In 2005, the American Counseling Association (ACA) published a document titled the ACA Code of Ethics which was designed to aid counselors in the ethical decision making process and, in response, “expand the capacity of people to grow and develop” (p. 3). The ACA Code of Ethics provides regulatory guidelines for all counselors to follow in ethical decision-making and practice. Of a more specific nature, the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) has also published a document stating the ethical practices and procedures for the Christian counseling field. The two documents contain many similarities, but, due to differing goals and principals, also containing may differences. This paper compares these two documents and more specifically focuses on the similarities and differences in the areas of confidentiality, fees, and records.
General Comparison of Ethics Codes
The ACA Code of Ethics and the AACC Code of Ethics are both written for those involved in the field of counseling and helping others and are written with a central focus on the well being and protection of clients. The major difference leading to most other distinctions in these two codes is centered on the guiding principals and goals of each organization. The ACA code is written from a secular perspective with emphasis on human development and embracing diverse cultures, ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles while the AACC (2004) code is written from a biblical perspective with its primary goals being “to bring honor to Jesus Christ and his church, promote excellence in Christian Counseling, and bring unity to Christian counselors” (pg. 3). The AACC code is written with respect to much more specific beliefs and thus, in many areas, provides more specific requirements and guidelines.
Both ethics codes exhibit a central concern for the confidentiality, privacy rights, and the well-being of clients with respect to furthering education, training, experience and practicing counseling only within credentials and obtained level of knowledge. Exhibiting a more specific set of beliefs and values, the AACC code is founded on seven biblical-ethical foundations and thus requires specific actions and procedures in the areas of abortion, divorce, premarital and extramarital sexual behavior, homosexual and transgendered sexual behavior, and euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The ACA and AACC codes do also differ in composition style. The ACA code is divided into eight sections with ethical standards and practices discussed for each section and references often made to other sections containing pertinent information to the topic being discussed. The document is well formatted and very easy to read and find topic information. The AACC code is more complex and provides information for a variety of counseling roles including Christian counselors, supervisors, educators, researchers, writers, ordained ministers and pastoral counselors, and lay helpers and other ministers. The document...