Gate System FAQ

Gating System Overview

Three “Gates” comprise the Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care’s Gating System.

Gate 1: Admissions — Applicants apply to the Seminary, and by working through Admissions, applicants also complete a separate application process for any of the three Counseling degrees. Contact Admissions as soon as possible for specific instructions on the Counseling Degree Plans application process, which includes a minimum GPA of 3.00, completion of three Counseling Department Admission essays, completion of personality inventories, and participation in an on-campus group interview process. Group interviews dates are available through Admissions and take place once in the fall and once in the spring semesters on the Kentucky and Florida campuses.

Gate 2: Permission to Enroll in Field Placement — Continuing counseling students should anticipate participating in a fall or spring semester Gate 2 Interview approximately one-third to one-half way through their degree plan. Gate 2 eligibility requires students to maintain a cumulative GPA no lower than 3.00 and to complete specific courses, which are listed in the academic catalog under their degree program.

Successful completion of Gate 2 provides permission to enroll in any field placement associated with a counseling degree. Students must enroll in their first field placement within 3 semesters of passing Gate 2. Students who fail to enroll in their first field placement within 3 semesters of passing Gate 2 must repeat Gate 2.

Gate 3: Prior to Graduation — Successfully passing Gate 3 is a graduation requirement. Continuing counseling students participate in a Gate 3 Interview in either the fall or spring semesters prior to graduation. Students are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA no lower than 3.00.

Contact the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care on your campus for specific instructions about the preparation of your portfolio for Gates 2 and 3, and for the dates for Gate 2 and 3 interviews.

Gating Goals

  1. Assess student readiness for participation in supervised practicum experiences as part of the counseling degree programs (MA: MHC; MA: MFC; MA: PC) at Asbury Theological Seminary.
  2. Engage students who show evidence of professionally harmful or deficient behavior in the course of their time as a student at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Dr. Virginia Holeman

The aim of gatekeeping in the professional and pastoral counseling degree programs is primarily to screen potential counselors throughout the formal educational process in order to facilitate their learning and, as needed, to “remediate, or dismiss students who are not well-suited to the demands of the helping professions” (Palmer, White, & Chung, 2008, p. 30). Gatekeeping can function as an intervention mechanism to limit behaviors that could threaten the welfare of clients by helping redirect students in their development of professional skills or redirect them toward other professions. The gatekeeping responsibility is mandated for all professional counselors in the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association (ACA), 2005, Section F.5. Also, counselor educators bear an additional responsibility as specified in the 2009 Standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These standards require “a systematic developmental assessment of each student’s progress throughout the program, including consideration of the student’s academic performance, professional development, and personal development….if evaluations indicate that a student is not appropriate for the program, faculty members help facilitate the student’s transition out of the program, and, if possible, into a more appropriate area of study (CACREP, 2009, Section I, Standard P).

Potential signs of student impairment may be “reflected in one or more of the following ways:

  • inability and/or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behavior,
  • an inability to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competency,
  • an inability to control personal stress, psychological dysfunction, or excessive emotional reactions that interfere with the professional’s functioning” (Lamb, Presser, Pfost, Baum, Jackson, & Jarvis, 1987, p. 598).

Assessment occurs at three “gates.” The admissions process serves as the first gate. Admission decision recommendations include consideration of the following:

  • Each applicant’s potential in forming effective and culturally relevant interpersonal relationships in individual and small-group contexts;
  • Each applicant’s aptitude and readiness (e.g., academic, emotional, etc.) for graduate-level study in counseling; and
  • Each applicant’s career goals and their relevance to the program.

A second gate assessment occurs prior to a student’s enrollment in practicum. Approval at this gate serves as faculty endorsement of a student’s readiness for their first field placement. Students must enroll in their first field placement within three semesters of successfully passing Gate 2. Permission to enroll in field placement is revoked for students who fail to register within this 3 semester window, and these students must repeat Gate 2. A third gate assessment occurs at the end of the student’s degree work (during the final semester or equivalent) and functions as a graduation requirement and an exit interview. Because these gates include an evaluative function, they are separate from the “guidee” meetings associated with the Christian Formation Program at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Six General Assessment Areas in Gate 2 and 3

The second and third gate processes assess six general areas. They are boundary maintenance, respect for persons of diverse opinions, theological/theoretical integration, use of self, clinical skills, and spiritual formation.

  1. Appropriate boundary maintenance refers to a quality of relating in which there is healthy self-disclosure and respect for others, as well as the abilities to participate in a group and pick up on interpersonal cues.
  2. Humble respect for persons of diverse opinions is demonstrated in the ability to dialogue effectively and respectfully. This area involves the abilities to understand diverse opinions and seek out alternative interpretations.
  3. Growing theological/theoretical integration is demonstrated in a maturing biblically grounded theological understanding of God and persons, along with an informed theoretical perspective of the counseling role.
  4. Appropriate use of self refers to a growing self-awareness based in an understanding of personal strengths and limitations. This area also suggests an understanding of the impact of life experiences and personal development on the counseling role.
  5. Adequate clinical skills involve the capacity to manage personal anxiety, establish and maintain rapport, reflect feelings and content, ask honest open-ended questions, and differentiate self from others.
  6. Maturing spiritual formation refers to growth in the six core areas of the Christian Formation Program at Asbury Theological Seminary.

The Counseling and Pastoral Care Department (CPC) shall assess students by four methods at each gate. Students will present their own self-assessment portfolio which includes a self-evaluation, relevant papers/ formation projects, and a professional development plan. Students are responsible for the development, maintenance, and presentation of their portfolio. Two confidential peer evaluations will be completed by peers chosen by CPC faculty. A departmental recommendation will be produced based on formal and informal interactions with students as well as the self-assessment portfolio and peer evaluations. A copy of a practicum supervisor’s evaluation will be added to the third gate. Finally, the gate interview itself will be a point of communication and a final assessment opportunity where recommendations will be made and plans affirmed. The ability of students to relate constructively in this academic and professional review will be taken into consideration. Members of the faculty of the Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care conduct the gating interviews.

The materials used in the assessment process are accessible only to the CPC faculty. Any information from the assessment process relevant to a student’s performance as a practicum counselor may also be shared with practicum site supervisors or administrators. All materials will be maintained in a secure location on campus. An office assistant shall be responsible for maintaining the filing policies and procedures for the assessment materials. Students are advised to retain copies of all materials they submit.

The CPC faculty at Asbury Theological Seminary reserves the right not to endorse a student for a practicum experience, based on observation, interactions, and evaluation. Satisfactory completion of necessary course work does not qualify a student for a supervised practicum experience. The endorsement of the department is the authorization to register for a practicum class.

In the event that a student disagrees with the decision of the faculty of the CPC department, the student can appeal the decision using the Course Complaints (Part 4. Section 5) process as specified in the Faculty Handbook. The dean to whom the student would file an appeal is the dean of the school in which the MA degree is housed, which in this case is the Dean of the School of Practical Theology. Should this course of action be chosen by a student, information from the assessment materials may be used to support the departmental recommendation.

Occasionally, on the basis of information gained from participation in the gating system, the CPC department will require that students postpone the beginning of practicums or discontinue classes for the purpose of self-care and remediation. These decisions are made by the department as a whole, but one faculty member will usually be assigned as a representative for communication with the student in question.

Students will be asked to submit a developmental plan in response to the concerns. The plan must accurately describe the issues of concern; outline specific strategies for addressing those concerns; describe expected outcomes by which the student and the department may measure growth; and establish a timeline for implementation. Failure to create a developmental plan or participate in its timely implementation will almost certainly result in inability to register for future classes, including practicum.

If students are suspected of “impairment,” as defined above, this same assessment process shall commence. Even though a regularly scheduled “gate” may not be imminent, this process can be used to consider the situation.


Bethel Seminary Marriage and Family Therapy. (2007). Marriage and Family Therapy Manual.

Minneapolis: author

Lamb, D. H., Presser, N. R., Pfost, K. S., Baum, M. C., Jackson, V. R.,& Jarvis, P. A. (1987).

Confronting professional impairment during internship: Identification, due process, and remediation. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 8, 597-603.

Palmer, R. B., White, G., & Chung, W. (2008).

Deficient trainees: Gatekeeping in Christian Practitioner Programs. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 27 (1), 30-40.