Biblical Counseling Course

Course Overview:

The Biblical Counseling Course is a unique extracurricular course that covers practical personal life and counseling issues from an entirely Biblical perspective. The Biblical Counseling Course at Stanford is free and available to all undergraduate and grad students, faculty, university and ministry staff. Participants attend numerous different churches and various on-campus fellowships. The course is currently presented in the form of an in-depth, application oriented Bible study and combines presentation and interactive discussion of the material.

Participation Logistics

  • The Biblical Counseling Course is taught on a 2-year cycle.
  • While concepts and themes build from previous classes, each individual class is beneficial as a standalone study, and key background and context is reviewed at the beginning of each class.
  • You do not have to register or pay for the course. Come and join the course anytime.
  • As of Winter 2020, the class is held on Mondays from 7-9pm at Old Union 3rd floor Seminar Room 301 (map)
Part 1: Growth and Change from the Heart

The course begins with amazing insights into who and why we are as human beings from the early chapters of Genesis. What motivates, interests and frustrates us lead into understanding the very practical dynamics of how the new life in Christ enables us as believers to grow and change (not so much the "what" but the "how", explained in depth in the heart of Romans) as Jesus restores us by the working of His indwelling Spirit. We apply what we learn to comprehending why we sometimes feel defeated or depressed, and how we are prone to habits and addictions that undermine our priorities, relationships, and spiritual life. Most importantly, we then learn how to overcome these feelings and habits in practice, so that we can be free to live our lives for God.

Part 2: Fruitful Interpersonal Relationships

Relationships are at once one of the most rewarding and frustrating of all our endeavors. As any relationship deepens, whether it be a friend, roommate, or family member, conflict inevitably rises. People annoy and hurt us, and we annoy and hurt others, often without knowing it. Confronting the other person is tricky; although we would like to let the other person know what they are doing, we don't want to hurt the other person, experience a backlash, or make things worse. In this section, we'll study how the Bible addresses these practical issues. We'll learn when confrontation is appropriate, and if so, how to reach out in a constructive and sensitive way that works to truly benefit the other person. When words do not work, we will learn through the poignant example of Jesus how best to communicate. Some of the answers may surprise you, but once you know them, it will be apparent why they work. As a comfort, we'll also learn some of the practical benefits from going through these relational conflicts.

Part 3: Fulfilling Male-Female Relationships
  • For the single person: How not only to deal with the heartache of loneliness, but to thrive in singleness.
  • For those dating or engaged: How best to delight the other person while protecting the delight of physical love for marriage.
  • For those who have blown it sexually: How to rest in God's forgiveness and break the patterns that lead to blowing it and heal from its lasting effects and prepare for healthy relationship.
  • For those married (now or someday): The secrets for understanding, love, and respect.
  • For all: An insightful study of Genesis that reveal what makes each sex "tick", so that we know how best to relate to each other.

Part 1: Growth and Change from the Heart

Me? Lead Others Into Blessing? How, Lord!? Joshua 1:1-9
In God's Image: Our Nature, Purpose and Significance Genesis 1:1-2:3
Vital Partnerships: With God, His Creation, Each Other Genesis 2:1-3:17a
Corrupted Image: Distorted Condition from the Fall Genesis 3-6, and various
Progressive Deterioration: Growing Conviction of Need Romans 1:1-2:4
Hope of Redemption: Trust for New Life Here and Now Romans 2:1-5:2
New Identity: Resulting Ability to Change Romans 5:1-6:14
True Freedom: Victory over Habits, Peace of Mind Romans 6:14-8:14
New Life in the Spirit: Becoming like Jesus Romans 8:4-12:2
Vital Counseling Issues: Depression, Entering God's Rest Ps. 77, Lk. 14, Heb. 3-4, 1 Jn. 2
God's Redeeming Love: Relentless Commitment to Bless Genesis 6-50, and various

Part 2: Fruitful Interpersonal Relationships

Redemptive Communication: The Foundation of Hope Ephesians 1-3
Constructive Communication: The Power of Truth Ephesians 4
Sensitive Communication: Enlightenment through Love Ephesians 5:1-6:9
Standing Firm: Avoiding Hidden Pitfalls Eph. 6:10-20, Mat. 18, Gal. 5-6
Resolving Conflict: True Wisdom Enables Unity James, Colossians
Winning Hearts to Truth: Speaking and Loving as Jesus John 12-17, various
Unjust Suffering: Living Hope for Self and Others 1 Peter
Discipleship: Growing through Persistent Sin of Others Hebrews 12
Even Greater Works: The Triumph of Personal Testimony 2 Corinthians 1-7
Mystery Revealed: The Secrets of Fulfilling Friendship Philippians

Part 3: Fulfilling Male-Female Relationships

Courtship: Dating and Engagement Song of Solomon 1-3
Protecting Love's Preciousness S.Sol. 8, 1 Cor 6, 1 Thess 4:1-8
Healing from Sexual Wounds, Blessing through Scars 2 Sam. 11-12, Ps. 51, Mat. 18
Breaking Patterns: Freedom for Godly Relationship Mat. 5, Rom., Eph. 4, Pro. 5-9
Fulfilling Friendship, Life as Singles 1 Sam. 18, Phil. 2+4, 1 Cor. 7
Understanding Sexuality: Maleness and Femaleness Genesis 1:26-3:21
Christian Marriage: Love and Respect (1) - Wives Ephesians, esp. 5:22-24, 33b
Christian Marriage: Love and Respect (2) - Husbands Ephesians, esp. 5:25-33a
Redeeming Marriage: Hope Triumphs over Fear 1 Peter, esp. 2:11-3:7
Leaving and Yet Honoring Parents Gen. 2:24, Eph. 6:2-3, various
Being the Lord's Servants as Parents to Children Deut. 6, Eph. 6:1-4


Student Comments

Students have graciously provided us with comments about Parakaleo and the Biblical Counseling Course from the 40+ years that Steve and Erica Lawry have been teaching at Stanford. Specific student testimonials about the three quarters of the Biblical Counseling Class can be found here:

General Student Testimonials

Fortunately, God has given us His Word as a manual for living. For 40 years, Steve and Erica Lawry have been teaching wisdom from God's Word and showing its applicability to everyday life at the Biblical Counseling Course. When I attended the course last winter, a classmate asked me, "So, at this class, are you being counseled, or are you learning how to counsel?" I replied that the answer was "Both!" As we learn to counsel others from Scripture, we necessarily find that the Bible not only provides the most effective counsel for the world's problems, but also our own as well.

- Markus Ong


I can't say enough good things about the personal and spiritual benefits of this class! It is for practical folks who are interested in learning more about God's word from a new perspective, for those looking for Biblical tools to help 'counsel' others, and for those who wonder how God's word can apply to their every-day life.

If you're not sure you want to commit, no worries. Just set aside a bit of time next [Wednesday] (now offered on Monday) evening and go check it out. There is no pressure to sign up -- you won't be disappointed!!

- Deb Bond

This is not your ordinary Bible study. More than any other Bible study I have attended, this course explains how the Bible so powerfully applies to every aspect of our daily (and often messy) lives. When I attended the course during the past winter and spring quarters, I was often taken aback about what the Bible had to say about certain issues---it was so incredibly profound, so beyond what I would expect from even the wisest people, that at once I became convicted at the heart that the Bible is truly God's Word to man.

Both Steve and Erica have special gifts to help bring these profound insights in the Bible to light. Steve is one of the most careful expositors of the Scriptures that I know, and Erica has her own sweet way of sharing how these Scriptures apply to our down-to-earth lives. The examples given are often taken from their own experiences and struggles, and they are very specific and practical. What I especially enjoyed was how both shared funny situations (at least in hindsight!) that all of us deal with, but somehow are seldom communicated with clarity in a large group setting.

- Jeff Wu

As Christians at Stanford, we have an amazing opportunity to influence those around us through our faith, yet often we may feel unequipped for this task. The Biblical Counseling Course at Stanford is a great place to be outfitted as an effective Christian, to learn how the Bible can empower us to face difficult counseling issues in our lives and the lives of our friends, families, and acquaintances.

Taught by Steve and Erica Lawry, the Biblical Counseling Course is a year-long, once-a-week course that aims to make the Bible a useful manual for living for Christians. Steve and Erica—both Stanford graduates—have taught this course for over 30 years, giving them unique wisdom and perspective on the Stanford community. Using both examples of their own counseling experiences and insights from their personal studies in the course, the Lawrys' study of the Word is both infectious and exciting. Autumn quarter is devoted to individual counseling issues, Winter quarter examines counseling interpersonal relationships, and Spring quarter explores counseling issues explicitly related to male-female relationships. Start at any time, but beware, you will soon be hooked!

The heart of the course is the story of God's redemptive nature, worked out in our salvation and evident in our relationships. Beginning in Genesis with a look at fallen human tendencies and traits, the course moves into an in-depth look at the power of God's redemptive love in freeing us from our fallen nature, and from there discusses how our new lives in Christ can be lived out relationally with those around us. The Biblical Counseling Course really does make the Bible a manual for living, equipping students with the knowledge of key passages and themes for living application, and gives the confidence to approach difficult issues from a scriptural standpoint.

For me, the Biblical Counseling Course has been a wonderful blessing in my life, restoring to me a deep appreciation of the Bible's power as an amazing resource for living. All too often, God's Word is unfortunately transformed into a mere academic text or an aloof religious treatise. The course restores the Bible to its full power, showing both the amazing intricacy of God's Word as well as its accessibility and applicability in our own lives. The Bible took on new meaning for me, as it helped me to understand how to approach difficult problems Biblically, such as overcoming bad habits, a flagging prayer life, and day-to-day relationships with roommates, family and friends. Additionally, the Course delves into a fascinating study of nature of human beings and our God-inspired image and how the sinful corruption of our relationship with God and the world is at the heart of the most challenging counseling issues we face, as well as how the redeemed relationship of the believer with God enables us to walk in victorious new life. In my opinion, the Biblical Counseling Course is a must-take for every Christian at Stanford-an experience that will confirm your faith, challenge your lifestyle, impact those in your life, and restore to you a hunger for knowing Him.

- Ryan Theule

To me, the best thing about the class is that the teaching comes from the Bible, and the Lawrys illustrate how these truths can and should be successfully applied to many of the common issues we and our friends face daily. Personally, I think the title could be somewhat misleading, as we typically associate counseling with human efforts to find our "true inner being" or something fuzzy like that, or to help people put on band-aids so they become more optimistic about situations.

Rather, I would describe it as Bible exposition from key scriptures that help us understand how the Lord has fashioned us and how we are to relate to Him and to others. The material in the class has helped me appreciate the beauty of God's design and the magnificence of the Word. Thus, it is not just useful for addressing problems and issues; it helps us live with greater fulness and appreciation. I have found myself sharing these truths with seekers, as well, because there is so much that any person can relate to. For many, it's a surprise that the Bible speaks clearly on situations we think are peculiar to our day or our own lives.

- Benjamin Chen

Parakaleo is a deeply biblical and practical ministry, and it has been foundational in my walk with the Lord and in preparing me to serve others. Steve and Erica teach with so much, love, gratitude, wisdom, and knowledge. Through this ministry, I have learned that to have a deep reliance on Scripture, and I have learned to have so much hope in God growing others and me through His Holy Spirit inside of me. It is so special that students have the opportunity to learn and fellowship in this ministry.

- Timothy Le