New Ethics Codes for Counselors


Both the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) have published 2014 editions of their codes of ethics (links above to pdf of codes). Given these new documents, I highly encourage all Christian counselors (both professional and pastoral/lay) to review these two codes. Even if you do not belong to either the ACA or the AACC, you should spend some time with these documents. Here’s why:

  • The codes represent the current thinking of the ACA and the AACC about best practices for counselors. Even if you disagree, you need to know where you diverge (both for integrity sake with clients and for protection from unnecessary risk)
  • It is easy to become sloppy about ethical matters. We tend to believe what we do is good. Reviewing our practice habits against a standard can reveal slippage
  • It can be helpful to clients to know what code of ethics you subscribe to. Reading codes can help you determine which code you subscribe to and your reasons for doing so

Comparing Values and Principles

The following chart shows similarities and differences regarding the bases for ethics codes. It is worth reviewing these to see how they compare and contrast. In the next post, I will compare a few specific standards.

Content AACC ACA
Mission 1. help advance the central mission of the AACC—to bring honor to Jesus Christ and promote excellence and unity in Christian counseling;

2. promote the welfare and protect the dignity and fundamental rights of all individuals, families, groups, churches, schools, agencies, ministries, and other organizations with whom Christian counselors work;

3. provide standards of ethical conduct in Christian counseling that are to be advocated and applied by the AACC and the IBCC, and are respected by other professionals and institutions; and

4. provide an ethical framework from which to work in order to assure the dignity and care of every individual who seeks and receives services.

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.

Principles Compassion in Christian Counseling – A Call to Servanthood Competence in Christian Counseling – A Call to ExcellenceConsent in Christian Counseling – A Call to Integrity

Confidentiality in Christian Counseling – A Call to Trustworthiness

Cultural Regard in Christian Counseling – A Call to Dignity

Case Management in Christian Counseling – A Call to Soundness

Collegiality in Christian Counseling – A Call to Relationship

Community Presence in Christian Counseling – A Call to Humility

autonomy, or fostering the right to control the direction of one’s life;nonmaleficence, or avoiding actions that cause harm;beneficence, 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;

fidelity, or honoring commitments and keeping promises, including fulfilling one’s responsibilities of trust in professional relationships; and

veracity, or dealing truthfully with individuals with whom counselors come into professional contact.

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Filed under AACC, christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, counseling, counseling and the law, counseling skills, Uncategorized

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