NZCCA’s Stance on Conversion Practices
Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill
NZCCA's Executive, working together with the Ethics committee, like to present this memorandum to all our members, in order to show our considered stance relating to the 'Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill’ currently being debated, and welcome your responses.
As our 'Who We Are' statement says “At NZCCA our aim is to be a faith-filled, loving community of professional counsellors who have chosen to follow Christ and identify as Christian (i.e. who know, love and serve Jesus).”
It is our role and privilege as professional counsellors to empower clients from all walks of life to achieve their goals. We do this through the embodiment of our four key values: Whakawhanaungatanga, Manaakitanga, Karakia and Aroha, whilst being guided by Christ’s example of loving whomever he interacted with, and referring to the NZCCA Code of Ethics and Practice.
Some may be finding the proposed 'Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill’ challenging as it can create tension between personal beliefs and the position this bill requires us to consider. We are reminded at this time that Christ did not avoid people groups that did not fit within his religious or cultural upbringing, and Paul instructed the Corinthians to “Stand firm in the faith… do everything in love” (1 Cor.16:13,14).
It is believed this proposed bill highlights that counsellors must avoid interactions that may direct clients to change or retain their sexual orientation, activities, or gender identity against their will.
Our NZCCA’s Code of Ethics & Practice speaks into this area:
- While taking account of their obligations under the law, counsellors hold the interests and wellbeing of their clients to be of primary importance… The wellbeing of clients takes precedence over the self-interest of counsellors and over the interests of colleagues, employers and other agencies (1.1)
- Counsellors respect, and practise within, New Zealand Law, seeking both professional and legal advice where required (2.1)
- Counsellors seek to understand and uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and social justice, and respect diversity within their community (2.2)
- Counsellors will model respectfulness and inclusiveness within their communities and maintain the integrity of their profession (2.5)
- Respect for diversity (1.3)
- Counsellors clearly distinguish between information that is factual, professional judgement, and personal opinion (1.4)
Refer clients when the counsellor does not feel they have the experience or training to work with a particular client, or when the counsellor’s personal beliefs are incompatible with their client’s goals.
- Counsellors are responsible for ensuring the therapeutic relationship is not compromised by their own needs, opinions or beliefs (1.5.1)
- Counsellors will be aware of, and practice within, the limits of their competence, referring clients or supervisees to other more appropriate practitioners where necessary (1.11)
- Counsellors seek to develop and maintain self-awareness practices which take into account their own culture, beliefs and personal biases, and how these may influence or impinge on their work with clients (4.1)
- Counsellors may be subject to termination/alteration of membership if they:
- are found to be not acting in according with this Code or the Rules of NZCCA (3.5.4)
As professional counsellors who identify as Christians, we have a unique opportunity to show Christ’s love to all members of our community. Our aim at all times is to provide a safe, non-judgemental space for clients. Ultimately, we are called to support all clients in their efforts to grow in the areas and directions they choose.
With regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, this means that professional counsellors do not try to alter their clients’ goals; whether they be to change, explore, or retain their current orientation or gender identity. When this work falls outside of the counsellor’s areas of training and experience, they need to refer the client on to someone who is more suited to supporting them.
So called ‘conversion therapy’ as a coercive practice seeking to alter a client’s sense of identity, specifically around gender and sexual identity, against the wishes of the client or under social duress or pressure, contravenes our NZCCA Code of Ethics, and NZCCA stands against this practice.
NZCCA Executive and Ethics Committee