A Crucial Step in Biblical Counseling Ethics

During the 40th annual conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in Indianapolis on October 3-5 the members of our association approved the Standards of Conduct as our new authority for counseling ethics. More than 99% of our members voted in favor of this document.

The approval of this document is a big step in the biblical counseling world. Let me explain why.

ACBC is the largest association of biblical counselors in the world, and exists to certify excellence in biblical counseling for individual biblical counselors as well as for counseling training centers. Our job at ACBC is quality control. We do not merely talk about biblical counseling at ACBC, we certify individuals and institutions who know how to do it well.

Certifying excellence means that there must be a clear standard for how to do this work. Since our founding in 1976, ACBC has enforced our original Standards of Conduct with our membership, but the culture and the counseling world has changed a lot in the last 40 years. All of us in leadership at ACBC agreed two years ago that it was time to do a massive overhaul of our original standard to address counseling challenges in this new day.

Our work on this standard was painstaking. The process from the initial draft to the final document involved input from scores of experts in counseling, theology, law, and medicine. Every leader in ACBC was given an opportunity to make edits, and ultimately every member of ACBC was given the opportunity to make suggestions. We also solicited feedback from every leader in the biblical counseling world, even those who are not members of ACBC.

You can see the final draft here. It is a truly remarkable document. As far as we know, it is the only standard for counseling ethics that requires counselors to point counselees to the grace of Jesus Christ in counseling. It is the only standard that requires the use of Scripture as the sufficient authority in counseling. It is the only standard that requires the involvement of the local church in counseling. In addition to all this it strikes a careful biblical balance between the body and the soul, it is robustly complementarian, and it addresses the complex issues of sexuality we face in our day from a standpoint of biblical authority.

There is truly nothing in the evangelical or secular world like this document.

We are excited that the Standards of Conduct will serve as the authoritative statement for counseling ethics for our members all across the world. We are also excited about the opportunity we believe it creates.

The velocity of secularization is speeding up in our culture; it is not slowing down. As this secularization continues there will be increasing tension between committed Christians in the field of counseling and the state boards that provide secular licensure.   It is our prayer that this document will serve as a faithful and biblical guide to counselors who wish to be salt and light in a counseling world that is increasingly characterized by darkness and decay.

Heath Lambert
Share your thoughts


  • Jonathan Stilwell
    October 26, 2016

    I clicked on the lick for the Standards of Conduct. It brought me to this page. May I obtain the document? Thanks! Jonathan Stilwell

  • Robert Somerville
    October 26, 2016

    Heath & Rebecca, When you click on the link to see The Standards of Conduct you only get another copy of Heath’s letter. Bob
    Unless I am doing something wrong.

  • L. Frederick Holloway
    October 26, 2016

    will you mail out a official document of this New Standards of Conduct?

  • Michael Scordato
    October 27, 2016

    I just reviewed the document and it’s written quite beautifully, truly Christ centered. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Use of the Bible (God’s judgement calls instead of our own) is at it’s core. Thank you God first and thank you to all who put your hard work into creating this for us. It really is appreciated. Thank you again.

  • Richard M. Ahearn
    October 27, 2016

    I couldn’t download your new document , I ‘ve had a certificate of ABC since 2012, do I have to rejoin again? too download?

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