Ethical Considerations

In fact, the couple needs effective pre-mature counseling to minimize the risks of divorce. This paper will discuss the case of Harry Bowman and Kimberley Jackson. Both partners have a range of issues, including gambling addiction, the experience of violence, unclear sexual orientation and unbalanced relationships with the original families. Besides, the pastoral counselor might be subjective due to having personal relationships with Harry. However, the counselor should carefully discuss all the issues with the couple to help them build a happy family.

While entering the pre-mature counseling with Harry Bowman and Kimberley Jackson, it is necessary to remember a range of ethical considerations. In fact, the pastoral counselor should be aware of dual relationships. Actually, this issue arises, when the pastor combines the roles of a counselor and a friend of a patient (Dykstra 76). In such a case, the pastoral counselor cannot think objectively, so he/ she might have problems with giving a proper piece of advice. Moreover, the pastoral counselor can even use the relationships with a client for personal benefit. In the case of Bowman and Kimberley Jackson, the danger of developing dual relationships is very high due to several reasons. The first reason is the long-term history of relationships with Harry and his family. For example, the counselor interacted with him during the meetings of the congregation. In fact, Harry has been a member of the congregation for twenty-five years, so he has developed close interactions with his counselor during this period. Moreover, the counselor was a mentor and a spiritual director of Harry. Another important fact is that the counselor visited Harry’s home to participate in a few family occasions and even dated his older sister.

Another ethical consideration is finding a balance between the proclamation of the religious message and the recommendations, which can help a person to modify his/ her wrong behavior (Lartey 140). In the case under consideration, the pastor might have problems with the sexual orientation of Harry. Actually, Harry’s friends and family members think that he may have a non-heterosexual orientation. According to the Christian religion, man can have sexual relationships and marriage only with a woman. Therefore, the Christian pastoral counselor should encourage the client to stop any sexual relationships with the people of the same gender. However, such advice can deteriorate the psychological well-being of Harry due to the inability to marry a person he loves.

Probably, one more ethical issue is a right to continued counseling. Unlike the non-pastoral counselor, the pastoral counselor cannot stop counseling, when he sees that the work with a client is not effective or is negatively influenced by his strong emotions (Sutton and Stewart 180). The problem is that the client of a pastoral counselor is a member of a congregation, thus, it can be difficult for him to refuse to provide help. Moreover, Harry is not just a member of a congregation. Therefore, he has close personal relationships with his pastor. The pastoral counselor might want Harry to choose a better person for marriage. Although the counselor is unlikely to express these views openly, these prejudices might slant his judgments and prevent him from stopping counseling.

In addition, the pastoral counselor should consider legal issues. Some clients ask for pastoral counseling because it is privileged. Therefore, the pastor should explain to his clients, what kinds of discussions can involve some legal actions. The communication with the couple under consideration could also involve some points, which could require further legal actions. Thus, Harry has a gambling addiction that often includes illegal activities.

Spiritual, Psychological and Cultural Issues

Spiritual Issues. During counseling, the pastor might face spiritual issues. The first possible problem is a sexual orientation. As it has already been discussed, some family members and friends of Harry say that he has a non-heterosexual orientation. However, Christian marriage represents only the marriage between a man and a woman. Besides, the husband is required to love and care about his wife. If Harry is not heterosexual, he will not be able to meet these requirements in a proper way. Therefore, his future wife would feel additional stress.

In addition, the Bible requires children to care for and honor their parents. According to the case scenario, both Kimberley and Harry report wrong models of relationships with their parents. Harry has very close relationships with his family, especially, with mother. In fact, it is incorrect because the Bible requires young people to leave their parents and start creating their own families. The husband/ wife and the children should receive more attention than the original family. Actually, in Harry’s case, such a goal could be difficult to achieve due to his older brother, who is autistic. Therefore, Harry might want to support him. As for Kimberley, she is the only child in her family. Her father was killed, when she was twelve; so, her mother is the only close family member. Unlike Harry, she has distant relationships with her mother, which also contradicts the Christian spiritual values (King, Ledwell and Pearce-Morris 825). In addition, Kimberly’s mother demonstrates early signs of dementia, thus, she does need her daughter’s care and support. In the future, Kimberley might feel guilty because of ignoring her parents and violating Christian values.

In fact, another spiritual issue is the attitude to abusers and murders. The Bible requires people to forgive other people and pray for them. When Kimberley was twelve, the attackers raped her at gunpoint and killed her father. Although it sounds hard and unfair, Kimberly should not feel any aggression or other negative feelings toward the abusers. Therefore, she should accept her past and believe that it was God’s will.

Cultural Issues. The case scenario does not contain any information about the cultural background of Harry and Kimberley. However, it is clear that they have different views about a family, which is typical for the people, who belong to different cultures. Therefore, such a difference in views could become a problem, because Harry would want to spend more time with his family, while Kimberley would not understand this closeness to the parents and older brothers. In addition, it seems that they do not have a common understanding of a Christian family. This assumption is based on the fact that Harry and Kimberly treat their parents in a different manner. In the future, the couple might have arguments due to different opinions about the responsibilities of a wife and a husband. Besides, they may discuss the appropriate number of children. As it has already been mentioned, Harry has five brothers, while Kimberly is the only child in the family. As a result, Harry is, probably, raised in a culture, where a large family is appropriate, while Kimberly is from the culture, where large families are not common.

Psychological Issues. The pastoral interaction with Harry and Kimberly could also involve many psychological issues. First, Harry is addicted to gambling, which represents a psychological disorder and requires some therapy. In the future, gambling addiction can worsen and have negative effects on Harry’s family relationships. Second, gambling addiction may have a negative influence on the family’s finances (Mathews and Volberg 127). Third, Christianity is against gambling and requires people to work in order to earn income.

Another psychological issue is sexual abuse. The victims of rape need long-term therapy to deal with the negative consequences (Fergusson, McLeod and Horwood 664). In fact, it is not clear, whether Kimberley has already dealt with all the psychological issues related to the abuse. However, the pastoral counselor should definitely include this case in pre-marital counseling because previous negative experiences with men might affect Kimberly’s relationship with her husband. For example, she would not feel comfortable and relaxed with him. Therefore, the woman would not be able to build trustful relationships with her husband.

Actually, the relationships with parents can also be considered to represent a psychological issue. Caring and non-dependable relationships with parents is the first step for creating a healthy marriage. For example, the man, who still has a strong emotional connection to his mother, cannot make his own decisions that make his wife feel uncomfortable. The woman also needs to have good relationships with her mother to become a proper mother and wife. Both Kimberly and Harry have problems in their relationships with parents, so, they might have problems with the creation of their own family and the process of raising children.

Changing Relationships with Both Families

Kimberly is a new member of the congregation, thus, the relationships with the woman and her family will not change. However, the relationships with Harry and his family might change. First, the pastoral counselor would have to make their relationships more distant. For example, he would not be able to visit some events in Harry’s home. Besides, the counselor would have to avoid the sharing of some information about Harry and his relationships with Kimberley. Overall, it is reasonable for the pastoral counselor to stop any personal interactions with Harry’s family during pre-marital counseling because such interactions will not allow the counselor to be objective.

Possible Expectations/Suspicions

The counseling of Harry and Kimberley might involve some expectations and suspicions from both sides. Thus, Harry may expect that the pastoral counselor will be on his side during some counseling discussions. For example, Harry might think that the counselor will support his desire to have a large family or to continue gambling. Kimberly, in her turn, might think that the pastoral counselor cares more about Harry’s well-being than about her interests. For example, she may think that the counselor will not accept her distant relationships with the mother and the experience of violence. In fact, Kimberley has a right to have suspicions towards the pastoral counselor. She is a new member of the congregation and does not have any personal relationships, while her partner has been a member of the congregation for about twenty-five years.

Method of Building a Pastoral Alliance with Harry and Kimberley

In fact, the creation of a pastoral alliance with a couple should start with the reduction of the anxieties of clients about the necessity of having some counseling. Thus, it is necessary to start with ice-breaking activities. Then, the counselor should inform the couple about the things they should expect during counseling and their importance for the future of marriage (Wicks, Parson and Capps 100). For example, the counselor should inform the couple about the length of each session, the fees, the list of topics and confidentiality issues. Besides, the mentor should demonstrate to the clients that they are able to share all their thoughts and feelings with him (Clinebell 246). For example, the pastor needs to make young people believe that he is a “caring, accepting and understanding person” (Wicks, Parson and Capps 100). In addition, the man should avoid judging and stereotyping. Once Harry and Kimberley develop trust to their pastoral counselor, it is possible to conclude that a pastoral alliance has been built.

Questions that Must Be Asked

First, the pastoral counselor should discuss Harry’s gambling addiction and the potential effects of this habit on the future of marriage. The discussion should be conducted with the presence of both partners in order to determine their views on the state of Harry’s addiction. The question must be also raised during the session on Finances. In fact, this question must be asked because it will affect the financial stability of the couple. Second, the pastoral counselor must ask the question about the balance in the relationships with the original family. Actually, asking such a question would help to avoid any misunderstanding between Harry and Kimberley in the future because they have different types of relationships with their family members. The question should be addressed during the session on Other Family Ties. Third, the counselor should ask a question about Harry’s sexual orientation. In particular, it is necessary to ask the question regarding his understanding of his sexuality and his thoughts about the situation, when other people have such a view of him. This question is important because it would be stressful for Kimberley if she gets married to a homosexual man. Moreover, the question must be discussed with Harry during a one-on-one session. Finally, the counselor should talk with Kimberley about her experience of violence, including rape. In particular, the mentor must ask Kimberley, whether she has already overcome her negative past experience and whether she feels comfortable with Harry. Such a question must be addressed because it demonstrates Kimberley’s readiness for marriage. Overall, the answers to all four questions will help to understand the readiness of the couple for serious relationships.

Potential Issues during Counseling

In fact, both partners have serious problems, which they might refuse to discuss. Thus, Kimberley might disagree to talk about the experience of violence by stating that it is not connected to her marriage. Moreover, Harry might feel confused due to a question regarding his sexual orientation. Harry knows that his pastor is against homosexual relationships, as he is a long-term member of congregation. Even if he has a heterosexual orientation, he might feel uncomfortable due to these talks. Besides, Harry might refuse to accept the fact that he has a gambling addiction and needs help.


In conclusion, the pastoral counselor should start pre-marital counseling with the demonstration to a couple of the fact that they can trust him. The sessions should include the questions about Harry’s gambling addiction, the relationships with the original family, Harry’s sexual orientation, and Kimberley’s experience of violence. In fact, the counselor might face such issues as dual relationships, conflicting relationships, legal issues and the right to continued intervention. Moreover, the counseling sessions might be negatively affected by the expectations/ suspicions of the couple because Harry and Kimberley have different histories of relationships with their pastoral counselor. Besides, the counselor should be ready for the changes in the relationships with Harry’s family. During the secessions, the partners might refuse to discuss some issues, which could adversely affect the future of their marriage.

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