The National Christian Counselors Association Licensing Program is not a state license and is, in fact, distinctly different. Most states have regulatory laws governing the practice of psychology. Many of them also legislate the practice of general counseling. The laws vary from state to state. For example, some states have a counselor category called “Licensed Professional Counselor.” Therefore, the National Christian Counselors Association requires its counselors to clearly identify their license, e.g., “National Christian Counselors Association Licensed Pastoral Counselor” or “National Christian Counselors Association Licensed Clinical Christian Counselor.” This ensures that the N.C.C.A. counselor is operating within legal and ethical standards, and maintaining the public’s trust and confidence.
State regulatory laws help to protect the public and ensure professionalism within the counseling profession. The N.C.C.A. strives to attain a similar goal within the Christian community and, at the same time, operate within compliance with state laws. The state and federal governments also have jurisdictional boundaries. They cannot pass laws that prevent the Church from fulfilling its purpose and ministering to humanity’s needs. The state recognizes that counseling is one of the responsibilities of the Church and its clergy. For this reason, the state does not and must not interfere with the Ministry of Counseling.
The major difference between state-licensed professional counselors and Pastoral or Christian counselors, who are licensed by the N.C.C.A. and under the authority of the Church (Body of Christ), is clear and well-defined. Counselors who have been licensed by the state are held to strict ethical standards which mandate an individual’s right to be free from religious influence.
The state licensed professional counselor is forbidden to pray, read or refer to the Scriptures. Initiating such counsel would be considered unethical by the state. In most states, the state licensed counselors “must not promote their personal religious beliefs” according to the code of ethics in each respective state. The only time a state licensed counselor can involve religious (Christian) principles, morals, activities, instruction, etc., is if the counselee initiates or requests counsel in this area.
Opposite from that, Pastoral counselors are required to pray, share their faith, read the Scriptures, etc. The fact that Pastoral and Christian counselors do these things creates a clear distinction. We are two distinct professions and govern ourselves accordingly.