Gary R. Collins Biography: Pioneer Of Christian Counseling

Gary R. Collins Biography
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Gary R. Collins is considered a trailblazing figure in Christian counseling. Throughout his life and career, he wrote dozens of books not only on Christian counseling, but on spirituality as well. If you are a Christian counselor, you definitely would have heard his name.

In this Best Psych Books article, you’ll learn everything about Gary R. Collins’ biography, including his early life and education, career, notable works, and media appearances.

Gary R. Collins: Early Life and Education

Gary R. Collins was born in 1934 and grew up in Canada. He attended Buffalo Grove High School and took up liberal arts at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. For his master’s degree in psychology, he went to the University of Toronto, where he graduated in 1958.

Collins also studied for a year at the University of London. After a brief stint at the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, he pursued a doctorate in Psychology at the University of Purdue. He did his clinical psychology internship at University of Oregon Medical School Hospitals. After that, he went to Western Seminary for a year to pursue his studies in theology.

Western Seminary, where Gary R. Collins studied theology. Image by M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia.

Gary R. Collins: Career


During his time at the University of London, Collins began teaching at international campuses of the University of Maryland located in Germany and England. He then pursued a teaching career at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Conwell School of Theology in Philadelphia. He then joined the faculty of psychology and counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, during which he also served as the department chair.

At Regent University, Gary R. Collins served as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology and Counseling. He held the position until 2015 and worked with masters and doctorate students in psychology.


Gary R. Collins took on important leadership roles in the area of counseling. Most notably, he began co-leading the American Association of Christian Counselors in 1991. He eventually became its executive director and then its first president.

One of the crowning achievements of the AACC during Collins’ turn as its leader is the rapid growth of its membership, starting with 700 paid members to a whopping 15000 at the end of his term. His active participation in shaping Christian counseling went even a step further when he founded Christian Counseling Today, an industry publication among Christian counselors.

After his time from AACC, Collins spent the rest of his career promoting the practice of Christian counseling by continuing to develop theories and interventions as well as providing training to up-and-coming Christian counselors. He has traveled to over fifty countries around the world to headline workshops and seminars on Christian counseling.

Gary R. Collins: Personal Life and Death

Gary R. Collins was married to Julie, whom he met when he was teaching at Western Seminary. Collins had two daughters, Lynn and Jan, both of whom were born in Minnesota while Collins was a faculty at Bethel College. He had a son-in-law as well as two grandsons, Colin and Tony.

Collins died on December 13, 2021.

Gary R. Collins: Books on Christian Counseling

Here are Gary R. Collins’ most popular books on Christian counseling:

Christian Counseling 3rd Edition: Revised and Updated

Book cover from Amazon

What it’s about: A must-have book for anyone wishing to start a practice in Christian counseling, Collins’ magnum opus Christian Counseling 3rd Edition: Revised and Updated is a textbook that teaches students the foundations of Christian counseling. Both beginner and seasoned Christian counselors will benefit from having this book, which delves into ways in which Christian counseling can be applied to issues such as abuse, anxiety, and grief.

Where to buy it: You can get a copy of Christian Counseling 3rd Edition: Revised and Updated on Amazon.

Christian Counseling Casebook

Book cover from Amazon

What it’s about: An official companion to Gary R. Collins’ Christian Counseling 3rd Edition, Christian Counseling Casebook features real-life case studies in which Christian counseling can be applied.

Where to buy it: You can get a copy of Christian Counseling Casebook on Amazon.

Christian Coaching 2nd Edition: Helping Others Turn Potential Into Reality

Book cover from Amazon

What it’s about: Aside from Christian counseling, Collins also worked on furthering the practice of Christian coaching. In Christian Coaching 2nd Edition, Collins provides an instruction manual on helping people overcome obstacles in life all the while sticking to Biblical principles. Designed to instruct readers with a “Biblically based coaching model,” the book serves insights on topics such as listening skills, leadership coaching, and people empowerment.

Where to buy it: You can get a copy of Christian Coaching 2nd Edition on Amazon.

The Soul Search: A Spiritual Journey to Authentic Intimacy With God

Book cover from Amazon

What it’s about: A classic Gary R. Collins work, The Soul Search is a Christian book that provides Christians with a blueprint on forging a closer relationship with God. While not explicitly about Christian counseling, the book also details principles that can be used in Christian counseling interventions.

Where to buy it: You can get a copy of The Soul Search on Amazon.

Want more books on Christian counseling? Check out the Best Psych Books article on the Best Christian Counseling Books To Read.

Gary R. Collins: Media Appearances

Here are a few samples of Collins’ media and institute appearances over the years.

Gary R. Collins at St. Petersburg Christian University