An open letter to the UK's Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC)
The Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC) is a UK organisation which largely follows the secular 'wisdom' of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in its understanding of ethics in counselling.
Secular thinking on counselling places a high importance upon respect for 'client autonomy'. Now, respect for people is a very important concept, and is certainly a Biblical and Christian value. But secular thinking about 'client autonomy' in counselling imposes a requirement on counsellors to refrain from giving direction, 'because the counselling process is generally seen to be a non-judgemental safe environment'. The counsellor must instead facilitate a process whereby the client is helped to arrive at 'the conclusion that they deem best for themselves'. (These ideas are entirely driven by the epistemology of Post-Modernism, not the Bible).
This means that if a counsellor were to tell a client that we must all repent of our sin and trust in Christ in order to be saved, or if a counsellor were to address some area of unrepentant sin in a client's life, this would be regarded as most unethical. Not only by BACP (to be expected as they are a secular organisation), but also by the UK's so-called Association of Christian Counsellors too.
Clients can certainly be in a very vulnerable place, and it is hugely important that counsellors try very hard to be empathic towards the client. But it is not ultimately respectful of someone to let them sleepwalk towards their own destruction, oblivious to the danger of their situation, all because it is considered 'unethical' to tell the client the truth of what the Bible teaches about sin and salvation.
Back in March I attempted to have a discussion with the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), asking them some questions about how their published 'ethical framework' would apply to a couple of scenarios. You can read the questions I put to ACC in this pdf document.
They were very reluctant to answer my questions, although eventually I did receive a response (in May). In their response, they make clear that their view of the counselling process is indistinguishable from the view held by BACP on the subject of 'client autonomy'. They also stated that they will not enter into further correspondence with me.
Below is my response.
How can you possibly bring "hope, healing and wholeness" into someone's life, if root issues of unrepentant sin are never addressed? If the true gospel is never offered? Only the Saviour can bring true hope, healing and wholeness to a person, but you are effectively excluding Him from the counselling room. The true gospel directs us to repent and believe, but your understanding of ethics means a Christian counsellor is not allowed to present the true gospel.
I note your comment that, "ACC has decided to not continue this correspondence with you any further." If I were to apply a secular label to what you are doing with this comment, I would call it passive-aggression.
To apply a Biblical rather than secular assessment, I would point to Proverbs, which repeatedly tells us that one difference between the wise man and the fool is that the wise man is willing to listen and learn, the fool will not.
Any genuine believer ought to be willing to be challenged to think through issues in a Biblical way, which is all I am doing by asking my questions. But apparently you find it too uncomfortable to do this, and so prefer to put your fingers in your ears and insist that you can't hear me. That is very sad.
It's kind of ironic as well, as having studied and read Carl Rogers in detail, I know that he himself was very open to listening to other people's ideas and having dialogue with them, even when he did not agree with them. So not only are you not following the Bible, you're not really following your secular role model either.
You are practising irresponsibly by allowing 'client autonomy' instead of what the Bible teaches to control your counselling sessions. Your method of practising could well leave an unsaved client ignorant of the gospel and still headed for God's judgment, all in the name of respect for 'client autonomy' and 'duty of care'. There is nothing safe about leaving someone headed for God's eternal judgement.
It is ironic that you call yourselves the Association of *Christian* Counsellors, as you clearly regard the ideas of Rogers and BACP on client autonomy as over-riding the clear instructions we find in the Bible.
You might find it helpful to read Jay Adams' book 'Competent to Counsel'. It is a flawed work in some ways, as unfortunately he misrepresents Rogers' ideas in some respects, but he is essentially correct in asserting that the non-directive, non-judgemental approach of secular counsellors is contradicted by Scripture.
Rogers wrote some wonderful things about empathy, but his ideas on UPR are seriously contradicted by the Bible.
I do hope and pray that you, Tony, and the ACC will repent of your foolishness and allow God's word, not secular 'wisdom', to direct what the counselling process should be.