Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DIY: full-disclosure letter for counselees

I don't do much counseling.

Listening, yes.

Giving advice, yes.

Heavy-duty, sit-down-and-tell-me-about-your-mother-type counseling?

No -- not unless it's a problem that can be solved in four meetings or less. That's because I don't have the training. I don't have the time. And I don't have the support-structure in place to hold me accountable -- not to do counseling like that on a regular basis.

But when I do get asked to do some formal counseling, I've found it's helpful to cover the following items during the first session. And just to make sure they get covered:
  • I write down these points in the form of a letter.
  • I give the letter to the person who's asked for counseling.
  • We read it together.
  • I ask the person who's asked for counseling to sign it.
  • And then I put the letter into a locked file.
Here's what the letter says:
Thank you for giving me the chance to talk with you. Just to make sure this time together is as helpful as it can be, I'd ask you to remember:
  • I am a pastor. I am not a counselor -- and while I am trained to listen for signs of God's leading in your life, I am not able to diagnose or treat mental illness.
  • I want to help you. That's why I will refer you to someone else if I believe that meeting with them will do you more good than meeting with me. (And to be honest, if we've not solved the problem in four meetings, you're probably better off talking with someone else.)
  • I am good at keeping secrets. But I will pass on what you've said to me if I believe you pose a threat to yourself or to others, or if you tell me that you have abused a child.

1 comment:

Ansku said...

Good advice.