National Group Opposes Religious Opt-Out For Counselors

Jun 16, 2016

The American Counseling Association says it's opposed to an effort in Arkansas to allow counselors to refer clients to another provider if they have a religious objection to treating them.

Art Terrazas, the association's director of government affairs, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the group is concerned about the rule proposed the state Board of Examiners in Counseling. The proposed rule won initial approval from lawmakers this week, and is expected to go before the Legislative Council on Friday.

The board's executive director defended the rule, saying it explicitly adopts the national association's code of ethics.

The rule would allow counselors to refer a client over "ethical, moral or religious principles" but only after careful consideration and consultation. It also says counselors cannot abandon someone who seeks assistance.