Counselor training and supervision are essential for building and maintaining an effective lay counseling ministry. Well-organized training processes that address spiritual matters, counseling methods, and risk management issues greatly enhance the success of lay counselors and ministry supervisors. Most importantly, they ultimately benefit the people your lay counseling ministry serves.
Whoever manages your lay counseling ministry serves as gatekeeper in helping protect counselors and the people they are counseling. The supervisor’s role is twofold:
Assures that lay counselors are effectively trained to be able to provide competent spiritual care.
Maintains accountability and risk management oversight of the lay counseling sessions.
If possible, a lay counseling ministry supervisor should be either a pastor with extensive pastoral counseling experience, or a Christian licensed mental health practitioner. If a church employs a Christian licensed mental health practitioner for this role, the church should have an attorney draft a contract between the church and the practitioner. The contract should outline the services and expectations for this position along with any legal protections.
Posted October 2022
The sample recommended policy and procedure information and related documents in the Lay Counseling Overview site are intended to be a template for you and your legal counsel to use in developing your own customized program. We recognize that every faith-based employer is different, and policies and procedures must address the particular needs of each organization. We believe that you’ll find the materials on this site valuable, either as a starting point in developing a new program or in reviewing and updating an existing program.
As with all documents of this nature, it’s important that you ask an attorney in your area to review the policies in the handbook before you implement them. This step will help ensure that the documents have been properly drafted and that all relevant legal considerations have been addressed. Your legal counsel should also review the handbook on a regular basis after implementation to make certain that it remains current with changes in the legal environment.
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