Asian American Christian Mental Health: Spirituality and Counseling

When mental health challenges happen in someone’s life, there are many different ways to help that person with care and support. Depending on the individual’s personal background, context, and faith community, discovering the path to health and wellness, treatment and recovery, takes grace and effort, persistence and discernment.

In this workshop titled, “Mental Health And Spirituality: Know The Difference And Help Accordingly” presented by Rev. Dr. Jin Lee (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at The Living Counsel), he helps church leaders better discern and process common psychological and relational challenges they may face in the church. The workshop discusses how to distinguish between mental health and spiritually related problems and learn how to increase collaboration with local Christian mental health professionals.

The above workshop was presented at the 2022 Mental Health and Asian Americans Conference hosted by the Center for Asian American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary. View conference videos on YouTube at

5 Approaches to Christian Counseling

In the above workshop, Rev. Dr. Jin Lee referenced the book, Counseling and Christianity: Five Approaches by Stephen P. Greggo and Timothy A. Sisemore, which outlines these 5 approaches (and the book review carefully notes that these approaches are not discrete definitive models, but it’s better to see these as various conceptualization of how psychology and spirituality fit in Christian counseling):

  • “A Levels-of-Explanation Approach” — described as a biopsychosocialspiritual and evidence-based model that’s commonly used in secular psychology
  • “An Integration Approach” takes seriously mainstream secular psychology, but begins with an affirmation of the authority of Scripture
  • “A Christian Psychology Approach” is a thoroughly Christian model of the person, mental health, pathology and intervention rooted in Scripture and the Christian tradition, not in secular psychology.
  • “A Transformational Approach” integrates significantly from the classic models of spiritual direction and current writing in spiritual formation
  • “A Biblical Counseling Approach” is characterized by an exclusive application of Scripture to any and all personal problems. This was initially coined by Jay Adams as nouthetic counseling and currently popularized by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

Also see this review of the Five Approaches book at

Christian Counseling with Psychology and Theology

Another book by Mark R. McMinn, Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling, lays out the continuum from psychology to theology, and how these two disciplines can come together in different practices for Christian counseling. This chart comes from a presentation, “Enhancing Spirituality in Asian Christian Counseling,” presented by Dr. Edmund Ng (Third Asian Christian Counselors Conference, Indonesia, 2019.)

Four Models of Counseling in Pastoral Ministry

Dr. Timothy J. Keller presented a more nuanced reflection on the historical developments of the options for Christian counseling and how they became varied and complex, in his 2004 article titled, “Four Models of Counseling in Pastoral Ministry.”

Keller notes that all four views agree, at least in theory, with the following statement: “God gives us knowledge of human psychological problems not only through special revelation of the Bible but also through the general revelation of empirical observation.”

Where each view differs is how much Christian counseling could borrow or learn from modern psychological and counseling theories. The exact relationship of Christian counseling to secular therapies is much debated. This diagram shows the four models along a spectrum, followed by a list with affiliations:

Christian counseling and psychology
    Affiliated groups: Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS); The Journal of Psychology and Christianity; Fuller Seminary School of Psychology
    Affiliated Groups: Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University, La Mirada, CA; American Association of Christian Counselors; Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS
    Affiliated Group: Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO
    Affiliated Groups: National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC); Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF)

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