As has been reported in so many places this week, Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a Bill that willprotect psychotherapists from legal repercussions if they refuse service to any person based on their own strongly held principles.This bill was supposedly necessary because some Counseling professional organizations have re-written their codes of ethics to say that a counselor cannot refuse treatment to a client solely because of religious beliefs. (Oddly, the final version of this bill allowed for any "sincerely held principle" and not just religious belief - a distinction is potentially more concerning to me.)
I am going to admit that I have had some mixed feelings about this bill. As a Pastoral Counselor who is a member of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, my own code of ethics says that I will not discriminate in providing assistance to any person on the basis of “” In my mind, “an appropriate reason” might be that I am not trained to deal with a particular issue, but it might mean that a therapist cannot overcome strong personal feelings (positive or negative) for a client and can no longer provide objective care. I would think that if I am convinced that it will affect my own faith walk to sit and provide care to a person who lives a life I don’t agree with, then perhaps I would want to refer them to another person. It would seem like good care. While this is how this bill is presented, I do not believe there are larger issues here.