CAPS, a large, well-respected, organization in the United States, includes an excellent preamble and adds additional clauses to its ethical guidelines relating to Christian counsellors, as follows:


The Statement of Ethical Guidelines that follows was adopted by the voting membership of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) on June 15, 1992 by the completion of an election about the guidelines and several other propositions. The proposition about ethical guidelines stated, That agreement with the CAPS Statement of Ethical Guidelines be a requirement of membership. It was passed by 84.1% of the ballots cast.

Thus, an overwhelming majority of the CAPS membership agreed strongly that guidance on ethical behaviours of members would be helpful. Many CAPS members do not belong to another professional association and therefore would not otherwise have written ethical guidelines to assist them in applying their Christian faith in their professional activities. The ethical guidelines that follow were eight years in the making, starting before the first draft of a code of ethics was presented at a CAPS Western Region convention in Buena Park, California on. June 23, 1984. Since that time the "code" became "guidelines," they were reviewed by CAPS members during several convention forums, they were also presented--with pro and con discussions--in the Fall, 1986 issue (Vol. 5, No. 3) of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, and they were edited during committee meetings and regular meetings of tile CAPS Board of Directors.

The CAPS Board hopes that the Statement of Ethical Guidelines will be helpful to our members and, thus. to the people whom they serve. The guidelines are distinctively Christian in nature and emphasize restoration and reconciliation rather than punishment, if they are breached.


The Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) presents the following Statement of Ethical Guidelines as a set of ideals for conduct of its individual members. The Guidelines derive from CAPS Statement of Faith, found in Article II of the CAPS Constitution and By-Laws:

The basis of this organization is belief in: God, the Father, who creates and sustains us; Jesus Christ, the Son, who redeems and rules us; and the Holy Spirit, who guides us personally and professionally, through God's inspired Word, the Bible, our infallible guide of faith and conduct and through the communion of Christians. These Guidelines are aimed at helping each number apply the message of the Gospel to his or her professional or pastoral service. The statements herein could not hope to explore all the richness of the Bible as it relates to ethical conduct. Rather, each believer in Christ has the capacity--even the privilege and duty--to explore the depths of God's Word and discover personal guidance for daily living. The following scripturally based principles exemplify the foundation upon which the more specifically applied Guidelines are based. The cited biblical passages are meant as representative sources, not "proof texts" for the concepts expressed.

Biblical Principles

We are, as human beings as well as Christians, prone to hurts, conflicts and sin (Romans 3:23). Difficulties, power struggles, trials and tribulations are normal and to be expected (Psalms 37:7; John 16:33; Romans 2:9). We are to grow and mature through the conflicts, problems, trials, tribulations and discipline that we experience (2 Corinthians 7:8-13a; 1 Thessalonians 5:18: James 1:2-4). We are to support and encourage each other (John 13:35: 15:17; Ephesians 4:32}. We are to admonish and confront each other, especially those Christians in positions of leadership and trust. However, such confrontation is to be constructive rather than judgmental, done in love and with caution about our own shortcomings (Proverbs 27:5; Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). We are to demonstrate the lordship of Christ in our lives by servant-like leadership, a sense of community and a life-style that reflects the will of God (Matthew 20:25-28; John 12:26; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Peter 4:8-11). We are to reach out to others in love and concern (Matthew 25:31-40; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Hebrews 13:16).

These Guidelines are meant in part as an encouragement for all CAPS members to reach out to other members who are in distress. They do not constitute a quasi-legal document designed for disciplinary purposes by the organization. The Guidelines are written with recognition of the priesthood of all believers.

Applicability of the Guidelines

This Statement of Ethical Guidelines is applicable to all current, dues-paid Regular Members and Associate Members of CAPS. While CAPS is not a licensing or accrediting agency, it does desire that members who provide mental health, pastoral, teaching or other personal services do so with the highest possible level of Christian ethics, whether the member is a professional, layperson or student. The Guidelines are therefore intended to benefit members, their colleagues and the persons whom they serve.

Articles of the Ethical Guidelines

Note: In an effort to avoid awkward and lengthy descriptions of persons whom members serve or with whom they work, the somewhat neutral word "client" is used. According to the perspective of members, words such as "peer," "parishioner," "communicant," "patient" "helpee," "counsellee," "student," "subject" or even "prisoner" may be used. In addition, the word "service" or "serving" is used frequently in the guidelines to describe what members do. Again, according to the perspective of members, words such as "helping ministries," "psychological professions," "counselling," "ministering," "pastoring" "teaching" or "researching" may be substituted. Admittedly, no word is neutral, since language shapes and reflects reality. Thus, the word "service" or its derivatives are meant to reflect Christ's statement that he came to serve, rather than to be served.

1. Personal Commitment as a Christian

1.1 I agree with the basis of CAPS, as stated in the Constitution and By-Laws.

1.2 I commit my service, whether as professional or layperson, to God as a special calling.

1.3 I pledge to integrate all that I do in service with Christian values, principles and guide-lines.

1.4 I commit myself to Christ as Lord as well as Saviour. Thus, direction and wisdom from God will be sought, while accepting responsibility for my own actions and statement.

1.5 I view my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and will treat it lovingly and respectfully. Balance in my priorities and activities will be prayerfully sought.

2. Loving Concern for Clients

2.1 Clients will be accepted regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income, education, ethnic background, value system, etc., unless such a factor would interfere appreciably with my ability to be of service.

2.2 I value human life, the sanctity of personhood, personal freedom and responsibility and the privilege of informed free choice by adults in matters of belief and action.

2.3 I will avoid exploiting or manipulating any client to satisfy my own needs.

2.4 I will abstain from unnecessary or prurient invasion of privacy.

2.5 I will take appropriate actions to help, even protect, those persons within my area of my responsibility who are being endangered and are relatively dependent on other persons for their survival and well-being.

2.6 Sexual contact or sexual exloitation - both covert and overt - with any client will be scrupulously avoided.

2.7 Members who provide professional services should make advance financial arrangements that protect the best interests of, and are clearly understood by, their clients. A portion of their services should be contributed towards work for which they receive little or no financial return.

3. Confidentiality

3.1 I will demonstrate utmost respect for the confidentiality of the client and other persons in a professional or pastoral relationship.

3.2 I will carefully protect the identity of clients and their situations. Thus, I will avoid divulging information about clients, whether privately or publicly, unless I have received freely given, informed consent of the adult client or legal holder of confidentiality privilege for minor clients, in the form of expressed, written permission and the release of such information would be appropriate to the situation.

3.3 All records of counselling, teaching and research will be handled in a way that protects the clients and the nature of their situations from disclosure.

3.4 The limits of confidentiality, such as those based on civil laws, regulations and judicial precedent, will be explained to the client. Examples of limits or exceptions to

confidentiality include such situations as (1) legal mandate, e.g., if child abuse is suspected or apparent; (2) when divulging information would prevent a clear and immediate danger to a person or persons; (3) legal proceedings in which the member does not have privilege.

4. Competency in Services Provided

4.1 I pledge to be well trained and competent in providing services.

4.2 I will refrain from implying that I have qualifications, experiences and capabilities which are in fact lacking.

4.3 I will comply with applicable state and local laws and regulations regarding competency in the psychological and pastoral professions.

4.4 I will avoid using any legal exemptions from professional competency afforded in certain states to churches and other non-profit organizations as a means of providing services that are beyond my training and expertise.

4.5 I will diligently pursue additional education, experience, professional consultation and spiritual growth in order to improve my effectiveness in serving persons in need.

5. My Human Limitations

I will do my best to be aware of my human limitations and biases. I admit that I do not have complete objectivity or spiritual maturity. Thus, I also will endeavour to establish and maintain a relationship of mutual accountability with another Christian colleague or mentor.

I will avoid fostering any misconception a client could have that I am omnipotent, or that I have all the answers.

5-3 I will refer clients whom I am not capable of helping, whether by lack of available time or expertise, or because of subjective, personal reasons. The referral will be done compassionately, clearly and completely, insofar as feasible.

5-4 I will resist efforts of any clients or colleagues to place demands for services on me that exceed my qualifications and/or the time available to minister, or that would impose unduly on my relationships with my own family, other persons or God.

6. Advertising and Promotional Activities

6.1 I will advertise or promote my services by Christian and professional standards, rather than only commercial standards.

6.2 Personal aggrandisement will be omitted from advertising and promotional activities.

6.3 Since CAPS is not a licensing or accrediting agency, I will avoid using membership in CAPS as an advertising promotional.

7. Research

7.1 Any research conducted will be done openly and will not jeopardise the welfare of any persons who are research subjects. The confidentiality of such subjects will be protected. They will provide informed, written consent for their participation in the research.

8. Professional Liability

8.1 The value of professional liability ("malpractice") insurance will be carefully considered, especially if a lawsuit, whether justified or not, would possibly drain financial resources.