PHASE 1: Learning


Helping others to live a transformed life begins with a Gospel-centered, biblical approach, so the first phase includes a basic training course, counseling observations, and reading requirements.

Before you begin the certification process be sure to take a look at our guiding documents on our certification information page.

1. Complete a Basic Training Course

Complete the Basic Training Course, packed with theological truths related to counseling, at one of the following venues:


Whether you obtain the Basic Training Course from an ACBC Certified Training Center, an ACBC Regional Conference, or an Online Training, the content is the same. The training includes 30+ hours of the following content:

I. Orientation to and Dynamics of Biblical Counseling
A. Basics of Biblical Counseling
1. The Need for Biblical Counseling
2. The Definition and Goal of Biblical Counseling
3. Progressive Sanctification
4. Process of Biblical Change
5. Qualifications of a Biblical Counselor
6. Getting to Heart Issues

B. Key Elements in Biblical Counseling
1. Gathering Data
2. Discerning Problems Biblically
3. Establishing Involvement with Counselees
4. Giving Hope
5. Providing Instruction
6. Giving Homework

II. Critical Reflection on Various Theories in Counseling
A. Secular and Integration Theories
B. What Makes Biblical Counseling Biblical?

III. Husband and Wife Relationships
A.  God’s Purpose for Marriage
B.  Roles of the Husband and Wife
C.  Communication
D. Biblical Sexuality

IV. Parent and Child Relationships
A. Goal of Parenting
B. Parental Instruction
C. Parental Discipline

V.  Frequent Issues in Counseling
A. Guilt and Repentance
B. Forgiveness
C. Trials and Suffering
D. Fear and Worry
E. Anger
F. Depression
G. Sexual Sin

VI. Medical Issues in Counseling
A. Physical Illness and Biblical Counseling
B. Psychotropic Drugs and Biblical Counseling

VII. Case Studies
A. Total Casebook, Role Plays, and other Practice Case Discussions

Tip: The Basic Training Course is good for ACBC Certification purposes if you apply for certification with ACBC within 4 years of taking the course. For example, if an individual finishes the Basic Training Course in 2016, they will need to apply for ACBC Certification by December 31st of 2020.

2. Observe an ACBC Certified Counselor

You will complete 10 hours of observing an ACBC Certified Counselor either in person or via recorded counseling sessions.

  • To find a counselor in your area to start observing, use our ‘Find a Counselor‘ page.
  • To purchase an observation set recorded by an ACBC Certified Training Center, click here.

Click here to download the Reading & Observation Logs.

Tip: As you are observing counseling during this part of Phase 1, be sure to log these hours on the ACBC Observation Log in order to save time during the Application process.

3. Grow Through Reading

Increase your understanding of biblical counseling and theology by reading 1,000 pages from our Approved Reading List.

  • At least 300 pages will need to be from the “Biblical Counseling and Theology” category on the Approved Reading List.

Tip: Be sure to select at least one Systematic Theology from the list to read from. This will be very helpful for you when you write Theology Exam. Also, track your reading as you go by completing the ACBC Reading Log.

Once Phase 1 is completed, continue your journey towards ACBC Certification by starting on your ACBC Exams in Phase 2!