As a general rule, the law is very favorable toward biblical counseling ministries. Thus, we have never viewed the threat of being sued as a reason not to make the counseling ministry available to any member of our community. However, we live in a litigous society and thus it is wise stewardship to protect the Lord’s work to the degree that we can. Therefore, this blog series will provide some basic help in maintaining a good testimony before the law of men.
One of the first steps that you can take is to clearly explain who you are and what type of counseling service you will provide to all your potential counselees. In our ministry, we do this in two ways. First, we ask all our counselees to sign a consent form before they are counseled. Below are two consent forms, one we use for members of our church and the other form we use for those who are not members of our church. The consent form allows us to explain, in writing, that we do biblical counseling, that the foundation and authority of our advice is based on the counselor’s understanding of the Bible, that confidentiality will be maintained within certain defined limits, and how we would expect disputes to be resolved. We believe that the Lord is not honored and the ministry puts itself at significant legal risk when they try to pretend that they are something they are not.
The second way is that we encourage our counselors to remind the counselee that this is a biblical counseling center and that the foundation of all counseling will be the counselors’ understanding of the Scripture.
This initial step does not, of course, solve every problem, but it goes a long way to proving to the legal authorities and our counselees that the ministry is done decently and in order.