Can I Pursue a Vocation in Psychiatry While Maintaining a Biblical Worldview?

Investment in Both

What is the relationship between psychiatry and biblical counseling? Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at CCEF, responds to a woman who wonders if she can pursue a career in psychiatry while still maintaining a biblical worldview. 

David Powlison has been doing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context. 

David said it’s not only possible for anyone wanting to pursue a vocation in psychiatry while maintaining a biblical worldview, but it’s actually desirable to. He said this surprises people who don’t typically understand biblical counseling. 

Were you surprised to hear David answer “Yes” so easily to this question? Why or why not?
Log In to Continue

David said psychiatry often gets criticized in the faith world when it focuses only on empiricism or digresses into directions not in line with a biblical worldview. When used to diagnose the physical component of various emotional and mental problems, however, it can be very helpful.  

When have you experienced psychiatry or some other medical discipline leaving faith out of the equation? What problems did that pose for you personally? Professionally?
Log In to Continue

What are some examples of a psychiatric or other medical diagnosis that would shed light on someone’s emotional or mental problems?
Log In to Continue

If a psychiatrist has a biblical worldview, he or she then not only understands and has case experience in the physical component of people’s difficulties, but that professional will also be able to interpret those problems through biblical eyes. That, David said, is the best of both worlds. People will invest more authority in you because you have combined two types of expertise. 

If you are studying or involved in the mental health world, are you currently more invested in psychiatry or your biblical studies? What are some ways you can begin investing yourself in whichever you are weaker in?
Log In to Continue

David suggests to the woman writing in that she get a dual education in both medicine and biblical studies. He invites her to take counseling classes at CCEF after medical school, go to conferences, and study so that she can better understand the relationship between the mind and the body and connect what she’s learning medically with the spiritual realities revealed in Scripture.  

How do you think a biblical worldview would help the field of psychiatry?
Log In to Continue

How do you think the field of psychiatry could help the Christian faith and the church?
Log In to Continue

Human beings can be partially understood through science and medicine, but as image bearers of God, there is much more to the story. Christians in all fields need to bridge the gap between the “secular” and the “sacred” so that there will be greater understanding of who God has made us, the struggles we endure, and the potential there is for redemption, growth, and transformation. As you consider your vocation, think and pray about how you can widen your knowledge and understanding so you can be a more powerful witness.  

This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit