Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Sacred Calling Secular Accountability: Law and Ethics in Complementary and Spiritual Counseling

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Sacred Calling Secular Accountability: Law and Ethics in Complementary and Spiritual Counseling

Article excerpt

RONALD K. BULLIS: Sacred Calling Secular Accountability: Law and Ethics in Complementary and Spiritual Counseling. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/ Routledge, 2001, 208 pp., $22.95, ISBN 1-58391-062X.

In his book, Sacred Calling Secular Accountability, Law and Ethics in Complementary and Spiritual Counseling, Ronald K. Bullis has chosen to write about one of the most dynamic areas of mental health law. Sacred Calling is a practical guide to the law and ethics in spiritual and religious counseling, as well as traditional therapy. It further discusses the important issues of "risk avoidance" and "risk management." Dr. Bullis discusses the legal and ethical distinctions between those who practice religious counseling from the more traditional counseling of psychiatry, psychology, and social work and the problems in employing spiritual and/or complementary interventions in their practices. The author discusses these issues using both a didactic and case-law approach. He teaches the reader about the complexities of subjects, such as confidentiality, privilege, and privacy. He also discusses the importance of confidentiality and privilege and their application to licensed and unlicensed counselors.

Bullis, appropriately assuming that the reader has little or no forensic knowledge, commences with a discussion of the basics of the law and the basis upon which both civil and criminal laws operate. More importantly, he outlines their application to spiritual and traditional counseling. His use of case-law examples gives the reader the ability to understand the law's application in real-life situations.

Bullis delves into many submethods of counseling that have been viewed as the more controversial and in some cases legally and ethically unacceptable (e.g. cults). He then discusses other areas of therapy that remain still controversial (e.g. biofeedback, spiritual healing, aroma therapy). He guides the reader through the dangers of such therapies, particularly when they may be religiously based, and points out the pitfalls of their improper use. Throughout the book the author takes great pains not to distinguish spiritual from traditional counseling when it comes to issues of risk avoidance or risk management. Starting with the preface he makes important statements such as ". …

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