Code of Ethic

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ACA Code of Ethics

As approved by the ACA Governing Council

2005

AMERICAN COUNSELING ASSOCIATION
www.counseling.org

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.
© 2005 by the American Counseling Association.
All rights reserved. Note: This document may be reproduced without permission for educational purposes.

Contents
ACA Code of Ethics Preamble
ACA Code of Ethics Purpose

3
3

Section A
The Counseling Relationship

4

Section B
Confidentiality, Privileged
Communication, and Privacy

7

Section C
Professional Responsibility

9

Section D
Relationships With Other Professionals 11

Section E
Evaluation, Assessment, and
Interpretation 11

Section F
Supervision, Training, and Teaching 13

Section G
Research and Publication 16

Section H
Resolving Ethical Issues 18
Glossary of Terms 20

ACA Code of Ethics Preamble
The American Counseling Association is an educational, scientific, and professional organization whose members work in a variety of settings and serve in multiple capacities. ACA members are dedicated to the enhancement of human development throughout the life span. Association members recognize diversity and embrace a cross- cultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts.

Professional values are an important way of living out an ethical commitment. Values inform principles. Inherently held values that guide our behaviors or exceed prescribed behaviors are deeply ingrained in the counselor and developed out of personal dedication, rather than the mandatory requirement of an external organization.

ACA Code of Ethics Purpose
The ACA Code of Ethics serves five main purposes:
1. The Code enables the association to clarify to current and future members, and to those served by members, the
nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by
its members.
2. The Code helps support the mission of the association.
3. The Code establishes principles that define ethical behavior and best practices of association members. 4. The Code serves as an ethical guide designed to assist
members in constructing a professional course of action
that best serves those utilizing counseling services and
best promotes the values of the counseling profession.
5. The Code serves as the basis for processing of ethical
complaints and inquiries initiated against members
of the association.
The ACA Code of Ethics contains eight main sections that
address the following areas:
Section A: The Counseling Relationship
Section B: Confidentiality, Privileged Communication,
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: Resolving Ethical Issues

Each section of the ACA Code of Ethics begins with an Introduction. The introductions to each section discuss what counselors should aspire to with regard to ethical behavior and responsibility. The Introduction helps set the tone for that particular section and provides a starting point

that invites reflection on the ethical mandates contained in each part of the ACA Code of Ethics. When counselors are faced with ethical dilemmas that
are difficult to resolve, they are expected to engage in a
carefully considered ethical decision-making process.
Reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist
among counselors with respect to the ways in which values, ethical principles, and ethical standards would be applied when they conflict. While there is no specific
ethical decision-making...
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