Counseling Handbook

Caring and supportive professional counseling in the context of biblical integrity

A ministry of the Christian Family & Children's Center                                                                                                                      

Member of the American Association of Christian Counselors

     The following information has been put together to help you know more about the Christian Counseling Services at the Center. This handbook is designed to answer many of the common questions that people have about using our counseling services. Please read the handbook completely and discuss any questions you might have with your counselor.  This handbook serves as the basis of our agreement to work together and is required to be read and understood before beginning a counseling session. Make sure that you understand the policies and procedures within this handbook, as we will review them in our first session together to make sure that we are able to be on the same page as we work together. 

     The Christian Counseling Services began in May 1995 as part of the Center's goals of providing biblically based programs which support the family. We really believe there is help in these services for you and your family.  This along with the many programs of the Center are a part of the network of professional Christian services throughout the country and world that are working to fully integrate and understanding of Christianity within distinctly professional and high quality services.

     Starting counseling can be a difficult step. We hope and pray that we can make it as comfortable as possible for you. We want to work with you to meet some of the needs you may be experiencing. It is important for you to know that many people (probably some of your friends) have used counseling to help them through tough issues. In reality, we all can benefit from a process such as this and by seeking help through counseling, you are making a wise choice that will help you the rest of your life. 

    The Center reserves the right to change any policy or procedure that at anytime is deemed necessary and in the best interest of the Center by the Board of Directors and the Center Administration.  The Board utilizes a Governance Model for the leadership of the Center which allocates the Board of Directors to develop overall policy for the Center and hiring of the Chief Executive Officer which is directed to hire staff within policy and to develop procedures that accomplish the implementation of the policy governance developed.  In this case the Center, along with any of its programs reserves the right to change any policy or procedure at any time as deemed necessary by the Board or Administration.

Please feel free to contact me or our Board President if you have any questions about the Christian Counseling Services, or the Center itself.



Dr. D. Merle Skinner, Executive Director,  Christian Family & Children's Center

2166 Indian Head Road Champion, PA 15622
724.455.2122x103 Cell: 724-557-2675
BS Child Development;MS Organizational Leadership;EdD Counseling Psychology



... that you may have can be addressed to the counselor, to the Executive Director of the Christian Family & Children's Center, or to the Board of Directors of the Center by calling (724) 455-2122, Email, Fax: (724) 455-6651, or by writing to:





     We view therapy as a partnership between us, the counselor and the client. Unlike a visit to the physician, it requires your very active involvement.



     In your best interests, the counselor cannot have any other major role in your life. He cannot be a close friend or socialize with any of his clients. He cannot be a counselor to someone who is already a close friend. However, because of the rural nature of our community that you may know your counselor in some other role.  If that is true, it is important that both you and the counselor understand how that could affect your relationship and discuss that as part of the initial interview process.  Please do not continue the process of counseling if you have any concerns about your and the counselor's ability to keep any other relationship from negatively affecting the counseling process.



     It is important to us to affirm each person's dignity, well-being, and privacy in every way possible. We want you to feel cared for, understood, and appreciated while we stand with you to help facilitate the healing process. This is true no matter what your situation or problem.


     If for any reason it would seem to be helpful to you or the counselor to confer with other agencies or professional people in the course of counseling, the client(s) involved would need to express their consent to sharing information with that other person by signing a "release of information" form. Our commitment to maintain confidentiality means that nothing will be shared with anyone outside the context of the Christian Counseling Services supervision process.

     By state law, we are however legally required to share certain information with the appropriate authorities if the counselor learns of a crime about to be (or having been) committed; or certain information dealing with abuse situations, for the protection of the victim in such situations. Failure to make such legally required disclosure is a violation of the law.


     The Christian Counseling Services is part of the Christian Family & Children's Center and thus from time to time we will be telling you through a newsletter some of the events that are happening at the Center.  This process is an important means of potential connections for you if you desire with other individuals and families that may be interested in similar things as you. Counseling clients will be put on the Center's mailing list and informational database which is secure and used only for Center purposes.  If you would like this to not be true, please make sure you let someone know at the Center.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATION.  The majority of our communication at the Center digital.  We expect individuals and families to be able to receive emails, download documents from the internet and have access to our website.  Communication is very important.  Please let us know if receiving digital communication is an issue.  Also, we expect clients to let us know if there are errors or issues with our website, digital documents or emails and if they contain information that they feel is different than they receive in the counseling session.

A newsletter, the CENTER ADVOCATE, is published periodically.  It reports activities that are occurring at the Center, contains articles written by our staff, and much more!  Please note upcoming events and schedules on your home calendar.  The Center is a multifaceted organization, please take responsibility for recording important events, or you may miss many valuable opportunities for growth.

The Center has a pretty significant LIBRARY (over 24,000 volumes) that is accessible on the website ( There are books, magazines, videos, and periodicals available for you to borrow as well as resources that may be used for the counseling process itself.  These publications pertain to individual growth, parenting and Christianity and have tons of recreational reading resources as well.  Check with the staff for more details.



     After the first session (sometimes after the initial contact) it often becomes apparent that some testing would be helpful to the assessment and therapeutic process. Most tests cost to administer (for individual or couple), which covers both the cost of the materials as well as the analyst's time in scoring and interpreting the tests.  These will be identified in advance of any work that would be done.  Some referrals for testing will be made both within and outside the Center to various professionals.


     All counselors are professionally supervised by the consulting staff, the executive Director of the Center, and the Center Board of Directors, to assure the highest possible level of quality service and accountability to you, the client. Information discretely shared with supervisors is held in strictest confidence. That supervision is intended to address such issues as objectivity, professional integrity, assurance of the best therapeutic approach; and aims to provide accountability of method, direction, and results of counseling.  The counseling services at the Center are supervised by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.



     If it is necessary for one of the counselors to write a report for any professional agency such as another counselor, or a referral, the client will be charged a fee of $100.00 for each report requested.  The counseling staff do not generally provide professional court testimony.  If required there is a fee. 




$75.00 for a one hour session

$100.00 for a one and a half hour session (1 1/2 hr.)

Insurances are accepted

Financial Aid is available on a sliding fee scale if you don't have insurance and you need extra help for sessions. 

 Check with the Center staff for more information about this option if needed.   



     Prospective clients may contact the Center directly by calling (724) 455-2123 and asking for the Christian Counseling Services, or for one of the counselors by name. If a person from the Christian Counseling Services is not available, the client should leave his name and telephone number, and a counselor will return the call.  If you receive an answering system, please leave a number that we can call you back and one of the counseling staff will contact you when they are available.  If you have an emergency, please go directly to the hospital or contact 911.


     If you need to cancel your appointment, please do so at least one day before the scheduled meeting time. We reserve the right to bill clients for missed appointments if they do not notify at least 1 day in advance.  In the event an appointment is missed without notification, advance payment must be made before scheduling the next appointment.



     Because of immediate need situations, need for clarification, counseling follow-up, or transportation difficulties, it is sometimes necessary to use the telephone or video interview rather than face-to-face conversations, with the counselor. Extended phone conversations (longer than 10 minutes) with the counselor will be charged at the same rate as the face-to-face sessions. Short phone consultations, or conversations specifically other than counseling, of course, are not charged.


We do accept insurance coverage for counseling. We have attempted to keep our costs low enough for the majority of our clients to be able to manage the cost of counseling if they do not have insurance, but a sliding fee scale is available if needed.  Requests after that must be through an application process which requires submission of proof of current income with a copy of your tax return and pay stubs.  This process if of course confidential.


     While we do individual counseling with children and adolescents, it is usually done in the context of family therapy. As a policy our work with children needs to involve their parents.  A couple of particular policies that involve school aged children are:

       The splitting of a family is traumatic for parents and particularly for students.  Consequently, the focus of the Center is on the safety and well-being of your student, and our instituted policies are to further those goals.

Custody documentation.  At the time of counseling of a family that is separated, parents shall provide all relevant documents concerning custody or visitation of each child involved in counseling.  Parents of children in counseling shall have an ongoing duty to provide any documents and information relevant to a change in current custody or visitation rights to the Center within seven days of change or at the time counseling starts.

Records.  A noncustodial parent shall have the right to access counseling records related to his or her child unless prohibited by a legally binding instrument. Testing results from other agencies or schools may be requested if deemed important to the counseling process, but will be requested from the school sent directly to the Center by the parent. 

One program that may be offered for students through the Center is the Discovery program associated with the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD).  Sometimes students with Learning Disabilities can benefit from programs that boost skills and self esteem by building educational skills through educational therapy.  Our educational therapist works with individual students identified with a learning disability.  The Discovery program requires an additional cost beyond therapy.



      Any Co-Payment or Payment is due at the end of each session, and can be given directly to the secretary/receptionist if there is one at the desk. Payments can be made by cash, check, Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card. Checks should be written to:  "Christian Counseling Services" or "CCS"



As the appointment is made, it will be specified with whom the session is to take place; that is, whether it is to be attended by husband and wife together, one person only, or the whole family. At that time, clarification will be made as to who will be doing the counseling.  

Unless other arrangements are made, the counseling session will take place in the upstairs counseling room in the administrative wing of the Christian Family and Children's Center, (South Campus). Located in Indian Head.  We also have offices at our North Campus in Donegal Campus.  

SOUTH PARKING: We have reserved parking at the west side (lower) of the facility at our SOUTH campus in Indian Head which several different programs utilize. After parking there, follow the sidewalk along the building to the rear entrance and up the stairs to the counseling waiting area. Your counselor will meet you when it is time for your appointment. 

NORTH PARKING:  If you are coming to the Center's NORTH Campus in Donegal, go to the main entrance at the end of the main parking area and enter there.  The staff will direct you to the Counseling Waiting area.

You are encouraged to dress casually and comfortably. Restrooms, a drink of water, tissues, and any other amenity is provided to help you feel at ease, relaxed, and as comfortable as possible.

Typically, the majority of the first session or two will be dedicated to sharing and processing background information which will aid in assessment of the primary goals for counseling.  Please try to come prepared to identify what your desired outcomes of counseling will be.  Our goal is to make the process as direct, helpful, and concise as you feel is possible.  You will be required to review and sign an informed consent document before beginning counseling.  You can review that document and print it at in advance so that you can understand it and review any questions with the staff before beginning.

Your first session will require some advance work in the office to complete all the appropriate forms and review appropriate materials.  Anything that you can do in advance and come prepared with questions, will help facilitate the process.  However, whatever time it takes to help with the process is important and we can take all the time that is needed to review it together. 

You are encouraged to freely ask any questions of the counselor about background, experience or expertise, services offered, or counseling philosophy. It is very important that you feel comfortable with the counselor and have an open relationship of trust with them and the Center.

Often, before the session is finished, the counselor will provide an "assignment" for the client to do: sometimes an activity to work on, perhaps some bible verse to read, or a relational exercise to begin to undertake. We take seriously the problems and situations shared with us, and encourage each client to invest whatever is necessary to realize all the growth and healing that is possible.

It is important for you to understand that you are in control of the counseling process and we want you to use it to help you move forward.  You should review a copy of our Therapeutic Guidelines at to orient yourself to the counseling process.

VISITORS.  A visitor policy is important for everyone’s safety.  Although we have an “open door” policy, certain measures of precaution will be carried through by the Center staff regarding various types of visitors.  If you are bringing someone along to your counseling session that you would like to participate in the counseling process, please make sure that you check with your counselor first.  The counseling session dynamics based on who attends are the decision of the therapist.  Please know that a good process may include others but make sure this is part of the counseling plan before bringing someone.  If you are bringing someone who will be waiting, please make sure that they understand that visitors are limited to the waiting area during regular business hours, and to the rear playground (after obtaining permission) after business hours.

    Clients and their guests should enter the building only through the rear, visitors must immediately report to the waiting area.  Identification may be requested at this time.  Unapproved visitors may be permitted or denied entry at the discretion of the Center Staff.  Because the Center also has a school program, no one is permitted throughout the rest of the building unaccompanied or without permission.  Anyone who has any criminal record cannot be alone in the building at any time.  Please contact your counselor if that applies to you. 




Worldview, the Bible, and Christianity

    All counseling is based on a counselor's worldview.  We are committed to you knowing our position as an agency so that you can understand how we determine moral positions about real life issues that come up in working with people.  We believe that there is a God who is real, and desires a personal relationship with each of us, and He has revealed himself in the Bible.  It is because of that that we assume biblical perspectives should inform each of our decision making, and become the source of Truth when we are searching for answers.  We also acknowledge that there are differences within those that follow Christianity, and we do not to imply that we have any exclusive insight on "the right" position or scriptural interpretation, nor to be dogmatic about any particular issue, doctrine, or scriptural emphasis. Our counselors are committed to allowing God to deal with each person however He will, and to allowing each person to respond in freedom and integrity to the Lord and His Word.

     As a generality, however, our counsel assumes that the family (based upon the scriptural terms of marriage) is a God-ordained phenomenon; that divorce, homosexuality, transgenderism, bi-sexuality, abortion, drunkenness, sex outside of marriage, and many other social, moral, or ethical prohibitions do not conform to God's plan for us as outlined in scripture. At the same time, it is not our role to stand in a judgmental position on any of these (or dozens of other) issues. Our role is to apply the grace, forgiveness, and healing of God to those areas of dysfunction that we are given freedom to address, and to do so with neither condemnation nor doctrinal predisposition.

     While we as counselors may have strong personal convictions on any given issue; as an interdenominational ministry, our desire is to address each of those issues that may come up in a counseling session from your perspective as nearly as we can - and to do so in the framework of Biblical and personal integrity. Because of the Center's orientation, you may feel comfortable in knowing that your personal doctrinal positions on scripture will be respected and honored.  Honoring your personal beliefs and convictions about who God is in your life, is incredibly important to our mission. 

Therapeutic Guidelines
     You can review the therapeutic guidelines of the Center at . 


The Center is a non-profit interdenominational Christian organization dedicated to meeting the growing needs of families and children, by integrating psychological and developmental concepts within a biblical and Christian framework. It is the goal of the Center to help build the strong family unit as depicted in scripture. The Center currently also offers a Preschool Program, Champion Christian School K-12, New Horizons Crisis Pregnancy Center, and periodically does workshops, consulting, and Bible studies focused on family issues.

Any program offered by the Center will be available to anyone, regardless of their age, sex, nationality, race, color, handicap, ancestry, or religious creed.


The Indian Creek Valley Christian Family and Children's Center, and therefore the Christian Counseling Services which is a part of the Center, subscribes to the following statement of faith:

1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

3. We believe in the deity of Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful men regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.



Professional referrals from pastors, counselors, schools, or other institutions can be made by telephone, word or mouth, or letter. Those referral sources should supply:

1. The name, address, and telephone number of the person (or family, couple, etc.) in need of help.

2. A short statement of the need, area of concern, or problem to be addressed.

3. Any expectations of the Christian Counseling Services in its role of helping the person referred.

4. Any other relevant/helpful information that may be shared with the Christian Counseling Services concerning situations, background, motivations, concerns, limitations, etc. relating to the person or his problem. Confidential information should be shared only by permission from the client in the context of his/her agreement with the referral process

     The referring agency should let the person know that the referral contact has been made with us, and assure the person of our readiness to be available to help in counseling. The person needing the help is then encouraged to take the initiative to call the Christian Counseling Services for an appointment.

     Within an appropriate time frame, someone from the Christian Counseling Services will respond back to the referral source to confirm that the person has made contact for counseling. If appropriate, and if the client approves through a signed release, it is possible to develop a working relationship with the referring agency.


HOLIDAYS SCHEDULES.  The Center will be closed on the following holidays (a specific calendar is available of this and all Center activities at ):

    September         Labor Day
    November          Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Break
    December         Christmas Break
    January              New Year's Day
    February            Presidents’ Day
    March/April        Easter Break
    May                     Memorial Day
    June/July/Aug    Fourth of July
SNOW AND INCLEMENT WEATHER. The Counseling Services operates unless it is impossible for a counselor to get to work, in which case you will be notified two hours before your appointment.  We do understand that traveling in difficult weather conditions should at times be avoided, but please make sure that you make that decision at least two hours before your scheduled appointment.  Please also be aware that although the Center houses a school program (Champion Christian School) whose schedule may be affected by bad weather, the Counseling program follows an independent schedule.  Do not assume that the Counseling Center is closed because another program such as CCS may be. 

NO SMOKING / NO DRUGS POLICY.  Remember, there is a NO-SMOKING / NO DRUGS POLICY in Center buildings and on facility grounds.  This is due to fire safety laws as well as a concern for everyone's health!
    Please remember that any items brought to appointments or other activities must be in compliance with this and all other handbook policies. If a staff member has reason for suspicion of a violation of this policy, the Center maintains the right to examine personal belongings in the presence of the individual.

SEARCH AND SEIZURE POLICY AND PROCEDURES  STATEMENT.  To maintain order and discipline on Center property and because of school and student related events and to protect the safety and welfare of students and school personnel, the Center has the right to perform unannounced searches and to seize contraband, and has the right to perform physical searches to determine whether they pose a danger to themselves and others.  No client may possess any illegal substance, object, or contraband that constitutes a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of any person or persons on Center property.  Contraband is all substances or materials prohibited by Center and CCS school policy or state or federal law, including but not limited to controlled substances, drugs, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, guns, knives, weapons, or incendiary devices.  All items deemed to be illegal, illicit, disruptive, or a general nuisance to the educational process may be seized by staff.  Storage, return, or destruction of such items shall be at the discretion of the Center Director or his designated agent, subject to legal impoundment.

HARASSMENT POLICY. All clients are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect, which is free from all forms of intimidation, bullying, exploitation and harassment, including sexual harassment.  Anyone who violates this policy will be disciplined, up to and including termination or expulsion from the program.

    A request for records from Christian Counseling Services must be in writing.  Please allow at least two weeks for your request of records to be processed.  You can request a copy of your records for yourself, but it must be in writing.  You must sign a release form to have the permanent records sent to an appropriate school or agency. Forms are available in the office. Please note that records or copies of records will be released only if balance is paid in full.


It is the belief of the Board of Directors that all contractual relationships within and without the Center have the potential for misunderstanding, miscommunication and ultimately a dispute, as is reflected by mankind’s sinful and fallen nature.  It is also our belief that these disputes should follow biblical principles towards resolution.  There are several biblical models that we attempt to use which include Matthew 18 which allows for individuals to discuss with each other issues then people in authority over the Center and finally an outside Christian constituency.  In the Center’s model, we feel that any outside remediation of disputes that are legal or contractual in nature should be in a Biblically based Conciliation Model, such as Peacemaker Ministries.  Because of this, we will include the following language in all contracts within which the Center enters.  This would include an assumption of all internal relationships and those that we enter-into with outside contractors and subcontractors.  Should an outside contractor not be willing to sign such agreement, the Board will be notified (or get approval from).  The following statement will be included in each contract:

The parties to this agreement are Christians and believe that the Bible commands them to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian community in conformity with the biblical injunctions of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Matthew 5:23-24, and Matthew 18:15-20. Therefore, the parties agree that any claim or dispute arising out of, or related to, this agreement or to any aspect of the employment relationship, including claims under federal, state, and local statutory or common law, the law of contract, and law of tort shall be settled by biblically based mediation. If resolution of the dispute and reconciliation do not result from mediation, the parties agree to utilize binding Christian arbitration as the sole and exclusive means to resolve all disputes or claims against Christian Family & Children’s Center or any of its employees, officers, directors, agents, or volunteers that may arise out of or be related in any way to the employment of its teachers or staff members. Included within the scope of this agreement are all disputes or claims whether based on tort, contract, or statute including, but not limited to, any claims of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation based on local, state or federal law or regulation, with the exception of a claim of disability or medical benefits based on workers compensation law or as otherwise required by state or federal law. The arbitrator for such binding arbitration shall be independent, objective, and neutral.

The parties agree for the arbitration process to be conducted in accordance with the “Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation” (“Rules”) of the Institute for Christian Conciliation contained in the booklet Guidelines for Christian Conciliation.  A copy of the “Rules” may be obtained from the school office or at the website for the Institute for Christian Conciliation ( Consistent with these “Rules,” each party to the agreement shall agree to the selection of the arbitrator. The parties agree that if there is an impasse in the selection of the arbitrator, the Institute for Christian Conciliation shall be asked to provide the name of a qualified person who will serve in that capacity. Resolution of all disputes shall be based upon any local, state, or federal law or regulation governing the claims and defenses. Consistent with the “Rules,” the arbitrator shall issue a written opinion, with findings of facts and law and consistent with the “Rules,” within a reasonable time.

The parties acknowledge that the resolving of conflicts requires time and financial resources. In an effort to fully encourage and implement a biblically faithful process. Christian Family & Children’s Center agrees to pay all fees and expenses which may be required by the mediator, case administrator, and/or arbitrator related to such proceeding. The issue of final responsibility for such costs will be an agreed issue for consideration or determination in the mediation or arbitration. The parties agree they will endeavor to exchange information with each other and present the same at any mediation or arbitration pursuant to the “Rules” with the intent to minimize costs and delays to the parties. They will seek to cooperate with one another and may request the mediator, case administrator, and/or arbitrator to direct and guide the preparation process so as to reasonably limit the amount of fact-finding, investigation, and discovery by the parties to that which is reasonably necessary for the parties to understand each other’s issues and positions, and to prepare the matter for submission to the mediator and/or arbitrator to inform the mediator and/or arbitrator. In addition, the parties agree that in the event of arbitration, they will use a single arbitrator who is experienced in the relevant area of law and familiar with biblical principles of resolving conflict.

The parties to this contract agree that these methods shall be the sole remedy for any controversy or claim arising out of the employment relationship or this agreement and expressly waive their right to file a lawsuit against one another in any civil court for such disputes, including any class action proceeding, except to enforce a legally binding arbitration decision, and this waiver will be equally binding on any person who represents or seeks to represent the parties in a lawsuit against the other in any court of law. The parties acknowledge that by waiving their legal rights to file a lawsuit to resolve any dispute between them, they are not waiving their right to employ legal counsel at their own expense to assist them in any phase of the process.

By signing this contract, the parties agree that they have read, understand, and agree to be legally bound to all of the above terms, and further understand that they are required to mediate or arbitrate any and all disputes or claims that arise out of the relationship.

Court Testimony and Reports
When asked to do court testimony, whether as a part of legal preparation in advance, written testimony, or in court the cost will be $150 an hour and will be billed per hour including preparation, travel, and phone consultation time.  Courts should issue a subpoena for testimony.


For more information about the Center or any of our services, stop in, call, write or find us on the web:


Christian Family & Children's Center
2166 Indian Head Road,
Champion, PA 15622
(724) 455-2122



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