Biblical Counseling, Christian Marriage, Divorce, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Narcissistic Pastors, Spiritual Abuse, Tullian Tchividjian

Is Paul Tripp Violating Counseling Code of Ethics by Releasing Statement about Tullian Tchividjian?

Paul Tripp, Tullian Tchividjian, Code of Ethics Violations, Divorce, Christian Counseling


Paul Tripp Releases Statement about Tullian Tchividjian and Divorce


Recently, I posted about Tullian Tchividjian, former senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) who recently filed for divorce from his wife, Kimberly, of 21 years: Tullian Tchividjian Files for Dissolution of Marriage and Timeline.

Today, there is a new development regarding Paul Tripp, who has recently counseled Tullian Tchividjian.

Here’s a little background on Paul Tripp:

Dr. Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. This vision has led Paul to write 15 books on Christian living and travel around the world preaching and teaching. Paul’s driving passion is to help people understand how the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks with practical hope into all the things people face in this broken world. (Source)

Paul Tripp released a public statement on his website today regarding Tullian Tchividjian and his divorce filing:


PT TT statement


Paul Tripp linked to his statement from his public Facebook page and I noted some concerning comments:


pt tt2
pt tt3 pt tt4


The Relationship Between Tullian Tchividjian and Paul Tripp


As we consider this public statement, and the fact that Paul Tripp is Tullian’s counselor, I think it’s important to look at their relationship and friendship. Paul David Tripp has spoken at Liberate conferences in 2012, 2013, 2014, and this past February 2015, only two months before he found out about his wife’s affair.


Conferences Together

Paul Tripp, Tullian Tchividjian divorce




 Counseling Ministry Together

At the Association of Biblical Counselors website, both Paul Tripp and Tullian Tchividjian are listed as contributing authors.


Tripp and Tchividjian Published a Video Together


Book Endorsement

Paul Tripp has endorsed Tullian Tchividjian’s book, Surprised by Grace, “In this wonderful book Tullian creatively and clearly does with the story of Jonah what the Bible was designed to do. He helps you see yourself and weep and see your God and rejoice. Read. It will deepen your sense of need and your affection for the God who meets you in the middle of it.”
Paul Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries”



Is Paul Tripp Violating Counseling Code of Ethics?

It is clear that not only do Tchividjian and Tripp identify themselves as friends, they are also in ministry work together. This poses a conflict of interest when Tripp puts on his counselor hat. Here are specific codes of ethics regarding counselors who counsel friends or business acquaintances. They come from two different sources, American Counseling Association and American Association of Christian Counselors. I believe Paul Tripp may have violated these codes:

From the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics:

 A.5.d. Friends or Family Members Counselors are prohibited from engaging in counseling relationships with friends or family members with whom they have an inability to remain objective.

From the American Association of Christian Counselors, I found the following code of ethics that would apply:

1-140: Dual and Multiple Relationships Dual relationships involve the breakdown of proper professional or ministerial boundaries. A dual relationship exists when two or more roles are mixed in a manner that can harm the counseling relationship and/or the therapeutic process. This includes counseling, as well as personal, fraternal, business, financial, or sexual and romantic relationships. Not all dual relationships are necessarily unethical—it is client exploitation that is wrong, not the dual relationship in and of itself. However, it remains the responsibility of the counselor to monitor and evaluate any potential harm to clients.

1-140-c: Counseling with Family, Friends, and Acquaintances Christian counselors do not provide counseling to family members or close friends, as dual relationships with other family members, acquaintances, and fraternal, club, association, or group members, are potentially troublesome and best avoided, otherwise requiring justification.

1-140-d: Business and Economic Relations Christian counselors avoid partnerships, employment relationships, and close business associations with clients.

I believe Tripp was wrong to release a public statement on behalf of Tullian Tchividjian. He gives Tullian a supportive voice, but notice there is no voice for Kimberly. Additionally, we read in the statement of Tullian’s repentance. I’m unclear how Tripp can know of Tchividjian’s repentance. What is he basing it on – Tullian’s words alone? Aren’t they living in different states? Has he inquired of Tchividjian’s friends and family to see this repentance in action? Furthermore, Tchividjian, by the vow he took to be a Presbyterian minister, should have been under the counsel of his elders at CRPC, who have been with him for the last few years and know the family.

Tullian Tchividjian, by seeking out his friend for counsel, smacks of the good ol’ boys club: you pat my back and I’ll pat yours; you write a book endorsement for me and I’ll invite you to speak at my church’s Liberate conference; I go to you for counseling and name you publicly and you help me and my reputation when I file for divorce.

Does anyone know who is overseeing Paul Tripp?  I sure hope professional counselors will speak up about this obvious conflict of interest and potential violation of ethics.

128 thoughts on “Is Paul Tripp Violating Counseling Code of Ethics by Releasing Statement about Tullian Tchividjian?”

  1. Did I miss it or was there no mention in Tripps statement regarding the wife? Because one could get the impression from what he says that she is the culprit in Tripps opinion.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It feels to me as if Tripp is almost covering his own backside as a counselor.. Like “Hey just because this didn’t work out doesn’t mean I’M ineffective”……

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, that’s a good observation. I think it’s poor taste to be releasing any kind of statement, period. I don”t care whether Tullian publicly announced that Tripp was his counselor or not. There is a privacy code about releasing personalinformation. Boy, this rubs me wrong. For some reason I find myself having compassion for Kimberly who doesn’t have a public sister club to help clear her name.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Don’t know much about the specifics of his profession, but no engineer would ever release a statement like this without the consent and cooperation of the client. So, yes, probably an ethics problem unless authorized by Tchividjian. And the passage beginning “From the point of Tullian’s confession and repentance …” seems clearly aimed at putting the onus squarely on the ex.


    Liked by 3 people

  5. Even if it was authorized by Tullian, Tripp should know how harmful it is to the friends/family and Kimberly. I wonder who instigated this statement?


  6. Jeff, I had the same feeling.

    I am inclined to take to heart Boz’s comment that this statement is extremely troubling.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I find all three of the comments following the statement more troubling than the statement itself, assuming he had permission from his client to make it . Obviously the plan is to blame the wife so Mr. preacher boy can ” overcome a horriable tribulation and through his faith and OVERCOME and go on to minister (for hundreds of thousands of dollars) to many through the new ministry that GOD has birthed”.

    A MUSIC MINISTER that tried to kill his wife and daughter now serving in leadership and leading worship ?

    ” He is by oath under the authority of the presbytery ” .

    ” More to the story”.

    What a mess

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What do you know, Tripp took down his Facebook post and of course all of the comments that were left there. A large amount of comments were AGAINST Tripp’s public statement. I’m glad I got the above screenshots.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. CCEF “biblical” counselors like Tripp aren’t bound by the ethics of the ACA or the AACC. I did an extensive series on biblical counseling last year, and in all of my research I could not find a written code of ethics that any of these counselors abide by. (Theology, yes. Ethics, no.) They have created their own unsupervised and unaccountable system of counseling. None of them are licensed. While a statement like Tripp’s would normally violate such ethics, there’s no governing board anywhere that will call him out. CCEF might, but they use Matthew 18 for discipline to determine if wrongdoing occurred. And Tripp is one of their directors, so what do you think the likelihood is?

    In some of the biblical counseling documents I found, some associations even encouraged counselors to share information with a client’s church leadership if they thought it would be helpful for the client’s “wellbeing.”

    These “counseling” associations get away with it because they operate under religious exemption laws. Otherwise, in many cases, they’d be in jail.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. If these guys want real high-quality counseling they need to find a therapist who doesn’t know them professionally and start from there. The celebrity dual-relationship culture is so very wrong, unethical, and will not work.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. April, that’s it exactly. I figured there was no governing board. I’m pretty sure that this kind of behavior would cause someone with professional licensing and credentials to be disciplined or even lose their license. I grabbed those 2 organization’s ethics code because they seemed to have a normal, responsible code that protects clients and themselves. Paul Tripp is not protecting anyone except Tullian Tchividjian and possibly himself as Marie suggested earlier.

    Thanks for your helpful comment, April.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. You know if I had a marriage heading into divorce and a therapist “treating my wife” issued this statement he would find a formal complaint with any licensing agency. I would also review the possibilities of a successful civil suit to address what seems to be malpractice & invasion of privacy. If the facts in the statement can be proven to be false that would of course give such an action even more traction. Regardless it seems like he really messed up releasing such a statement.

    THESE pastors really see themselves as a big deal, celebrity level drama.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. As a side note, I HATE it when public figures just delete posts when they don’t go the way they want. On two separate occasions I have called out PCA ministers for posting articles written by or supporting Men’s Rights Advocates (using posts from wehuntedthemammoth to illustrate why the sources are . . . problematic [read:misogynistic and racist]). Both times the posts disappeared without a comment.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Not only is the statement unwarranted and troubling, but so is the fact that Paul D Tripp is who is counseling Tullian!! Who is really seeking the truth about their self and their actions when they run to one of their ministry buddies for marriage counseling? Why did Paul Tripp even agree to counsel him? How could Kim be on board with counseling from Tullian’s BFF? Needless to say, I have trouble with all of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This whole mess. I would have agreed on the surface with what Paul Tripp said. Boz weighing in makes me think we are dealing with many more layers of issues, and narcissism does come to mind. The biggest problem I see is that Kim does not have a public following and seems to be getting blame. Disturbing. Definitely must pray for this family.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Tripp is acting as an advocate, not a counselor. Pretending to speak from the perspective of a counselor lends a false aura of credibility.

    Does Tripp speak with TT’s consent? My own suspicion is that he is matching to his “counselee’s” orders.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I agree. My first impression was Tripp wanted to let everyone know Tullian had tried so hard to make it work. As for Tullian’s wife-crickets. If Tripp is Tullian’s therapist, he has violated numerous ethical boundaries with his post.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I agree with all the concerns expressed by other commenters here, in fact I ‘liked’ just about every comment!

    I give a lot of weight to Boz’s comment.

    Paul Tripp is scratching Tullian’s back because Tullian has helped advance Tripp’s ‘ministry’.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Mr. T needs a new therapist. Perhaps Josh Duggar who was flown by private aircraft to a long term treatment facility ( in the middle of the night ) can recommend someone. Apparently it’s another glorified Christian labor camp where you pay $7500 to work for free, eat crappy food and read your Bible. Men sit on one side & women on another and are NOT allowed to talk.

    I guess the porn star saying she twice had rough sex with Josh that ” scared” her was the last straw. Off to rehab he goes.

    Free flash cards are included in the $7500. They have to carry them around all day and work on their phases.

    Phase 1) No thinking about nude women or looking at porn
    Phase 2) No Trying to meet women on the net
    Phase 3) No visits from women unless they are your family.
    (Very bad idea in his case)

    They even make you sign a NO masturbation contract at this place.
    If you fail to keep that contractual provision they confiscate your flash cards and send you home. You are also required to turn your fellow inmates in if they violate the rules OR YOU GET THE SAME PUNISHMENT.


    Gee, Bill Gothard should have gone there. He would have to stop with the feet & hair fetish but hey FREE FLASH card while you attempt to rehab your reputation & claim you are NOW normal.


  20. Reformers unanimous. Confirmed by pulling the flight plan records that are public by Federal law. Late night flight to Rockford, ILL by Duggar aviation LLC owned aircraft.
    It’s all over the net. I researched the place, it’s run by some Hayles Anderson grads NO PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED therapists, just ex- junkies and a few pastors.

    It just gets worse the more you read about the place.
    If you criticize the food or staff, you guessed it EXTRA FLASH CARDS TO MEMORIZE about being grateful. LOL

    I have a new philosophy: Fundies can NOT rescue fundies. They need an intervention by an episcopalian or someone normal.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Scott –

    So incredibly sad that this is what is considered “help” for Josh. Christians can be some of the most naive people on the face of the earth. Why don’t they get certified professionals to help him? If they are worried about his Christian walk being harmed by possible unbeliever phycologists — I think he has taken care of that himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Isn’t this the same Paul Tripp who previously served on the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability? He eventually said of that church said after he’d left the BOAA, “This is without a doubt, the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.” So he knows how to say things straight up.

    But working with a counseling client is different, though. The apparent “dual relationships” of personal friend plus professional counselor is concerning.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. 1. Was anyone else bothered by Andrew Joseph Smith’s comment about his friend being reconciled to his wife and daughter that he attempted to kill? And he was okay with that??!!

    2. Is Paul Tripp even a licensed counselor? His “About” page on his ministry web site does not say that he is licensed. I used the Philadelphia zip code and entered that in to the National Christian Counselors Association counselor search and it shows no results for any counselors licensed by this association. I looked on the American Counseling Association page using the same zip code. Hundreds of licensed therapists came up, and honestly, my eyes started glazing over so I stopped looking. I can only assume (and would love to be corrected) that Tripp is not licensed through the ACA,

    3. I am inclined to believe that Tripp’s poor choice or “response” was due to his role as a friend and “counselor” in the sense of a spiritual counselor. Even if he was “counseling,” it is still poor taste to release information. And, since he did, I hope that he at least got approval from Tullian that he did.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Tripp is with CCEF, a “biblical” counseling association. According to my research, none of their counselors are licensed or even educated in psychology. That’s the big thing with “biblical” counseling: it’s a non-professional, non-secular practice. Everyone involved has, at best, a theology degree (some unaccredited from far-right Reformed seminaries). No joke.


  25. Bridget, I saw that. Even looking at the bio, it states he has a D.Min. in Biblical Counseling, but no mention of licensing. And, when I checked out the American Association of Biblical Counselors search, Paul Tripp does not show up under the network of counselors for the Philadelphia area.


  26. April Kelsey, I would love to see your research on Christian counseling. At the very least, Tripp’s statement should aim the spotlight at nouthetic, or biblical, counselors. I am a refugee from a neo-Cal church that just had a begathon to raise one million dollars to open the only nouthetic counseling center on California’s central coast. What they don’t share is the sub-standard training their “counselors” receive (face it: a seminary-earned degree, including the pathetic “doctor” title given to those completing distance learning is sub-standard to the licensing requirements the state demands); the fact that their clients sign away any guarantee of confidentiality (in the mental health field…really!); and their absolute ignorance and acknowledgement of the organic etiologies of mental illness, relegating it to sinful behavior. In addition to this, they do not charge a fee, but in writing suggest to their clients that they do accept donations, which I hope trips some state licensing to investigate the avalanche of client malpractice and abuse which is sure to occur.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. April Kelsey,

    I echo your sentiments. I have video that I have not yet edited from a presentation that John Weaver and I prepared that supports your statements. I’ve been sitting on it for more than a year, but John’s far more comprehensive book on the subject of the alternative pastoral type of “Biblical Counseling” was published last year. I’ve got to get back at editing it so people can understand the whole process. Basically, everything boils down to either sin or demons. In terms of psychology, what Paul Tripp offers is basically behaviorism with shame and superstition mixed into it. Blech.

    If Paul Tripp’s counsel is the best thing that he can offer to the public as a testament to his legitimacy, then poor Tullian has bigger problems than just his ending marriage.

    (BTW, “Happy Mom and hubby” of Sovereign Grace Ministries survivor circles was at that presentation last year, and they both sat there with wide eyes as I spoke, nodding their heads. While affirming for me and helpful to look to in the midst of the talk, it also broke my heart because they identified with the material through hard and painful experience. What does that tell you?)


  28. Kathi –

    Yes. It is not University certified counseling. It is a separate animal altogether and dangerous as far as I’m concerned. See Cindy’s comment above. Certain family members were exposed to it by someone who “got certified” through the same group Tripp is affiliated with. These people are completely unqualified to deal with serious issues and they don’t realize it.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Bridget, you’re right on the money.

    These people are completely unqualified to deal with serious issues and they don’t realize it.

    It is pastoral counseling, not clinical mental health. They actually oppose the idea of mental health and say that it is all “soul health.”

    It’s fine if you have an actual sin problem or a behavior problem that can be managed through good goal setting and habits. If you have an organic problem (PTSD, addiction, ADHD, OCD, etc,), if the pastoral counselor doesn’t have the common sense to realize that the problem is bigger than a sin, ignorance, or bad habit problem, you’re going to get something worse than ineffective care. You will suffer condemnation spiritually and likely psychological abuse.

    That said, some pastoral counselors are good about making referrals, but most of them don’t. They’re definitely not trained that way, and they generally will reject a medical model.

    I have a friend whose husband who eventually learned that he had a brain tumor. In the interim, their counselor’s solution was to send the family to a deliverance retreat where they tried to cast the devil out of her husband for something like nine hours straight. That kind of experience can actually cause a mentally healthy person to have a dissociative experience, and in someone who has underlying issues — they can induce symptoms.


  30. 1. Was anyone else bothered by Andrew Joseph Smith’s comment about his friend being reconciled to his wife and daughter that he attempted to kill?

    YES! I was very bothered by that.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Cindy says, ” If you have an organic problem (PTSD, addiction, ADHD, OCD, etc,), if the pastoral counselor doesn’t have the common sense to realize that the problem is bigger than a sin, ignorance, or bad habit problem, you’re going to get something worse than ineffective care.”

    I’m sure I won’t get this just exactly right, but I recently attended a lecture or talk by a psychiatrist who said that, in her view, all addictive behaviors are driven by the pursuit of the next artificially induced dopamine hit. Dopamine makes us feel good, and pleasurable activities are made pleasurable by the release of dopamine. This is a good thing to the extent our bodies are driving us to engage in healthy activities, such as healthy eating, exercise and relationships. There is a problem, however, if a person seeks artificially elevated levels of dopamine related pleasure, such as through alcohol, meth, pornography, etc., there is a problem.

    The topic of the psychiatrist’s lecture at hand had to do with the organic rewards systems driving spouse abusers to abuse, but we were told that this organic level dynamic applies across the board. Whatever the particular destructive pursuit, the next hit is never as “good” as the previous hit, and the pursuit of what was experienced before drives the addicted person to greater and greater lengths of destructive behavior.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this, except to say that, to the extent Josh will be receiving spiritual-only therapy, which concentrates on making good decisions and exercising the will to follow through, there is no hope for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Apparently it’s another glorified Christian labor camp where you pay $7500 to work for free, eat crappy food and read your Bible.

    And they charge 75 Benjamins a head for it?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Whatever the particular destructive pursuit, the next hit is never as “good” as the previous hit, and the pursuit of what was experienced before drives the addicted person to greater and greater lengths of destructive behavior.

    The Addiction/Tolerance Response.
    From druggies to serial killers.


  34. Bridget, I saw that. Even looking at the bio, it states he has a D.Min. in Biblical Counseling, but no mention of licensing.

    Another Honorary Doctorate?


  35. Kathi,
    1. Was anyone else bothered by Andrew Joseph Smith’s comment about his friend being reconciled to his wife and daughter that he attempted to kill?

    Absolutely!! Attempted murder!! Jail time yes, reconciliation–not in this lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I hope repeated information dumps like these don’t eventually force Kim into feeling like she must make a public statement of her own, when she’d rather remain quiet. I don’t know how a good divorce lawyer would advise her, in any case.

    If Paul or Tullian are putting out misleading statements, integrity would demand correction…which would necessarily lead to more exposure of details.


  37. . “I don’t know how a good divorce lawyer would advise her, in any case.”

    I was wondering if “divorce lawyer” is the reason Tripp took down the link to the statement.

    At some point Tullian may pay a price for throwing her under the bus publicly in several ways with help from his celeb contacts.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Julie Anne –

    To answer this question –

    Is Paul Tripp Violating Counseling Code of Ethics by Releasing Statement about Tullian Tchividjian?

    No, because he didn’t belong to the organizations that uphold these ethics. He belongs to a separate “Biblical Counseling” organization that must have lower ethical standards (right?) than secular/certified counselors.

    Sometimes I wonder if the Biblical Counseling people are set up in such a way as to protect the church (i.e., share information with pastors) and, therefore, not really care about the welfare of the client. After seeing what Paul Tripp just did, I would never trust a Biblical Counselor – ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. I would and do trust Leslie Vernick who is a well known counselor and advocate against domestic violence and other abuses. I went to a Christian counselor in my area who was very good when I was contemplating divorce. The church that she attends is strong against abuse of any kind. She was awesome and strongly opposed to “thou shalt stay in a destructive marriage” like so many are.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Gary, You’re more right on the money than you think. I have a dr’s appt, but I’ll explain this when I get back. 🙂


  41. Bridget – I agree with you on technicality that Tripp did not violate any code of ethics since he is clearly not licensed or bound by a licensing agency. That being said, as a person who claims to provide “counsel,” I think that he crossed the line. Why would anyone else trust him to maintain confidentiality over sensitive issues any more? Anyone who seeks counsel from Tripp from this point forward is a fool.

    As a person who is bound by confidentiality for work that I do, I take this very seriously. So seriously that if I have a friend or family member tell me something in confidence, I make sure to hold on to that trust placed upon me. I really am baffled by Tripp’s admission of counseling Tullian. It leaves me to wonder if it was more of his own ego speaking. He can say, “Hey, I’m the one who counseled Tullian over this and here’s what I can tell you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  42. dustin,
    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am saying it. The child doesn’t get a vote. If the wife wants to reconcile with him she has that right and child protective services has the right to make sure that child is, well, protected. If that means taking he/she out of the home, that’s fine in my book. The wife, IMO, is not showing wisdom by going back and is endangering her child.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Kathi,

    Agreed. I am not a licensed person, but I take training and sign an agreement every year that I will not discuss client business with anyone with or without names.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Dustin, I am in agreement with Brenda. If the ex-wife wants to be reconciled and remarried to her ex-husband who attempted to murder her and her child, then by all means make that decision. Would I advise that a person reconcile with their ex-spouse who attempted to kill them? Never! However, to put the child in potential endangerment does not show that she has the best interest of the child at hand. The only information we have to work off of is what is given. Since that is the case, I would have no reservation of removing that child from the home.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Gary W,

    This is what happens with a behavioral addiction which includes sex addiction, eating disorders, self-injury/cutting, shopping…

    A wee bit about the brain. When we do certain things, it raises our levels of neurochemicals/neurotransmitters/neurohormones. The two most primary ones involved with mood are dopamine (active in the pleasure nucleus in the brain and in the rational thought area) and serotonin (the happy hormone that is most active in the limbic system and in the area of the brain that is responsible for switching from task to task that is also involved in OCD).

    Amphetamine increases dopamine which is why it is prescribed for attention problems which is really a lack of blood flow in the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking. In ADD, it restores the neurotransmitter to a normal level so affected people can think. For normal people with normal levels, amphetamine and cocaine flood the brain with dopamine, causing a high. Highly excitable people also basically get addicted to dopamine rushes.

    Serotonin is the happy neurotransmitter that drops in winter because it’s made from the building blocks of melatonin which we make in darkness. We run low on it in the winter months, especially in the North, because the brain burns up all the building blocks for making both of these substances, and we tend to get more depressed. The primary food source for this is tryptophan, an protein that only gets into the brain in the presence of insulin, so people learn that their mood gets better when they eat carbohydrates. So people tend to gain weight in the winter because they figure out through experience that along with the carbs, they get a wash of tryptophan in the brain which boosts mood. (That’s the basics of Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

    Depression can be treated by antidepressants that essentially make the serotonin that you already have last longer, and other antidepressants affect both serotonin and dopamine (by making the brain’s level of concentrated adrenaline/epinephrine last longer). The rise in dopamine is a beneficial effect of raising nor-epinephrine, so it also helps with thinking. Some doctors believe that the best treatment for depression involves using drugs that help both levels.

    (Smiling raises your serotonin, BTW. So does sex. Falling in love raises dopamine and causes the release of amphetamine-like compounds, too).

    When you are in pain, your brain makes it’s own class and type of soothing neurohormones called endorphins — at least 20 different kinds of them. They fit like a key in a lock and sit on top of opiate receptors, turning on the cells which causes the same type of effect that taking a prescription pain medicine creates.

    In substance abuse, a chemical is ingested, and that chemical sits on certain receptors and causes a response. Pot sits on THC receptors. Alcohol and Valium sit on GABA receptors. People figure out that their troubles lift when they take the drug, and overuse or abuse causes tolerance, so people need more and more. They use the substance to numb out the pain of life and to avoid feelings of trauma and fear. It is an escape, and the escape feels much better than reality. These substances come from outside the body, so they are called “exogenous.”

    In any of these behavioral addictions, the ritual of thinking about and preparing for a behavior and the behavior itself is rewarding because the brain manufactures its very own, homemade type of chemical fix. Cutting, for example, involves pain which releases its own homemade endorphins in the brain which causes a calming effect. There is also self-care that is required after self-injury, so this is also rewarding ang gives the abused person permission to care for self while also calming them down. (It’s also pain that they can control themselves as opposed to the overwhelm of pain at the hands of someone or something else.) The same thing happens with sex addiction, but the actual sex usually isn’t as much as a “fix” as is thinking about sex or preparing for sex. Eating disorders are much the same way and involve their own rituals before and after whatever that addiction happens to be.

    The substance of addiction in behavioral problems is “endogenous” or from within the body. The process occurs right there in the brain and is immediate and starts to become automatic. Because it is all within that closed system and is accessible merely by thought about the ritual or the process, and because the substance is so localized at the receptor site, it is far more addictive than any substance you might ingest or inject or smoke. The endogenous neurochemicals are more potent and thus are more highly addictive than exogenous ones. They are also harder to treat because they are so immediate and habitual. It’s much harder to abstain from thought or habit than it is to restrict your access to a chemical you can ingest.

    Dopamine gets involved because of the rush of adrenaline/epinephrine which is involved in the thrill seeking and risk taking that can be involved, but I was taught that the really addictive substances are those endorphins and enkephalins that the brain makes because of the thought and behavior fix.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Oh, and when I worked with AIDS patients in hospice, we put them on antidepressants right away. It not only helps with mood and helps with pain tolerance, but it knocks down the sex drive. So in most clinical programs, though antidepressants don’t fix the problem, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk says that they “lengthen a person’s fuse” so that they can have a better chance at getting a handle on their behavior — be that depression or trauma, or the beneficial side effect of decreasing sex drive long enough to help the sex addict get a handle on their compulsive behavior.


  47. “Are you guys saying that the man who tried to kill his wife and kid should not have been reconciled to them, even if that was what the wife and child wanted”

    You guys crack me up except when it becomes super dangerous and beyond absurd.

    BTW: The children are making the decision? Or the idiot parents? I am guessing this was not reported to police that he tried to kill them? Perhaps the pastor told her not to. Let me guess based on past history: He is “real” sorry and repentant.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Cindy K, with all these chemicals affecting the brain and our moods, I find it interesting that there are those that think all this just came about by happenstance of chance. I find God and His design amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. I think you people are so closed minded. If they want to be one big happy MANSON-like family that is their business. The church should be supportive of family unity and bring them in front of the church and collectively pray for a happy reconciliation. Then give her a AR-15 and the kid an Obama phone in case he backslides. Ice cream & cake to follow in the fellowship hall.

    My personal prediction: 911 what is your emergency ?
    Caller : My mom just shot my dad because he tried to kill us again.

    I always told my sisters , Psychos don’t change.
    Now I tell my nieces , Psychos don’t change.

    If I ever have little girls I think I will just go psycho myself and meet their dates at the door looking wide eyed crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. JImmyDee,

    What’s amazing to me about this particular aspect of the brain in particular is the fact that there is a receptor for marijuana in the brain, and when you take the drug, it gets into the brain and fits the receptor like a key in a lock or a cap on the top of a jar. And that causes something to happen to the cell. We don’t make THC naturally, the active part of the plant, but we have a receptor for it. It’s like someone put them there…. Hmmmm.

    We have opiate receptors. In the heart, we have all kinds of things going on, especially with potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. And we have drugs that can block channels that keep calcium from flowing into the cell. There are drugs that can block the adrenaline receptors which causes the heart to slow down, but they don’t affect the adrenaline in the brain. Before we had drugs, we used herbs — which people figured out were helpful for certain things. From there, we came up with drugs when we were able to master the chemistry of them.

    Then, when you look at just a single cell, there are processes that are as involved as a whole body system at work in each of them — like a complicated city with something even like a subway transport system in it.

    And if you look at the chemistry of it, how odd is it that the periodic table of the elements ends up falling into such an organized pattern, and at one time, there were holes in that table. Mendeleev, a chemist born near Siberia, figures out the pattern and predicts eight elements before they were ever discovered. And the fit right into the missing cells in the table. That all happened by chance? Why doesn’t that happen to my laundry or my checkbook? I have to work to put them in order, but nature was organized and logical — by design, I think. 🙂


  51. Whoa, thank you Cindy K! Your previous three comments, and their links, have taken up permanent residence in my Evernote database–unless you should ask me to delete them.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Keep them, Gary W. Actually a good resource on this is a book about sex addiction written by the current director of the program at The Meadows. Maureen Canning. I’ve talked directly with her about the whole Quiverfull thing and the issue of spanking that turns into sex practices for adult children who were spanked aggressively. (Their genitalia gets stimulated, so the experience of sexual arousal and pain/punishment fuses, so they can’t achieve one without the other.) She didn’t even bat an eye as I told her this stuff.

    I attended several of Canning’s lectures, and she goes through all of this this quite thoroughly in the seminars hosted by The Meadows (2007, 2008, 2010 that I attended). It’s also well documented in the literature about self-injury. All are strongly related to trauma, and 70% of people have multiple addictions — used to drown out the pain of trauma early in life.

    The fellow who had that position at the Meadows before Canning is Patrick Carnes, the guy who wrote the definitive standard works about sex addiction.

    Maureen Canning’s bio:


  53. Dustin, I agree with Kathi and Brenda R. Trying to kill a wife and child is a sign of a very serious disturbance. Normal people don’t do that and don’t want to do that. The wife is unwise to risk her own life and immoral to risk the life of her child.

    Why did he do that? Insurance money? Resentment of his family? Anger that he feels entitled to express? Then we are dealing with sociopathy which is not treatable. Or we can call it evil.

    Out of control anger? Then we are dealing with someone who is unable to stop himself from hurting others. We can never be sure it won’t happen again.

    I have done a lot of work with prisoners. Repentance and salvation are certainly possible but actions have consequences. That man should be in prison for life for punishment and because he cannot be trusted.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Here is a reference linking opioid deficiency with self-injury and trauma. This article doesn’t note any involvement with dopamine and serotoin but affirms the opioid receptor data involving endorphins.

    There are four primary groups of people who suffer with self-injury addiction. They all involve some degree of dissociation after trauma (escape from reality or distancing self from reality as a means of coping to preserve the integrity of the sense of self). This was communicated to me by Joel Young, MD, a psychiatrist:

    1. Borderline personality disorder (a lifelong complex trauma syndrome)
    2. Children who were sexually molested.
    3. Those suffering from PTSD (low serotonin and low dopamine)
    4. Women with ADD. (low serotonin in the anterior cingulate gyrus/OCD area)


  55. So bringing all of this brain stuff back to Biblical Counseling which is a type of non-clinical pastoral counseling that boils things down to bad habits, ignorance, or sin, how do they accommodate these concepts? They focus on controlling behavior and downplay the significance of the physiology at work in these disorders that are brain-based.

    Take a person with ADHD. Many people with ADHD learn intuitively that if they get angry, it helps them think better. This is because there is a reflex that happens when people get angry. The temporal lobe becomes very active which is generally not inhibited in ADHD and is often a problem. But something really interesting happens when the temporal lobe gets active: it floods the prefrontal cortex, dependent on dopamine, with blood. If youre a person with ADHD, and you can’t concentrate, if you get angry, you’re suddenly able to focus. It’s much like how people figure out that if they eat carbs, they get happy because of the secondary effect of the tryptophan entering the brain. The guy with ADHD figures out that he thinks better when he’s angry.

    ADHD people also have problems with OCD in many cases. They need serotonin. But a funny thing happens in ADHD and ADD (inattentiveness without hyperativity). When you need to think and concentrate, instead of blood going to that part of the brain,it does the opposite. It stops. Ritalin doesn’t numb people with ADHD. It wakes up their brain so they can think. Then the blood flow comes back.

    If you’re accepting of the medical model, you see this as a neurophysiological problem. You understand that a lot of the anger is likely related to “self medicating” with anger to help with low dopamine. You understand that it becomes a trait of the personality of those afflicted. You realize that they struggle with feeling defeated and with futility — for very literally — the harder they try to behave appropriately, the worse the blood flow in the brain to the area that needs to function. When you medicate, you restore the healthy balance and levels of these neurotransmitters, and the person starts behaving better. They don’t get as angry. They can think and accomplish more. They aren’t as “stuck” and their compulsive behavior drops. Success story.

    Send them to a Biblical counselor? They tell you to control yourself and shame you with your repeated failures. The harder you try, the worse you do and the more anxious and more stuck you become. You’re then reasoned with and told the reasons why, in the Bible, you should be a certain way or think a certain way. These are all dependent on activity of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. (This is why we hit ourselves in the forehead — a spontaneous and literal attempt to jump start the brain like a defibrilator is used on someone who has had a heart attack.) And in ADHD, the more you try to think, the less you can think, all while the approach of the Biblical Counselor is an appeal to the intellect — the area of the brain that doesn’t and can’t work. They make the problem worse and then heap on shame at continued failure, claiming the person isn’t tenacious enough or disciplined — or that they just don’t desire to be better.

    Liked by 2 people

  56. What’s amazing to me about this particular aspect of the brain in particular is the fact that there is a receptor for marijuana in the brain, and when you take the drug, it gets into the brain and fits the receptor like a key in a lock or a cap on the top of a jar. And that causes something to happen to the cell. We don’t make THC naturally, the active part of the plant, but we have a receptor for it. It’s like someone put them there…. Hmmmm.

    Oh my gosh! Cindy, are you saying God wants us to get stoned?!

    (Come on everybody. You know you were thinking the same thing! 😉 )


  57. Barnabus in Training,

    Does God want us to get stoned?

    Maybe He wants us to be tempted but resist temptation.

    As a medical treatment, I don’t have a personal issue with it. It’s helpful with nausea, it is a great bronchodilator, and it helps decrease sensitivity to pain. Maybe He wants us to use it as a medication?


  58. One of the things that I have noticed in prison work is that when people have truly turned their lived around, they aren’t clamoring for early release or special privileges. They don’t demand that everyone see them as a new person. They accept the consequences of their past behavior and concentrate on doing doing for themselves and others in the prison. They work to rebuild trust.

    Those who want to short circuit the process (“but I am saved…but I completed a rehab problem… now I deserve special treatment”) are very likely to reoffend.


  59. “dustin,
    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am saying it. The child doesn’t get a vote. If the wife wants to reconcile with him she has that right and child protective services has the right to make sure that child is, well, protected. If that means taking he/she out of the home, that’s fine in my book. The wife, IMO, is not showing wisdom by going back and is endangering her child.”

    ok, but we don’t know anything. For all we know 10 years passed before they figured things out and the child was an adult before they mended that relationship. we don’t know how anything came about. and so in that absence of information, i find it very disappointing that you feel you have the ability to dictate what they should and should not have done. essentially you are saying “it would have been better for the wife if she divorced him and never ended up finding peace and joy and reconciliation for her family. it could have come about in so many different ways, so wouldn’t it be wise to express happiness for the couple, instead of jumping to condemnation?


  60. “Dustin, I am in agreement with Brenda. If the ex-wife wants to be reconciled and remarried to her ex-husband who attempted to murder her and her child, then by all means make that decision. Would I advise that a person reconcile with their ex-spouse who attempted to kill them? Never! However, to put the child in potential endangerment does not show that she has the best interest of the child at hand. The only information we have to work off of is what is given. Since that is the case, I would have no reservation of removing that child from the home.”

    Ok, but who said the daughter was a child? who said she was young? who said she was a kid? In the absence of information, let’s be happy that they reconciled, not being dissaproving that they did


  61. I was kidding, Cindy. 🙂

    I’m sure if He wanted us to use it it is for a good purpose.


  62. I cannot be happy about a couple reconciling after one of them attempted to murder the other and to murder a CHILD. I cannot imagine that any additional information whatsoever would change that.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. The age of the daughter does not matter to me. I would take a bullet for my 37 year old daughter. My mother would have for me. She got off her death bed, literally, and came to find me with a walker when she heard me pass out in the other room from a medical problem I was having. Anyone who attempts to murder their own child forfeits trust.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. Kathi, Bridget, April and a few others – as a licensed professional counselor, and a speaker at the most recent conference at the American Counseling Association (though not on this subject) as well as a long time ACA member, I want to back up what you’re saying. By not being licensed, Paul is officially skirting any legal or HIPAA-related violations when releasing the statement. You can’t have your license taken away if you do not have it. It bothers me greatly that Biblical counseling is called counseling – I wish there was a better word, because it is not at all what licensed counselors do, nor even licensed Christian counselors.

    Glancing quickly at the D. Min degree from Westminster, which according to is where his training comes from, the description is this: “The Doctor of Ministry is an advanced, professional degree program designed for those engaged in the full-time practice of ministry. It is structured in a modular format for pastors and those unable to relocate full-time. The purpose of the DMin program is to develop reflective practitioners in ministry who will grow not only in ministry comprehension and competence, but also in character.”

    In contrast, this is the description of counseling from the ACA website. “Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client. Professional counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seek to improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health.” – See more at:

    These are completely different purposes and we went through completely different training. Accredited master’s degrees in counseling contain coursework in marriage & family therapy, psychopathology, addiction, development, group therapy, and so forth. Then you must complete at least 1500 hours of supervised counseling experience where you are recorded providing services and meet with a licensed counselor who went through additional training to be a counselor supervisor. (In my state, it’s 3000 supervised hours, and I believe one state requires 4500 hours.) All of this is so we have the privilege of receiving our license from the state board, who can assure clients that we are being held to a high standard of work. It’s frustrating that there is no word that expresses the distinction between Biblical counseling – which to the best of my knowledge involves admonitions from the Bible and advice – and professional counseling.

    I would lose my license if I posted anything like that about a client. And if I was caught, I would at least risk my license for being friends with a client. It’s not emotionally healthy to be friends with your client, and according to a recent presentation about post-therapy client-therapist relationships I attended, this is more likely to be based on the therapist’s need for the relationship, and make the client uncomfortable. (Study presented on was based on a small, qualitative sample, and should not be considered evidential, merely thought-provoking.)

    I actually know almost nothing about Paul Tripp outside of this post today – but what I saw made me upset and disappointed as a professional.

    Liked by 4 people

  65. Stephanie – thank you VERY much for your very informative comment. It is important for people to know that licensing protects both the counselor and counselee. He has done neither and can get away with much!


  66. Dustin, I’m having a hard time believing that we’re even having this discussion about whether or not it’s wise for a person to remarry their ex who attempted to kill her/him. Really?!

    Okay, I did forget the other point of the comment that mentioned former attempted murderer is also a pastor. That’s not the type of person I would want to pastor my church! But, I know, it’s all about the grace of Jesus. Call me nit-picky.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Kathi, I can’t believe that we are having this discussion either. I spent years doing evaluations of programs, mostly for offenders, and I always met skepticism in talking to audiences about rehabilitation. It feels weird to discuss these issues in Christian circles and be considered the cynic.


  68. “In the absence of information, let’s be happy that they reconciled, not being dissaproving that they did.”

    With the lack of information how about being wise — not give a man who attempted murder the benefit of the doubt! I would not be happy about the man leading worship either.

    Liked by 3 people

  69. Stephanie Ann Adams on August 27, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    Thanks for that information. If people want to be Christian Counselors, I think they need to be degreed and certified by the state. I have seen too much harm done to couselees who then have no recourse. And the entire issue of privacy regarding information shared is huge.


  70. They really ought to call it pastoral counseling, designating it as religious and not clinical.

    Thank you, all of you, for discussing this, because so many people don’t understand what is involved. They think that they’re getting clinical mental health care with a trained professional, and they are really getting pastoral advice and admonishment (nouthos – hence the term “nouthetics”). And that’s just fine if you want pastoral counsel about religion — but not if your problems are beyond sin and habit.


  71. Hint Mrs. Kimberly T.

    Not having a license to practice Christian quackery will NOT be an affirmative defense for malpractice. I think a first year law student could adequately argue that this clown is NOT a competent counselor.

    Someone needs to counsel him that Gillette is the best a man can get, and that walking around looking like one of the Villege People is not a good idea.


  72. Cindy – first let me say I’ve been enjoying reading your responses. Very interesting information and true – I work with sexual abuse and spiritual abuse survivors which often coincides with self-injury, unfortunately, but I find it is validating for them to understand that they aren’t ‘crazy’ – there is an endorphin payoff for doing it, so though unhealthy, it makes sense why they developed that coping mechanism.

    I would have agreed with you about the term, (pastoral counselor) however, I came across this definition at the American Assn of Pastoral Counselors “Pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth. Certified pastoral counselors are licensed mental health professionals who have also had in-depth religious and/or theological education or training.”

    It surprised me to find out – but I think actually that the definition as it’s stated there I can stand behind. Otherwise, I’d be saying the same as you. So we seem to still be stuck with nouthetic or Biblical counseling as the term, though it’s still not clear to the client-as-consumer. Part of what I’m hoping to change in what ways I can.

    And yes – thank you to Julie Anne and all the commenters for discussing this an providing a great environment to do so. I am certain there is a place and a time that people will benefit greatly from their pastor’s Biblical-style counseling, and no one should feel badly if that’s what they want! But it matters that they know what they’re getting into and make an informed choice.

    I have written on the topic in an article for Recovering Grace, Cindy, where I try to contrast the differences among psychologists, Biblical counselors, pastoral counselors, etc. ( but as you can see it’s an imperfect exercise – this just scratches the surface of the confusion!

    You think anyone would go for calling Biblical counseling “exhortation”? 🙂


  73. It’s great to have you here, Stephanie. I always am happy when any kind of counselor or mental health professional participates here. The consequences of spiritual abuse are long lasting and from blogging and hearing a lot of stories over the last several years, I’m not convinced that therapists completely understand the ramifications of it.

    I received an e-mail today which makes me want to post an article about spiritual abuse and counseling: what works and doesn’t work. It would be a great topic to discuss.


  74. FWIW. True confession, I was a biblical counselor for 15 years. Trained-lol- by many programs. However, I became a rebel. I got into to trouble all the time because I didn’t submit myself to the authority of the scriptures & my pastor. Mental health issues are way beyond simple biblical ideology’s. I finally saw the light, and sought professional therapy for how troubled I was. I referred many of my counselees to professional therapists, much to the horror of my supervisors. And what little I had in my arsenal, I dished it out, curiosity, honest questions & understanding. I knew for sure from my own experience that prayer, fasting, memorizing scripture does little to nothing to address the wounds of abuse. It made me sick, the training that we went through, it was a joke.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. Gail,
    You have been through so much and come out on top. Heading people who were in your care to a source of real help is awesome. I can see the chins of your supervisors dropping now. I went to a licensed Christian counselor through the divorce and she was awesome. She used scripture, but not the whole “God Hates Divorce” versions. She lead me through where God loves me and wanted me free from an abuser. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

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