Unaccredited seminaries in the church setting

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Pastor Lincoln, Feb 6, 2019.


Should unaccredited seminaries avoid awarding doctoral degrees?

Poll closed Feb 21, 2019.
  1. Yes

    3 vote(s)
  2. No

    6 vote(s)
  3. Unsure

    1 vote(s)
  1. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    The main reason why schools like the University of Sedona grant degrees in Transpersonal Counselling is for the same reason they offer Metaphysical Psychology. Transpersonal and Metaphysical psychology are not regulated in most places. I can call myself Metaphysical Psychology therapist or transpersonal counsellor without a license. The day APA regulates Transpersonal Psychology the same way Clinical, then University of Sedona will call it New Age Psychology, Positive Psychology or any other unregulated term.

    Bottom line is that many seminars provide the credentials for people to offer services that normally require 10 or more years of training in less than a year. And because of their religious nature, APA or other professional associations cannot regulate their offerings.

    If unaccredited seminars would really be interested in training ministers, they would not care about giving degrees that clearly are intended to deceive people. Let's say that one day the University of Sedona decides to change their PhDs into a certificate of metaphysical ministry, let's see how many people would care about getting these certificates. If the people were really interested only in the spiritual teachings, they would not care about the PhD titles but the reality seems to indicate otherwise.

    Even Doctors of Divinity, it is not ethical to offer a one year program as a Doctor of Divinity. They can just call them certificates of divinity but my guess is that they will not sell many of these because people get them not because the learning but as ego boosters.
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to try to split some hairs. First of all, Transpersonal Psychology is not really too fringe anymore. You can get accredited degrees in this subject at places like CIIS and Sofia University. Second, APA doesn't really "regulate" anything. A university can have their Psych programs accredited by APA if they want but it's not required. At last count only 19 states required APA degrees in order to be legally called a "Psychologist," so their power in this realm is not exactly overwhelming. If anyone regulates this profession it's the state licensing boards. Third: In some places you can call yourself a Metaphysical Counselor or whatever but in other places you can not. In the US this is a matter of state law and it varies across the country. I think there are loopholes galore and in my last conversation on this general topic I suggested that someone might market themselves as a "Psychological Consultant" and be perfectly within the law in most places as long as you were offering "consulting services" and not "therapy." Within a closed room with consenting adults the distinction might become rather blurred but if you're not charging insurance companies then you could probably get away with it for an extended period (maybe right up until someone files a formal complaint).
    heirophant and RFValve like this.
  3. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the clarification. You are right, APA does not regulate but only accredit programs. I was confused because in Canada only APA accredited degrees can be used to register as a licensed psychologist. I believe CIIS and Sofia University are not APA accredited so these degrees would not be useful to be registered as a licensed psychologist in Canada.
    You are right, every state is different and for this reason University of Sedona offers variations of the same program and calls it "Transpersonal Counselling", "Pastoral Counselling", "Metaphysical Psychology", "Theocentric Psychology" and offers different denominations of the same programs as PhDs, DDs, DMin, etc as each person might have a different legal requirement.

    My point is that University of Sedona is a perfect example of the abuse of the law. The intention of the law was to provide independence of the government from religious institutions to prevent governments to abuse and force particular belief agendas as it happened in the past in Europe with the Catholic Church. The intention of the law was not to open the door for schools to provide border line legal degrees for people to bypass regular education and become psychologists or counsellors in one year.

    To make things a bit more complex, Canadian residents many times use PhDs from UoS to offer counselling services. Not all provinces regulate counselling and none regulate the use of a PhD in a business card. So I can call myself Theocentric Psychology specialist with a PhD of UoS and offer my services to the public, the degree holder never had the intention to minister or to open a church and uses the degree only to provide therapy protected by the law as the person holds an ordination certificate that allows him to provide pastoral counselling.

    There are hundreds of schools on the web that provide Doctorates protected by the same laws, from $50 to few thousand dollars. I believe psychology is the profession that is more affected by these programs.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019

  4. I find this to be a sticky situation and grey area.

    There is the issue of preserving academic integrity. You have brainless nuts who pretend to be experts in what ever field.

    Now comes the second issue of religious freedom. If a government agency tells a private school that they cannot offer degrees, that is discrimination.

    It is a tough nut I will admit.
  5. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    The APA also only accredits programs in Clinical, Counseling, & School Psychology, they don’t touch Transpersonal, Forensic, or other subspecialties.
  6. 4star

    4star New Member

    I've seen some people use the degrees and decide to be a life coach. Life coaching is not regulated either .The highest accreditation for a life coach is from the International Coach Federation (ICP).

    Perhaps it be better suitable for a life coach because calling yourself a psychologist is plain unethical
  7. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    Highest accreditation? Not true. There are about three entities generally recognized (do not recall the names). One of them calls themselves "The Gold Standard" but that is just a name they have adopted and it has been repeated. At least one ofnthe three does require accredited degrees, Coach education and experience. But as you note, it is not regulated.

    Calling yourself a Psychologist in some states is illegal (unless you are licensed). This is different than getting a degree in Psych (which anyone can do).
  8. 4star

    4star New Member

    I didn't know that for one coaching accredited program you needed to have accredited degrees. The ones I've seen many coaches using are just accredited coaching programs but they don't require you to have a certain degree. IDK, guess I just haven't looked into it.
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I know it’s not fair to say but it would seem that “coaching” is one of those areas ripe for degree mill and accreditation mill abuse.

    I’m not accusing anyone of this because I know virtually nothing about these organizations
    I’m just saying
  10. I do know that Liberty University offers a MA degree in Pastoral Counseling with a concentration in Life Coach Studies. I know that Saybrook University offers a similar degree but it is a focus in metaphysical theology.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    And those programs are probably of good quality, etc. But, if I wanted to create The Kizmet Institute of Life Coaching and offer certifications based on little or nothing I could also create the National Association of Coaching that would accredit my program. It would look good but scratch the surface and it's meaningless.
  12. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    It probably needs to be regulated. Although they are not doing mental health counseling, they are basically counseling and it touches on areas of life that you would seek counseling for. It is a specific type of approach but could benefit from oversight. I have seen people who are in their 20s identifying themselves as Life Coaches based on their own life experience and feeling that they are good at offering advice and guiding.

    It is trendy and some people don't want to see a therapist so they go to a coach. Some therapists have begun offering Life Coaching. One wrote an article that sometimes she gets people wanting Life Coaching but realizes they really need Mental Health counseling/psychotherapy. Would a Life Coach even recognize this?
    Pastor Lincoln likes this.
  13. That will be tricky. There are accredited naturopathic medicine schools but not all states regulate it. Just an example but the issues are similar.

    As for my naturopathic medicine schools example, some oppose regulation because those with distance education degrees are out of the job. Others oppose regulation because some use naturopathy for religious ceremonies.

    Now for life coaching, many will practice that in a church setting like naturopathy. With life coaching and naturopathy, both are protected by separation of church and state.
  14. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I disagree with this. There is nothing intrinsically religious about either life coaching or naturopathy and so there is no reason to include them in any sort of church/state issues. If I am a lawyer, an accountant or even a doctor and I practice my profession within the context of a church this does not immunize me from state oversight.
  15. 4star

    4star New Member

    I agree with you Kismet. I do think , though, that people do practice life coaching from a religious perspective. I grew up with fairly religious parents and they would base their actions and decisions in their life based on Biblical teachings. I imagine non- licensed Biblical counselors take this Biblical approach to life and call themselves life coaches. When my mother went to a non-secular professional, she thought this mental health counselor was nuts for not taking a godly approach to things. I think some people are simply going to take a strictly relgious approach to things.
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'm sure you're right. It shouldn't be a surprise though because whether you're talking about the Ten Commandments, the Five Pillars of Islam or the Eightfold Path, religions have been directing people on how to live their lives from the beginning. It's easy to imagine some substantial overlap.
    4star likes this.
  17. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Admittedly, there is a problem with a ton of unaccredited schools that issue substandard degrees. However, it's not the government's role to sort that out because accreditation is voluntary. I would be in favor of a law that required all academic institutions, religous or otherwise, to prominently display in its literature, a definitive statement as to its accreditation status with an accrediting agency that is recognized by either CHEA or the United States government. It's very simple, it's a yes or no question. Beyond that, the government should stay out of it. At the end of the day, we live in a country where we are free to choose whether or not to pursue the aquisition of substandard or superior products. I see no reason why the pursuit of a degree would be any different.

Share This Page