Calm Sea

Personal Code of Ethics

The Counseling Relationship

Counselors must:

  • Work hard to create and sustain a relationship with their clients based on trust.

  • Obtain informed consent from clients entering a counseling relationship.

  • Respect a client’s confidentiality and privacy.

  • Maintain appropriate boundaries in the professional counseling relationship.

  • Explain to clients what the counseling relationship entails (which could include fees, group work, and termination).

  • Be cognizant and respect the client’s culture, values, and beliefs.



Confidentiality and Privacy

Counselors must:

  • Communicate the concept of confidentiality with their clients on an ongoing basis and do so in a culturally sensitive way.

  • Inform clients about the limitations of confidentiality regarding what situations information must be disclosed (e.g., to protect clients or others from harm).

  • Discuss if and how information may be shared with others.

  • Understand legal and ethical issues involved in working with clients who cannot provide informed consent (such as minors or clients with impairment).

  • Maintain and store records in an approved way.



Professional Responsibility

Counselors must:

  • Practice within one’s boundaries of competence.

  • Practice counseling based on scientific foundations.

  • Adhere to the ACA Code of Ethics

  • Report reasonable suspicion of neglect or abuse.


Distance Counseling, Technology, and Social Media

Counselors must:

  • Be knowledgeable about the laws governing distance counseling and social media.

  • Inform clients about the limits of confidentiality and potential Internet interruptions due to the nature of technology.

  • Avoid disclosing confidential information through social media.

  • Utilize informed consent to explain the boundaries of social media.



Resolving Ethical Issues

Counselors must:

  • Behave in an ethical and legal manner and recognize when there is a conflict between ethics codes and laws.

  • Utilize and document an ethical decision-making process when faced with an ethical dilemma.

  • Resolve ethical dilemmas with direct and open communication to all parties involved.

  • Seek consultation when necessary.