Counseling shall be provided in accordance with the following guidelines:

1. Limit the number of sessions you counsel with someone. Do not spend any more than 6 sessions on any particular life issue.

2. Don’t go outside your area of expertise.  Refer to a psychologist, credentialed professional, medical doctor, or mental health professional.

3. If you have a credential and/or license as a mental health professional (psychologist, marriage and family therapist, substance abuse counselor, etc.)  you should:

  •  Clearly separate those two roles by where you practice each and clearly communicate to all concerned of when you are functioning in each role.

A word about dual relationships: A dual relationship occurs when clergy have more than one type of relationship with the same person.  “Mental health professionals avoid developing friendships with clients, socializing with clients, engaging in business transactions with clients, or becoming sexually involved with current or former clients. Any of these activities may be exploitative of the client through the (mis)use of the professional’s influence or power. While it is not always possible to avoid dual relationships, professionals bear full responsibility for any real or perceived abuse of power.”  (Mananaging Ministerial Risks by Rev. Michael N. Kane)

  •  Maintain separate professional insurance coverage at all times for any work you do outside your church role. (see the diocesan policy for more information or e-mail

  • You must provide evidence of such insurance to your church employer or church for which you function in Pastoral Relationships annually.

Next: Click on Session IV: Reporting



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