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The foundation of Christian counseling which is based on bible teachings is guided by the American Association of Christian Counseling Code of Ethics. Christian counselors therefore study the bible as a helpful, insightful, and informative tool which can effectively be used to offer counseling services to people. According to Dr. Crabb, the Christian approach to problems is categorized as those resulting from either natural or physical causes like chemical imbalance or disabilities. The other category mainly consist moral problems. The Christian counseling approach believes that the bible speaks meaningfully to every area in human life. The bible principles give a sufficient comprehensive and a meaningful guide on facts about human personalities which enables Christian counselors to understand the dynamic approach of integrating theology and physiology. Unlike professional secular psychology which has no biblical principles tied to it, Christian counseling is basically based on scriptural understanding of human interaction with the environment. Christian counseling is therefore recognized as a redemptive and restorative work based on Christian faith. The counselors work to reconcile their clients with God to enable them find personal significance and meaning in their relationship with Christ. The reconciliation thus facilitates restoration of clients to both human and environmental relationships. The key goals of Christian counseling therefore includes; exploring client’s problems, purpose, significance, and personal longings. It also aims to establish meaningful Christian relationship between clients. This also is important in creating peace between God, man, and the environment. Christian counseling also aims to develop a wholesome emotional well being, biblical self-worth, thinking, and positive behavioral experience.
On the other hand, American Counseling Association (ACA) aims to promote the development of professional counselors to enhance quality of life in the society. It also advances the counseling profession through the use of professional counseling practice to promote the respect and diversity for human dignity. ACA reinforces the significance of personal professional development through its mission which clarifies the ethical counseling responsibilities. The mission defines and establishes ethical expectations of each member and guides on developing counseling methods which are based on human values and ethics. In addition, the mission provides ways of dealing with inquiries and ethical complaints during counseling process. Generally, ACA is concerned with the importance of counselor’s roles in relation to defined ethical standards. Although Christian counseling observe ACA ethical standards, it also includes a list of seven biblical foundations which encourage excellence and reinforce integrity in Christian counseling practice.
In the counseling strategies, ACA conducts its work through a systematic eight stages that involves; the introduction of counseling issues and the relationship between the client and the professional counselor. Privacy and confidentiality and privileged communication is a part of professional training and is highly regarded in ACA. Confidentiality is an ethical concept which aims to foster trust. Client’s information is not allowed to be shared to third party unless an agreement is reached between both parties; this remains the responsibility of professional counselor as defined in the code of conduct. Privileged communication is a legal concept which protects clients from being forced to disclose confidential information to their counselors. The evaluation and assessment of information is professionally conducted in ACA. This is used to generate information which can be used to supervise, train, and teach clients how to overcome their challenges. ACA strategies also provide legal measures for resolving ethical issues. Similarly under Crabb’s theory, the association of Christian Counselors is based on both legal and ethical standards including; competence in Christian teaching, informed consent on information shared with strict regard to privacy and confidentiality. It also involves ethical practice in evaluating counseling activities including advertising and public relations. The ethical and legal strategies explore the rights of both client and counselor and how they are protected. They also give a solid legal guidance in area of personal preservation in terms of information shared and relational boundaries which ensures openness, effective communication, and respect for building a meaningful client-counselor relationship. In both Crabb’s Christian counseling and ACA, ethical standards offering guidance concerning fees, dual relationship, client autonomy and termination of counseling process in fairly similar. Both Christian counseling and ACA agrees on the establishment of advance fees payments. All payment policies and procedures must be revealed early in time while any non-payment of fees or subsidies disclosed upon initiating therapy. In both cases, counseling services are offered even if clients are unable to pay fees and a later action plan is negotiated on how to raise the bill after termination of the process. The Christian counseling prefers pro bono work option by such client and encourages sliding scale fee. This is because both ACA and Christian counseling work are motivated by the need to have a society where people enjoy high quality of life. However fundamental differences regarding divorce, abortion, and confidentiality exist since Christian counselors have the responsibility to maintain biblical values and expose Christ in their counseling. However, like in ACA, their views and personal beliefs must not be imposed on clients. In Crabb’s Christian counseling, conflicts in values can cause proper termination of the process.
Based on conflicts of interest, ACA code of ethics Section A.5 states that inappropriate relationship between clients and counselors is prohibited but only allowed after five years of nonprofessional interaction. Counselors are required to demonstrate in written form whether their interaction can be viewed as exploitive or if it still poses potential harm to former clients. Such interactions are only allowed if they finally benefit client based on their problem descriptions. This ensures that the welfare of clients and the integrity of the counseling agency are protected. In Christian counseling, nonprofessional interaction is only allowed after two years or more after the counseling process has been terminated. In case of romantic relationship between client and counselor, Christian counseling strictly follow biblical values relationships and thus only allow marriage. Section C.5 of ACA code of ethics also protects client and counselor against discrimination based on age, sex, culture, ethnicity, disability, spirituality, sexual orientation, language, socio-economic, or marital status. The rights of both parties are therefore protected and respected unless the decisions are intentionally harmful to others. However, issues of sexual orientation, abortion, or marital affairs are held to the highest level of confidentiality and remains client’s rights to choose. ACA therefore don’t discriminate any client cases as long as right decisions are made by the right parties. In Christian counseling, sanctity of life is highest regarded value, as a result certain issues like abortion or assisted suicide are not condoned. Although Christian counseling encourage openness to diverse client needs and their autonomy, Christian counselors are not compelled to compromise biblical values and beliefs. As a result client cases which cause serious conflicts of interests are usually referred to other center like ACA which offer such services.
The basic concept of Crabb’s theory of counseling is the idea that human being has one basic need for personal worth which can be achieved in two ways. Personal significance which is the need for purpose, meaningfulness or impact is the first input that must be satisfied. The second input to achieve a personal worth is the need for security which is defined as continual expression of unconditional love and permanent acceptance. Crabb’s concepts therefore view that personal problems result from trying to achieve these needs without God. As a result Christian counseling is viewed to be dealing with man in totality; spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Unlike the professional ACA counseling, Christian counseling is strongly associated with Pastoral responsibilities and cares and may include using prayers as healing method to help people overcome their problems. In contrast, ACA counseling scientifically study psychology and nature of individual problems and based on their research findings offer appropriate therapy. Crabb defines three models of Christian counseling; behavioral model emphasizes the behavior modification through Spiritual works within man. This concept states that every man called by God has basic supernatural gifts of biblical counseling and therefore requires no training to offer counseling. Behavioral concept of Christian counseling requires that clients completely commit their problems to God for solutions.
Cognitive model in Christian Counseling allows combination of mental health professionals like in ACA as well as psychological insights in counseling to increase the effectiveness of the process. Although the concept integrates secular approach in its methodology, it still regards influence of the Holy Spirit as the core for overcoming human challenges. The Freudian model believes that human problems are as a result of past experiences. This is contrary to ACA which argues that human problems results from present interaction with the immediate environment while others could be inherited. Freudian model in Christian counseling can be in the form of Theophostic counseling where God’s healing power is invoked by a counselor through to heal haunting past traumas. Despite differences in concepts, both Christian and ACA share principles that clients need meaning and hope in their lives and must regard their present life both significant and meaningful to be able to achieve happiness and overcome problems.
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