Exempt Practice


There is large and growing demand for wellness services and for practitioners, but trying to navigate the legal minefield of health and counseling related services can quickly mean trouble.

States do not issue license for many wellness activities, but many activities that practitioners think are unregulated like energy medicine, essential oils etc., can easily, and often do intrude on regulated activities. This is expensive legal trouble when practitioners come to the attention of the states. There is though a legally valid way for ecclesiastical practitioners to help others have better wellness through a growing trend in practitioner protection defined as ecclesiastical exemption.

Due to constitutional requirements and high court rulings, states must make provisions for the ecclesiastical. This all started with a Supreme Court interpretation of the U.S. constitution in 1871. 

In this country, the full and free right to entertain any religious belief, to practice any religious principle, and to teach any religious doctrine which does not violate the laws of morality and property and which does not infringe personal rights is conceded to all....

Watson v. Jones – 80 U.S. 679 (1871)

The infamous case of Watson vs. Jones is considered the seminal case for ecclesiastical rights and has been cited (quoted and used as a basis for similar decisions) in many cases since. The precedent established by this case remains as valid today as it was in 1871.

This case also paved the way for states to make accommodation for the ecclesiastical, which means that even though states may regulate an activity such as counseling, they recognize that the ecclesiastical has a right to counseling also and have passed legislation that authorizes ecclesiastical providers to offer services without a state license. While state regulated counseling services are defined as "mental health", states are legally restrained from defining or regulating the content of ecclesiastical belief and activity except in specific cases. Ecclesiastical providers are free to view the body holistically and include doctrinal guidance on the physical and mental aspects, which can open a wide doorway of opportunity for ecclesiastical providers.

States do set forth stringent criteria that must be met by ecclesiastical providers and practitioners cannot meet these requirements alone. Practitioners must be accountable to and operating under the auspices of an ecclesiastical entity, and practices must be compliant with specific standards. While applicants for ecclesiastical exemption are free to believe as they choose; to be accepted by professional organizations such as the PMA, a practitioners faith or belief must include an established written set of beliefs and teachings (like the holy bible or similar) that will be used as a guide in practice.

The PMA has been helping ecclesiastical practitioners meet requirements and structure successful practices for nearly two decades and would welcome the opportunity to help you. 

Practitioners that qualify for PMA license receive assistance that steps them through the process of establishing the proper legal structure, choosing the right services, products and equipment;  with advertising and promoting services; and, practitioners are provided with tools to help them manage important contracts for services that keeps liability down, provides necessary disclosure to clients and more.

Doesn't it make sense to have a solid legal basis for practice?

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not offered or intended as legal advice. There is no guarantee that any practice can be successfully created and defended in all cases or in all jurisdictions. The reader is highly encouraged to seek legal advice before attempting to use this information.

Pastoral Medical Association