Policy Recommendations

As you look at developing policies for your lay counseling program, at a minimum they should include the following:

  1. Screening of all employees involved in lay counseling administration and all volunteer lay counselors. The screening process should include application forms, criminal background checks, reference checks, and interviews.
  2. Administrative guidelines addressing the following potential issues:
    1. State mental health licensing laws
    2. Confidentiality of information
    3. Procedures for state-mandated abuse reporting
    4. Internal process for reporting abuse allegations
    5. Record keeping
    6. Guarding against sexual misconduct
    7. Ethical guidelines
  3. Training and supervision guidelines for the lay counseling ministry supervisor to follow in providing adequate oversight to lay counselors.
  4. A communications plan that informs church leaders and members of the congregation about the lay counseling program.

Lay counselors should sign:

  1. A statement acknowledging that they have read, understand, and will abide by the church’s lay counseling policy.
  2. The church's statement of faith and agree to abide by, adhere to, and advance the religious and moral beliefs of the church in their counseling.