As individuals who are providing a professional service to the individuals who are seeking our help, we subscribe to legal, ethical, and professional principles that govern our work. A number of these are listed below.
Respecting the Integrity of Each Person
Each person is created as a separate person with a mind and a will, and other attributes of personhood. The principles of integrity and boundaries were established by God. God intends that the distinctness and separateness of each individual is to be maintained throughout one's life. Except in the case of parents being responsible for their minor child, or situations were a person is mentally incompetent, one individual should not take control or responsibility for another person's life.
Responsibility of the Individual
Each individual is responsible for the choices that he or she is making and is accountable for these choices.
Freedom to Choose in Counseling
The choice of the right counselor is an important decision, one which has a significant effect on the type and quality of counseling one receives. Individuals should have the freedom to seek counseling from whomever they choose. In making the choice of a counselor we would hope that they would seek the advice of family members, pastors, or others who can be helpful in this decision.
Each counselor has the right to choose which patients he or she will counsel.
We provide evaluation and treatment in the context of a professional therapeutic relationship. During the counseling process we maintain a professional role and don't become personally involved in the person's life.
Role of the Counselor
The counselor's role is to provide counsel, not to become a parent, pastor, family member, or friend. The counselor does not have authority in a person's life. The counselor should never try to take over the role that God, one's spouse, a child's parents , or one's pastor or church has or should have in a person's life.
Individuals are coming to us because they are troubled, suffering emotional distress, and are needing to make changes and their lives. It is our desire to provide assistance in alleviating suffering, but we are also aware that distress is a sign that something is wrong with the way a person is living. We are equally concerned that individuals make healthy and appropriate changes in their lives.
Respecting Beliefs and Morals
We are ethically required to respect the beliefs, values, morals, and religious convictions of individuals we are seeing. We cannot and do not try to impose our beliefs on them. However, all counseling is provided in the context of a belief system. We try to make our beliefs apparent to the individuals we are seeing, to help them determine whether our beliefs and values are compatible with theirs.
Counselors should never work in a professional or spiritual vacuum. Each counselor must be accountable professionally and spiritually. This accountability is best served when the counselor is receiving regular clinical supervision, is under the spiritual covering of a local church, and is open and listening to trusted peers and advisors. The principle of confidentiality is intended to protect the privacy of patients but should never be used to shield a counselor from this accountability.
All office staff are bound by the same ethical and legal responsibility to protect a patient's privacy. All clinical and insurance information obtained by our office is strictly confidential and will not be released to anyone unless written authorization is obtained from the patient or we are legally compelled to do so. We encourage the involvement of family members in a patient's care. However, we cannot contact family without consent except in emergency situations. We also can coordinate care physicians or pastors if this is indicated in the situation. In cases where your health or safety are in jeopardy, we are allowed to contact family, health care facilities, or legal authorities and involve them in the situation.
Relationship with Family Members
Counselees do live in a vacuum. Involvement of family can be very helpful to the counseling process. We will try to involve them wherever it is appropriate.
Relationship with Other Health Care Providers
Many of our patients/clients are seeing other health care providers. We desire to work cooperatively with them in their care of individuals who are needing and seeking help.
Relationship with Pastors and Churches
We desire to work cooperatively with churches and pastors. It is our desire to supplement the counseling that they can provide and work cooperatively with them in their care of individuals who are needing and seeking help.
We believe that institutions such as marriage, the family, the church, and civil government are established by God, and when functioning as He intended, serve an essential purpose in our lives. We respect these institutions, are submitted to them, and work cooperatively with them in our counseling work.
Protection from Harm
If we believe that a person is in imminent danger of hurting himself we are required to prevent this and refer the individual to a hospital for the safety of that individual. If we believe that a person is in imminent danger of hurting someone else, we are required to warn that person. If we believe that a child or incompetent adult is being abused or neglected by a caregiver, we are legally required to report this concern to the Department of Social Services.