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Pastoral Counseling and Religious Freedom

Christian Therapists Push Back Against Tennessee Counseling Bill:  There is significant opposition from the very group of Christian counselors this state bill aims to protect. Several Christian counseling networks and pastoral counselors in Tennessee claim such protections are unnecessary. Chris O’Rear, president of the Tennessee Association of Pastoral Therapists (TAPT), says he is not personally supportive of the bill and thinks most of the counselors in his network wouldn’t be either. He notes that the bill could be particularly problematic for those living in rural areas with limited mental health services. “Our code of ethics says if we feel we can’t objectively counsel a person for any reason, then we should refer them to someone else,” says O’Rear, who is also an ordained Baptist. “But sometimes a client doesn’t have a choice because perhaps they don’t have many options where they live. I don’t think these people should be turned away in that case.”

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