Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation
Counseling Abusive Marriages

Counseling Abusive Marriages

Course Description

In marriage, oppression occurs when one spouse seeks to control and dominate the other through a pattern of coercive, controlling, and punishing behaviors. Abuse is not a marriage problem. As a result, traditional marriage counseling will likely cause us to do more harm than good. In this course we will seek to understand the distorted and dangerous beliefs of an oppressor that require us to have a distinctive counseling approach. To minister and care wisely for people ensnared in abusive relationships we must understand abuse biblically, know what God says about it and how he calls us to participate in his rescue. In Counseling Abusive Marriages a biblical counseling model will be presented that will conceptualize abuse and provide guidance for how to wisely minister in these difficult and overwhelming situations.

You will study physical, spiritual, sexual and emotional abuse and how each uniquely impacts a victim and their children. You will walk away with tools for assessing the extent and severity of abuse, ways to discern the deceptive behaviors of an oppressor, plans for providing protection, strategies for church engagement as well as practical counseling approaches for both the oppressor and the oppressed. Lectures and readings will provide the essential conceptual elements for organizing and understanding oppressive & abusive elements and how the gospel penetrates and applies. Through the use of written work, discussion and case studies you will learn how to connect the gospel to these overwhelming and complex dynamics.

About the Professor

darby-stricklandDarby Strickland is a counselor at CCEF. She has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Divinity degree, Counseling Emphasis, from Westminster Theological Seminary. Darby has been counseling at CCEF for over 10 years. In addition to her work at CCEF, she also counsels at her local church, where she runs a support group for women in abusive marriages. Darby has over fifteen years of ministry, teaching, and counseling experience. She is married to John, and they have three children.


Course Outline

  1. Overview and Conceptualization
  2. Biblical Framework
  3. Physical Abuse
  4. Sexual Abuse
  5. Entitlement, Extreme Neglect, Deceit, and Economic Oppression
  6. Spiritual Abuse, Manipulation, and Terrorizing Behaviors
  7. Helping the Wounded Tell Their Story
  8. Church Involvement
  9. Bringing it Together with Redemptive Stories


Counseling Abusive Marriages is a 2-credit course. Pricing for the 2018 summer intensive offering of this course is $450.00 taken for credit.

Required Textbooks

Textbook list forthcoming.