Question: My daughter, who is a committed Christian, is a high school junior who would like to attend a Christian university and major in counseling. She loves people and has a heart to serve others. I believe she has the gift of counseling. Could you recommend a good school for her?
Response: We hate to be blunt in responding to your daughter’s hope for a career in counseling, but biblical truth demands it: there is no good school for her and there is no gift of counseling. The reason there is no good school is because all school programs for counseling are either psychological or a mixture of psychotherapy and the Bible. Even degreed or certificated programs that claim to be strictly biblical are not biblical. Why do I say that? Because the Bible does not support the belief that an individual is to be the counselor (i.e., problem solver) within a fellowship of believers. The Bible describes no counseling techniques like those presently used by those who call themselves “biblical counselors.” Counseling, or, to be more correct, ministering, according to the Scriptures is to be a function of all believers in a fellowship. That being the case, it is not a valid career for a Christian.
In their Jan/Feb Psychoheresy Awareness Letter, Martin and Deidre Bobgan supply more information that a Christian who is considering a career in counseling needs to be aware. They write:
Psychologically trained and licensed counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists are chained to their training and licenses, both of which determine much of their practice. Not only do “Christian psychologists” dip into the same cisterns of psychological theories and therapies; they are also bound by law to practice in a similar manner. What does this mean? This means that licensed “Christian psychologists” must follow the codes of their state license. For instance the “Non-Discrimination” clause from the “Code of Ethics for Marriage and Family Therapists” states: “Marriage and family therapists do not condone or engage in discrimination or refuse professional service to anyone on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic, or marital status.” These restrictions are also espoused by all the national associations for psychologists and psychiatrists, and they are included in much of the state licensing.
Consider the reference to “sexual orientation.” Every state has its own licensing requirements for clinical psychologists and marriage and family therapists, as well as other therapists such as psychiatric social workers. We decided to ask our two state licensing offices here in California questions with regard to a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person coming to a licensed counselor. Could the psychologist or marriage and family therapist (MFT) refuse service to such a person? Could the psychologist or MFT attempt to talk the person out of his/her orientation? If the LGBT person desires to live more peacefully as an LGBT person, would the psychologist or MFT be obligated to assist with this objective? Of course the answers to these questions apply equally well to a Christian licensed psychologist and MFT. In each case the answer from our California State offices was that if an LGBT person filed a complaint because of the refusal to serve him/her, or an attempt to talk the person out of his/her sexual orientation, or failure to assist, an investigation would surely follow. Although we were not told what the outcome would be, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that at minimum there would be a reprimand and a need on the part of the licensed Christian psychologist or MFT to follow the “Non-Discrimination” section of the “Code of Ethics” or lose his/her license.
These anti-discrimination rules also apply to university psychology and counseling programs, which are subject to the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. There have been at least two cases of students being dismissed from counseling programs, one because of referring a LGBT individual to another counselor and the other because she expressed her biblical beliefs about sexuality and refused the university’s “remedial training,” which she contended would be against her beliefs.
Other requirements for licensed Christian psychologists and MFTs, about which we will not elaborate, have to do with abortion and same-gender marriage. In addition, Christian psychologists and MFTs would be required to assist atheists, occultists, Satanists, and individuals of all faiths without being able to proselytize, persuade, or dissuade in matters of faith and practice. In summary, Christian licensed counselors are obligated by the bounds of using their psychological methodologies within the framework of a professional code of ethics, absent their Christian beliefs, no matter how contrary their counselees’ beliefs and practices are to the Bible. That is one more reason why we recommend against Christians becoming licensed as psychological counselors of any kind.