5. Never agree to meet for counseling
outside of the office (especially in someplace like the park, a hotel room, a quiet restaurant,
6. There should NEVER
be any touching —even “accidental” touching—this includes hugging,
arms around shoulder, handholding, sexual touch, caressing, fondling, kissing, etc., in
counseling. A quick handshake may be appropriate when first meeting.
7. There should NEVER
be any inappropriate speech or innuendos.
8. Maintain the proper counselor/counselee
relationship. The pastor/counselor is NOT there to be
your friend. He is there to provide advice and spiritual guidance.
9. The topics you discuss should
NEVER include the pastor’s personal life or problems.
There is one slight exception
to be noted here, and that is that it may
be appropriate for a pastor/counselor to relate (briefly) a similar
situation that he or another nameless (for privacy issues) counselee
has gone through and how the Lord has helped him through it. The ENTIRE
purpose of this disclosure should be to give you hope, not to have you
help comfort the pastor/counselor.
10. There should not be any music,
especially loud or secular music, being played during counseling. Loud music can be used
to drown out conversations and noise so that others would not be able to hear and know what
is happening to you. Secular music can be employed to arouse your already heightened emotions
and to draw you into an even deeper feeling of attachment to the pastor. Secular music has
no place in a spiritual environment such as a church.
11. You should not be made to feel
that your conversations with the pastor are “just between the two of you” and
not for discussion with your spouse, friend, etc., at your own discretion. Pastors will
sometimes use this secrecy as a way to draw you in, to exclude others, to avoid accountability
and to abuse you.
Remember that as your pastor or counselor, he is
required to adhere to the following principles:
Never harm or exploit
those who come for help.
Never engage in any
kind of sexual misconduct with those you are helping. This includes
physically, verbally, spiritually or emotionally.
Avoid dual relationships.
This means that the pastor should not be your friend and counselor.
You should not have outside activities with your therapist, pastor,
etc. (There are some exceptions at times.)
There is always a code of ethics, whether it’s
your church policy or the state law. Report what happened to you to
the elders of the church or the church authority. If they do not take
immediate action, report it to the local authorities. You may choose
to do this anyway. Do not let this remain a secret. You don’t
know how many other women may have been victims of this same pastor
(most are serial offenders). If someone else had spoken up sooner, YOU
may not have been a victim either. This is extremely important!
Please read an excerpt from
the AACC Christian Counseling Code of Ethics.