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Should A Pastor Counsel Women

Is it proper for a pastor to counsel with a woman member of the church? One man in the church, teaching a class, said it is improper; it is the responsibility of the older women to teach the younger, or counsel with them. Is not the pastor the shepherd of the sheep (members)?

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 ---Arnold on 7/4/05
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I never had any problem talking with my priest about my life conflicts. He never acted in appropriately. I even went through a period where I had a bit of a crush on him, though I never led on about it. I am past that, and fortuanate to have him as a special friend. His help has been priceless. Don't be so quick to judge. You may be the one who loses out.
---Nicole on 4/25/09

I counseled with my pastor for two years. Not only did he tell me that he was a licensed psychoanalyst, he also used hypnotherapy without my consent, and attempted to seduce me verbally, among many other transgressions. I filed a lawsuit against him and the church. Ladies, please, no matter how it appears on the surface, many of these men are completely unfulfilled in their lives, especially intimately. They are skilled at reading people who are vulnerable and needy and can easily take advantage of the situation. He never thought that I would have the courage to speak out. I did, and thank God, because it has been the most intregal part of my healing.
---KC on 4/5/09

The minister that I grew up with was not married. And, at times over the years, I sought counsel from him.

Not all churches are going to have a married couple leading the congregation.

However, with any counseling that is sought - through clergy or otherwise, these people are human also and are listening to another persons problems. And, they are giving advice or providing a way of looking at things through their eyes and experience and what they believe might be the best way to approach a situation.

Regardless of who you seek out for counsel, treat them as the messenger and listen for the message being given. Weigh the words with prayer and then act on it.

God Bless
---lesla3685 on 4/2/09

A male pastor should counsel with males. His wife or some other female within the church could be trained to counsel women. Everything should be done decently and in order. A male pastor couseling women use to be ok,for some reason but now it is risky business. The world that we live in has changed so much.Everybody in the church is not saved,including pastors. There is a measure of safety in having someone else present when a parishioner is being counseled.
---Robyn on 3/31/09

My husband started calling a woman in our church (to supposedly help her). It has almost destroyed our marriage. He evidently decided he liked her better than me.
---Jo on 3/31/09

To answer the question, it depends on the situation. Definately not wrong to do so, yet in some cases it may not be appropiate.
---Chris on 3/23/09

WOW. I see nothing wrong with a woman in need of spiritual guidance meeting with her priest alone. It's not fair to expect her to open up with other ears present. If she wanted to tell others, she can choose to do so. but to impose that one her as a condition for pastorial help is NOT A GOOD idea at all. My priet is very attractive, but in no way does he behave in a way that you'd interpret him as making a move on woman. Give these Holy Men some credit. They devote their lives to God.
---KT on 7/25/08

"I would never counsel with a pastor's wife present because of the fear of gossip. I have known too many pastors' wives who have shared secrets outside the office." Trish I am so glad you said that. This is what I feel everytime I read people saying that the pastor should have his wife present. Unless the church has join husband-wife pastors this should never happen. The wife might be her husbands helper but she is also a church member and probably very friendly with many other women in the church. She should not be privileged to hear confidential information and problems.
---RitaH on 7/21/08

The way to avoid a scandal in the counseling sessions is to schedule the counseling when someone is in the office. Have a window in the door to the office installed.

I would never counsel with a pastor's wife present because of the fear of gossip. I have known too many pastors' wives who have shared secrets outside the office.

I have a therapist who is male, and have been in his office, which is private, and have never had any concern for anything negative happening. He and I have worked together for 19 years.

I am a therapist, and I have done therapy with male clients alone as well.
---Trish9863 on 7/21/08

The RCC confessional is one of most fertile grounds for insidious sin in the world! In that statement is doubly true when the confessional booth is shared by a priest and a woman!---Mima

My priest has NEVER acted inappropriately.---Yvonne

Sorry Mima, this is a Protestant problem.

I agree with Yvonne. I had several Priest spiritual directors and had many confession with many Priest. Not one acted inappropriately.

In fact after the scandal in 2002, I had many Priest friends who wanted open boost for protection for themselves.

Not protection from women confessing. But if children came to confess. They wanted everyone to see them, but not hear them.

This topic is mainly for Pastors not Priests.
---Nicole on 7/20/08

The RCC confessional is one of most fertile grounds for insidious sin in the world!!!!
In that statement is doubly true when the confessional booth is shared by a priest and a woman!!!!!!
---Mima on 7/20/08

I disagree. You may have trouble with temtation, but it doesn't mean others can't exert self control. My priest has NEVER acted inappropriately. He has been an invaluable presence in my life. I would not benifit spiritual as I have if others were present during our meetings.
---Yvonne on 7/19/08

A pastor should never counsel a woman alone! He should always have his wife with him or another trusted leader. I've seen too many good pastors fall into temptation because they thought they could discern etc... The enemy will use anything! Pastors beware... always counsel with another leader present.
---Debbie_Simler-Goff on 7/17/08

I agree. Pastors are bery intelligent for the most part, and I bet they sense if there might be a problem with a particular counselee, and would act accordingly. I am a woman, I have been meeting with my Pastor about once a month to talk about various issues in my life. I would not be comfortable AT ALL if he were to leave the door open. He is very attractive and so am I, but he is a PRIEST. And that's where THAT ENDS. I could never fathom anything other than appropriate behavior especially while in his company. He has been a tremendous help to me. I don't know what I would do without him.
---Yvonne on 7/17/08

the answer is a big NO.unless and until he is accompanied by a woman he shouldnt, even if he is a pastor.
---francis on 7/17/08

Most pastors are grown men over 18 and if they feel like God is calling them to counsel people and they feel comfortable counseling a woman alone, then that is their business. Stop putting up fences for other people to stay within. And if you are worried about people gossiping about that pastor - then don't start the gossip with, "I'm concerned about... It isn't wise too..." For crying out loud, let grown people make decisions for themselves.
---Anna on 7/17/08

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Todd ... Are you sure that you would want to be counselled by a man who particularly wanted to counsel men?
---a on 6/19/08

Billy Graham never closed a door, and many other responsible Christian councelors never do either. It is done this way to give the one counceled comfort, and is done to avoid accusation.
---Ken on 6/9/08

I dont think it's appropriate for a pastor and a woman to be alone counseling. So many scandals today with pastors sleeping with women in their congregation. It's sick. We should avoid even the appearence of evil. Dont give people something to gossip about, and more importantly, dont put yourself in a situation where satan can tempt you. A female should counsel a female, and a male a male. Men have no clue what the deal is with women anyway ,-)
---Todd1 on 6/2/08

Bible tells older women to teach the younger to be "keepers at home". That means teaching women how to be good wives,mothers,and what their duties as a wife are literally "at home",their domestic responsibilities as wife and mother. It doesn't say for older to Spiritually counsel younger. The Pastor is the Undershepard of the flock and there's nothing wrong with Pastor counseling a woman as long as both behave as Christians. Most Pastors aren't qualified to be a marriage counselors.
---Darlene_1 on 6/2/08

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I think it is definitely appropriate for a pastor to counsel with a woman. The pastor is the Shepard of the sheep. It is especially necessary for a woman who has been abused to learn how to trust men.This is not going to happen though counseling sessions with another woman.

Many people disagree and think it is "inappropriate" because it could lead to temptation. That isn't to be totally discounted. It is always best for any leader to have accountability to someone.
---Jennifer on 6/1/08

Arnold, I believe your pastor is correct. It is inproper to have a men counsel a women by himself. It is not that something can happen, but that it opens the door for something to happen. We are warned as Trey said not only in 1 Thess. 5:22 but many other places about abstaining from the appearance of evil. Why open the door for the enemy to induce his work on us? No reason whatsoever. Counseling should be done in the presence of someone, whether wife, deacon or anyone else but in the presence of another.
---Mark_V. on 2/4/08

#2. While Emcee try's to convince other that the women is to blame, he demonstrates Islam theology. That women are to blame. He has forgotten since he is old what men really think of all the time. And he try's to compare Jesus Christ talking to women why it is ok. What he again forgets is that Jesus Christ was sinless, and our Lord, while men fall's short of the glory of God, since he is sinful in nature. There is no comparison between the Lord and men.
---Mark_V. on 2/4/08

Francis, are you a female? It is interesting that your name is spelt the male way.

All these posts remind me of why I am against the Catholic rules of celebacy. A pastor should have someone with him to vouch for his honor, and it should be a wife because that is the person who he can trust.

Lots of Frans and Francis's and myself are making an appearance please don't confuse us and beware of imitators.
---frances on 2/3/08

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My husband is a pastor and while I often counsel women from the church, there are situations in which he will counsel another woman. His rule is that I will be in the room or his study door will stay open.
---donna on 2/3/08

I meet with my priest alone. He never acted inappropiately. He is quite older than me, but I do find myself imagining being with him now and then. I don't think priests stray. I am attractive, and he has never shown any interest in being with me.
---Stacy on 1/23/08

Ladies :: Jesus councelled Women, & saw nothing wrong but you may notice that the infatuation rests with the ladies, as described here.Why is the pastor called to justice of intend improperiety , which does Not exist as stated.
---Emcee on 1/16/08

Maria & Francis are to good examples why a Pastor or a Priest shoud not counsel with a women alone behind close doors. A Pastor can his wife with him in the time of counsel and a priest can have a nune with him on the time of counsel
---Hector on 1/16/08

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are you serious, Francis. I thought I was the only one in the whole world. It's drivimg me crazy. am so compelled
---Jennifer on 1/16/08

I think a priest should use his own judgment as each situation is unique. I meet with my priest about once a month, and he has helped me tremendously with my life's stuggles. I am fairly attractive, and so is he, but there has been no foul play whatsoever. He is a holy man, and a wonderful spiritual guide. It would be a shame if he could not meet with me in private. Our conversation is not for other ears. I would not be comfortable if another were present. I advocate privacy!!!
---Ann on 12/30/07

I agree with Francis (despite spelling error ,-0) I know this amazing priest. He is so Christ-like, so good and and so helpful, but also so darn attractive. I am so grateful to know him, and have been helped by him but I struggle with the fact that I am so attracted to him. If only he would make a first move, I'd be helpless, and fall. BUT he has not... he is too good and too pure. Thank God he is stronger than me. I would be with him in an instant
---Maria on 12/3/07

I have been talking alone behind closed doors with my priest for over a year now about a difficulty in my life. True, I have developed a crush on him, but would never ever act on it. I respect him too much. He has never in any way behaved inappropriately. He is a priest more thank he is a man
---Francis on 12/1/07

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If a pastor identifies that a woman is in need of long term supportive counseling and guidence, it is best to find a wise woman to provide that service. I think it is best that men counsel men and women counsel women. This is wise for counseling outside of churches as well. These relationships become very close and the transference issues,(if not handled properly)can cause havoc and are a great place for Satan to step in and ruin a ministry and to distroy people.
---jody on 10/31/07

I was in hospital recently on the same ward as a vicar's wife. When the others in the ward discovered what her husband did for a living they were shocked stating that they would never have guessed it because she smoke and swore just as much as the rest of them. What I noticed was that she gossipped about the church. I would hope never to have to have a counselling session with a person like that (or even with her in the room whilst her husband was counselling).
---RitaH on 10/31/07

Sadly, The Pastors wives that I know have been so uncaring in two churches I was at. They married their husband who may have had a calling on his life, but these wives certainly did not, and could care less about any body but their own selves. Both Pastors, were great counselors, and caring. One wife got up infront of the church and said if you need help, you won't find it here and don't expect it. Only go to God. WHEW.
---Whisper on 10/30/07

Pastors are bound by their title and sometimes by an oath, to confidentiality concerning what is disclosed in the counseling sessions with their flock. This is even to the point where they cannot be forced to disclose what is said to them in court. Their wives are not bound by this same confidentiality, and they can, and sometimes do disclose what is said to them.
---Trish9863 on 10/30/07

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I see nothing wrong with a pastor counseling a woman member, but most of time my pastor lets his wife talk to the women if it has to do with a woman topic, but if it doesn't than he will talk to us.
---ANN on 10/30/07

Pastors are sometimes required to counsel women in the flock. Having said that it is imperative that they have their wife present. If they are not married, or if their wife is not available, they should take one of their deacons, their mother, or a couple that is well founded in the word, etc.

Paul says we're to abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Thes. 5:22).

Bless you all,
---trey on 10/29/07

It just isn't seem safe anymore. I am in a church where a pastor that has been serving for 52 years has a string of strong accusations and charges for fondling women, some of which were in counseling. I would rather MENTOR a younger women into a better relationship with her husband than to see her in a mess that could end any marriage.
---K on 10/20/07

I think pastors should do what they were called to do. Preach and teach the gospel. If counseling is needed, perhaps his wife or another female could do the counsel. That is not always possible. But if a pastor chooses to counsel, another male or female should be present. The counseling should be on neutral grounds. Not in either one's homes. I have heard some very disturbing stories concerning pastors and counseling.
---Robyn on 9/4/07

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It is okay for the Pastor to counsel females. It is wise for him to have a witness present during counseling. Women must know that the Pastor is to direct them in spiritual matters only. Spiritual counseling is not always on the females "agenda." The elderly women are to teach the younger women according to the Bible. Because they act and dress young, the young women's options for counseling are limited. It's prayer time for our women. I meet more young wise women and more older foolish women.
---Lady_Bea_Morgan on 9/4/07

I agree with Darlene, the pastor is the one who should give counsel. Pastors' wives (nor any other people of the church) should be aware of others' needs unless the individual chooses to share. It can be wise to have a pastor's wife in the house as a protection for her husband but not in hearing distance.
---m.p.a. on 4/24/07

The Bible doesn't say the older women should counsel the younger ones.It says the older women should "teach" the younger how to be keepers at home.To me it means teaching a woman how to make a home,be a good wife, and mother.Thats a far cry from being a counselor for their troubles.A Pastor should be able to counsel or sheperd all the flock.That one man needs to wash his mind out and /or get rid of some foolish ideas.Who better to counsel with the Word than the one who leads with it.
---Darlene_1 on 4/23/07

A pastor can counsel a woman as long his wife or a well respected woman in the church is in the room with them. Yes it is better for the women to be with another woman that is not always the case.
---marsha on 2/28/06

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I strongly believe a pastor should have another woman counsel another woman. For example, if a woman is having a sexual problem, counseling should never be from the pastor for the reason of a woman's sensitivity and the realization that the devil is subtile and could appear in a very hidden form to deceive and work through ones emotions. It's better to be cautious and recognize both genders could have vulnerabilities. When you see a fire, it's better to put it out before it burns the whole forest.
---Eva on 2/28/06

It's always wise for members of the same sex to the counseling. The problem with this is, not all are qualified to counsel.

There are guideline for counseling members of the opposite sex. 1. Make sure someone is within "shouting distance." 2. Keep the office door ajar or open. 3. Do the counseling in the daytime, if possible. 4. The pastor may find someone in the church, for example his wife, who can do the counseling.
---WIVV on 9/18/05

consider urself when correcting or counciling Male/Female regardless of ur situation u r 2 b a constant witness,f Jesus was alone wit a woman{by the well}than we2can b alone wit a woman if we are a male--i would strongly recogmend as ur best defence if u are caught unawares alone with a woman tempted {by a well} Start witnessing--council her--then get away as soon as u can if u think it neccessary remember u must always consider urself lest u fall into temptation..even if it be man to man
---stephen on 8/15/05

Yeah, it's fine.
---matthew on 8/1/05

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A pastor should not counsel a woman if he can avoid it. There are at least two reasons for this: 1. Most of the time, another woman understands better, 2. Avoid all appearance of evil.(1 Thessalonians 5:21) If he has to counsel a woman, he should make sure his office door is at least ajar - if not open. Have another woman present or within calling distance. In one case where I had to counsel a woman in her home, I made her keep her son home from school and within viewing distance at all times.
---Ray on 7/31/05

I have found it extremely beneficial to have another woman present in counseling sessions with woman alone and in marriage counseling. For the simple point the client does not feel poorly treated. I do not abuse my wife for this, she does help but I have three other ladies trained in lay pastoral couneling that assist me. I even have a Masters student intern join me. The above reproach issues were the reason I started but I found it greatly beneficial for the female perspective.
---Randy on 7/25/05

Put a window in the door of the pastor's office. Give women some privacy when they need spiritual counseling. Why should they not have privacy, but men get privacy? A window deters any inappropriate behavior.
---Madison1101 on 7/12/05

In my brother's church, our Pastor's office is transparent. When a female needs counselling, she is accompanied by her home cell leader to attend the counselling.

In my church, we have male & female Pastors and trained counsellors incl. pychiatrist.

It is a normal practice for us to be accompanied by another person during the counselling. At most times, the "patient" needs an extra pair of ear to listen to the counselling. She/he would do the follow-up for both.
---t3 on 7/12/05

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I was counselled one time and they asked my permission if they could tape it for training purposes. I didn't mind but now all of your suspicious comments have got me worried.
---X on 7/10/05

Madison...wellll, yeah, I never really saw in person a therapist tape the session. I admit it, I saw it on T.V. during that movie Sybil. (sorry!) I just think it's horrible when a pastor needs to do this kind of stuff just to talk to somebody.
---sue on 7/10/05

F.F., exactly. That is what i mean, Ministers are having to take precautions (such as taping sessions) against suspicious parishoners who are pretending to sincerely seek their counsel. It is a horrible shame to take advantage of a godly preacher who is called of God to help others.
---Eloy on 7/9/05

It is appropriate for a pastor to counsel with a woman ONLY if his wife is with him at the time.
---Jerry on 7/9/05

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Sue: I know of no psychologists or psychiatrists that tape session with their patients. In my training, we only discussed taping sessions once in three years of training. I don't know what doctors you have been talking to.
---Madison on 7/9/05

Therapists and phyciatrists (sp?) tape the conversations with their patients. Why not pastors? I have a question that is kinda in this topic: Is it true that a pastor has to keep everything confidential that a person tells him, even if that person murdered somebody? If it is true, is it morally right?
---sue on 7/9/05

Eloy you say "Ministers shouldn't have to protect themselves against dissemblers." So what is the recorder if not a means of protection? What I said was "Having someone nearby,... not deliberately listening is the best option. This protects both parties." I stand by this opinion because no-one else is hearing, but neither party will dare misbehave. Maybe ministers SHOULD NOT HAVE TO protect themselves but we live in a fallen world. We need to be SEEN to be doing the right thing.
---F.F. on 7/9/05

what is wrong with a private conversation between a pastor and a lady of the church if they sit in the open church away from others. I have done that and everyone saw everything, but they heard nothing.
---shira_5965 on 7/7/05

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July 7th
It is in appropiate for a male pastor to counsel a woman alone, another woman should be present, or likewise to protect reputations and to prevent wrong behavior.This answer is scriptural. Seek counseling if you need it, just do it in a orderly fashion. Joyce
---Joyce9456 on 7/7/05

Well I guess I am in a unique church with unique people. I know what I say to my pastor won't leave the pastor's mouth. If I didn't need to talk to him private, we are in our church and away from everyone, not in a room, but aside.
---Rebecca_D on 7/7/05

Rebecca: There are some things that a woman may need to discuss with her pastor that are very private, and to have another person there would hinder her from sharing. Confidentiality means NOBODY else knows, not his wife or her husband, if she is married.

Besides, some pastor's wives have full time jobs and cannot take the time to sit in on counseling sessions.
---Madison on 7/7/05

First of all, the pastor needs to be able to dersern her spirit, to see which spirit is there. What would be on her mind. I totally believe God would warn the pastor before hand. When I asked to talk to my pastor both him and his wife are there as well as my husband. Because I know it won't leave that room.
---Rebecca_D on 7/6/05

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I think the tape is a good thing. I know a kind, wonderful woman who went to her pastor for counselling and when HE became angry at HER for something, he went to the deacons and mislead them about what she had said in the meeting. She and her husband subsequently left the church. It works both ways. Taping is great when dealing with unscrupulous pastors (and there are some around, unfortunately.)
---alana on 7/6/05

When my friend was ordained, he took a vow of confidentiality, that anything shared with him would stay with him. Having another person in the office or taping it negates that vow.
---Madison on 7/6/05

Many older women do not have any counseling skills, and are not adept at referring serious problems to appropriate people. Pastors are usually trained in some sort of counseling, as that is part of the job description.

As for a tape recorder, no way, no how. Some people confess deeply personal things to a pastor, and if that tape got into the wrong hands a person may not be able to show their face in church again.
---Madison on 7/6/05

there is nothing wrong with it untill someone lies and brings charges against someone falsely accused...then there can be a problem ...the window idea i guess would be good idea but even if that is done will there always be someone to testify that no wrong doing was done? will someone always be watching? i really dont think so...i guess that is up to the pastor to decide
---chara8358 on 7/6/05

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Pastors standards should be higher than a therapist's, seeing they "have to answer to a Higher Authority". All answers submitted here have merit and wisdom. Older women should have earned the trust and respect of younger women so pastor's only have to give final approval/disapproval, or input if needed. Remember Jethro's advice to Moses? cp. Deut.1:17.
---bob6749_[Elishama] on 7/6/05

A tape recorder would be a good idea. And a window in the door.
---sue on 7/6/05

Unfortunately, a few years ago, the pastor we had at the time was accused of an "indiscretion" with someone he was counselling in another city where he was ministering. It was proved that the charges were false, but the first thing he did when he came to our church was install a big plate glass window between his office and the secretary's. He could counsel in private, but not out of the public eye. It's amazing how some women take advantage of the situation.
---Ann5758 on 7/6/05

Madison, please! When you are counseling men alone, make sure you take precautions. Make sure the client knows that you have an intercom, or are taping the session.
Back home, my therapist's wife, also a therapist, was raped and injured by a man she was alone with. You can't be too careful. God bless you.
---NVBarbara on 7/6/05

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F.F., Ministers shouldn't have to protect themselves against dissemblers. The recorder is better because no one else needs to hear the counseling issues except the Pastor and the parishoner. If i was taping i would ask permission to record the session in advance, and explain the purpose is to safeguard against any false witness or slander, at the end of the meeting a copy could also be given to the person in counselling. Else, the Pastor could simply refuse to counsel any females or minors altogether.
---Eloy on 7/6/05

Sue, many therapists have taken advantage of their clients and lost their licenses. And it can be the other way around.

In a church situation pastors are in a spot counseling females alone. It may not be the pastor, but the member who is lustful.
If for no other reason than for gossip not to get started, someone else should be close by during a counseling session.Lonely women often get 'crushes' on their pastors and will use any excuse to spend time with them.
---NVBarbara on 7/5/05

I don't believe anyone is above reproach or temptation. Our own fleshly weakness, Satan or the counselleds. All precautions should be taken i.e. a third party or same-sex counselor. My former church had windows inserted in all doors. I don't think that is adequate precaution. Look at Joseph .....he fled and did not sin; but she lied. Eliza
---Elizabeth on 7/5/05

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