Ethics Codes Comparison Paper H Michele Wallach Liberty University Online Abstract These publications regarding ethics, American Counseling Association: Code of Ethics (2005) and the American Association of Christian Counseling: Code of Ethics (2004), are available as a reference for use. The purpose of this paper is to compare general and specific elements of the two publications. There are two areas of general exploration: 1) relation to their format for retrieval of specific data, 2) their value or standards basis, if any, from which the publications are written.
More specifically three specific areas will be compared. First, the area of informed consent as it relates to the client and the counselor. Second, codes relating to conduct for relationships with former clients. Third and lastly, is how each of the publications relates to the issue of abortion. Limitations were evident in that many codes do not offer rationale. Future review of revisions would be an effective part of knowledge to use of both publications.
The field of professional counseling provides for occasions for the counselor to make decisions based on professional ethics. Ethics can be commonly derived from one’s own values. In order to create a more consistent standard codes of ethics have been published. Two of these publications will be used in this paper: 1) American Counseling Association (ACA): Code of Ethics (2005), 2) American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC): Code of Ethics (2004). Whereas these organizations are based on different ideals, a general comparison will be made.
Inasmuch as revisions are ongoing, this paper will review several that were revised in the latest publication, as highlighted in the article New Mandates and Imperatives in the Revised ACA Code of Ethics. (2009) Section I: General comparison of the two codes The ACA: Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC: Code of Ethics (2004), each offer a logical breakdown of codes referring to situations of an ethical nature and is presented in a format that is easily referenced by both the seasoned professional and the novice.
The design and layout of the ACA: Code of Ethics is laid out with color and graphics and written very formally, giving a tone of legal-ease. The ACA: Code of Ethics codes section is formatted in columns, suggesting the style of a quick access guide. The ACA: Code of Ethics codes are set up in sections with the first level header served by an upper case alphabet letter in chronological order, broken down further by a numerical value in chronological order, and then finally sub-divided once more by a lower case alphabet letter in chronological order.
The AACC: Code of Ethics is laid out in a streamlined fashion and executed with a professional vernacular tone. The AACC: Code of Ethics has no color or specialty graphics adorning its pages and the codes section pages are laid out in a full page format without the use of columns. The AACC: Code of Ethics codes are set up in sections with the first level header served by and upper case Roman numeral, the next level is led by the upper case letters of the first two words of the section followed by a numerical value, with no spaces, the section is further sub-divided into numerical values carrying three place values (i. . 100,101, etc. ) in chronological order. At this level, within each section, when a new sub-topic started the numeric value will move to the ten’s place chronologically. Is this important? Absolutely, it is the virtual road map to referencing where information can be found. Although the description here is in generalities, it is to the advantage of the counseling professional to gain a working understanding of the layout. Understanding the way reference material is filed will assist the user immensely.
Another structured piece of these publications explains why the reference has been constructed and written the way that is has. Each of the references being compared contains similar information and some of the perspectives overlap in many places AACC: Code of Ethics (2004) ACA: Code of Ethics (2005). The preliminary information in each publication, prior to the code of ethics, offers similarities. They both offer a preamble, mission, and a purpose for use. The ACA: Code of Ethics (2005) publication moves directly into the codes at this point. p 3) Whereas, the AACC: Code of Ethics (2004) offers a prayer and seven Biblical-ethical foundations, on which their codes of ethics were founded. (p 4, 5) Section II: Specific comparison of three particular areas Specific codes of each publication offer different interpretations of the same practices. The practice of informed consent according to the ACA: Code of Ethics (2005) is that it is the counselor’s responsibility to give a written and verbal account for the rights and responsibilities of the counselor and the client.
This responsibility even extends to cover the inclusion of an interpreter where it is deemed necessary. The practice of informed consent according to the AACC: Code of Ethics (2004) is that it is the counselor’s responsibility to “take care” that the client has the “capacity”, “reasonably understands” and “freely gives consent” to the nature, process, costs, time, work, limits of the counseling and appropriate alternatives. All of this must be done without “coercion or undue influence”. (p 10, 11)
The next set of codes differs greatly due in part by the influence of Biblical standards. The code in ACA: Code of Ethics (2005) is defined as “Former Clients” (p 5) the code references only sexual and romantic interests of the former client and counselor. There is no mention of marriage. The code also extends to include “former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members”. The code simply states that the counselor cannot have professional contact with the client within 5 years before or after a relationship.
The counselor must also “demonstrate forethought and document”, in writing, the possibilities of exploitation, or potential harm to the former client. If either of these elements is present, then the counselor avoids the interaction or relationship. The code is AACC: Code of Ethics (2004) is defined as “Marriage with Former Clients/Patients” and the stipulations are explained that this type of relationship is allowed with three provisions. p 8) First, the counseling sessions had to have been terminated without the influence of a relationship or potential relationship, also within the proper guidelines of termination as defined in the AACC: code of ethics guidelines. Secondly, the client must understand unequivocally that any further counseling must be by someone other than the counselor-spouse. Thirdly, there must be no harm to the client or the client’s family as a result in the change of the relationship between the client and the counselor.
Lastly, the counseling or helping relationship must be terminated at least two calendar years prior to marriage. There are occasions where an ethical standard is addressed by the AACC: Code of Ethics (2004) and not addressed at all by the ACA: Code of Ethics (2005). The AACC: Code of Ethics speaks specifically to the responsibility of the counselor to offer all possible alternatives and not to give any narrative of consent to an abortion. It also advises the counselor to continue to serve the client regardless of their decision regarding the pregnancy.
The ACA: Code of Ethics does not address abortion specifically. There are areas of the code that speak to the issue in a general manner. The areas to be considered are: a) does the decision to have an abortion have any relation to the client’s personal culture: b) the counselor’s own “values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” will need to be carefully guarded as to not be imposed on the client (p 4): and c) are the decisions the client is facing within the competency of the counselor to help guide the client.
As in any client’s case being reviewed by a counselor or counseling group all of these elements must be weighed out, as well as some that may not have been discussed in this paper. The ACA: Code of Ethics (2005) is written and adapted based on an ever-changing world. The AACC: Code of Ethics is based on unchanging Biblical standards. It stands to reason that if an individual adheres to the AACC: Code of Ethics that a standard of consistency is more likely to be seen, due to the unchanging nature of the Bible. A Christian counselor may find both publications to be very useful.
In the same way a non-Christian will probably have absolutely no use for the AACC: Code of Ethics (2004). No matter what an individual’s faith-related position is, as a professional counselor, it is the highest priority to first “do no harm” ACA: Code of Ethics (2005), and AACC: Code of Ethics (2004). The very cornerstone of helping people through counseling requires that the counselor make a deliberate treatment plan to do no harm. With that understanding, it is the responsibility of the professional counselor to employ and explore whatever empirical resources are available to execute such a plan.
References American Association of Christian Counselors: Code of Ethics. (2004). American Association of Christian Counselors A». Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www. aacc. net/about-us/code-of-ethics/ American Counseling Association: Code of Ethics. (2005). Ethics |http://www. counseling. org/CP/CT2. aspx|. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www. counseling. org/Resources/CodeOfEthics/TP/Home/CT2. aspx New Mandates and Imperatives in the Revised ACA Code of Ethics. (2009). Journal of Counseling & Development, 87(2), 241-256.