This course focuses on the philosophy and techniques of biblically-based counseling including interpersonal, premarital, marital, family counseling, addiction counseling, and biblical conflict resolution. Topics include the nature and principles of biblically-based counseling; techniques and theories of counseling; patterns of problem solving; the counselor and counselee relationship; the applicability of Scripture; and biblical conflict resolution. Upon completion a student should be able to understand and discuss multiple issues applicable to counseling and demonstrate the basic techniques of biblically-based counseling.


This course is intended to expose the student to biblical or Christian-based counseling. This course is just an introduction and in no way is intended to completely prepare the student for a career in counseling or any type of licensure. The topics covered are intended to help the student better understand how the human mind works and interacts with its environment. It will also provide the student with basic information on various counseling issues, and help the student develop some basic techniques to assist in counseling.

There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Winnail, Scott D.

Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty
Full Time
B.S. Ed. (1992), University of Georgia; M.S.P.H. (1994), University of South Carolina; Ph.D. (1998), University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Subject Matter: 
Health, Theology

Dr. Scott Winnail has taught in the university classroom since 1995. To Living University he brings teaching and committee experience, curriculum development, academic advising, professional writing and grants and contract work. Prior to working for Living University, Dr. Winnail served as a faculty member at the University of Wyoming in the area of Health Education and Public Health (1998-2005, tenured). His areas of research and publication have included: school health and coordinated school health programs, community development, community-based needs assessment, program evaluation, physical activity and nutrition, and parental involvement. Additionally, Dr. Winnail worked closely with State Departments of Health and Education, many other state health organizations in Wyoming, Alabama, and South Carolina. He was also very active in school health initiatives at the national level.

Dr. Winnail served as an unpaid elder for the Living Church of God in Wyoming and Colorado from 2000-2005. He then served as an employee for the Department of Church Administration for the Living Church of God headquarters in Charlotte, NC from 2005-2006. From 2006-2009 Dr. Winnail pastored congregations along the gulf coast of the southern US and served as an assistant pastor in Jamaica. He began serving as adjunct faculty for Living University in Fall 2008.

Dr. Winnail returned to Charlotte in 2009 to commence full-time service to Living University and for the first 3.5 years also served as a Regional Director for the Living Church of God congregations in the Caribbean. Dr. Winnail currently serves in both administrative and teaching roles for Living University and directs the on-campus program. He contributes regularly to Living Church of God publications and web productions and also serves in the Charlotte, NC congregation of the Living Church of God.

Instructional Objectives: 

As a result of participating in THL 350, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and define the differences between psychology, counseling, Christian counseling, and conflict resolution.
  2. Be able to identify the differences between the biology, psychology, sociology, and theology of human behavior.
  3. Develop a basic understanding of how to assess valid research in psychology, counseling, and Christian counseling.
  4. Identify and articulate the strengths and weaknesses of modern psychology and counseling.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of biblical counseling principles and techniques.
  6. Develop a basic understanding of a variety of Christian counseling topics.
Required Texts: 
  • Collins, G. R. The Biblical Basis of Christian Counseling for People Helpers: Relating the Basic Teachings of Scripture to People's Problems. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2001. (ISBN 9781576830819)
  • Collins, G. R. Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide. 3rd ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007. [paperback]. (ISBN 9781418503291)
  • Meier, P.D., F.B. Minirth, F.B. Wichern, and D.E. Ratcliff. Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. (ISBN 9780801039324)
Additional Readings: 

Kruis, J. G. Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000. (ISBN 9780801091025)

-This text lists counseling topics (E.G.: anger, anxiety, conscience, death, divorce, drug abuse, homosexuality, hot temper, marriage, priorities, rape, etc.), and then lists scriptures that directly pertain to the counseling topic. A great tool to quickly identify scriptures related to counseling topics.

Adams, J.E. The Christian Counselor's Manual: The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986. (ISBN 9780310511502)

Additional readings will come primarily from church literature. The appropriate web links will be designated on the course web site, and may also include other secular sources. 

NOTE: Required texts and other outside readings have been chosen because of their “overall” value and relation to the course. Students should keep in mind that these sources are “secular” and although very good in many ways, not all the ideas shared by the authors are biblically accurate or even acceptable in God’s Church. The instructor will attempt to point out major errors, but ultimately the student must “sift” through the material gleaning the wise and godly elements, and dismissing the inappropriate.


Course lectures will take the format of both video and audio. PowerPoint slides will also periodically be available for download with some lectures. These slides will appear in PDF format. See the course website for details.

Course Calendar: 
Week Topics
1 Course Introduction
2 Who and What is a Christian Counselor?
3 Psychology and Behavior
4 Biology and Behavior
5 Emotions and Motivation
6 The Bible, the Church, and Counseling
7 Legal, Ethical and Moral Issues
8 Basic Counseling Skills and Strategies
9 Multicultural Issues & Seeking Advice
10 Power of Sin, Satan and Demons - Guilt & Forgiveness
11 Depression and Suicide
12 Marriage Counseling
13 Addictions and Crisis & Trauma Counseling
14 Conflict Management & Baptismal Counseling
15 Course Wrap Up
Course Requirements: 
  1. Submit assignments on or before the date due. No late or make-up assignments will be allowed accept for extreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary).
  2. Students will be responsible for the chapter readings that correspond with the class lecture. Be sure to read the chapter prior to logging in and completing the weekly assignment. Readings will correspond with in-class assignments and will help you be better informed. Completing the readings in advance will make the assignments make more sense to you!
  3. Icebreaker/Biography Forum Post (20 points): All students are required to post a brief biography to the forum by Friday of the first week of class. Post a brief biography/background on yourself. In your forum post, briefly answer the following questions (please limit your comments to 200 words): 

    a. Your Name and the Church area that you attend.
    b. How long you have been part of/attending the church.
    c. Why you are taking this particular course and what you hope to learn.
    d. Whether or not you have taken any other Living University courses.
    e. Where you intend to attend the Feast of Tabernacles this year (if you are able to attend).
  4. Weekly Comments and Class Participation (50 points): Students are expected to participate in class discussions by posting weekly comments and questions they might have on the Discussion Forum (see the link on the course web site). Each week there will be one or two questions posted on the web page that related to that week’s lectures and readings. If there are “no unique discussion questions” posted for that particular week, you should choose from one of the following questions to write on and relate the question to one of the topics covered in the readings for the week. Also, make sure that your “comments” are more than merely “personal opinion.” Your comments should be grounded in your chapter readings, lecture notes, and based on scripture. These weekly discussions are very important and are designed to reinforce the weekly content in a unique way. So it is important to participate in the discussions.

    a) What item from the reading this week was most interesting to you? Why?
    b) How did the readings this week relate to, reinforce, or conflict with a Bible principle?
    c) What implications does one of the items that you learned about have for your lifestyle or the future of your family?
    d) How might something you learned this week be addressed similarly or differently in God’s Kingdom?

    Minimal participation requires “one” posting per week. Postings are due on or before Friday at noon(in whatever time zone you are in). Students should also take time at the end of each week to read/review comments from their classmates. Re-posts and additional comments or questions are also encouraged. You should comment or reply to “at least one” other classmate’s comments. Be sure to keep the discussions positive and helpful. Class participation points will be assigned in accordance with your level participation, and will be a combination of student and instructor input. The rubric below will be used for you and I to determine a class participation score. Involvement in the discussion forum will add to your overall class experience as you discuss the various topics with your classmates. It will also give you the opportunity to get to know your classmates better. YOU will use the grading rubric below to determine your class participation grade at the end of the semester.
    Scale Criteria
    5 Volunteers to share quality ideas/thoughts/findings from readings and experiences with peers frequently. In addition, presents questions to peers and instructor regarding ideas presented. Student is always prepared for class, having completed readings and assignments ahead of time. Comments are well grounded in readings, lecture notes, and scripture (when applicable). Usually posts “replies” to comments made by classmates.
    4 Volunteers to share quality ideas/thoughts/findings from readings and experiences with peers frequently, but comments may not be solidly based upon readings, lecture notes, and scripture (when applicable). Usually prepared for class, having completed readings and assignments ahead of time. Posts “replies to classmate comments some of the time.
    3 Volunteers to share quality ideas/thoughts/findings from readings and experiences with peers less frequently than required. Generally prepared for class, having usually completed readings and assignments ahead of time. Comments are often based on opinion and rarely on readings, lecture notes, and scripture (when applicable). Infrequently posts “replies” to classmate comments.
    2 Shares ideas/thoughts/findings from readings and experiences as directed, but little effort is put into insuring that they are of quality, and usually comments are much more “opinion” than based on fact and readings, lecture notes and scripture (when applicable). Occasionally prepared for class, rarely having completed readings and assignments ahead of time. Does not post reply comments to classmate comments.
    1 Is unable to share quality ideas/thoughts/findings from readings and experiences with peers consistently. Seldom or never prepared for class, failing to complete readings and assignments ahead of time. Does not post reply comments to classmate posts.
    NOTE TIME ZONE ISSUES: Please note that due dates and times relate specifically to the times zone you reside in. You may see an 11:59pm due time on the specific assignment, but this is designed to allow all students, from the western-most time zones to submit assignments on time. If the assignment states that your deadline is “noon” or “5pm”, this is specific to whatever time zone you reside in. The time zone delineation is also a matter of fairness to all students.
  5. Mid-term exam will be given during the middle week of the semester (100 points). The exam will be comprehensive and review all the material covered to that point in the semester. The exam will be comprised of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. It will be open book and open note book. No proctor is required. Students are NOT however permitted to discuss exam questions and issues while taking the exam. IMPORTANT: It is “highly recommended” that the student prepare for this exam by studying ahead of time. Although the exam will not be timed, preparing for the exam will help the student expedite the exam taking process and greatly shorten its duration.
  6. TWO Brief Topical Papers (50 points each): You will be expected to do two short research papers on counseling related to a specific need area. Using your Christian Counseling text by Collins, possibly your Intro to Psychology and Counseling text by Meier et al., and other sources, identify two different areas of counseling that you discovered through your ministerial interview that are pressing issues for God’s people. Try to avoid the areas covered in lectures for this course, and rather, focus on two “other” areas. This paper need only be 3-5 pages in length and should cover the following areas:

    a. Clearly identify the counseling or problem area to be examined.
    b. Give some background on the issue/area, including predisposing factors or causes, factors that contribute to or worsen the situation, and “frequency” of the situation in the general population.
    c. Identify counseling strategies frequently used to successfully deal with this issue. Specifically identify “Christian” counseling methods.
    d. Identify biblical principles and specific scriptures that directly address the issue. How would God look at and deal with this issue?
    e. Identify other resources that may be available to help support a person facing this issue.
    f. Summarize what you have learned about this issue and what stands out in your mind.
    g. Be sure to use a reference list and properly cite sources within your paper.
  7. FOUR Additional Activities (50 points each): You are free to complete these Activities and turn them in at any time prior to and up to the date due. These Activities are designed to get you to think further on particular topics and issues related to class. Activities should be typed and double spaced. All should be 2-3 pages in length. Activities will be due on or before their due date, by 12 noon in your time zone.

    A. Ministerial Counseling Interview: For this assignment, make an appointment to interview your pastor. If you are the pastor, contact your regional pastor or another long-time minister. You will be interviewing this person to find out essentially what lessons he has learned in counseling people over the years. Be sure to let him know ahead of time what you want to talk to him about. You are encouraged to speak to this minister either “in person”, on the phone, or via something like Skype. Try to avoid just emailing questions and asking for a response – this method is both impersonal and more time consuming for the minister you are asking feedback from. Be sure use the following questions in your interview. You may add more if you like. In your “write up” of this assignment, be sure to clearly articulate the questions and answers, as well as address the additional questions at the end regarding your experience.

    a. How long has this person served in the ministry?
    b. What training (if any), did this person receive in counseling prior to coming into the ministry?
    c. How has this minister increased his skill in counseling?
    d. What counseling issues does he see most frequently?
    e. In his experience, what “changes” has he seen in counseling issues? Put another way, are there issues today that are any different from issues, say, 10 or 20 years ago? If so, why?
    f. What major lessons has this man learned over his years of counseling God’s people?
    g. What advice does this person have related to Christian counseling?
    h. (For the interviewer): As you write up this assignment, what are the major things/lessons you learned from this interview?
    i. Did anything you heard make you think differently about Christian counseling?

    B. Listening Activity: Listening is a key skill for any socially functional person, and especially a person providing wise and godly counsel. You cannot provide poignant feedback that is “on topic,” unless you learn to listen critically, carefully, and completely. For this activity, identify an important person in your life that you interact with regularly. Set aside a two week period in which you will practice implementing your new found listening skills in your relationship with this person. Consciously work to apply these skills and see what you learn. Review the skills at the website: Print this page and review it about every-other-day. At the end of two weeks, write up your experience according to the following questions. Your write up should be 2-3 pages in length.

    a. What is your relationship to the person you practiced your listening skills on?
    b. How long have you known this person.
    c. Prior to the activity, on a scale of 1-5 with one being worst and five being best, how would you rank your listening skills when you interacted with this person? Explain, along with areas of weakness you saw in your listening skills with this person.
    d. During this activity period (about two weeks), are there any aspects of listening that you specifically honed in on?
    e. At the end of the activity period, how would you rank your listening skills with this person (on the same scale of 1-5)? Why?
    f. Did your relationship with this person change any during this time period, and while you focused on listening better?
    g. What are your overall thoughts about this activity, and more importantly, the power of actively paying attention to how you listen?

    C. Community Resources Investigation: One of the keys to being a successful Christian counselor is knowing your limitations and when to refer. Some situations require intense and longer term counseling that a local minister or family member or friend just does not have. Or they can require a level of skill and training that most do not have (for example, addiction counseling). For this reason, a good counselor needs to be aware of community resources and services that are available to assist in the case that referral is necessary. But not all resources will give the type of counseling that fits with God’s way of life. For this activity, identify three community resources or programs that offer counseling in an area that you may not have a lot of experience or expertise working with – perhaps alcohol or tobacco addiction, marriage crisis counseling, suicide ideation, or another area. If you are a minister living far from brethren, identify three resources in a community that is more “central” to one of your congregations. The internet will be very helpful in doing this, as will be the phone book. You may want to call a representative of the agency and interview them briefly in order to see what they really do offer and what their fees are like. Write up a 3-5 page paper summarizing your experience. This activity is designed to become a resource for the future. Your paper should include in its summary of each resource, the following information:

    a. Name of Agency/Resource
    b. Type of counseling provided
    c. Type of training the professionals have
    d. Fee structure for counseling
    e. Whether the counseling is Christian-based
    f. Any other comments or notes you want to add
    g. You should end your paper with a brief paragraph describing your overall experience and perspective of this activity.

    D. Personal Philosophy on Christian Counseling: You are to write up a personal philosophy about biblical or Christian counseling. This document should be about 3-4 pages, double spaced. It should give a brief definition (in your own words), of what biblical counseling is, related to counseling in general (or in “the world”). In this philosophy, you should share “who” you believe should be involved in this practice, what it entails, and what makes biblical counseling unique. Ultimately, you should share what you believe to be God’s expectations regarding counseling… something quite different from what the world expects.
    Summary of Course Requirements Point Value   Letter Grade Total Points
    Icebreaker 20   A 423 or more points
    Brief Topical Papers (50 points each) 100   B 376-422 points
    Four Activities (50 points each) 200   C 329-375 points
    Class participation and forum posts 50   D 282-328 points
    Mid-term exam 100   F 281 points or below
    Total 470      

Students With Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

Technology Access
This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

Course Evaluation
Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.