Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling Founded at HBU

Houston Baptist University is pleased to announce the establishment of the Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling at Houston Baptist University. The Institute is a new initiative at HBU that is generously funded by the Gideon Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Robert B. Sloan, HBU president, said, “God the Creator should be worshipped with all the heart and mind. The Gideon Institute at HBU will help students, counselors and scholars better understand and keep this great commandment. We are very enthusiastic to see the work of the Gideon Institute now and going forward, enabling Christian psychologists to have greater resources to work more faithfully for the healing of the mind, the understanding of how our minds and inner selves work, and producing research that will disseminate their discoveries.”

The Gideon Charitable Foundation leadership emphasized its support for the Institute: “The Gideon Charitable Foundation has a passion to see people helped in a manner that is biblically rooted and clinically informed. Rarely have we seen an approach to psychology and counseling that places a high value on both biblical and clinical knowledge that is put into practice by the therapist. The Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling will be a place where both are unapologetically taught, studied, promoted, and utilized in the classroom and in the practice of therapy. We could not be more excited to support such a work, and thank the leadership of HBU for allowing us to join them in this extremely important work.”

There are three main spheres of activity that the Institute will be engaged in:

1. The Institute will be Academic, and will operate within the HBU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. Program offerings are the Master of Arts in Christian Psychology* program (which leads to an LPA license) and the Master of Arts in Christian Counseling program (which leads to an LPC license).

2. The Institute will entail a Christian Counseling Clinic on or near HBU’s campus that will provide counseling to both HBU students and the greater Houston community.

3. Finally, the Institute will be engaged in Public Intellectual Work, including developing conferences, overseeing a journal, Christian Psychology, and providing educational opportunities for the community.

The Institute is directed by Dr. Eric L. Johnson, an academic psychologist and author of “God and Soul Care: The Therapeutic Resources of the Christian Faith.” He is adept at combining faith with traditional psychological research and broadly accepted tenets. Johnson taught undergraduate psychology for 10 years at University of Northwestern, and Christian psychology and counseling for 17 years at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the founding director of the Society for Christian Psychology, a division of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

“The primary goal of the Institute is to promote professional soul care that is ‘Christ-centered, biblically rooted, and clinically informed.’ Christian psychology is a classic orientation to the care of souls, practiced for centuries, shaped equally by theology and science,” Johnson said. “These will be the first master’s programs in America established from their inception according to a Christian psychology orientation.”

Dr. Michael Rosato, HBU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said, “Houston Baptist University is blessed to have secured Dr. Eric Johnson to lead the new Gideon Institute of Christian Psychology and Counseling; he is uniquely equipped to do so. Dr. Johnson is not only a scholar in the field of psychology, he is also a leading voice internationally in the area of integration of faith and scholarship.”

Dr. Johnson will be accompanied by additional prestigious faculty members including Dr. Michael Cook. Cook has taught psychology and counseling at the university level for more than 20 years, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in trauma therapy and spiritual direction. He will teach in the Institute’s programs and provide clinical supervision for graduate students. The Institute will have a quality of scholarship and teaching that is unrivaled. With its Christian psychology orientation, it will advance and develop a distinct perspective of psychology based on a Christian worldview – rather than secular humanism – by beginning with biblical and theological resources, while appropriating the best of mainstream psychology.

Dr. Julie Fernandez, dean of the HBU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said, “The Gideon Institute for Christian Psychology and Counseling is a wonderful opportunity for our University to meet the urgent mental health needs of our community. This Institute will not only provide training for mental health practitioners in best practices in counseling, but will also prepare licensed professionals to encourage their clients with biblical truth.”

Dr. Jeffrey Green, dean of the HBU Graduate School, said, “This is an exciting development for HBU. Like the general population, students have a wide range of mental health needs, and we are thankful for this opportunity to provide them care that is Christ-centered, biblically rooted and clinically informed. It will also provide current HBU graduate students a great place to hone their skills. This will allow HBU to reach beyond our community by training licensed counselors for the world and reproducing quality Christian counseling for other communities. The Institute is part of a long history of HBU offering graduate degrees in the behavioral sciences. HBU is committed to ministering to the spiritual and mental health needs of its community, and as a University, furthering the discovery and dissemination of treatment.”

*Program is pending The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, (SACSCOC) approval

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