Counseling Code of Ethics

In my studies thus far the topic of ethics has been mentioned in nearly every class. In my undergrad program I took a Counseling Ethics class and then I took another one in graduate school. We have been instructed and quizzed on ethical dilemmas, we have been asked how we would respond in certain situations in the counseling office. We have been told what the right answer is, as well as what the wrong answer is.

The thing is, in my extracurricular reading, I am finding many of the renown therapists of today and yesterday have taken a completely different tack with when it comes to ethics.

Dr. Irv Yalom writes in his book, The Gift of Therapy,

“The first model posited of thr ideal therapist-patient relationship was the new superannuated ‘blank screen,’ in which the therapist remained neutral and more or less anonymous in the hopes that patients would project onto this blank screen major transference distortions” (Yalom, 2022, p. 75)

Yalom, I. D. (2022). Gift of Therapy : An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients. HarperCollins.

The idea of the blank slate therapist was taught by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud’s own writing (Studies in Hysteria) he generally did not follow this blank screen model. Yalom goes on to say, “he (Freud) contrived to attend social functions to see his patients in other settings” (p. 76).

When I read that, I stopped short. You see, one thing that has been pounded home to me is multipicity of relationships with clients cannot happen under almost any and all circumstances.

In the 1950s Carl Rogers put together a model of nondirective therapy. He “instructed therapist to offer minimal direction, often limiting interventions to the echoing of the patient’s last phrase” (Yalom, 2022, p.76) This is a form of therapy that does not allow for the therapist to self-disclose anything. But Rogers did not always follow this model. As he grew as a therapist, he eventually abandoned the idea altogether. He moved from a near silent blank slate to a more interactive approach.

Therapists are not to attend any function of their client’s life that is outside of their scheduled session. They cannot go to school plays, little league games, graduations, etc because that is “unethical.”

I live in a small rural area. It is nearly impossible to not see clients outside of the office. Clients work at the grocery store, the bank, the gas station, the city offices, the library, the movie theater.

Here are three therapists. They are considered to be greats in the field. And yet, according to some they were unethical. How are young therapists to wrap their mind around this dichotomy?


Row your boat

At night the body of clouds advancing higher up the sky smothers the whole quiet gulf below with an impenetrable darkness, in which the sound of the falling showers can be heard beginning and ceasing abruptly—now here, now there. Indeed, these cloudy nights are proverbial with the seamen along the whole west coast of a great continent. Sky, land, and sea disappear together out of the world when the Placido—as the saying is—goes to sleep under its black poncho.

The few stars left below the seaward frown of the vault shine feebly as into the mouth of a black cavern. In its vastness your ship floats unseen under your feet, her sails flutter invisible above your head. The eye of God Himself—they add with grim profanity—could not find out what work a man’s hand is doing in there; and you would be free to call the devil to your aid with impunity if even his malice were not defeated by such a blind darkness.

Gently down the stream

The dawn breaks high behind the towering and serrated wall of the Cordillera, a clear-cut vision of dark peaks rearing their steep slopes on a lofty pedestal of forest rising from the very edge of the shore. Amongst them the white head of Higuerota rises majestically upon the blue. Bare clusters of enormous rocks sprinkle with tiny black dots the smooth dome of snow.

The Woman Speaks

Women are not to speak in church at all. Women are definitely not allowed to teach men anything. The only males they can teach are little boys. Once a boy hits puberty, he can no longer have a woman teacher in Sunday School. He is a man now. This same boy can be taught in public (or private or Christian) school by a woman and no one loses their mind. He can have women professors in college. He can have a woman boss. But in church, man reigns supreme and women need to just shut the heck up.

This is biblical, right? I mean, right? It’s what Paul writes, isn’t it? And we all know Paul is like next to godhood. His writings in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 3 dictate the silence of women, at least that is what I have always been taught. I’m sure many of you have as well.

Let women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says, and if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet.

I Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12, respectively

These passages have no doubt been beaten and belabored to death in recent months. But please, allow me to throw my hat into the ring as one late to the party. Let’s talk about church first, shall we? Let’s define it biblically, okay?

For where two or three are gathered together, I am there in their midst.

Matthew 18:20

This verse in Matthew comes just after Jesus tells the disciples how to deal with offenses done against them. (You can read it all in Matthew 18:15-20.) Church is not a building but it is the whole body of Christ. It is comprised of individual believers. Anytime believers meet together it is church. So anytime believers have a meal with other believers it’s church. If believers meet out shopping or going for a walk, at a concert, etc it is church. But we don ‘t live like that. We live as if the church is simply the four walls of a building with Church in the name. “I attend this church. Which church do you attend?” So we translate this passage in light of that viewpoint. Women cannot talk inside the four walls of a church.

Except even this is not practiced truly. Women speak inside the church walls all the time. Women speak to men inside the four walls of a church all the time. And no one bats an eye. Women speak and teach in the church. Children and women only. “Because that’s what the Bible says.” I beg to differ. I am not intelligent nor eloquent enough to lay out the reasons. But I will show what Jesus has been revealing to me about Himself and His dealings with women.

Jesus revealed Himself to women first on many different occasions and in varied ways. A real quick rundown of some.

  • Mary heard from the angel, Gabriel before Joseph. God chose to reveal Himself to a woman before revealing Himself to her betrothed and before revealing Himself to any in Israel.
  • Jesus chose to reveal His identity as Messiah to a woman before revealing it to the disciples. He told the Samaritan woman, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26) This was after speaking with her and bringing the conversation around to church and worship. She confessed to hearing the rumor of a promised Messiah who “will declare all things to us” (John 4:25)
  • Jesus chose a woman, a woman who had been demon possessed, to first reveal Himself post-resurrection. According to His plan and purpose, Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb early on the first day of the week. She saw the stone had been rolled away and she hotfooted it back to town to tell the disciples. She was the one who followed Peter and John as they entered a footrace to the tomb.
  • Jesus chose Mar Magdalene to be the one to look into the tomb after Peter and John left. (Left to go find the resurrected Jesus? Nope. They left to go home.) He chose for Mary to see the angels and then turn around and see Him. He veiled her understanding until He spoke her name.
  • Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be the first apostle. She saw Him first post-resurrection and she was the first one He sent. And where did He send her? To give men a message. But not just any men. His men. Men who had faithfully followed Him throughout His ministry. The message she was to give them? In short, she was to instruct them. Jesus could have shown Himself to them. He could have appeared at the tomb behind Peter and John and told them to go back and tell the other disciples He lived and where to meet Him. But He didn’t. I can’t emphasize this enough. He purposely chose a woman. He purposely sent her out. He purposely sent her to instruct men, His men. Believing men.

So let’s go back to Paul. He writes, what I believe is at least tongue-in-cheek, that women are not allowed to teach or even talk in church. He even says “just as the Law also says.” The Law meaning, of course, the Mosaic Law. Only the Mosaic Law does not say this. Anywhere. It’s not there. I believe it was considered a law at the time in the church. This was not a law handed down by God, but rather was a law handed down by men. It was, in short, tradition that had morphed into another law that governed behavior.

It is also thought that women were viewed as disruptive. Maybe some were. The verse in 1 Corinthians 14 that immediately precedes Paul saying to let the women be silent, addresses an issue in the body. Chaos reigned. Confusion ruled the assembly. Paul writes that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” I am not going pretend to have studied the culture of the Corinthian church and cannot speak to that. All I know is context is key.

There is a church I have attended on a few occasions and in this church is a man who is of sound least it appears that way. Before the message gets under way, he is observed quietly speaking with others in the sanctuary, with coffee cup in hand. But once the pastor begins the message this man begins shouting out words and phrases. To be sure, they are “Christian” phrases, but are nonetheless disruptive.

I attended a Christian concert a few years ago. This concert did not take place inside the four walls of a building with Church on the side but it was, nonetheless, a church. The man directly behind me was extremely disruptive. He kept reaching forward to grasp my arms in an effort to make me raise them. He shouted out words and phrases at such an alarming rate and decibel level the musician called him out on it. It did not stop the man. I was preparing vacate my seat in search of someone in charge who could escort the man out when there was an intermission. The man did not return to his seat. It’s possible he left voluntarily and it is also possible he was told to leave. I don’t know. I share these experiences simply to show women are not the always the ones who bring disruption to worship.

Let’s move back to discuss the church. My family often shares a meal with friends from church. This, by definition, is a church. So if women are not allowed to speak in church, any time I have a meal with another family of believers, I cannot speak. I must sit in silence. There could be no “please pass the mashed potatoes” or “please pass the salt.” There could be nothing but silence as the men are allowed to speak. How crazy would that be? But if we are going to be dogmatic about what Paul wrote, we have to take it to this place too.

I have begun praying for Jesus to open my eyes, to let me see Him and read His words with fresh eyes. He has been faithful to do just that. I want to get rid of any preconceived ideas and notions about what the passage is saying and listen to His voice reveal His truth.

One of the most amazing things He has brought to light is simply the powerful role of women, His women in His narrative. He first revealed His identity and deity to a woman. A woman was His first apostle. He sent her to instruct believing men. We have allowed traditions to dictate church life long enough. I want to say this next part with grace but I fear it will come out and sound harsh. Weak m men, men fearful of losing their felt power and authority, have devised this and blinded the eyes of weaker men in an attempt to silence women. Women who love Jesus and are empowered by Him to proclaim His word to men and women. For His glory.

A Tree’s Repose

Towering and Magnificent,

Stately and Strong,

Hung there betwixt the

Azure blue of a prairie sky

And the richness of the golden wheat

Rippling in the never-ending breeze.

Dark smudges ‘round beneath

Invite the traveler to a bit of introspection and


The dark green locks of hair billow and convulse

As the wind hurries through on its way to who knows where.

Nothing but blankness as far as the eye can see,

Still it stands sentinel over the prairie,

As it has stood for a thousand lifetimes

A home and place to breathe deeply

Kiss everything goodbye and simply


Just Playing

Last night I attempted what I thought would be nearly impossible. And I was partially right. It wasn’t nearly impossible, it was completely impossible. I tried to take photos of a fireworks display but failed. Dismally.

In a rather selfish effort to feel better about my photography skills, I began snapping photos this morning.

The Joyful Grace of Endurance

It has been a few hot minutes since I last sat here to jot my thoughts and there is so much I have to tell you but one thing is pressing to the forefront of my mind today. This is what is driving me to take a few moments to pound out on the keyboard what Jesus has pounded into my soul this morning. For the past several days and weeks, He has been opening my mind and understanding of the nuances of the Spirit–His Spirit–and the Fruit of the Spirit. I say “fruit” (singular) and not “fruits” (plural) because that is how Jesus spoke through Paul to pen them and they are the singular fruit of His presence in our lives. These differ from the gifts (plural) of the Spirit that we all have at least one of and none of us has all of them. The Fruit of the Spirit is present in all of us at the moment we turn to Jesus and accept His sacrifice for our sins. All nine of the fruit of the Spirit is given as one evidence of His presence in our lives. We possess all of them because He possesses us and He is the Fruit of the Spirit.

For the past few days, Jesus has been unpacking the truth about Joy. This fruit is listed second in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23, nasb

One of the things we know about love is it endures (I Corinthians 13:7). Joy, like love, endures. For the Joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Our trials and sufferings do not last because joy endures and outlasts them all.

If only we would get a glimpse of this truth and recognize the fleetingness of our struggles. Our mindset would change. We would see the trials as something other than a death knell to all we know and expect. We would see them as the grace that shapes us into His image and know they are more fleeting than our life. We would embrace them as ambassadors of His grace and presence in us. The very same Jesus that endured more than we ever will endured the cross for us, to make our endurance possible. It is possible to endure the most stinging trials because His very life indwells us.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:17 nasb

If we want the eternal weight of glory, we must endure the light and momentary afflictions. How much sweeter the glory when we endure with grace and joy. (A side note here: the Greek word for grace often carries with it the idea of joy.) If and how we endure is our choice. Choosing to endure with joy makes the trials softer–not necessarily easier–but our focus changes from us to Him and the sting diminishes as our focus is the Joy of Jesus’ Presence in the trial.

Into the Fog

These are interesting days we are living in. It seems life as we know it has disappeared into a foggy mess. A few weeks ago we were living life as normal and then normal stopped being normal. Fear crept into to our hearts and minds like a roaring lion. For many there is a great struggle to live while not giving into the fear that has seemed to invade our nation, our world, and our minds. This is true even for those who love Jesus.

The funny thing about fog is that is seems to disappear as we go deeper into it. All we can see clearly is the spot where we are and the rest is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. It can be scary as we travel the road from where we are to where He is leading.

Even though we can see the sun, its rays do not touch or warm us. It is not yet strong enough to roll away the fog and clouds. We search for it, desperately desiring its warmth and cheeriness. Gloom descends and we strive to see what we know instinctively is there but is lost to us now.

It is hard to trust in these times. We long for the days of sunshine and blue skies. But all we get is clouds and an uneasy feeling of desperation and alone-ness. We feel isolated. The need we feel for others increases and the last thing we want is to be alone again. In our foggy situations when we are struggling to know who we are, who Jesus is, and where He is leading us, we so often look to others. There are fellow travelers walking the same roads we are on. Sometimes we’ll seek out one who has been in our spot in the fog and made it through. We pepper them with questions and seek to know how they survived.

Here’s the thing, others have been where we are. And others will walk that road after we have made it through our fog, but we cannot look to them to be our savior. We must press into Jesus in our foggy places and in our sunshiney places. It is not that we cannot seek out others who have been here in the fog. That is not at all what I am saying. Others can bring encouragement to us, clarity to our dark places. They can tell us how Jesus brought them through their difficult place and assure us that He is near to us. They cannot be our savior. We cannot make them our Jesus. We cannot take their answers and automatically apply them to our own lives.

We must seek Him for ourselves. We need to cling so tightly to His hand and press into Him. His Word is a Lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105) He alone knows the path we are on and where He is leading us.

So, friend, trusts Him in your foggy places. Seek encouragement from others as you lean into Him. Seek His wisdom first. When your path seems obscured, trust Him.

Good Citizens Discuss

This is a paper I recently submitted for my philosophy class.

It is Wednesday afternoon and I am sitting in a coffee shop downtown. The winter sun streams cheerily in the window to my right, but that has not captured my attention. It is the hubbub of noise to my left that makes my mind wander as I try to grab snippets of conversation. The coffee shop is crowded today and noisy, normally I would regret not bringing my earbuds, but today I find myself enjoying the noise. There are only four of us on an electronic device, and ironically all four of us are using a laptop. No one is on their phone, instead the other patrons are engaged in conversation. There is a large group of older women crowded around a small round table towards the counter. There are two other ladies, who seem to know everyone who walks in the door, enjoying each other’s conversation at a long table. They are sitting side-by-side instead of across the table from each other. Two women on my side of the room are engaged in earnest conversation, leaning towards each other and away in a kind of conversational dance. Across the room from where I sit a mom is enjoying an afternoon snack and coffee with her young daughter. There is one man among all the women and is quietly reading or studying. Laughter rings out every few moments and the large group of women just added another to their herd. This is, quite possibly, the western Nebraska version of Cheers. You know, the place “where everybody knows your name.”

Obviously, I do not know everything that is being discussed at each table, but here is what is striking, at almost every table those gathered are engaged in lively conversation. This is an example of what I believe makes a good citizen. Our discussions bring us together in our shared humanness and our love for conversation. And a good cup of coffee.  It is difficult to tell from my vantage point in the alcove window by the door the topics of conversation and the level of disagreement in those discussions. But judging by the laughter there is not much disagreement. But our disagreements, when discussed in a civil manner, are a mark of a good citizen.

Laughter erupts again from the large table of women. Their laughter reminds me of a conversation I overheard at our small group the other night. One friend was telling another of some of the struggles her marriage had weathered. She commented, “I was told ‘why not just let some of those things roll off your back? Why not choose joy instead of anger? Those are both simply emotions. You can choose one as well as the other.’ And I thought to myself, ‘why not just laugh?” so I started laughing. That has helped our ‘discussions’ immensely. Just laughing in the heat of the moment. I laugh. He laughs and we forget we were arguing.” Even I know they do not really forget they were arguing really, but in a sense, a light heart takes the sting out of intense, often loud, and nearly always hurtful arguments. Good citizens remember to laugh together with those they disagree with.

I just spent a few moments looking around the room and allowing my thoughts to wander. I contemplated how the atmosphere of the room would change if an angry argument suddenly broke out at one of the tables. All laughter and cheerful banter would stop, and an uncanny hush would fall over the room. Maybe it would be a political disagreement. Another Bernie supporter attacking a Trump supporter and vice versa. Or maybe a member of the pro-vaccination camp lashes out at the anti-vaccination camp. Or maybe, just maybe a pro-choice person attacks a pro-life person and their argument.

So often when we argue, we forget the one we are arguing with is a real human with real feelings. All we can think of is how we are right, and they are wrong. We refuse to listen to their reasons, because we are sure we’ve heard them all before. Our arguments are valid, theirs are not. The simple fact that “they” disagree with us means they hate us and therefore are not to be trusted. Yet, to have a good discussion, even of potentially volatile subjects, we need to have trust in our fellow citizens. We must trust them and allow them to trust us. It is what makes us good citizens and arguers. Trust often equates with care. We will not, dare I say we cannot, trust those who do not care for us? We cannot truly care for those we do not trust. It is our care for others that leads us into discussions of hard topics with them. It is care for them that prompts us to bring up difficult subjects and seek to understand their viewpoint. Can we truly trust someone if we do not know where they are coming from?

Can we say we care for our fellow citizens if we refuse to engage with them? If we know someone is believing a lie, headed down a dangerous path, do we care for them if we do not mention the pitfalls of their beliefs? Are we good citizens if we simply allow them to flounder in wrong beliefs? Or do we hold so tightly to our need to be right at any cost that we refuse to trust anyone enough to allow them to address our beliefs?

Are our beliefs really our beliefs if we never discuss them openly with others? In taking this class, it has been made so abundantly clear to me how much fear keeps us from sharing at a heart level with our friends and fellow citizens. When we do this, we are not acting as the good citizens we want to be believe we are. We are acting like the opposite of a good citizen.  I have learned that what I need most is simply to get out of my head and engage with those I claim to love, I need to be willing to say “I don’t know” and not fear reprisals or disdain, chances are they do not know it all either. I also need to know exactly what I believe and why I believe it so I can adequately defend it.

The Day My Eyes were Photocopied

Do you ever get busy doing something and completely forget parts of life?
Like eating and health? In other news, my eye doctor has been hounding me to
come and see him. Because you know it’s been awhile. The last text I received
said I was 179 days overdue for my annual eye exam. Not bad you say, right?
It’s not even a year yet, right?

Wrong-O. What they were saying is it was 179 days since I should have been
in to see them. So tired of the guilt, I made an appointment. I don’t know what
they were so worried about, they still recognized me as I walked in the door. I
barely had chance to sit down and begin to flip through an 1875 edition of US
magazine with Tom Hanks on the front when a nice girl calls me back. She ushers
me into a room with a lot of noisy machines, she tells me, “Please remove
your glasses and have a seat. We’re just going to run some preliminary

Preliminary tests? I hadn’t studied for this and my eyes sure as heck hadn’t
either. I knew I was doomed. Of course, that could be because she also told me
to remove my glasses. Those little things that sit on my nose and help my eyes
do their job which is to see! Let’s just say, it’s a good thing the machines
were noisy, it helped me find my way to the little stool they had there for me
to sit on. Using advanced calculus, I calculated the rate of sound as it
bounced off the wall behind me. I used my excellent auditory senses to tell me
how close the walls were to the machines. This college gig is really paying

Okay, I turned, ran into the wall, fell back to the floor and army crawled
my way to the stool. It seemed safer that way. When I was finally seated in
front of the first machine, the disembodied voice of the nurse, or assistant or
whatever they are called in optometrist’s office, was heard, instructing me to,
“put your chin here and press in firmly with your forehead right here. You
will see an out of focus hot air balloon.”

Out of focus hot air balloon? Boy! She wasn’t kidding. It was so
out of focus I couldn’t even tell there was one there. Of course, that have
been because I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but that should be a given. She went
on to say the balloon would come in and out of focus, but I was to focus on it.
Then she checked my brain for contraband information. Or least that is what I
think she was doing as she shined a bright light into my eyeball.

The next words out of her mouth were sweet and kind. “Now, switch
eyes.” I honestly don’t know why she thought looking through my eye to see
into the room next door would help but here came the light again. At least, I
know where to go when the sun burns out and we need a replacement.

So, does that tell you how bad my eyes are?
Well, it tells us a lot of things. It runs numbers, see?
So, did it tell you I’m blind?
Yes, that is exactly what it told me. She said after a quick glance at the printout.

At least all was normal.

Eventually we made it to the final machine. The noisiest machine. It looked like
an eyeball sucking sea creature. All big and black with a small, soft white
mouth that was open all the time. I was instructed to put my eye right up to
the opening of the creature’s mouth, I wasn’t sure if I would be punched or my
eye would be eaten, but what did I have to lose? My eyes didn’t work right
anyway, so I was game for this adventure.

“Great. Now push in a little harder. Not that hard. Perfect hold it
right there.” And then another bright light flashed before my right eye. Again,
and again. Then, of course, she said, “Now, let’s do your other eye.”
Again, the bright light moving across the screen of my eyeball again and again.
If I hadn’t been blind before I went in, I surely would have been blind now.

You know, I could have taken a photocopy of my eyes at home and saved
you the trouble.

The good news is, she laughed. The bad news is, I now need new glasses.