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Aca Ethics

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Running head: Ethics Paper

ACA Code of Ethics and AACC Code of Ethics;

what are the Similarities and Differences?


The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (ACA Code) and the American Association of Christian Counselors Code of Ethics (AACC Code) has many similarities as well as differences. Codes of ethics are designed to protect the client, counselor and the profession. This report will compare and contrast three separate areas within each of the two ethics codes. All areas of the ethics codes are important; however the three that have been chosen are of particular interest to the writer. Two of the areas that are addressed, confidentiality and sexual intimacies, come from duties to the client and the last area, reporting colleagues, comes from duties to the profession.



In the field of counseling, either secular counseling or Christian counseling ethics play a large and vital role. The ACA Code serves five main purposes. The five purposes are summed up as, clarification to members the nature of ethical responsibilities, helps support the mission of the association, establishes principles that define ethical behavior, serves as an ethical guide to help members construct a professional course of action and the ACA Code serves as the basis for processing ethical complaints and inquiries initiated against members of the association (American Counseling Association, 1995).

The mission of the American Association of Christian Counselors, AACC Law and Ethics Committee (2004), AACC Code of ethics is to

1. help advance the central mission of the AACC-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 ABCC and CCN) and that can be respected by other professionals and institutions.

As shown earlier, the Code of ethics for both the AACC and ACA are primarily a guide for current and future counselors and Christian counselors. The code of ethics for both organizations provides a reference for counselors when ethical issues arise, however the AACC Code of Ethics provides a little more guidance based the Christian foundation.

Sexual Intimacies

The AACC and ACA Code of Ethics contains a code for do no harm. AACC code is ES1-100 First, Do No Harm (American Association of Christian Counselors, AACC Law and Ethics Committee, 2004). The ACA code is A.4 Avoiding Harm and Imposing Values (American Counseling Association, 1995). Within the ACA Code the topic of sexual intimacies is listed under code A.5 Roles and Relationships with Clients, specifically A.5.a Current Clients and A.5.b. Former Clients (American Counseling Association, 1995). The AACC Code addresses sexual intimacies in codes 1-130. Sexual Misconduct Forbidden, 1-131 Sexual Relations with Former Clients Forbidden, 1-132 Counseling with Marital /Sexual Partners and code 1-133 Marriage with Former Clients/Patients (American Association of Christian Counselors, AACC Law and Ethics Committee, 2004). Both the AACC and ACA Codes plainly state that sexual interactions with current clients is prohibited. The AACC Code goes into more depth and explains exactly what is meant by sexual misconduct. This appears to add clarification and close any loopholes that could be used for rationalization of unethical behavior.

The ACA Code allows a counselor the ability to engage in sexual relations with a former client after five years following the last professional contact (American Counseling Association, 1995). The counselor must document that the relationship is not exploitive and will cause no harm to the former client. In contrast to this the AACC Code forbids sexual relations with former clients. The AACC Code 1-133 provides an exclusion to code 1-131. A counselor is allowed to marry a former client after two years after termination of therapy. This can only happen under the following circumstances, the termination of therapy was not to pursue marriage or sexual relations, the client is provided referral to others for future counseling and no harm or exploitation of the client has happened (American Association of Christian Counselors, AACC Law and Ethics Committee, 2004). In the eyes of God sexual relations outside of marriage are a sin, so this exclusion keeps the counselor from committing a sin


Confidentiality in the counseling session is of great importance to the client. He or she wants to know that what is shared will not be revealed to anyone. Both the AACC Code and the ACA Code do a good job describing what information and under what circumstances it can be revealed. Both the ACA and AACC Codes, address the discussion of confidentiality and the limitations with the client. The ACA Code goes into more detail about Exceptions, code B.2 and Information Shared with Others, code B.3. The ACA Code contains code B.2.b Contagious, Life-Threatening Diseases, which is not discussed in the AACC code. This code allows for the counselor to disclose information to identified third parties if there is high risk for this person to contract the disease (American Counseling Association, 1995). This code protects third parties from the intentional



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