19 Oct 014ACA Code of Ethics IAMFC-Ethical-Code-Final
- Remley, T. P., & Herlihy, B. (2020). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
- Chapter 15, “Supervision and Consultation”
2014ACA Code of Ethics
As approved by the ACA Governing Council
AMERICAN COUNSELING ASSOCIATION
Mission The mission of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity. © 2014 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved. Note: This document may be reproduced in its entirety without permission for non-commercial purposes only.
Contents ACA Code of Ethics Preamble • 3
ACA Code of Ethics Purpose • 3
Section A The Counseling Relationship • 4
Section B Confdentiality and Privacy • 6
Section C Professional Responsibility • 8
Section D Relationships With Other Professionals • 10
Section E Evaluation, Assessment, and
Interpretation • 11
Section F Supervision, Training, and Teaching • 12
Section G Research and Publication • 15
Section H Distance Counseling, Technology,
and Social Media • 17
Section I Resolving Ethical Issues • 18
Glossary of Terms • 20
Index • 21
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ACA Code of Ethics Preamble The American Counseling Association (ACA) is an educational, scientifc, and professional organization whose members work in a variety of settings and serve in multiple capacities. Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.
Professional values are an important way of living out an ethical commitment. The following are core professional values of the counseling profession:
1. enhancing human development throughout the life span; 2. honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and
uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts; 3. promoting social justice; 4. safeguarding the integrity of the counselor–client relationship; and 5. practicing in a competent and ethical manner.
These professional values provide a conceptual basis for the ethical principles enumerated below. These principles are the foundation for ethical behavior and decision making. The fundamental principles of professional ethical behavior are
• autonomy, or fostering the right to control the direction of one’s life; • nonmalefcence, or avoiding actions that cause harm; • benefcence, or working for the good of the individual and society by promoting mental health and well-being; • justice, or treating individuals equitably and fostering fairness and equality; • fdelity, or honoring commitments and keeping promises, including fulflling one’s responsibilities of trust in
professional relationships; and • veracity, or dealing truthfully with individuals with whom counselors come into professional contact.
ACA Code of Ethics Purpose The ACA Code of Ethics serves six main purposes:
1. The Code sets forth the ethical obligations of ACA members and provides guidance intended to inform the ethical practice of professional counselors.
2. The Code identifes ethical considerations relevant to professional counselors and counselors-in-training. 3. The Code enables the association to clarify for current and prospective members, and for those served by members,
the nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by its members. 4. The Code serves as an ethical guide designed to assist members in constructing a course of action that best serves
those utilizing counseling services and establishes expectations of conduct with a primary emphasis on the role of the professional counselor.
5. The Code helps to support the mission of ACA. 6. The standards contained in this Code serve as the basis for processing inquiries and ethics complaints
concerning ACA members.
The ACA Code of Ethics contains nine main sections that ad- dress the following areas:
Section A: The Counseling Relationship Section B: Confdentiality and Privacy Section C: Professional Responsibility Section D: Relationships With Other Professionals Section E: Evaluation, Assessment, and Interpretation Section F: Supervision, Training, and Teaching Section G: Research and Publication Section H: Distance Counseling, Technology, and
Social Media Section I: Resolving Ethical Issues
Each section of the ACA Code of Ethics begins with an introduction. The introduction to each section describes the ethical behavior and responsibility to which counselors aspire. The introductions help set the tone for each particular sec- tion and provide a starting point that invites refection on the ethical standards contained in each part of the ACA Code of Ethics. The standards outline professional responsibilities and provide direction for fulflling those ethical responsibilities.
When counselors are faced with ethical dilemmas that are diffcult to resolve, they are expected to engage in a care- fully considered ethical decision-making process, consulting available resources as needed. Counselors acknowledge that resolving ethical issues is a process; ethical reasoning includes consideration of professional values, professional ethical principles, and ethical standards.
Counselors’ actions should be consistent with the spirit as well as the letter of these ethical standards. No specific ethical decision-making model is always most effective, so counselors are expected to use a credible model of deci- sion making that can bear public scrutiny of its applica- tion. Through a chosen ethical decision-making process and evaluation of the context of the situation, counselors work collaboratively with clients to make decisions that promote clients’ growth and development. A breach of the standards and principles provided herein does not neces- sarily constitute legal liability or violation of the law; such action is established in legal and judicial proceedings.
The glossary at the end of the Code provides a concise description of some of the terms used in the ACA Code of Ethics.
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Section A The Counseling
Introduction Counselors facilitate client growth and development in ways that foster the interest and welfare of clients and promote formation of healthy relation- ships. Trust is the cornerstone of the counseling relationship, and counselors have the responsibility to respect and safeguard the client’s right to privacy and confdentiality. Counselors actively attempt to understand the diverse cul- tural backgrounds of the clients they serve. Counselors also explore their own cultural identities and how these affect their values and beliefs about the coun- seling process. Additionally, counselors are encouraged to contribute to society by devoting a portion of their profes- sional activities for little or no fnancial return (pro bono publico).
A.1. Client Welfare A.1.a. Primary Responsibility
The primary responsibility of counsel- ors is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients.
A.1.b. Records and Documentation
Counselors create, safeguard, and maintain documentation necessary for rendering professional services. Regardless of the medium, counselors include sufficient and timely docu- mentation to facilitate the delivery and continuity of services. Counselors take reasonable steps to ensure that documentation accurately refects cli- ent progress and services provided. If amendments are made to records and documentation, counselors take steps to properly note the amendments according to agency or institutional policies.
A.1.c. Counseling Plans Counselors and their clients work jointly in devising counseling plans that offer reasonable promise of success and are consistent with the abilities, temperament, developmental level, and circumstances of clients. Counselors and clients regularly re- view and revise counseling plans to assess their continued viability and effectiveness, respecting clients’ free- dom of choice.
A.1.d. Support Network Involvement
Counselors recognize that support networks hold various meanings in the lives of clients and consider en- listing the support, understanding, and involvement of others (e.g., reli- gious/spiritual/community leaders, family members, friends) as positive resources, when appropriate, with client consent.
A.2. Informed Consent in the Counseling Relationship
A.2.a. Informed Consent Clients have the freedom to choose whether to enter into or remain in a counseling relationship and need adequate information about the counseling process and the counselor. Counselors have an obligation to re- view in writing and verbally with cli- ents the rights and responsibilities of both counselors and clients. Informed consent is an ongoing part of the counseling process, and counselors appropriately document discussions of informed consent throughout the counseling relationship.
A.2.b. Types of Information Needed
Counselors explicitly explain to clients the nature of all services provided. They inform clients about issues such as, but not limited to, the follow- ing: the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks, and benefits of services; the counselor’s qualifcations, credentials, relevant experience, and approach to counseling; continuation of services upon the incapacitation or death of the counselor; the role of technol- ogy; and other pertinent information. Counselors take steps to ensure that clients understand the implications of diagnosis and the intended use of tests and reports. Additionally, counselors inform clients about fees and billing arrangements, including procedures for nonpayment of fees. Clients have the right to confdentiality and to be provided with an explanation of its limits (including how supervisors and/or treatment or interdisciplinary team professionals are involved), to obtain clear information about their records, to participate in the ongoing counseling plans, and to refuse any services or modality changes and to be advised of the consequences of such refusal.
A.2.c. Developmental and Cultural Sensitivity
Counselors communicate information in ways that are both developmentally and culturally appropriate. Counselors use clear and understandable language when discussing issues related to informed consent. When clients have diffculty understanding the language that counselors use, counselors provide necessary services (e.g., arranging for a qualifed interpreter or translator) to ensure comprehension by clients. In collaboration with clients, coun- selors consider cultural implications of informed consent procedures and, where possible, counselors adjust their practices accordingly.
A.2.d. Inability to Give Consent When counseling minors, incapaci- tated adults, or other persons unable to give voluntary consent, counselors seek the assent of clients to services and include them in decision making as appropriate. Counselors recognize the need to balance the ethical rights of clients to make choices, their capac- ity to give consent or assent to receive services, and parental or familial legal rights and responsibilities to protect these clients and make decisions on their behalf.
A.2.e. Mandated Clients Counselors discuss the required limitations to confidentiality when working with clients who have been mandated for counseling services. Counselors also explain what type of information and with whom that information is shared prior to the beginning of counseling. The client may choose to refuse services. In this case, counselors will, to the best of their ability, discuss with the client the potential consequences of refusing counseling services.
A.3. Clients Served by Others When counselors learn that their clients are in a professional relationship with other mental health professionals, they request release from clients to inform the other professionals and strive to establish positive and collaborative professional relationships.
A.4. Avoiding Harm and Imposing Values
A.4.a. Avoiding Harm Counselors act to avoid harming their clients, trainees, and research par- ticipants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm.
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A.4.b. Personal Values Counselors are aware of—and avoid imposing—their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, train- ees, and research participants and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor ’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discrimina- tory in nature.
A.5. Prohibited Noncounseling Roles and Relationships
A.5.a. Sexual and/or Romantic Relationships Prohibited
Sexual and/or romantic counselor– client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic partners, or their family members are prohibited. This prohibition applies to both in- person and electronic interactions or relationships.
A.5.b. Previous Sexual and/or Romantic Relationships
Counselors are prohibited from engag- ing in counseling relationships with persons with whom they have had a previous sexual and/or romantic relationship.
A.5.c. Sexual and/or Romantic Relationships With Former Clients
Sexual and/or romantic counselor– client interactions or relationships with former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members are prohibited for a period of 5 years following the last professional contact. This prohibition applies to both in-person and electronic interactions or relationships. Counsel- ors, before engaging in sexual and/or romantic interactions or relationships with former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members, dem- onstrate forethought and document (in written form) whether the interaction or relationship can be viewed as exploitive in any way and/or whether there is still potential to harm the former client; in cases of potential exploitation and/or harm, the counselor avoids entering into such an interaction or relationship.
A.5.d. Friends or Family Members
Counselors are prohibited from engaging in counseling relationships with friends or family members with whom they have an inability to remain objective.
A.5.e. Personal Virtual Relationships With Current Clients
Counselors are prohibited from engaging in a personal virtual re- lationship with individuals with whom they have a current counseling relationship (e.g., through social and other media).
A.6. Managing and Maintaining Boundaries and Professional Relationships
A.6.a. Previous Relationships Counselors consider the risks and benefts of accepting as clients those with whom they have had a previous relationship. These potential clients may include individuals with whom the counselor has had a casual, distant, or past relationship. Examples include mutual or past membership in a pro- fessional association, organization, or community. When counselors accept these clients, they take appropriate pro- fessional precautions such as informed consent, consultation, supervision, and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no exploitation occurs.
A.6.b. Extending Counseling Boundaries
Counselors consider the risks and benefts of extending current counsel- ing relationships beyond conventional parameters. Examples include attend- ing a client’s formal ceremony (e.g., a wedding/commitment ceremony or graduation), purchasing a service or product provided by a client (excepting unrestricted bartering), and visiting a cli- ent’s ill family member in the hospital. In extending these boundaries, counselors take appropriate professional precau- tions such as informed consent, consul- tation, supervision, and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no harm occurs.
A.6.c. Documenting Boundary Extensions
If counselors extend boundaries as described in A.6.a. and A.6.b., they must offcially document, prior to the interaction (when feasible), the rationale for such an interaction, the potential beneft, and anticipated consequences for the client or former client and other individuals signifcantly involved with the client or former client. When un- intentional harm occurs to the client or former client, or to an individual
signifcantly involved with the client or former client, the counselor must show evidence of an attempt to remedy such harm.
A.6.d. Role Changes in the Professional Relationship
When counselors change a role from the original or most recent contracted relationship, they obtain informed consent from the client and explain the client’s right to refuse services related to the change. Examples of role changes include, but are not limited to
1. changing from individual to re- lationship or family counseling, or vice versa;
2. changing from an evaluative role to a therapeutic role, or vice versa; and
3. changing from a counselor to a mediator role, or vice versa.
Clients must be fully informed of any anticipated consequences (e.g., fnancial, legal, personal, therapeutic) of counselor role changes.
A.6.e. Nonprofessional Interactions or Relationships (Other Than Sexual or Romantic Interactions or Relationships)
Counselors avoid entering into non- professional relationships with former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members when the interaction is potentially harmful to the client. This applies to both in-person and electronic interactions or relationships.
A.7. Roles and Relationships at Individual, Group, Institutional, and Societal Levels
A.7.a. Advocacy When appropriate, counselors advocate at individual, group, institutional, and societal levels to address potential bar- riers and obstacles that inhibit access and/or the growth and development of clients.
A.7.b. Confdentiality and Advocacy
Counselors obtain client consent prior to engaging in advocacy efforts on be- half of an identifable client to improve the provision of services and to work toward removal of systemic barriers or obstacles that inhibit client access, growth, and development.
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A.8. Multiple Clients When a counselor agrees to provide counseling services to two or more persons who have a relationship, the counselor clarifes at the outset which person or persons are clients and the nature of the relationships the counselor will have with each involved person. If it becomes apparent that the counselor may be called upon to perform poten- tially conficting roles, the counselor will clarify, adjust, or withdraw from roles appropriately.
A.9. Group Work A.9.a. Screening
Counselors screen prospective group counseling/therapy participants. To the extent possible, counselors select members whose needs and goals are compatible with the goals of the group, who will not impede the group process, and whose well-being will not be jeop- ardized by the group experience.
A.9.b. Protecting Clients In a group setting, counselors take rea- sonable precautions to protect clients from physical, emotional, or psychologi- cal trauma.
A.10. Fees and Business Practices
A.10.a. Self-Referral Counselors working in an organization (e.g., school, agency, institution) that provides counseling services do not refer clients to their private practice unless the policies of a particular orga- nization make explicit provisions for self-referrals. In such instances, the cli- ents must be informed of other options open to them should they seek private counseling services.
A.10.b. Unacceptable Business Practices
Counselors do not participate in fee splitting, nor do they give or receive commissions, rebates, or any other form of remuneration when referring clients for professional services.
A.10.c. Establishing Fees In establishing fees for professional counseling services, counselors con- sider the fnancial status of clients and locality. If a counselor’s usual fees cre- ate undue hardship for the client, the counselor may adjust fees, when legally permissible, or assist the client in locat- ing comparable, affordable services.
A.10.d. Nonpayment of Fees If counselors intend to use collection agencies or take legal measures to col-
lect fees from clients who do not pay for services as agreed upon, they include such information in their informed consent documents and also inform clients in a timely fashion of intended actions and offer clients the opportunity to make payment.
A.10.e. Bartering Counselors may barter only if the bar- tering does not result in exploitation or harm, if the client requests it, and if such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the community. Counselors consider the cultural implications of bartering and discuss relevant concerns with clients and document such agreements in a clear written contract.
A.10.f. Receiving Gifts Counselors understand the challenges of accepting gifts from clients and rec- ognize that in some cultures, small gifts are a token of respect and gratitude. When determining whether to accept a gift from clients, counselors take into account the therapeutic relationship, the monetary value of the gift, the client’s motivation for giving the gift, and the counselor’s motivation for wanting to accept or decline the gift.
A.11. Termination and Referral
A.11.a. Competence Within Termination and Referral
If counselors lack the competence to be of professional assistance to clients, they avoid entering or continuing counseling relationships. Counselors are knowledgeable about culturally and clinically appropriate referral resources and suggest these alternatives. If clients decline the suggested referrals, counsel- ors discontinue the relationship.
A.11.b. Values Within Termination and Referral
Counselors refrain from referring pro- spective and current clients based solely on the counselor’s personally held val- ues, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature.
A.11.c. Appropriate Termination Counselors terminate a counseling re- lationship when it becomes reasonably apparent that the client no longer needs assistance, is not likely to beneft, or is
being harmed by continued counseling. Counselors may terminate counseling when in jeopardy of harm by the client or by another person with whom the cli- ent has a relationship, or when clients do not pay fees as agreed upon. Counselors provide pretermination counseling and recommend other service providers when necessary.
A.11.d. Appropriate Transfer of Services
When counselors transfer or refer clients to other practitioners, they ensure that appropriate clinical and administra- tive processes are completed and open communication is maintained with both clients and practitioners.
A.12. Abandonment and Client Neglect
Counselors do not abandon or neglect clients in counseling. Counselors assist in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of treatment, when neces- sary, during interruptions such as vaca- tions, illness, and following termination.
Section B Confidentiality
Introduction Counselors recognize that trust is a cor- nerstone of the counseling relationship. Counselors aspire to earn the trust of cli- ents by creating an ongoing partnership, establishing and upholding appropriate boundaries, and maintaining confi- dentiality. Counselors communicate the parameters of confdentiality in a culturally competent manner.
B.1. Respecting Client Rights B.1.a. Multicultura
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