The Australian Counselling Association (ACA) is a National progressive professional peak association of counsellors and psychotherapists with over 11,000 individual members

Publications & Resources


Date: November 2023

QUT - Experience survey: Pastor sexual misconduct with adult congregation members in Pentecostal faith communities in Australia

Research team contacts

Research Student:

Jaime Simpson, Social Justice, QUT

What is the purpose of this research?

The purpose of this research is to explore pastor sexual misconduct within Pentecostal faith communities (male or female pastors). The survey will examine the experiences of adult congregation members (18+) or church staff, who have been in an inappropriate relationship with, or the victim/survivors of pastor sexual misconduct within a Pentecostal faith community.

For research purposes, the term pastor sexual misconduct will be used. However, you may view your experience with the pastor differently and you will be provided an opportunity to describe the language that supports your experience.

  • The pastor may have been male or female.
  • You may have been told this was adultery, sin or a moral fall.
  • You may see it as a consensual relationship.
  • Or you may have experienced this as sexual abuse.

Are you looking for people like me?

You are invited to participate in this research project if you:

  • either (1) self-identify as having an inappropriate intimate relationship with a pastor or church leader in a Pentecostal Faith Community, or (2) self-identify as being sexually harassed, sexually abused, manipulated by, or sexually pursued by a pastor in a Pentecostal Faith Community
  • were 18 years or older at the time
  • the community where the sexual misconduct occurred was an Australian Pentecostal faith community.

What will you ask me to do?

Participation involves completing an online confidential experience survey.

You will be asked open and closed questions which you can prefer not to answer. We are interested in hearing your experiences of the pastor’s sexual misconduct and how it occurred and the impacts. View the participant information form on the survey website to see sample questions.

Are there any risks for me in taking part?

There are some risks associated with your participation.

Discomfort and Distress:

There may be some risks that emerge during your participation. The primary risk in filling in this survey is that you experience discomfort and or distress in reading, answering, and recalling instances of sexual exploitation from the Pastor. These may include emotional, psychological, and spiritual discomfort. The questions may be triggering, you may experience memories and or physical sensations and or intrusive thoughts about their experience. This may provoke feelings of anger, sadness, and grief for instance. It may also provoke feelings of injustice.


You may be concerned that you could be identified in this research. Your confidentiality is of utmost importance in this survey. Due to the nature of this topic, it is important that you only share the information that you would like to share about your experience. To maintain confidentiality, you are asked not to identify anyone specifically, such as providing the name of the church the misconduct happened in or the pastor you are discussing. Names of faith communities or pastors or identifying material will be removed.

The researcher will not be able to identify how you have come into this survey or if you saw the advert on any social media groups. We will not be collecting IP addresses or asking you to disclose how you came into the survey.

Are there any benefits for me in taking part?

It is expected that this research project will not benefit you directly. The outcomes of the research, however, may. This includes creating a space for you to share your story.

You can view the participant information sheet for more information.

Will I be compensated for my time?

This research project does not provide compensation.

I am interested - what should I do next?

Visit the survey website to see the participant information sheet, which has more information on the project.

Visit the survey website

Date: May 2023

Research Advert / Flyer / Poster

Are you a professional counsellor, therapist or psychologist supporting clients with misattributed paternity* (not adoptees or donor-conceived individuals)?

A new research study is looking to inform counselling and other mental health professionals about the psychological needs of individuals who discover the discrepancy between their genetic paternity and social paternity – a phenomenon called misattributed paternity (MAP) – in adulthood.

In particular, this research project seeks to identify what counselling professionals experienced in supporting clients with misattributed paternity identify as helpful and unhelpful in counselling.

Specifically, we are looking for professionals who

  • Routinely provide services to clients with misattributed paternity (not adopted or donor-conceived); and
  • Are registered and/or licensed to provide counselling services in their country of practice; and
  • Speak English as a native language or at a fluent/very high level of proficiency; and
  • Willing to participate in an approximately 60-min Zoom interview

You are viewed as a valued collaborator in this research and, therefore will be offered a reward of an AUD35 gift voucher (Amazon or iTunes) for your time.

For more information, please refer to the Explanatory Statement or contact Alyona Cerfontyne at [email protected]

This project (ID 34427, Coping with a Discovery of Misattributed Paternity in Adulthood) has received approval from the Monash University Ethics Committee.

*In this research project, misattributed paternity is defined as paternal discrepancy outside of accepted societal practices, such as adoption and donor-assisted reproduction.

Date: April 2023

External Research Participation Opportunity

Please see the details below for an external research participation opportunity.


I would like to invite you to take part in Stage 3 of our research project on emotional signature.

The emotional signature scale is being developed principally for practitioners. 

Assessing a client’s emotional signature can assist practitioners to fine-tune the therapeutic relationship and chart a clinical pathway.

In 2022 we developed and tested our psychological scale for emotional signature.

Now, we are looking to see if the items we have selected are right for our clients.

We are looking for 100 individuals who are in individual or couple counselling or therapy who would like to complete this revised questionnaire.

The research has ethics approval with Macquarie University.

To be involved you will be asked to select and invite clients who you feel would be interested and resilient to complete a set of three psychological questionnaires and some biographical information.

If your clients complete the research, they can request a personal emotional signature profile that would be sent to you.

For further information on the project and how to select your clients, please contact: [email protected]

You can read the online information sheet here:

You can have your clients participate here: 

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