more secular or diverse counseling methods. Ultimately, the effectiveness of marriage counseling often depends on the willingness of the couple to actively engage in the process and work towards positive changes in their relationship.

You might decide to seek Christian based marriage counseling when your marriage becomes troubled because this spiritual counseling incorporates your beliefs and values into the treatment plan.

This blending of religion and therapy is called clinical integration, which is defined in the literature as “the incorporation of religious or spiritual beliefs, values, and methods into the process of psychotherapy that results in a different way of being a therapist, understanding the client, or doing therapy.”(1)

Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
Virtual Marriage and Couples Counseling
Serving Clients Throughout Oregon


The authors of the article that presented this definition quote earlier studies that view clinical integration as “the next logical step in attempting to make psychotherapy more effective by incorporating all aspects of individuals in the psychotherapy process.” In fact, they find three ways in which Christian based marriage counseling can incorporate a spiritual approach to psychotherapy:

•Interventions may be guided by acknowledging that spiritual experiences make a difference in human behavior.

•Treatment goals, technique-selection, and outcome evaluation may be determined by anchoring the therapy in the universal terms of a spiritual perspective.

•Techniques such as prayer, rituals, and Scripture study may be used in addition to community resources such as communal spiritual experiences.(2)

Although spirituality can be used to guide and assist Christian based marriage counseling, it can also introduce problems into the therapeutic milieu. For example, a study of battered women of Christian faith in Memphis, Tennessee found that Christian beliefs about the sanctity of marriage, as well as partner and community pressure to present themselves as model Christians shamed and silenced battered women, preventing them from seeking help.(3)

Another problem that can arise from Christian based marriage counseling is that clients who have been counseled by lay Christians may then come to later, more formal therapeutic relationships with expectations that a new non-spiritual counselor is unaware of and unable to fulfill. In lay counseling, the various models of treatment might include active listening, cognitive and solution-focused approaches, and inner healing. These are very different from the models used in traditional psychotherapy. In addition, previously lay-counseled clients may not have the same understanding of informed consent and other ethical aspects of treatment as offered in a non-spiritually based setting.(4)

Even the types of people seen in intensive marital therapy may be different in Christian based marriage counseling as compared to non-spiritually based therapy. In one study, five significantly different personality clusters were identified for conservative Christians. These clusters were identified as:

•Abstract, deferential, trusting and tolerant of disorder

•Reactive and deferential

•Reserved, abstract, serious, grounded, traditional, and self-reliant


•Socially bold, abstracted, forthright, and open to change(5)

If you find yourself in need of spiritually-based marital therapy in Bend, Oregon or West, Linn, Oregon or in whatever state or country you call home, you might want to start by reading some of the advice on Christian based Marriage Counseling at sites such as Real Christian


(1) Lewis Hall ME and Hall TW. Integration in the Therapy Room: An Overview of the Literature. As quoted in: Psychology & Christianity Integration: Seminal Works That Shaped the Movement. 2007. Edited by Stevenson DH, Eck BE, and Hill PC. ISBN 9780979223709.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Knickmeyer N, Levitt H, and Horne SG. Putting on Sunday Best: The Silencing of Battered Women Within Christian Faith Communities. Feminism Psychology 20(1): 94-113. Feb 2010.

(4) Garzon F, Worthington, Jr. EL, Tan SY, and Worthington RK. Lay Christian Counseling and Client Expectations for Integration in Therapy. Journal of Psychology and Christianity 28(2): 113-120. 2009.

(5) Knabb, Joshua J.; Vogt, Ronald G.; Brickley, Dale J.; Newgren, Kevin P.. "Personality Typologies for Conservative Christians in Intensive Marital Therapy" Marriage & Family Review 47:1. 20 Mar. 2011

As a Relationship Specialist, Steven Cohn, PhD, works with marriages and couples from all over Oregon including these cities, towns, and suburbs: Portland, West Linn, Dunthorpe, Pearl District, Bethany, West Hills, Irvington, Lake Oswego, Alameda, Bend, East Moreland, Salem, Ashland, and Medford.

And these Oregon zip codes: 97034, 97219, 97212, 94501, 94502, 97229, 97840, 97451, 97106, 97068, 97221, 97140, 97035, 97036

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