Role of Confidentiality in Biblical Counseling

Written by M. Ashley Evans

August 28, 2020

The role of confidentiality largely is determined by the content discussed. If the counselee reveals evidence or reveals enough information to cause reasonable suspicion of abuse against her, a minor, an elderly person, or someone who is otherwise dependent, then I would be obligated to tell the police. (Some states require counselors to report ALL instances of domestic violence, while others only require it if it is to a minor. Please know what your state requires.) If a counselee tells me that he has plans for murdering someone or himself, then I would need to alert the police. Also, I may have to reveal information if there is a subpoena or other similar court order. Otherwise, personal information shared with me during a counseling session would be limited to a “need to know” basis.

If a counselee is confessing sin, and is repentant and showing fruits of that repentance, and has made efforts to reconcile with whomever he has sinned against and has notified his pastor, then there shouldn’t be any more reason to notify anyone else. If the counselee is refusing to renounce sin and is living in habitual unrepentant sin, then per Matthew 18:15-20, I would be obligated to seek the assistance of others in the church to address the issue, so that the counselee may be set free from this sin and come to know Christ all the more. Open and unrepentant sin can not be ignored in the church as it is endangering to the church body

The commitment to confidentiality should be thoroughly discussed at the beginning of the counseling relationship. The counselee should understand that gossip is sinful and that there is no time that I would be using his information against him. I, as a counselor, need to show my counselee the utmost respect and because time together should be focused on being open so that the journey of discipleship can reach farther. If my counselee is afraid that I will gossip about his sins, then he is less likely to be open with me and therefore discipleship is unlikely to occur.

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