Enclosed within this paper is a compendium of the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics (2005) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) Code of Ethics (2004) which are two forms of ethics codes that professional counselors frequently use. It is the aim of this document to not only supply the reader with some basic information about these two formalized sets of guidelines, but also to show the similarities that they have with each other as well as their distinct differences. In addition, aspects of colleague relationships, the counseling profession’s relationship to society, and client protection are also highlighted in a compare and contrast framework that offers its reader an increased understanding the unique specialties that each has to offer.
Keywords: ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) Code of Ethics, colleague relationships, professional counseling’s relationship to society, client protection Contrasting of Ethic Codes Used in Counseling
Many human beings, at one time or another, have come to places in their lives where the administration of wise counsel has been an invaluable aid in helping them regain their equilibrium. But, since the delivery of these counseling services are provided by other human beings who also have the potential to live just as ineffectively as the individuals that seek their attention, there is a necessity for a gauge to be formed that could be used as a reference for determining what acceptable forms of conduct are needed for productive outcomes to be more likely.
The lexicon utilized to describe this tool is commonly referred to as a code of ethics. In the profession of counseling, there are two codes that are frequently referred to by counselors: the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics (2005) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) Code of Ethics (2004). Although it is the quest of this penman to highlight the basic principles contained in each of these codes in this composition, the analysis in this document’s first segment will be limited to a discussion on what the codes basic substances are. And, in this paper’s remaining segment, there will be a succinct elaboration on the comparison of both of these codes that will be featuring elements of colleague relationships, the counseling profession’s relationship to society, and client protection. Section One
Similarities in Code of Ethics
Upon the review of their similarities, both, the ACA Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) share general principles “that define ethical behavior and best practices [in the vocation of counseling]” (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p. 3). Another comparable function that both codes dispense is the sense of responsibility it gives to those willing to embrace the moral standards that are revered in the profession. Additionally, both codes project a model on how inappropriate behaviors should be handled, which avails itself as a decision-making tool in taking a distinct course of action (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005; AACC Code of Ethics, 2004). Differences in Code of Ethics
Although the fundamentals of the contents of these two codes bear striking resemblance to each other, there are some marked differences. The most noted among them, of course, is how they affirm their top priorities and/or define their assemblages. In regard to the ACA, their Code of Ethics (2005) defines the organization and its constituents as being an instructive, systematic, and skilled group whose members work in an assortment of settings and serve in various capacities. However, in contrast, the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) affirms that their highest aim is centered on Jesus Christ while striving for the uppermost quality in counseling as well as establishing unanimity among its members. Therefore, their members are Christians. From these distinctions it can be seen that Biblical principles are identified and are at work in shaping the services of Christian counselors while the secular organization ascribes to other guiding principles. Section Two
Enumerated in the ACA Code of Ethics as “D.1.e. Establishing Professional and Ethical Obligations (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p. 11)”, the organization’s stance on disagreements of an ethical nature over counselees avers that first efforts in solving such disputes should initially be made among the counseling team. However, if these efforts are met with a lack of success then alternatives that are compatible with a client’s welfare need to be pursued. In contrast, the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) declares in “1-620 Maintaining Honorable Professional and Employment Relations (AACC Code of Ethics, 2004, p. 16)” that a similar position affirms that, “… We shall contract relations that balance the best interest of clients … and disclose and discuss all reasonably foreseen problems [with] our colleagues …”. Both codes foresee the possibility of conflict, however, the AACC clearly states that contracts are binding regardless of the cost. Counseling Profession’s Relationship to Society
Under the heading of the ACA Code of Ethics in, “A.6.a. Advocacy” (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p. 5)”, the ACA’s position on the counseling vocation’s involvement with society asserts that, when fitting, counselors should advocate at varying levels of society to explore if barricades exist that might be overcome to attain improvements in the well being of clients. In comparison, the AACC Code of Ethics on this topic also avouches in, “1-820 Working for a Caring Church, a Just Government, and a Better Society (AACC Code of Ehtics, 2004, p. 18) to similar sentiment by proclaiming that Christian counselors will advocate forming laws and procedures that encourage the acceptance and growth of Christian ministry while advocating for the best interest of their clients. Although they appear to be similar, it must be stated that the Christian counselor uses the Bible as the guide for shaping policies while secular counseling can often be guided by what is popularly accepted. Client Protection
The ACA Code of Ethics as in “C2.g. Impairment (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p.
9)” states that one issue of client protection is being addressed from a standpoint of any harm that may be caused by counselors whose abilities to render counseling services have been compromised. Comparatively, the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) on this issue as asserted in, “1-250 Protective Action When Personal Problems Interfere (AACC Code of Ethics, 2004, p. 18)” that all the issues of life such as personal and interpersonal crises, transgressions, physical health matters, mental challenges and self-deception as well as other life difficulties can compromise the counselor. When the level of any of these concerns impairs the counselors’ effectiveness to be of benefit to their clients the counselor must reduce or withdraw from practice to prevent harm to their clientele and/or parishioners. Both codes recognize the damage that can be done by a counselor who is impaired and such a condition must be determined as soon as possible and contact with clients must be reduced or stopped. Conclusion
While this paper is much too short to draw out the multitude of contrast and similarities between the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics (2005) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) Code of Ethics (2004), it begins to show a fundamental divergence. Both codes of ethics were created to set a standard of practices that promote professionalism and improve the vocation. While topically examining them, they appear to be the same in many areas. But, why is a code even necessary if people are fundamentally good and want to do right? The ACA Code of Ethics as in “ACA Code of Ethics Purpose (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p. 3)” states that counselors decisions must “bear public scrutiny” while the AACC Code of Ethics in, “Preface to the Y2004 Final Code (AACC Code of Ethics, 2004, p. 2) mentions that the Holy Scriptures are foundational and that other codes were examined in the preparation of their code. Herein lies the distinction, counseling decisions based on public opinion or counseling decisions based on Scripture. For the Christian, this is hardly a choice. References
American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). (2004). AACC Code of Ethics Retrieved January 25, 2013, from American Counselors Association (ACA). (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from