The 7 Dominant Domains of origin for human problems

One of the primary objectives of Biblical Counseling is to bring the Word of God to bear on the problems the counselee is facing in a compassionate manner. If this objective is to be fulfilled, the counselor must first accurately identify the counselee’s problems.


Throughout time, people have suffered from  any number of spiritual, mental, emotional, social, and/or bodily problems. All of the problems from which people in the world suffer can be traced to the Fall that resulted from the sins of our first parents, or—more particularly—from the curse of God which was poured out upon all creation in association with their fall into sin. Although all of the problems with which people suffer are ultimately the result of the Fall, not all of the problems with which Christians wrestle are directly the result of personal sin.

While the model of counseling that IRBC promotes takes into account the fact that a large number of common counseling problems are rooted in unaltered, personal sinful behaviors (in the Spiritual Domain) and severe, organic problems (such as organ damage and related dysfunctions in the Bodily Domain), we believe that counselors are wise to evaluate five other areas as well. Thus we speak of the 7 Dominant Domains of Origin for Human Problems.


The Internal Dominant Domains are permanent, inseparable components of a human being that are interdependent and interconnected. The External Dominant Domains concern the varying environments wherein a person develops and performs tasks for God’s glory.

Each of the domains is briefly explained below. 





The Spiritual domain

This is concerned with the human soul. Problems may exist in a person’s life due to unconfessed sin, unrepentant sinning, or neglect of spiritual nourishment. 


The mental domain

This focuses on the role of the brain and its ability to take in, process, understand, apply, and remember principles/truths from creation and the Bible. Developmental disorders, brain development, brain diseases, and brain injuries may be contributing to the person’s problems (e.g. stroke, concussion, alcohol misuse, etc.).


The emotional Domain

This considers emotional expression and regulation. Misplaced emotions, suppressed emotions, uncontrolled expression of emotions, or manipulation of emotions can all contribute to problems in someone’s life. Gender, culture, and other factors may influence emotional expression.


The Social domain

This looks for problems rooted in poor communication skills or patterns of communication. Over-communicating, under-communicating, and negative communication can all influence how a  person forms/maintains relationships.


The bodily domain

This considers factors related to the breakdown of bodily organs/functions (e.g. old age, injury, injury, sickness,  disease, etc.), which may be causing problems in the  person’s life. Personal hygiene, diet, exercise, and rest patterns are analyzed.

The environmental domain

This considers the spiritual, physical, and social environments of the settings where someone lives and works. Family, church, government, school, and other institutions may be affecting the person. Natural disasters/geography are also factors.


The production domain

Disruptions to working (e.g., retirement, physical inability, job loss, under/over employment) can cause problems in life.