Once you have received your degree in Christian Counseling, you must decide whether you want to work under the authority of your state (known as the business of counseling), or under the authority of your church (known as the ministry of counseling). All counselors are held accountable to one of these two entities, but it is up to you to decide which.
In essence, if you elect to receive your license from the state, you are then obliged to abide by all the laws and regulations held by that state. Alternatively, if you choose to seek ordination or certification from a church, then you must follow the tenets and rules of that organization instead.
If you receive your license from the state in which you reside, then you will be legally obliged to follow all state laws pertaining to the fields of psychology and counseling. While these rules vary from state to state, they all aim to protect the public and its interests. They also guarantee a certain level of professionalism from people working in these fields. The key point about receiving a license from the state, if you wish to be a Christian counselor, is that the state mandates that anyone who receives counsel should not encounter any religious influence from his/her counselor.
In most states in the U.S., counselors licensed by the state “must not promote their personal religious beliefs,” because it is considered unethical. It is therefore forbidden for a counselor to pray, read from or discuss the Bible, or counsel against particular acts or lifestyles on which the Church takes a moral stand. A state-licensed counselor may discuss religious viewpoints, activities, principles, lessons, etc. only if the individual receiving counsel specifically requests help in these areas.
The American Counseling Association offers information on each state's licensing/certification boards.
Certification from a Christian Organization
In contrast to professional state-licensed counselors, those who earn their certification or licensing from a Christian entity are then accountable to that religious organization. These counselors are required to pray, provide guidance based in the Scriptures, and counsel the Word of God. They are also required to promote certain lifestyle practices upon which the Church has a declared stance. The most common of these issues that Christian counselors are likely to face are abortion, divorce, and homosexuality. Much like the states' mandate, Christian licensing agencies have rules in place to protect people receiving counsel and to regulate the professionalism of the counselors who are certified or licensed.
Christian Counseling Certification/Licensing Agencies:
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American Counseling Association
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