The primary purpose of the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling program is to equip students for service in vocational counseling ministries in the church or in a parachurch ministry that is properly related to the church. This Seminary program is designed to be completed in a minimum of two to three academic years. Candidates for this degree should consult with Biblical Counseling faculty before beginning their program of study.
Philosophy of the Biblical Counseling Program
The guiding foundation for Southeastern’s Biblical Counseling program is that the Holy Scriptures are the written Word of the Living God and are sufficient for understanding people as spiritual, moral, relational, and psychological beings (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 1). God has provided all things necessary for life and godliness: His risen and reigning Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; His written Word, the Holy Bible; His indwelling Holy Spirit; and His churches, local communities of baptized believers committed to the historic Christian faith and living out their personal faith through deeds of love (2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 5:6). Southeastern intends to equip men and women of God to become wise, merciful counselors, thoroughly and completely equipped to minister both God’s grace and truth.
We believe that counseling is a part of the local church’s mission to make disciples and to teach them to obey the Lord, and is therefore best practiced under the authority of a local body of believers. Our primary goal is to play an active part in restoring to our churches’ practical biblical wisdom in the care and cure of souls. Counseling is a ministry of God’s Word, a type of individualized discipleship, which in concert with the other ministries of a church facilitates the process of sanctification for each member and the subsequent purification and strengthening of the Body of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Romans 15:14).
The Seminary’s counseling program intends to prepare students to counsel from within the framework of a biblical anthropology, developing a biblical, God-related understanding of human problems, and implementing truthful, graceful, timely, relevant, and practical Christ-centered methods of problem solving and change (Psalm 1:1-2; Hebrews 4:12-13). In addition, we believe the character of the counselor and the quality of the relationship between counselor and counselee are as important as practical skill. Christ-likeness, relationally manifested through the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:13-18), is the ideal for the counselor and the goal for the counselee. The ultimate goal of all aspects of the counseling relationship is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).
While biblical counselors can benefit from the empirical findings of the human and medical sciences, we believe the Bible is the only infallible source for counseling theories and models. Our perspective is that the theories, practices, and institutions of the secular mental health establishment are not essential for constructing a Christian counseling model or for providing an effective cure for the soul, psyche, or mind. Particularly in the counseling domain, secular and naturalistic personality theories and psychotherapies are fundamentally flawed because they excise the God of the Bible from the human equation (Psalm 10:4; Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 28:26).
The M.Div. B.C. is better preparation for those with long-term local church ministry goals. The M.A. in B.C. is for those who will be specializing primarily in vocational counseling ministries. Pastoral candidates seeking a specialization in counseling ministries are advised to complete both the M.Div. following the Pastoral Ministry track and the M.A. in B.C. The Registrar can help a student design a program of study leading to the completion of both degrees.
Students seeking professional licensure will need to complete additional hours of academic and practical training beyond those offered in either the M.Div. B.C. or the M.A. in B.C. degrees. Southeastern also offers several courses that are intended to be a part of the preparation for state-approved professional board licensure or certification. Course requirements vary from state to state, so the student is responsible to be aware of their state’s criterion and to take the courses that are necessary for that particular licensing or certifying board. These courses are not necessary for the degree (although they may be used to fulfill an elective requirement). We do not believe it is necessary or prudent for church based counselors to be licensed by state-approved professional boards. The purpose of these courses is to prepare students for missional engagement with the mental health culture. We recommend that those who desire to pursue these optional courses have completed a bachelors degree with a major or minor in psychology and then discuss this with a SEBTS counseling professor to evaluate the student’s vocational objectives and make sure they are consistent with our program philosophy and goals.
Admission to this program is limited to persons holding a Bachelors degree or its equivalent who also meet all other admission requirements for the seminary.
Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling (M.A. in B.C.) students complete 30 semester hours of core studies, 30 specialty hours, and 3 elective hours for a total of 63 credit hours with an overall GPA of 2.0 or better.