American Counseling Association Code of Ethics
What Is the Purpose for the ACA Code of Ethics?
- Enhancing human development throughout the life span.
- Honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts.
- Promoting social justice
- Safeguarding the integrity of the counselor-client relationship.
- Practicing in a competent and ethical manner.
Major Sections of the ACA 2014 Code of Ethics
The Counseling Relationship (Section A)
- Work hard to create and sustain a relationship with their clients based on trust.
- Obtain informed consent from clients entering a counseling relationship.
- Respect a client’s confidentiality and privacy.
- Explain to clients what the counseling relationship entails (which could include fees, group work, and termination).
- Be cognizant of client’s culture, values, and beliefs.
Confidentiality and Privacy (Section B)
- Communicate the concept of confidentiality with their clients on an ongoing basis and do so in a culturally sensitive way.
- Inform clients about the limitations of confidentiality regarding what situations information must be disclosed (e.g., to protect clients or others from harm).
- Discuss if and how information may be shared with others.
- Understand legal and ethical issues involved in working with clients who cannot provide informed consent (such as minors or clients with impairment).
- Maintain and store records in an approved way.
Professional Responsibility (Section C)
- Adhere to the ACA Code of Ethics.
- Practice within one’s boundaries of competence.
- Participate in associations that help improve the profession.
- Practice counseling based on scientific foundations.
- Be mindful when advertising and talking with the media.
- Engage in self-care activities so they can work at their highest capacity.
Relationships with Colleagues, Employees, and Employers (Section D)
- Develop relationships with colleagues from other disciplines and be respectful of those who have different theoretical approaches.
- Provide consultation services within areas of competence.
- Provide appropriate consultation referrals when requested or necessary.
Evaluation, Assessment, and Interpretation (Section E)
- Understand the use of assessments as an important part of information gathering and to assist in conducting clients’ treatment and evaluation.
- Use educational, mental health, forensic, and career assessments (among others) on which they are trained and have had comprehensive supervised experience administering and interpreting.
- Diagnose clients and interpret assessments accurately and in a culturally sensitive manner.
Supervision, Training, and Teaching (Section F)
- Be trained in supervision methods and techniques before they offer supervision services.
- Be responsible for monitoring supervisees’ clients’ welfare and supervisees’ performance and development through a variety of supervision modalities, such as regular meetings and live supervision.
- Inform supervisees of their clients’ rights and inform clients with information regarding the supervision process and its limitation on confidentiality.
- Be aware of and address the role of multiculturalism and diversity in the supervisory relationship.
- Endorse supervisees that they deem qualified and sufficiently able to perform duties in the areas of certification, licensure, employment, or completion of an academic of training program.
- Be knowledgeable regarding the ethical, legal, and everyday aspects of the profession including how diversity impacts groups and individuals.
- Inform students of their ethical responsibilities and standards as professionals and as students.
- Provide ongoing feedback, evaluation, and act as gatekeepers to the profession.
- Promote the use of techniques, procedures, and modalities that are grounded in theory and have scientific foundations.
- Develop clear policies and provide direct assistance regarding field placement.
- Be aware of their responsibility to follow the ACA Code of Ethics and applicable laws.
- Understand the implications of taking a break from counseling others when impaired.
- Disclose their status as supervisees before beginning counseling others.
Research and Publication (Section G)
- Conduct research that is aligned with ethical principles, federal and state laws, host institutional regulations, and scientific standards of governing research.
- Adhere to confidentiality in their research.
- Be responsible for participants’ welfare throughout the research process.
- Inform individuals of their rights as a research participant through informed consent.
- Plan, conduct, and report research accurately.
Distance Counseling, Technology, and Social Media (Section H)
- Be knowledgeable about the laws governing distance counseling and social media.
- Only utilize distance counseling after gaining competence through training and supervised experience in this specialty area.
- Inform clients about the limits of confidentiality and potential Internet interruptions due to the nature of technology.
- Understand the benefits and drawbacks related to distance counseling
- Utilize a professional presence if they choose to use social media platforms
- Avoid disclosing confidential information through social media.
- Utilize informed consent to explain the boundaries of social media.
Resolving Ethical Issues (Section I)
- Behave in an ethical and legal manner and recognize when there is a conflict between ethics codes and laws.
- Utilize and document an ethical decision-making process when faced with an ethical dilemma.
- Hold other counselors to similar standards of professional conduct.
- Resolve ethical dilemmas with direct and open communication to all parties involved.
- Seek consultation when necessary.
- Become familiar with the ACA Policy of Procedures for Processing Complains of Ethical Violations and use it as a reference.