Testifying to the Gospel to the ends of the earth
Christian Counselor Commissioning
Purpose The purpose of commissioning is to set apart Christian counselors as ministers for an office or duty in ministry. This setting apart is an official endorsement that gives the counselor special recognition, privileges and responsibilities. It also fulfills state mandates regarding who can practice counseling within their jurisdiction. Legal Requirements Proper credentialing (certification, commissioning and licensing) is required for Christian counselors who provide pastoral counseling for a fee. Every state in the U.S. has laws regulating who can and who cannot provide counseling services. Anyone who provides counseling must submit to the training and licensing process for state licensure to provide counseling. However, in every state there is an exemption for Christian counselors who are properly credentialed and who provide counseling as their ministry. Licensed and commissioned Christian counselors are fully recognized by the state and church and can carry out all of the duties of a counselor; including but not limited to, obtaining liability insurance and charging a fee. Accountability, on-going training, and regular reporting are required ingredients for all counselors and are used in the commissioning evaluation and renewal process. Description What is commissioning and how does it work? Once a Christian counselor candidate has completed Phases I and II of their course work and is certified through the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA), the commissioning of the candidate is the next step in the process to becoming recognized as a Christian counselor. Licensing by the NCCA completes the process and the Christian counselor becomes legally recognized in the eyes of the state. Becoming commissioned and licensed enables a Christian counselor to fully comply with the federal and state government requirements and be officially recognized as such. It also affirms and confirms the abilities and capabilities of a Christian counselor and can give confidence to the counselees. It provides accountability to others – a knowledgeable third party as to the privileges and responsibilities of a Christian counselor. Abundant Life Ministries Support As an adjunct to a full-service Counseling, education and training facility (ALCCS+TC), Abundant Life Ministries provides much needed and valuable support to the Christian counselor. Depending upon the specific need(s) of the Christian counselor, Abundant Life Ministries can offer physical support through the use of office facilities, equipment, supplies, etc. We also offer support in the following ways:
- Logistical support such as accounting, scheduling and instruction or proper procedures for record keeping.
- On-going educational and mentoring support to provide guidance and encouragement to enable a flourishing and successful counseling ministry.
- Prayer support and scriptural guidance – valuable ingredients to further enable Christian counselors to follow God as He leads them to successfully help others.
- Provides continuing credibility, even if you move – meeting federal and state requirements.
Before Commissioning – Requirements and Fees Before commissioning, a candidate must be certified through the NCCA. In addition, they must be led/called to a ministry of counseling and this ministry must be confirmed through references from mature Christians who have close knowledge of the candidate, and are themselves, actively serving the Lord in some ministry capacity. Pre-Application Those applicants who have not been trained by ALCCS+TC must first take the Applicant Aptitude Assessment to measure your probability of success as a Christian counselor. Once the assessment has been completed, you will be advised as to whether or not to apply for commissioning. Applicants trained by ALCCS+TC will have already completed this assessment. Application The first step is the application enrollment form. It will need to be completed and sent in. The application asks for basic information and personal references (see application form). Read and report on “Competent to Counsel” textbook. A two-page typed summary on each chapter is required and turned in for grading all together. This material is to be sent to Abundant Life (not by email). This book is provided by Abundant Life and is included in the Application Fee. Internship The internship commitment of twenty-four hours is an opportunity to increase your knowledge of the real world aspects of a counseling career as well as grow and become confident. You will be dividing up the hours over time. You and your internship mentor will choose what you will do for the internship that will have “hands on” counseling value. Your internship must be approved before you can begin to invest time and energy. In addition, you will be given a book by Abundant Life to read and write a report on as part of the internship process. The book assigned will be based upon your specific need. Candidates who cannot physically complete an internship at Abundant Life Ministries can obtain an exemption. Once an exemption is granted, the internship site will be chosen. Exempt candidates must complete their internship at a church, organization of similar nature, counseling ministry, school, college, etc. approved by Abundant Life Ministries. Review and Approval Abundant Life Ministries reviews candidacy work, communications, discussions with references, and staff input for final approval of the application for commissioning. After the review and approval, you will be issued your credentialing wall certificate. Costs: Pre-application Applicant Aptitude Assessment fee – $5.00 Commissioning application fee – $85.00 (Commissioning application fee is refunded if not accepted. However, no refund is granted if applicant withdraws application before application is processed.) Internship – there are no additional expenses for the 24 hours of internship.
After Commissioning – Requirements and Fees
Ongoing Requirements: The reporting of the counselor’s professional status is vital to maintaining integrity, accountability and feedback, and is essential for long-term success. Four times a year (by January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15) the counselor will provide a quarterly report of their activities. Once a year, by January 31, an annual summary report of the counselor’s activities is required for the previous year. Costs: Annual Commissioning Renewal Fees – $225 (due by January 31 of the year to be covered) Covers review of Annual and Quarterly Reports, mentoring support and commissioning renewal. Contents of Quarterly Reports – (due by January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15) (Quarterly Report PDF) Answer questions in each of the following areas that will help the counselor assess how they are doing in these areas and what they are doing to overcome weaknesses and build on strengths. These should help the counselor in their personal self assessment as well as help Abundant Life in having the confidence to renew their commissioning. Discuss the following three topics in all quarterly reports: Spiritual Maturity – What steps have you taken to increase and maintain your spiritual maturity during this quarter? What challenges have you had? What victories have you had? Do you need assistance from Abundant Life with any spiritual issues? Emotional Boundaries – How do you maintain healthy emotional boundaries with your counselees and still develop a strong rapport with them? What challenges have you had? What victories have you had? Do you need assistance from Abundant Life? Balancing Career and Home – What have you done to effectively balance the demands of career and home life during this quarter? Provide specific examples that you have found worked well. Discuss the following seven topics in the quarterly report when significant things have taken place. Address all of the following at least once each year: Good Business Practices – What operational or facilities changes have you made that have made the operation of your ministry easier and/or more effective? Provide specific examples that you have found worked well. Character Traits – What of your personal character traits have you found to be a challenge to your ministry? Do you have ideas as to how to overcome these challenges? What assistance from Abundant Life would you find helpful? Structured verses Unstructured Counseling – What have you learned from your counseling experiences that will enable you to be a more effective counselor? Are there are challenges with which you would like help form Abundant Life? Continuing Education and Certification – What books have you read, seminars or conferences attended, or courses taken during this quarter that will enhance you ministry? Do you need suggestions from Abundant Life? Networking – What steps have you taken this quarter to build, enhance or renew your professional network? Provide specific examples that you have found worked well. Fundraising – Were you able to meet expenses? What fundraising activities have you pursue this quarter? Which activities do you find “most rewarding” (spiritually, emotionally and financially)? Personal Finances – What steps have you take to be able to live within your available income? What challenges are you finding to living “debt free”? What financial victories have you experienced this quarter? Contents of Annual Report – (due by January 31, for the previous year) (Annual Report PDF) Provide a summary of current year statics including: number of sessions, description of counselees (sex, age, marital status, and belief status), summary of issues addressed (marriage, depression, addictions, etc.), fees received, outside finances received, operating costs (rent, utilities, materials, services, etc.). Compare current year with prior years’ statics and discuss any trends observed. Identify and discuss professional challenges, and professional successes. Identify and discuss personal weaknesses, and personal strengths. Identify and discuss any family challenges or extraordinary support. Discuss your response to all of these. Discuss your goals and plans for the next year’s counseling activities.