Psychological Counseling at CCEF?*

The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) is located in Glenside, Pennsylvania and is connected to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. We were told recently that CCEF is involved in third party (insurance) payments for counseling done under Ed Welch, a licensed psychologist who is the CCEF director of counseling services. We wrote to Welch and asked him if what we heard is true. He wrote back, but refused to answer our question. We then faxed him a letter and explained that we wanted to be accurate in what we wrote. He still did not respond.

We then asked someone in the CCEF area to obtain the information. The individual called and received a letter from CCEF. The following is a quote from the letter, which is apparently sent to anyone who asks:

Does CCEF qualify for insurance payment?

In today’s changing health insurance climate, the answer to this question can change monthly. As a general rule, our counseling services are covered by some but not all insurance plans. Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Employee Assistance Programs, and a number of private insurers have often reimbursed those seeking help at CCEF. HMO’s, however, typically do not use CCEF as a designated provider.

You should check with your own insurance company to see if you should be reimbursed. Be sure to let them know that CCEF counseling is done under the supervision of a licensed psychologist but is not always done by a licensed psychologist.

If you qualify for coverage, we would be glad to do everything possible to help you submit the proper information to your carrier. However, you will be expected to make payment at the time of your session and have your insurance company reimburse you.

We have called several national insurance companies and asked if Biblical counseling is covered under any of their plans. In each instance, we were told no. We do not pretend to know what all insurance companies do, but we were told by the insurance companies we called that a diagnosis is required before counseling can begin. The diagnosis is required to be from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM contains a list of mental disorders that are used to psychologically label individuals for psychiatric and psychological treatment.

There is a whole host of questions that individuals should be interested in having answered. And, because CCEF is a "Christian" nonprofit agency, it should be open to answering. For example, which insurance companies are involved? Do these insurance companies cover Biblical counseling? Do the insurance companies involved in reimbursing CCEF clients require a DSM label? Has Welch used the DSM to psychologically label clients in order to qualify for insurance payments? What do the involved insurance companies require of Welch?

CCEF purports to do Biblical, not psychological counseling. How, then, do they qualify clients for payments? How much of the $500,000 in counseling fees received annually by CCEF is from insurance payments reimbursed to clients? We ask these questions and raise the issue publicly, because Welch has been unwilling to respond.

* This report has been excerpted and/or adapted from an article by the same name in the September-October 1997 PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter (PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110).

Update from November-December 1997 PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter :

In the above article, the Bobgans reported on a seeming discrepancy between what is advertised and promoted at CCEF and what clients are reimbursed for. Though claiming to be Biblical counselors at CCEF, several insurance companies have stated that Biblical counseling was not covered in their plans.

Martin Bobgan sent a copy of his article from the September-October PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter to Ed Welch, CCEF's licensed psychologist and director of counseling services. In response, he scribbled a brief note. The following is Martin Bobgan's reply to him with a copy sent to John Bettler, who heads CCEF and is responsible for what happens there:

I received your brief note in response to my request. I am still eager to hear your response to the questions that naturally arise from the situation at CCEF that we described in our article.

You say in part two of your memo, "Please stop lying about the size of our counseling budget." The reason I have been repeatedly contacting you is to print the truth. Hopefully that is a goal we share. There are several sources for the reference to $500,000 in annual counseling fees at CCEF. David Powlison reports that in 1991 the annual gross income from counseling was "over $500,000." The Fall 1993 Pulse reports a counseling fee income of $491,791.55. In addition, a recent letter received from your office states that CCEF staff "schedules over two hundred counseling hours each week." At $60 to $75 per hour for 52 weeks, the total comes to over $500,000. If this is in error, please help me print the truth in our next newsletter. Give me the annual gross income from counseling fees at CCEF each year from 1991 to present and I will print it.

We are beginning to write articles for our next newsletter. Please provide written answers to my questions. If you wish to speak by phone, I am happy to call you, provided I have your permission to tape our conversation. I would, of course, provide you a copy of the tape. I urge you to provide answers soon to the questions that naturally arise.

Because of the lack of cooperation on the part of Welch and CCEF, Dr. Bobgan decided to investigate further. He located an insurance company where Welch is a designated provider. He spoke with two representatives from that company and found out many things, such as:

1. While this company writes a great number of policies, it is extremely unlikely that any would cover Biblical counseling.

2. To comply with this company's requirements, Welch must follow the published policies.

3. To meet the conditions for reimbursement to his clients by this company, Welch must function within the scope of his license as a psychologist.

4. Welch is required to give a mental health code designation to his clients to identify their psychological condition.

Dr. Bobgan privately confronted Welch and CCEF with his questions in hopes of making sense out of the seeming contradiction between what CCEF claims to do and what the insurance companies have said. Welch is a licensed psychologist, expected by the insurance companies to function within the scope of his license as a psychologist by providing psychological services to his clients, and he must even provide mental health labels for the treatment. We believe he is doing so.

We have already demonstrated in our reports on CCEF that Bettler, Powlison, and Welch are integrationists. This present critique should further demonstrate that they are integrationists indeed, since Welch is the CCEF director of counseling. Case is closed. CCEF is, without question, integrationist.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 12/97