In an effort to provide the best help for those needing healing and deliverance solutions, we found it necessary to adopt a standard operating protocol for all BRIDE Ministries International Coaches. The following Code of Ethics has been agreed to and signed by all BRIDE Ministries International Coaches.
Section I: Preventing Harm and the Duty to Protect
1. Affirming Human Worth and Dignity: Coaches recognize and uphold the inherent, God-given worth and dignity of every human person, from the preborn to those on death’s bed. Human beings are God’s creation and consequently, are due all the rights, respect and ordered logic that this fact of creation entails.
2. Coaches operate first and foremost from a position of beneficence and endeavor to approach the Coaching alliance in light of the scriptural admonishments found in the following passages: (1) Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ;” (2) Galatians 6:10 – “So then, while we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those in the household of faith;” and (3) Philippians 2:3-5 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
3. Avoidance of Harm or Exploitation: Coaches proactively avoid every manner of harm, exploitation, and unjust discrimination in all Client relations, and help ensure the overall safety and wellbeing of Clients. Coaches are also aware of their psychosocial and spiritual influence and the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships, as power dynamics can harm others, even without harmful intent. Coaches avoid all behavior or suggestion of any practice that harms or reasonably could harm Clients, Client families, Client social systems and Client opportunities.
4. Managing Client Conflicts: Coaches acknowledge that Client conflicts are unavoidable and will attempt to resolve all Coaching conflicts in the Client’s best interest. Coaches tempted to respond in harmful ways to Clients shall seek out consultative and restorative help. If self-control is not accomplished, and Client harm is unavoidable, Coaches shall consider making an appropriate referral to another Coach or professional helper that is in the Client’s best interest.
5. Action Regarding Clients Harmed by Other Helpers: Coaches take appropriate action against the harmful behavior of other Coaches, colleagues or ministers. Harmful behavior is defined as sexual misconduct, physical abuse, or forced involvement in illegal activities. They will act assertively to challenge or expose those who exploit others, especially those who are most vulnerable and/or at risk, and protect Clients against harm wherever it is found, taking care to honor and support Client decision-making regarding curative action against violators.
6. Application to Deadly and Threatening Behavior: Coaches do not condone, advocate for, or assist the suicidal, homicidal, or assaultive/abusive harm done to self or others by Clients, including that which is threatened by verbal or other means. Coaches shall prudently intervene for the sake of protecting life, and under certain conditions, to report deadly threats to the proper authorities and those threatened by Clients.
7. Application to Substance Abuse and Other Addictive Behaviors: Coaches do not condone, advocate for, or assist substance abuse or other behavioral/process addictions by Clients.
Section II: Boundaries in the Coaching Relationship
8. Sexual Misconduct Forbidden: Coaches refrain from all forms of sexual misconduct with Clients in professional relationships and view such behavior as unethical and forbidden. This includes any type of sexual exploitation, abuse, deception, manipulation, and harassment. Sexual relationships between Coaches and Clients are strictly forbidden
9. Coaches refrain from all sexual behaviors and/or relationships with former Clients and view such behavior as unethical and forbidden. Furthermore, Coaches do not purposely terminate and refer Clients, even at first contact, in order to pursue sexual or romantic relationships.
10. Coaches do not Coach with current or former sexual and/or marital partners but make an appropriate referral.
11. Coaches will acknowledge and be aware of transference and countertransference issues. Transference is a common occurrence in helping relationships where the Client develops romantic feelings towards his/her Coach. Coaches will exercise caution when transference has occurred to ensure that boundaries between them and their Clients remain healthy. Transference does not necessitate an ending of the Coaching relationship in most cases. However, Coaches are responsible to determine when countertransference has occurred, and will make an appropriate referral at that time to ensure the safety of themselves and their Clients.
12. The Rule of Dual Relationships: While in a Coaching relationship, or when Coaching relationships become imminent, or for an appropriate time (3 months) after the termination of Coaching, Coaches avoid engaging in dual relationships with Clients. Some dual relationships are always avoided—sexual or romantic relations, and Coaching close friends, family members, employees, business partners/associates or supervisees. Other dual relationships should be presumed as potentially troublesome and avoided wherever possible.
13. Coaches have the primary burden of proof for a justified dual relationship by showing: (1) informed consent, including discussion of how the Coaching relationship might be harmed as other aspects of the relationship proceed; and (2) lack of harm or exploitation to the Client. In the context of local ministry and community, Coaches must have a disclaimer form signed by their Clients if they will be participating in ministry-related events where their Clients will also be in attendance or engaging in non-ministry related activities where the Client will also be present.
14. Coaching with Family, Friends, and Acquaintances: Coaches do not provide ongoing Coaching to family members or close friends, as dual relationships with other family members, acquaintances, club, association or group members are potentially troublesome and best avoided. One-time sessions with the intention of a specific intervention may be permitted in some circumstances. Within a ministry context, Coaches that are working with other members in the ministry will abide by a written agreement between the parties detailing the boundaries of the relationship and a system of justice.
15. Coaches do not engage in partnerships, employment relationships, and close business associations with Clients. These relationships are carefully considered and typically avoided with former Clients. Barter relationships, trade relationships, or relationships where services are given in exchange for Coaching services rendered are not permitted under any circumstances. Pro-bono sessions and discounted sessions that are reserved for those with extremely limited financial provision are encouraged.
16. Coaches recognize that sometimes and for certain cultures, a gift, when it is given, is a token of respect and a way of showing gratitude to a Coach. Prior to accepting a gift, Coaches consider the cultural narrative of the Client, the monetary value of the gift, and any relational implications.
17. When special situations or circumstances arise, Coaches honor the power differential. The Coach must avoid making themselves the recipient of a service provided. This is especially true in the context of co-living circumstances. Under no circumstances should a Coach move into the home of a Client. If there is a halfway house overseen by the Coach, or dire circumstances that would lead to a short-term co-living situation where the Client moves in with the Coach, there will have to be a clear delineation between living spaces. If the Client spends more than one (1) week at the Coach’s home, paperwork must be signed detailing the expectations and nature of the stay, and this stay must also be communicated to appropriate parties for purpose of accountability. The Coach is responsible to ensure that there is no confusion as to who is providing services in the setting of boundaries.
18. Coaches do not terminate services for the purpose of engaging in dual relationships of any kind. Some Coaches and their former Clients may agree that any future Coaching will be done by another provider if, after legitimate termination and no identified risks of potential harm to the Client, they decide to pursue another form of relationship.
Section III: Qualified and Professional Service Provision
19. Coaches do not offer services or work beyond the limits of their competence or scope of practice (i.e., education, knowledge, training and professional/ministerial experience), and do not aid or abet the work of Coaching by untrained, unqualified, or unethical practitioners or helpers.
20. Coaches keep abreast of and, whenever possible, contribute to new research, knowledge, issues, and resources in Coaching and their respective fields. Coaches maintain an active program of personal/professional growth, study, and continuing education to improve helping effectiveness, biblical integration and ethical practice. They also seek out specialized training, supervision and/or advanced certification/credentialing if they choose to gain expertise in a particular area and before practicing and advertising in recognized specialty areas of Coaching, Coaching or clinical practice.
21. Coaches maintain the highest standards of integrity in all their work, in professional reports, and in all professional relationships. Coaches delegate to employees, supervisees, and other subordinates only that work these persons can competently perform, meeting the Client’s best interests and done with appropriate supervision.
22. Coaches consult with and/or refer to competent colleagues, supervisors and other resources when their limits of Coaching competence or effectiveness are reached as described by the following: (1) when facing issues not dealt with before or not experienced in handling; (2) when Clients need further help outside the scope of one’s training, practice and expertise; (3) when either Coach or Client is feeling stuck in the Coaching process, confused about goals, or either party is unclear about how to proceed; (4) when Clients are deteriorating or making no realistic gain over a number of sessions; (5) when Clients present an actual or imminent danger to harm themselves (e.g., severe depression, suicidal intent/behaviors, running away, excessive substance abuse, severe eating disorders, etc.); (6) when Clients present an actual or imminent danger to others (e.g., extreme hostility, aggression, violence or threats thereof); when Clients experience a marked decline in the ability to care for themselves and function in day-to-day life, whether at home, school or in the workplace setting; (7) when the Client’s excessive alcohol or substance abuse/dependence will require detoxification; (8) when the Client’s reality testing is severely impaired to the extent that judgment, orientation, or emotions are compromised; (9) when there is a strong transference or countertransference dynamic that seems at an impasse despite attempts to address the issue; (10) when the possibility of a dual relationship exists or arises; and/or (11) when the Client asks for a referral to another Coach or caregiver.
23. When consultation and referral services that advocate and support a Judeo-Christian worldview are requested by the Client, Coaches first seek out the best faith-based help available at a higher level of knowledge, skill, and expertise. If Christian-oriented help is not available, or when professional skill is more important than the practitioner’s religious beliefs, Coaches shall use the entire network of professional services available.
24. Coaches do not counsel or advise against professional counseling, medical or psychiatric treatment, the use of medications, legal counsel, or other forms of professional service merely because they believe such practice is wrong or because the provider may not have a Christian orientation.
Section IV: An Ethic of Self-Care
25. Coaches acknowledge that sin, illnesses, mental disorders, interpersonal crises, distress, and self-deception, influence personal well-being and practice, and that these problems can adversely affect Clients. When it is realized or highly likely that personal problems may incapacitate or bring potential harm to one’s Clients, Coaches will refrain from or reduce those professional-ministerial activities and seek appropriate help.
26. Coaches seek out regular, ongoing and reasonable accountability relationships in order to maintain competent and ethical practice, as well as attend to personal well-being. During times of incapacity or where professional competence is compromised, the Coach will seek out and use those reparative resources that allow for problem resolution and a return to a fully functioning role, if possible.
Section V: Consent for Coaching
27. Coaches secure Client consent for all Coaching and related services prior to the initiation of care or services. This includes the video/audio-taping of Client sessions, the use of supervisory and consultative help, the application of special procedures and evaluations, the communication of Client data with other professionals and institutions or use of Client stories with enough detail to distinguish the Client’s specific identity in other professional media. Coaches take care that: (1) the Client has the capacity to give consent; (2) that Coaching has been discussed together with the Client and that the Client reasonably understands the nature and process of Coaching; the costs, time, and work required; the limits of Coaching; and any appropriate alternatives; and (3) the Client freely gives consent to Coaching, without coercion or undue influence.
28. Coaches respect the need for informed consent regarding the structure and process of Coaching. At appropriate times during the course of Coaching, Coaches and Clients should discuss and agree upon the following: (1) the nature and course of Coaching, including expectations; (2) Client issues and goals; (3) potential problems and risks, as well as reasonable alternatives to Coaching; (4) Coach’s status and credentials (If the Coach is under supervision, that fact shall be disclosed and the supervisor’s name and role indicated to the Client); (5) confidentiality and its limits; (6) fees and financial procedures; (7) limitations about time and access to the Coach, including directions in emergency situations; and (8) procedures for resolution of disputes and misunderstandings. (9) prayer for and with Clients; (10) Bible reading and reference; (11) spiritual meditation; (12) the use of biblical and religious imagery or music; (13) assistance with spiritual formation and discipline; (14) incorporation of fasting in the treatment plan as a spiritual discipline; and/or (15) other common spiritual practices.
29. Consent for More Difficult Interventions: It is understood that not all Clients will understand the full scope of what a Coach may do in pursuit of providing help. Whenever the Client is unfamiliar with the interventions that may be used, Coaches obtain specific consent for: (1) deliverance and spiritual warfare activities; (2) deprogramming work; (3) recovering memories and the treatment of past abuse or trauma; (4) the use of aversive, involuntary, or experimental interventions; and/or (5) engaging Clients who are struggling with same sex attraction, crisis pregnancy/abortion decision-making and/or end-of life issues.
30. Coaches agree to not use hypnosis or hypnotic/hallucinogenic drugs under any circumstances.
Section VI: Confidentiality and Disclosure
31. Coaches maintain Client confidentiality, privacy and privileged communication to the fullest extent. Confidential Client communications include all verbal, written, telephonic, audio or videotaped, electronic, or internet and web-based communications arising within the helping relationship. Apart from consented to, regulatory, mandatory or legally required disclosure, Coaches shall not break confidentiality regarding Client communications without first discussing the intended disclosure and securing written consent from the Client or a Client representative.
32. Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality: Clients should be informed about both the Coach’s commitment to confidentiality and its limits before engaging in Coaching. Coaches avoid stating or implying that confidentiality is guaranteed or absolute, and discuss the limits of confidentiality, privacy and privileged communication with Clients at the onset of Coaching.
33. The duty to take protective action is triggered when the Coach: (1) has reasonable suspicion, as specified in state and/or federal statute, that a minor child (under 18 years), elder person (65 years and older), or dependent adult (regardless of age) has been harmed by the Client or has been perpetrated upon by the Client; or (2) has direct Client admissions of serious and imminent suicidal threats; or (3) has direct Client admissions of harmful acts or threatened action that is serious, imminent, and attainable against a clearly identified third person or group of persons.
34. Action to protect third persons from Client violence may involve or—in states that have a third-person protection (Tarasoff) duty—require disclosure of imminent harm to the intended victim, to their family or close friends, and to law enforcement. When child abuse, elder abuse or abuse of dependent adults exists, as defined by state law, Coaches shall report to child or elder protective services, or to any designated agency established for protective services as required by applicable law and regulatory requirements.
Section VII: The Value and Care of the Client
35. Coaches recognize and acknowledge that all people have been created in the image of a Holy God and therefore, all Clients have an innate right to be valued.
36. Coaches earnestly strive to develop and maintain culturally competent awareness and practices such as, but not limited to: (1) awareness of one’s personal worldview and its impact on the Coaching process; (2) knowledge of various cultural practices and worldviews, including those that may conflict with a Judeo-Christian worldview; and/or (3) cross-cultural sensitivity and skills that enhance the helping process.
37. Coaches maintain appropriate documentation of their Coaching activities, adequate for competent recall of prior sessions and the provision of later services by oneself or others. Records used in legal and other official capacities will show the quality, detail, objectivity, and timeliness of production expected by professionals who practice in these arenas. Records of professional activities will be created, maintained, stored, and disposed of with ultimate care and with an emphasis on preserving Client confidentiality.
38. Coaches may work with multiple persons in session—marriage couples, families or parts of families, partners and small groups—and should know when these forms of Coaching are helpful or necessary, or preferred over individual Coaching. In these relationships, Coaches should identify a primary Client—the group as a unit or the individual members—and discuss with all persons involved how differing roles, Coaching goals, confidentiality, and consent issues are affected by these dynamics.
39. Coaches maintain the right to decline to work with anyone for any reason. Coaches are not required to work with anyone that they feel their skillsets and expertise are ill-suited for. Detailed explanations for declining to work with someone are not required. However, Coaches will avoid quitting on or abandoning Clients after committing to them and make appropriate referrals when necessary.
40. Safety and Integrity in Family and Group Coaching: Coaches maintain their role as fair, unbiased, and effective helpers in all marital, family, partner and group work, and should remain accessible to all persons, avoiding enmeshed alliances and taking sides unjustly. Coaches also respect the boundary between constructive confrontation and verbal abuse within group, marital/partner and family relationships, and will take reasonable precautions to protect Client members from any physical, psychological, emotional or verbal abuse from other members.
41. Coaches maintain continuity of care for all Clients and avoid interruptions in service to Clients that are too lengthy or disruptive. Care is taken to refer Clients as necessary and network with other professionals and resources to provide emergency services when faced with Coach vacations, business travel, illnesses, job changes, financial hardships, or for any other reason where services are interrupted or limited.
Section VIII: Termination and Referral
42. Avoiding Abandonment and Improper Coaching Termination: Coaches do not abandon Clients. To the extent the Coach is able, Client services are never abruptly cut-off or ended without giving appropriate notice and adequately preparing the Client for termination and/or referral.
43. Discussion and action toward Coaching termination and/or referral is indicated when: (1) Coaching goals have been achieved; (2) when the Client no longer wants or does not return to Coaching; (3) when the Client is no longer benefiting from Coaching; (4) when Coaching is harmful to the Client; (5) when the Coach finds themselves transitioning and needs to reallocate their time and commitments; or (5) when the Client asks for a referral. Coaches discuss termination and/or referral with Clients, offer referral if wanted or appropriate, and facilitate termination in the Client’s best interest. If crisis events alter or end Coaching prematurely, the Coach (if it is safe and proper) should follow through with the Client to ensure proper termination and referral.
Section IX: Professional Boundaries and Relationships
44. Coaches respect professional and ministerial colleagues. Coaches strive to understand and wherever able, respect differing approaches to Coaching. Coaches will maintain collaborative and constructive relations with other professionals serving their Client, working always to the Client’s best interest.
45. Coaches do not solicit or pay for testimonial statements from current Clients or from former Clients. Acceptable approaches for receiving testimonials include standard optional questionnaires that allow for a testimony to be written and clearly indicates to the Client that this testimony, should it be provided, will be used in a public forum.
46. Coaches do not require or solicit Clients to use their spiritual gifts, such as prophetic abilities in the areas of sight and hearing in the spirit, for their own personal gain or purposes. Care is taken to ensure that the Client remains on the receiving end of the Coaching relationship, while also understanding that should a Client volunteer their gifts towards a Coach on occasion, care is taken to not shut the Client down and make them to feel inadequate.
47. Guidelines in Public Statements by Others: Coaches ensure adherence to these ethics by third parties they engage to create and make public statements about their work—employers, publishers, producers, sponsors, marketers, organizational Clients, and representatives of the media. Coaches do not pay for or compensate the news media for news items about their work, and are responsible to correct, in timely fashion, any misinformation by third parties.
Section X: Living Document Clause
48. This is a living document, and those that agree to it understand that as circumstances arise, changes and updates will be made to this document in order to allow for the best possible care to be provided for Clients while also allowing for the healthiest possible circumstances for Coaches. As updates are made, those that have agreed to be governed according to this code of ethics will be informed.
Credit to Ruthie Andrews, LPC for her significant contribution to this Code of Ethics.