Gideon Institute for Christian Psychology & Counseling

The Gideon Institute is pursuing three related agendas:

Academic Programming — Within the HBU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the Gideon Institute offers a Master of Arts in Christian Psychology (that leads to an LPA license) and a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling (that leads to an LPC license).

A Christian Counseling Clinic — On or near HBU’s campus, a clinic will provide counseling that is Christ-centered, biblically rooted, and clinically informed to both HBU students and the greater Houston community, as well as training and supervision for Christian therapists-in-training.

Public Intellectual Work — This includes holding conferences in Houston; managing a new journal of Christian Psychology; staff speaking nationally and internationally, and writing about Christian psychology and counseling, as well as doing research in Christian psychology and counseling; contributing to the building of a local and a national network of churches, counseling centers, and ministries committed to distinctly Christian soul care; and offering a variety of practical and educational events for the college and Houston communities.

Vision Statement

The Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling at HBU will foster Christ-centered, biblically rooted, and scientifically informed psychology and soul care.*

Mission Statement

We endeavor to train and counsel Christians in the science of psychology and the practice of soul care* that is Christ-centered, biblically rooted, evidence-based, philosophically astute, clinically informed, spiritually transformative, culturally competent, and professionally engaged, through education, training, practice, public events, community involvement, research and publication.

Guiding Principles

A pervasive recognition underscored in every class and program is that the triune God of Christianity is the designer, source, sustainer, center and goal of human life. “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28); “Whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1Co 10:31).

The explicit grounding of all soul care is in Jesus Christ — the consummate human — in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We espouse the wisdom of the Christian faith and the scientific knowledge found in contemporary psychology and psychiatry, balanced with a corollary critique of the naturalistic worldview assumptions built into modern psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy and counseling.

 The goal of personal transformation is found in the grace of Christ, reflected in a curricular emphasis on spiritual and character formation and the requirement of extracurricular therapy.

We recognize multiple, valid sources of soul-care knowledge, particularly Scripture and the Christian traditions, empirical research, personal and social experience, and philosophical reflection.

We hold a holistic, multi-dimensional model of humans as biologically embodied, psychosocial, cultural-historical, and ethicospiritual beings.

We promote the highest standards in relevant theological and psychological knowledge, spiritual experience, clinical competence and professional ethics.

The Institute offers two-track training that equips graduates to respect the worldview differences of clients and to treat all clients using creation grace resources that are available to all humans (and all therapists) and Christian clients using the redemptive grace resources available to those humans who follow Christ.

We maintain a fundamental respect for all humans in their freedom and diversity as images of God, combined with the desire that all humans find their healing and unity through conformity to the will of God as revealed in the Christian Scriptures and in Jesus Christ, the savior of the world (1John 4:14).

Christian psychology is that version of psychology based on a Christian worldview and is developed by and primarily for the Christian community. However, Christian psychologists also seek to participate as much as possible in contemporary psychology, psychotherapy and counseling, research, professional guilds and boards, mainstream publications, and the public mental health system, to contribute to the common good and the flourishing of all humans.

To achieve the foregoing will require substantial training in Christian studies relevant for soul care, reflected in the curriculum in two ways:

1) a number of special courses that concentrate on Christian studies (e.g., Biblical & Theological Foundations for Christian Psychology & Counseling); and

2) distinctly Christian content diffused differentially throughout the rest of the courses in the curriculum, based on the extent to which the course material reflects worldview assumptions (e.g., Principles of Human Development more than Research Methods and Procedures), resulting in Christian therapists and counselors who are Christ-centered, biblically rooted and clinically informed.

Eric Johnson, Director of the Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling

Eric L. Johnson, PhD, is professor of Christian Psychology at Houston Baptist University. He taught psychology for 10 years at University of Northwestern and counseling for 17 years at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to writing more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, he edited Psychology and Christianity: Five Views, and was a co-editor of Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World. He has written “Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal” and “God and Soul Care: The Therapeutic Resources of the Christian Faith.” He was the first director of the Society for Christian Psychology and has been doing pastoral counseling for 20 years. He’s married to Rebekah, and they have two children, Laura and Iain, and a son-in-law, Rich. They have two grandchildren, Cash and Jedi.

*Soul care refers to psychotherapy for severely troubled people, counseling for those with everyday problems in living, and spiritual direction for relatively healthy people.