For those who believe psychology is an enemy of the faith, Steve Arterburn is target number one. As cofounder of New Life Clinics, which absorbed the Minirth-Meier organization in 1984, Arterburn oversees 85 clinics in North America. New Life is the largest Christian provider of psychiatric and psychological services, offering both inpatient and outpatient care. Because of New Life and Minirth-Meier, evangelicals are much more comfortable calling a therapist for help than we were a generation ago.
Despite being the author of 25 books dealing mostly with psychological issues and being the host of a national daily radio program dealing with people's problems, Arterburn himself is not a psychologist but a licensed minister. Still, he has taken on the mantle as the most visible apologist for psychology among evangelical Christians.
How did your interest in psychology and counseling develop?
An early hero of mine was Gertrude Behanna. When I was 12, my father gave me one of her recordings. In it she talked about how she had been very wealthy, lived in the Waldorf Astoria, and eventually became an alcoholic. Later, while recovering from her alcoholism, she opened up her mansions for other alcoholics to live in. She said something that never left me: "Once I began to recover I no longer looked down on people; but then I had the final battle that I had to fight, and that was looking down on people who looked down on people." I thought that that was such a wonderful statement of truth, that she was going deep. I had been raised around a lot of people who never went that deep into their own motives, their own character defects.
Another formative experience was meeting a recovering alcoholic during a seminar on recovery groups at Southwestern ...1