Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Scripture as narrative and therapy


The role of the Scripture within therapy is examined and recommendations are made on how and when it should be used. A rationale is given on why secular therapists should use the Scriptures and what role objectivity plays in such practice. Differences between therapeutic practice with Old and New Testament passages are described. Different roles for therapists who use the Scripture are also described. Contraindications for the use of Scripture are given with attention to the therapist's position.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bergin, A. E. (1980). Psychotherapy and religious values.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48(1), 95–105.

  2. Boghosian, J. (1983). The Biblical basis for strategic approaches pastoral counseling.Journal of Psychology and Theology, 11(2), 99–107.

  3. Burtchael, J. T. (1984). A new pastoral method in theology.Commonweal, 111, 44–50.

  4. Capps, D. (1980). Biblical models in pastoral counseling.Pastoral Psychology, 28(4), 252–264.

  5. Carter, J. D. (1980). Towards a Biblical model of counseling.Journal of Psychology and Theology, 8(1), 45–52.

  6. Collins, G. R. (1972).Effective counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Creation House.

  7. Coyle, F. A., Jr., & Erdberg, P. (1969). A liberalizing approach to maladaptive fundamentalist hyperreligiousity.Psychotherapy: Therapy, Research and Practice, 6(2), 140–142.

  8. Goodling, R. A. (1976). The Bible in pastoral counseling.Duke Divinity School Review, 41(Fall), 178–196.

  9. Green, H. W. (1984).Turning fear into hope. New York: Camden Press.

  10. Grosch, W. N. (1985). The psychotherapist and religious commitment. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 135–146). New York: Haworth Press.

  11. Hendlin, S. J. (1985). The spiritual emergency patient: Concept and example. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 79–88). New York: Haworth Press.

  12. Hindson, E. E. (1982). The inerrancy debate and the use of Scripture in counseling.Grace Theological Journal, 3(2), 207–219.

  13. Hunter, R. J. (1976). Law and Gospel in pastoral care.The Journal of Pastoral Care, 30(3), 146–158.

  14. Jeske, J. O. (1984). Varieties of approaches to psychotherapy: Options for the Christian therapist.Journal of Psychology and Theology, 12, 260–269.

  15. Kantzer, K. S. (1983). Biblical authority: Where both fundamentalists and neoevangelists are right.Christianity Today, 27(15), 10–13.

  16. Kaslow, F. W., & Gingrich, F. (1977). The clergyman and the psychologist as marriage counselors: Differences in philosophys, referral patterns and treatment approaches to nonmarital relationships.Journal of Marriage and Family Counseling, 3(3), 13–21.

  17. Maloney, H. N. (1985). The use of the Jewish/Christian Scriptures in counseling.Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 20(2), 116–124.

  18. Meyer, S. G. (1974). The Psalms and personal counseling.Journal of Psychology and Theology 2(1), 26–30.

  19. Natalie, S. M. (1985). Confrontation and the religious beliefs of a client. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 107–116). New York: Haworth Press.

  20. The New American Bible. (1971). New York: Thomas Nelson.

  21. Peck, M. S.The Road less traveled. New York: Simon and Schuster.

  22. Rayburn, C. A. (1985). The religious patient's encounter with psychotherapy. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 35–45). New York: Haworth Press.

  23. Salinger, R. J. (1979). Toward a Biblical framework for family therapy.Journal of Psychology and Theology, 7(4), 241–50.

  24. Siporin, M. (1983). Morality and immorality in working with clients.Social Thought, 9, 10–28.

  25. Sproul, R. C. (1983). Hermeneutics: What's all the fuss about.Christianity Today, 27(3), 36–37.

  26. Stern, E. M. (1985). Psychotherapy of religious commitment. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 1–10). New York: Haworth Press.

  27. Vande Kemp, H. (1985). Psychotherapy as a religious process: A historical heritage. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 135–146). New York: Haworth Press.

  28. Watzalwick, P., Weakland, J. H., & Fisch, R. (1974).Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution, New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

  29. Wick, E. (1985). Lost in no-man's-land between psyche and soul. In E. Mark Stern (Ed.),Psychotherapy and the religiously committed patient (pp. 13–24). New York: Haworth Press.

  30. Whitaker, C. A. (1977). Process techniques of family therapy.Interaction, 51, 4–19.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Thomas Edward Smith.

Additional information

This article is a revised version of a paper written for theProceedings of the 40th Anniversary of the Florida State University School of Social Work (Nov. 10, 1990).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Smith, T.E., Counsell, S. Scripture as narrative and therapy. J Poetry Ther 4, 149–163 (1991).

Download citation


  • Therapeutic Practice
  • Role Objectivity
  • Secular Therapist
  • Testament Passage