Limitations in Secular Counseling Policy

Although it’s commendable that some Christian counselors gone through the academic and clinical requirements for state licensure, secular policies may limit spiritual and moral guidance.
For example, the ACA code of ethics states:
A.4.b.
Personal Values
Counselors are aware of—and avoid imposing—their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature. https://www.counseling.org/
This policy implies that values are neutral or are limited to the counselee’s perspective. Case in point: discouraging abortion could be considered inappropriate because abortion is legal.
But all types of counseling assume a set of values and a process of gaining and applying wisdom. But whose values? What kind of wisdom?
Biblical guidance is summarized in Psalm 119:105:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”
If a Christian depends on a counselor who is bound to not give biblical guidance, the warning of Jesus comes to mind: “…They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14).
James compares two kinds of wisdom: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual… For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).
Therefore the Pastoral/Biblical Counselor should be up front about his/her model and values so that the counselee can freely decide if they desire Christian Counseling. The use of an informed consent form is important to document this mutual understanding. Here is a sample: Informed Consent
Note: When the counselee desires and agrees to Biblical Counseling, this does not imply any pressure tactics on the part of the counselor. There is always unconditional acceptance in the confidential helping relationship and respect for the counselee’s responsibility to determine goals and to make scriptural faith choices.
J.B.W.

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