Evaluating Ethics Codes for Qualified Counselors


This posting seems to be at the distinctions between the codes of ethics presented by three specialist counseling corporations The American Counseling Affiliation, The American Association of Christian Counselors and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. The article examines the discrepancies in the memberships of the group, the ensuing differences in the organizations’ code of ethics and discusses one missing factor in just about every code.

Basic Observations on the three Codes

The codes talked over below ended up posted by the American Counseling Affiliation (ACA, 2005), the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC, 2004), and the American Affiliation of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC, 1993).

The ACA Code of Ethics is revised every single 10 many years and was previous revised in 2005. The code has 8 sections: the counseling connection, confidentiality, skilled responsibility, interactions with other pros, evaluations, supervision and schooling, investigation, and resolving moral issues. Counseling These days summarized the Code’s recent variations to include: increased emphasis on multiculturalism allowing dual interactions if it incorporates probably valuable interactions broadened satisfactory use of technologies in study, report trying to keep and counseling extra element language on counselor impairment and transfer of clientele and eventually, changes in a variety of terms but not the this means as an instance “tests” are now referred to as “assessments”. (Highlights of ACA Code of Ethics, 2005)

The AACC code was finalized in 2004 immediately after 10 many years and 4 provisional codes. This is the longest of the 3 codes. The Code’s important sections are: applicability of the code, introduction and mission statement, Biblical basis rules, ethical specifications, and procedural policies. The moral standards section is divided between the several classes of membership. The AACC Code features the most substantial area on resolving conflicts and dealing with of complaints.

The AAPC is the shortest of the a few codes. The code was last revised in 1993 and at this time the procedural portion was separated from the Code of Ethics (Beck, 1997). The Code has 7 sections: prologue, qualified procedures, shopper relationships, confidentiality, supervisee, pupil and employee relationships, interprofessional relationships and advertising and marketing.

Track record of companies

The ACA, AACC and AAPC, as businesses, have different charters and membership.

The ACA is an group geared toward offering providers to experienced licensed counselors from all backgrounds and entire world-views. For example, a member could have a entire world-check out primarily based in atheism, Buddhism, Islam or Christianity. The ACA can’t think any related ethical belief or background between its member.

The AACC membership has a wide element in the definition of counselor and a slim element in that the members are Christian. The AACC Code of Ethics encompasses sections applicable to professional accredited counselors, pastoral counselors, and lay helpers.

The AAPC has the narrowest of memberships. Comprehensive membership in AAPC requires the member have an M. Div and be ordained by a denominational firm. The denominational business does not have to be a Christian denomination. The AAPC Code in the Prologue part especially states the counselors are also subject to their dominations code of ethics.

Ethical Descriptors Comparison

In comparing two Christian codes from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Christian Affiliation for Psychological Research with two secular codes from the American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Affiliation, Beck the works by using the 23 key ethical descriptors. The descriptors are from Williams Index of Moral Code Terminology that was identified by Austin, Moline, and Williams (1990) as contained in the six codes they examined (Beck, 1997). Table 1 incorporates the 23 descriptors, further phrases identified and cross-references the respective codes sections to every single descriptor or phrase.

The ACA Code consists of all of the 23 moral descriptors talked over by Beck and most of the added phrases. The only portion that the ACA Code does not include is the exclusive care sections integrated in the AACA Code connected to material abuse, abortion, divorce, shopper sexual affairs, and homosexual behaviors.

The AACC Code addresses all the descriptors other than for refusal of remedy, fraud, approaches and like the AAPC Code does not contain the supplemental descriptors relevant to the use of technological know-how, consultation and forensic analysis.

The AAPC Code includes the least descriptors of the three codes. It does not include things like the descriptors related to measurement testing, security, reporting colleagues, multicultural clientele, groups, certain care situations, know-how, consultation or forensic evaluations.

Even nevertheless the codes may include sections linked to each and every descriptor, it does not observe that each and every Code offers for very similar treatment of the descriptors. Two illustrations of descriptors that are dealt with otherwise are suicide and dual relationships.

Area A.9 of the ACA Code discusses suicide. This section leaves the determination to assistance or not assistance assisted suicide up to the counselor and states that the counselor must attempt to “empower clients to training the maximum diploma of self-determination doable”. The AACC Code discusses suicide in section E1-127. The AACC Code gives counselors should refuse to “condone or advocate for active forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide”. The AAPC Code does not deal with this issue. A counselor who is a member of the ACA and AACC would be issue to conflicting Codes of Ethics in the region relevant to counselor steps in regards to assisted suicide.

The difference associated to twin interactions are not as apparent as in suicide, but the language of the three codes does look to current of spectrum of information on twin associations.

The ACA Code, in 2005, was transformed to reduce the restriction on twin relationships. Section A.5.d of the ACA Code now allows a twin relationship if the marriage is effective to the counseling marriage. The ACA wording appears to be reveal an acceptance of twin interactions. Area ES 1-140 to 1-146 of the AACC Code point out that some dual interactions are unethical. The AACC Code does enable for an exception but states that is critical for the counselor to document the twin connection and to clearly document the logic for the romance in the customer notes. The language used in the AACC Code seems to be considerably less supportive of twin relationships than the ACA Code. The AAPC Code appears to be the most restrictive in stating in Principle III E. ” We steer clear of dual partnership with clients… which could impair our experienced judgment”. The AAPC Code does not acknowledge a good dual connection or supply direction on how to figure out or take care of a good dual relationship.


Hathaway (2001) raises the query of what foundation is furnished to support the ethics code? He goes on to notice that Christian and secular skilled codes are very similar on several considerable factors. He reasons that this is because of to the truth that all psychological well being industry experts are skilled in the same or identical schooling programs, work in the very same surroundings and get the job done toward the same aims. A very similar query is raised by Freeman, Engels, and Altekruse (2004) when they said, ” those who practice…behavioral sciences frequently make moral/ethical judgments about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of distinct actions, but what is the basis for these kinds of judgment? How are they justified?” The a single component missing from all three versions is the basis for the ethical conclusion-making. This leaves the practitioner without a supportive framework to reference in scenarios that do tumble particularly into the norm or exactly where sections of various codes conflict as mentioned earlier mentioned. The Tarasoff situation as referenced by Freeman et al. (2004) is a good case in point of this trouble. The 3 codes demand the counselor to preserve confidentiality of facts similar to the counselee and counseling classes. But how does the counselor know when a competing ingredient of the code, these kinds of as do no damage, would outweigh yet another part devoid of a sound comprehension of the theoretically underpinnings of the code and/or a described selection-making design.

As the selection making design is still left up to the authors of the codes, these code will be subject to continual redrafting to fulfill transforming examples of ethical issues that are introduced.


American Affiliation of Christian Counselors. (2004). AACC Code of Ethics. Alexandria, Va.

American Affiliation of Pastoral Counselors. (1993). Code of Ethics. Fairfax, Va.

American Counseling Affiliation. (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Alexandria, Va.

Austin, K.M., Moline, M.E., & Williams, G.T. (1990). Confronting Malpractice: Authorized and Moral Dilemmas in Psychotherapy. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage.

Beck, J. (1997). Christian Codes, Are They Much better? Christian Counseling Ethics (pp. 313-325). Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press.

Freeman, S., Engels, D., & Altekruse, M. (2004, April). Basis for ethical expectations and codes: The part of ethical philosophy and principle in ethics. Counseling and Values, 48, 163-174.

Hathaway, W. (2001). Widespread Sense Expert Ethics: A Christian Appraisal. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 29, 224-233.

Highlights of ACA Code of Ethics. (2005, Oct). Counseling These days, 1,16-17,63.

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