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Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 20 plus years of experience in the field.
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My wife and I are considering marriage counseling. She is willing

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My wife and I are considering marriage counseling. She is willing to meet with one provided that it be with her church pastor. My concern is that her pastor is also her brother. Is this ethical? Can this work or is this plain wrong???

Hello, Thank you for your post tonight. Pastors may have different ethical and boundary standards than mental health Experts. In the mental health field it would be a clear conflict of interest. Is her brother willing to provide marriage counseling? It may be worthwhile to talk to him about these concerns ahead of time and get his take on this. I think it is a clear conflict of interest. The two of you may be best served by someone who is not related and is unbiased. Is there another church pastor that her brother can refer you to? I think it is correct for you to have concerns about this. She may be afraid to seek counseling in the first place, and feels a sense of safety with her brother. Maybe it could come from her brother, that he can not ethically see the two of you. It's nothing "personal", it's in you and your wives best interest to see someone other than her brother. It is a first step that she is willing to go, and you do not want to discourage that. I'd say trust your gut on this one. It's not something that is recommended by ethical boards, and or state license boards. Again- the church may have their own governing standards regarding this issue. She may better "hear" this concern if it was something that the pastor supported, and that he would recommend another pastor.

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