The Safe Space or (Counseling Isn’t About Agreement in Belief Systems)

m2A lot of supporters for the recent anti-LGBTQI counseling law in TN (which I’ve previously written in opposition to here and here) like to state that “if a counselor’s beliefs clashes with a client’s then the counselor can’t really help” as an excuse to support these hateful and damaging laws!

This is false thinking and completely egregious! The fault in this thinking lies in the assumption and presupposition that in order to offer help there has to be an agreement of beliefs, values, worldviews, and faith! Are these really true? I believe not! Do we offer help based solely on agreement with “sincerely held beliefs?” No, we don’t!

The assumption there is outlandish because if it were true then none of us would ever offer help, whether lifting grocery bags into an elderly person’s car or counseling someone from the LGBTQI community, because none of us are the same and no one person aligns 100% with our core values, beliefs, religion, etc.

I don’t have to agree with someone’s worldview and/or beliefs in order to help them and provide counsel to them nor should I! The excuse given by those supporting these laws is discrimination masked as “religious freedom” in order to provide a legalized way to refuse to provide clinical services that our ethical codes say we must provide.

As a counselor, with my own beliefs, values, worldview, religion, ideas, biases, preferences, culture, hopes, dreams, experiences, and presuppositions, I fully welcome and embrace all to my counseling sessions because that is what being an ethical counselor is all about regardless of how different all of those things are for me and my clients!

I continue to keep an open door to all clients, and I will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor!

My sessions are and will forever be open to any and all regardless of disagreement! I’m open and willing to journey with any, despite how hard it may be for either party involved, along the therapeutic path because my therapy office is a safe space for any and all to come and seek the help they need and want!

ACA Code of Ethics:

A.4.b. Personal Values Counselors are aware of—and avoid imposing—their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature.

C.1. Knowledge of and Compliance With Standards Counselors have a responsibility to read, understand, and follow the ACA Code of Ethics and adhere to applicable laws and regulations.

C.2.a. Boundaries of Competence Counselors practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience. Whereas multicultural counseling competency is required across all counseling specialties, counselors gain knowledge, personal awareness, sensitivity, dispositions, and skills pertinent to being a culturally competent counselor in working with a diverse client population.

C.5. Nondiscrimination Counselors do not condone or engage in discrimination against prospective or current clients, students, employees, supervisees, or research participants based on age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital/ partnership status, language preference, socioeconomic status, immigration status, or any basis proscribed by law.”


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