Why I Chose Westminster for Counseling

David Powlison Portrait

Answers for the Human Condition

By David Powlison, Executive Director, CCEF

Should you go to a theological seminary to train in counseling? Should young men and women with counseling promise pursue studies at a seminary or Bible college? Twenty-five years ago, this might have seemed like a nonsense question. Should you go to Virginia to study the geology of Vermont? Order a Big Mac at Burger King? People went to seminary to study Bible, church history, theology, and preaching. They went there to become preachers, missionaries, chaplains, and Bible professors. But counseling? Serious, intentional, one-on-one talking to people was the property of secular graduate schools. Seminary was about proclamation, not conversation.

But twenty-five years ago I did go to seminary to train in counseling. And—with appropriate cautions—I heartily recommend the same today. There was no counseling degree offered at the time, but the theology and Bible courses were strikingly relevant to a young man who came with counseling questions and aspirations. I was taught about human nature; about suffering and God’s providence; about the work of Christ’s grace to forgive and remake us; about the way fallen thought suppresses true knowledge of self, God, and circumstances; and so forth. Though most of the courses didn’t make “counseling applications” in any detail, they were unmistakably about the “stuff” counseling deals with. What I learned of theology and the Bible, even of church history, has been as significant as the formal counseling courses for my maturing as a counselor.

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