National Board for Certified Pastoral Counselors

Providing professional standars of practice to the service of Pastoral Counseling

Why the National Board for Certified Pastoral Counselors?

Counselor licensure is a reality in most states and most industry experts believe that it soon be a universal requirement.

  • The American Psychological Association (APA) and American Counseling Association (ACA) are actively and aggressively pursuing certification and licensure in all 50 states and nationally.
  • All states have some type of licensure requirements for parts of the counseling field (Social Work, Alcohol/Drug, Marriage and Family Therapy). Only 3 states do not require state licensure for counseling.
  • The ongoing Mental Health Parity legislative drive demonstrates the national government's interest into counseling and mental health care.

Pastoral Counseling will soon follow in the traditional counselor footsteps. The title Pastoral Counselor is currently licensed in 6 states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee), with several other states considering similar legislation.

Pastoral Counseling is a unique and challenging career. Individuals must develop and maintain skills in two distinct areas – counseling and ministry. It is a major challenge to sustain professional competence in these two unique fields. This dedication to service speaks highly of those who choose to walk this path as a professional or lay pastoral counselor.

Many Pastoral Counselors have found the traditional state licensure or secular certification process limiting or lacking in scope. The very organizations that provide the counseling certification or licensure tend not to recognize the unique nature of this field of endeavor and they attempt to fit pastoral counselors into the secular counselor mold. Most of these organizations require a degree from a regionally accredited college or university. This excludes many seminaries, most pastoral counseling programs, and virtually all distance learning or workshops. Further, there is no recognition of para-professional or lay counselors, a cornerstone of many care ministries. Additionally, many of these organizations have requirements that are not in alignment with the counselors’ faith and unique approach to therapy. Finally, consumers who wish to receive faith-based therapy have no ability to determine the competence of the therapist, and the therapist’s ability to successfully integrate counseling with ministry, which is the very reason that they sought faith-based therapy.

As a Pastoral Counselors and Faith Based Therapists become more and more accepted and utilized by the mainstream public, the need for reputable, independent organizations that will evaluate and certify the skills, knowledge and abilities of this particular type of mental health service provider is growing. Unfortunately, there are many people and organizations that are more than willing to issue credentials to unsuspecting counselors. When the counselor’s peers, clients, or the public investigates the substance of the credentials, there is often nothing holding up the fancy certificate. This is causing significant harm to the individual counselors that obtain the credentials and also to the entire field of Pastoral Counseling.

The reasons for obtaining certification vary from counselor to counselor. Some desire credibility, others want recognition for the unique skill set and experience of a pastoral counselor, still others may want to provide clients an understanding of their competence, or perhaps differentiate themselves from other therapists in the counseling and mental health field.

The National Board for Certified Pastoral Counselors (NBCPC) is a non-profit, independent, voluntary credentialing body for pastoral counselors. Through a detailed and thorough examination of the skills, knowledge, education and experience of both professional and lay pastoral counselors, the NBCPC ensures only those applicants with the highest levels of competence are certified. This examination allows for the unique educational and skill development requirements of the field and recognizes pastoral counselors who have the dedication to develop and maintain their skills. The National Certified Pastoral Counselor (NCPC) credentials allow consumers to have confidence in the care that they are receiving and allow National Certified Pastoral Counselors to distinguish themselves from their peers.

The National Board for Certified Pastoral Counselors is organized for the promotion of common interests of pastoral counselors through:

  1. The promotion of higher standards of practice through the establishment and maintenance of a uniform, national certification process for pastoral counselors.
  2. The establishment and maintenance of a list of the certified pastoral counselors to be made available by the board to the public.
  3. The education of the public, counseling organizations and religious bodies in best practices for the selection of pastoral counselors.
  4. The encouragement of the use of certified pastoral counselors by the public.
  5. The recognition of certified pastoral counselors as qualified mental health service providers by third party payers and state’s mental health licensing bodies.

The NBCPC future:

  • Petition state legislatures to recognize NBCPC credentialed therapists as professional mental health service providers, allowing them to continue to practice without legislative interference.
  • Work with third party payers to provide payment for services from NCPC therapists equivalent to other mental health professionals.

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