Q. What’s the difference between an NCCA-licensed pastoral counselor and a state-licensed counselor?
A. In essence, the most major difference is that an NCCA-licensed counselor operates as an agent of the Church, while a state-licensed counselor operates as an agent of the state. Each individual must decide understand which authority he or she wants to operate. If you have a calling to provide counseling and minister to the hurting, a state therapist license may prohibit such a ministry.
The NCCA licensing program is not a state license. In fact, it’s distinctly different. Each U.S. state has regulatory laws governing the practice of psychology and psychotherapy. Many of them also legislate the practice of general counseling. Instead of receiving a title of Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, etc., the NCCA provides licensure as a Licensed Pastoral Counselor or Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
Q. What should I choose, an NCCA license or a state license?
A. To be clear, NCCA-licensed counselors are not viewed to be in opposition to state-licensed counselors. We believe there is a place for each of us, and that God can use each of us within our calling, training and authorities He gives us. The NCCA strives to provide quality counseling services to clients seeking counseling from a distinctly Christian perspective, while operating so to avoid infringing upon state regulations.
The federal and state governments recognize that the Church has a place to provide pastoral care, including counseling, to those in its care to fulfill its purpose to minister to humanity’s needs. State jurisdictions recognize that counseling is a responsibility of the Church and its clergy. Therefore, the state does not regulate or interfere with the church ministry of counseling.
Counselors who are licensed by the state fall under the authority of state licensing board codes of ethics. In some jurisdictions, this mandates that the state-licensed counselor’s work must be free from religious interference. This means, at times, that some state-licensed counselors are not allowed to pray with clients, read or refer to Scripture, or even reference God in therapy. In these situations, many times the only time a state-licensed counselor can refer to religious or faith-based resources is if a client initiates or requests counsel in this area.
Opposite from that, pastoral counselors are required to pray, share their faith, read and refer to Scripture, etc. The fact that pastoral and Christian counselors operate in this manner creates a clear distinction. Pastoral counselors don’t operate in the same way state-licensed counselors do, and in the same manner, they don’t operate in the way pastoral counselors operate.
Q. As a pastoral counselor, should I charge clients for counseling?
A. Absolutely. In fact, it is encouraged. We believe pastoral counselors should request fees and receive renumeration for the services they render. Scripture tells us, “a workman is worth his wages.” Ministers do and should receive support from whom he or she ministers. State law is in agreement with this stance, and allows ordained ministers to charge for their services.
There are some pastoral counselors who do not charge for their services. While this practice is used by some pastoral counselors, it is advised to charge clients for the participation in counseling, simply as it requires an investment from the client.
Many NCCA-trained pastoral counselors have thriving full-time Christian Counseling practices as a result of their work as pastoral counselors.
Q. Why do I have to be a(n) licensed, commissioned or ordained minister to receive a license from the NCCA?
A. State laws provide an exemption from state licensure to members of the clergy to provide pastoral counseling, and to charge fees to provide counseling services. As such, the NCCA Licensing Board of Examiners requires those who are granted licensure with the NCCA to hold ministerial credentials.
Q. I do not presently hold credentials as a member of the clergy. Can CrossPointe Theological Seminary help me earn those?
A. Yes. We recommend students attempt to receive licensure, commission or ordination as a minister/member of the clergy from their local church body. However, we recognize that is not always possible due to church polity, denominational standards or personal convictions. As a result, there are several organizations we can recommend who can help students achieve ministerial status.
Q. I have a question that isn’t listed here. Where can I get more information?
A. You can contact our Student Support Services Department by email at email@example.com or by phone at (877) 781-8747. Student Support is available Monday-Friday 8:00am – 6:00pm CST and Saturday 9:00am – 1:00pm CST.