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Are Ministers Always Exempt from State-Required Counseling Licenses?

A Florida appeals court’s decision offers a rare look at the elements necessary for a licensing exemption to apply.

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Key point 4-10. Every state strictly regulates the practice of both psychology and counseling. However, pastoral counseling within a church to members of the congregation does not constitute the unauthorized practice of either psychology or counseling. Clergy who establish counseling ministries outside of this limited context may be liable for the unauthorized practice of either psychology or counseling.

A federal district court in Florida addressed the exemption of pastoral counselors from a state counselor licensure law. The case is particularly important for ministers to note because courts rarely offer guidance about how such exemptions do—or do not—apply to them.

A detective launches an investigation

After a detective with the local sheriff’s department received an anonymous complaint about a minister’s (the “plaintiff”) practice of mental health care ...

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Posted:
  • February 23, 2021

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