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Posted July 3, 2009

Book: The Ministerial Counseling Role: Guidelines for Ethical Behavior
Author: Thomas B. Drummond
The Plains Group, Inc., Carson City, Nevada. 2001. Pp. 61

An Excerpt from the Preface:

The following is intended for the minister with no formal training in how to intervene in another personís life. It is also for counselors trained to a relatively low level of competency. Those are counselors who believe that they can, and should, substitute their own views, beliefs, prejudices and politics for those of their clients. They are also counselors who believe that they can pursue the fulfillment of their needs for affection and love through their clients. There are many such counselors who have not worked through their own lifeís issues. Accordingly, they desire their clients to meet the counselorís needs or adopt the counselorís perspectives of abuse, or of men, or of women as a means of therapeutic change. To recruit a client to oneís own views is to live vicariously through the client. The well-trained counselor understands that they may never exploit their clients. They may never prove their own rightness by requiring their clients to feel the same way as they do.

There is much to reflect on in the following pages for developing counselors who wish to increase their understanding of therapeutic relationships, and their skill at maintaining them. Although the following pages do not go into listening techniques, the well-trained counselor may also use the material as a rapid review of therapy principles. It can be a useful exercise in self-supervision as well as a test of the altruism of oneís therapeutic work.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Assuming the Counselor Role: Location, Location, Location

From the very first moment a person asks to see the minister in a counseling role, the minister must set and maintain the boundaries of the relationship. The first boundary is to determine and display to the person seeking help who is in charge of what.

There Should Be A Place Set Apart For Counseling

The counselor is in charge of the location where counseling takes place. At all times, it should be on his or her turf unless the client is bed-ridden or in prison. It should be done in the living quarters of the counselor and certainly not in his or her bedroom. It should be done in an office set aside for contact with the public. Location is the physical context of the counseling relationship. The proper location for counseling communicates to the client something important about the nature of the relationship. Namely, that it has very clear physical boundaries.


A spiritual director to college students gave the people he counseled keys to his house. They could come and go at will whether or not he was there. His sessions with the students took place in his home as well. I asked him how he went about spiritual direction. Where did he do it? Did he have a special chair he sat in and one for the client? He did his spiritual direction in his living room. No, he did not have a special chair for himself or for the client. Where did he sit? On the sofa. Where did the client sit? On the sofa. This creates an image of two people doing spiritual direction while facing north. Usually, spiritual direction and counseling are face-to-face activities. So, I asked him how he did effective spiritual counseling with both himself and the student facing the same direction. He responded that they each sat with their back against an arm rest facing each other. That information led naturally to the question where their legs were. Up on the coach. The next question raises itself. Is this coach a three-seater? No, it is a two-seater. these additional data create an image of the spiritual director and the student sitting on a loveseat with their legs up and intertwined. I inquired further. Each had one leg between the legs of the other. Because the image had taken on a sexual tone, relevant questions came naturally. What do you wear when you do spiritual direction? Usually running shorts. Anything else? No. The students? Usually the same. Do you drink anything during these sessions? We have wine during the evening sessions.

Table of Contents:

1. Relationships and Rules

2. Assuming the counselor role

3. Time and time up

4. Less obvious boundary violations

5. Sex and Iím glad I said it

6. Counseling can be very touching

7. Just who is in charge of the clientís life?

8. Getting started on the end of counseling

9. Training and supervision