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Discussion—Providing Faith-based Services

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Faith-based services are those that incorporate elements of spirituality. In the field of counseling, those who provide faith-based services have traditionally been referred to as “pastoral counselors.”

For clients with strong religious convictions or the desire to explore their own spirituality further, particularly as it relates to a mental health issue, faith-based services may be the best choice. If a provider has strong religious convictions, it is important that the provider abide by the ethical guidelines of the profession. This is particularly relevant when the provider’s own convictions are in opposition to the client’s values, beliefs, behaviors, or issues.

In 2012, the State of Michigan passed the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience” bill into law. Julea Ward is a former counseling student who was dismissed from her program after refusing (for religious reasons) to provide psychotherapy to a homosexual client in the counseling program’s training clinic. She chose to refer the client to another counselor-in-training. To read the law, visit this site:

  • State of Michigan. (2012, June 12). Julea Ward freedom of conscience act. Ann Arbor, MI: Author. Retrieved fromhttp://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billengrossed/House/htm/2011-HEBH-5040.htm

Do you agree with the legislators, or do you think all counseling students should learn to accept any cases?

What do the following codes of ethics state regarding a counselor’s right to refuse treatment to a client for religious reasons?  What are the ethical guidelines regarding whom may be referred or why a counselor can ethically refer a client to another counselor?

In a minimum of 350 words, respond to the following:

  • Do you agree with the legislators, or do you think all counseling students should learn to accept any cases? Provide reasons and cite sources to support your position.
  • How might her refusal violate the ethics code for counselors? Address the three main ethical issues involved: discrimination, imposing values, and transfer of clients. Identify the relevant code(s) or standard(s) related to those issues from the following associations’ ethics codes:
    • American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. InEthics. Retrieved from
    • American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: 2010 amendments. Retrieved from
    • American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC). (2010). AAPC Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.aapc.org/policies/code-of-ethics.aspx
    • American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). (2014). AACC code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.aacc.net/about-us/code-of-ethics

By Saturday, January 30, 2016, post your response to the appropriateDiscussion Area. Through Wednesday, February 3, 2016, review and comment on at least two of your fellow students’ responses. Provide a statement of clarification, a point of view with rationale, challenge a point of discussion, or draw a relationship between one or more points of the discussion. Respond to the following in your review:

  • Discuss how counselors can remain true to their own values, while practicing ethically and professionally.

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