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Phase 1 | Learning

Helping others to live a transformed life begins with a gospel-centered, biblical approach.

The first phase of ACBC certification includes a Fundamentals Training Course, counseling observations, and reading requirements. 


Take a course on the basics of biblical counseling.


Observe counseling to learn from ACBC Certified members.


Read books that are foundational to biblical counseling.

Fundamentals Training Course

Engage in training from ACBC certified counselors to understand the basics of biblical counseling. Explore topics that are covered in the Fundamentals Training Course below.

  • 1. The Need for Biblical Counseling

    The calling of all Christians is to counsel. Learn about the source of human problems and the sufficiency of Scripture to provide answers.

  • 2. The Definition and Goal of Biblical Counseling

    Explore the definition of biblical counseling, and the goals of biblical counseling—like helping counselees develop a God-oriented worldview.

  • 3. Progressive Sanctification

    Sanctification is a transformative, cooperative effort between the Lord and a believer. Learn about this vital doctrine and its implications for counseling.

  • 4. Process of Biblical Change

    How does a person change? See where the power to change comes from, and how the process of change takes place.

  • 5. Qualifications of a Biblical Counselor

    It’s vital that biblical counselors be mature believers who accurately handle God’s Word.

  • 6. Getting to Heart Issues

    The Word of God and the Spirit of God expose the inner man and help us distinguish between behaviors and desires.

  • 7. Gathering Data

    Learn various ways to ask good questions of your counselees, and see some helpful tools for collecting, evaluating, and processing data.

  • 8. Discerning Problems Biblically

    Gain an understanding of the connection between behavior and heart.

  • 9. Establishing Involvement with Counselees

    It’s imperative that counselees know we care for them. Learn about a biblically based method for care.

  • 10. Giving Hope

    The gospel is central to all of life, including counseling issues. The fundamental way to give a counselee hope is through the truths of the gospel.

  • 11. Providing Instruction

    In counseling, we must not only be good listeners. Like Jesus, we must be able to teach and instruct from the Word of God.

  • 12. Giving Homework

    Homework can translate counseling discussion into action. Learn how to ground homework assignments for counselees in God’s Word.

  • 13. Secular and Integration Theories

    Grasp the differences between secular, integration, and biblical models of counseling.

  • 14. What Makes Biblical Counseling Biblical?

    Scripture provides the ultimate framework for understanding the human condition, the nature of human problems, and the solutions to these problems.

  • 15. God’s Purpose for Marriage

    Marriage displays the gospel, provides companionship, and is used by God as a means for growth in holiness.

  • 16. Roles of the Husband and Wife

    Understanding biblical manhood and womanhood is an integral component to helping your counselees when they face marriage issues.

  • 17. Communication

    Learn the characteristics of wise communication and how to develop godly communication habits.

  • 18. Biblical Sexuality

    What are God’s purposes and plan for sex? See how to address this crucial (yet often neglected) topic with your counselees.

  • 19. Goal of Parenting

    Parents have the precious opportunity to steward a blessing from God, evangelize wayward souls, instruct young hearts and minds, and shepherd their children in sanctification.

  • 20. Parental Instruction

    Explore how to instruct children toward wisdom, while teaching that God is the ultimate authority and giver of all instruction.

  • 21. Parental Discipline

    How can parents address the heart of their child through discipline? How can they also be sure they are not disciplining out of anger? Explore these issues and more.

  • 22. Guilt and Repentance

    Learn how to distinguish between false guilt and true guilt, and lead a counselee to understand biblical confession.

  • 23. Forgiveness

    See how the Bible defines forgiveness, and what its role is in reconciliation.

  • 24. Trials and Suffering

    Trials are a reality for every person in this sin-cursed world. Yet, God in His grace redeems even the hardest circumstance for a believer and uses it for their good.

  • 25. Fear and Worry

    Sinful worry is rooted in a lack of trust. See how the character of God is relevant for someone struggling with worry or fear.

  • 26. Anger

    Learn what the common roots causes are for those who exhibit unrighteous anger.

  • 27. Depression

    As counselors, we must be compassionate toward those who face great sorrow. Learn how to care for those in your life who may be caught in a downward spiral of depression.

  • 28. Sexual Sin

    God has a perfect design for sex. Learn about God’s original design and the consequences for stepping outside of the good bounds the Lord has given us.

  • 29. Physical Illness and Biblical Counseling

    See how to minister to those who are suffering with physical illness and encourage appropriate medical care.

  • 30. Psychotropic Drugs and Biblical Counseling

    How should biblical counselors view psychiatric medication? Do antidepressants work? Explore these relevant issues and more.

Time Limits

After you complete a Fundamentals Training Course, you will have 4 years to complete the rest of Phases 1 and 2. For example, if an individual finishes the Fundamentals Training Course in 2020, they will need to submit their Phase 2 exams and evaluations by December 31, 2024. 

Counseling Observations

Observe 10 biblical counseling sessions in action to learn from ACBC Certified members.

In-Person (Preferred)

Search for a counselor in your area.


Purchase observation videos from IBCDFaith, or The Master’s University.

Reading Requirements

Increase your understanding of biblical counseling and theology by reading 1,000 pages from our Approved Reading List. At least 300 of the 1,000 pages will need to be from the “Biblical Counseling and Theology” category on the Approved Reading List.

Pursue Certification