Code of Ethics



The American College of Counselors, Inc., hereinafter referred to as College, is a collegial, select group of professionals in counseling and related human services who seek to foster growth and development.  The College and its members seek to establish guidelines and standards that will be in common with all human service providers.  Regardless of membership and/or status, all College members are expected to live up to the professional code of ethics that follows.


Members of the College are committed to increasing their knowledge and awareness of human development and its manifestations of complex behavioral and emotional problems.  Members shall place high value on objectivity and integrity; maintain high standards of inquiry and communication; and be objective in reporting their findings.

  1. As a member of the College, a therapist will conduct professional research in such a way as to minimize the possibility of misleading outcomes.
  2. As an educator a member recognizes the primary obligation to help others acquire knowledge and skill.  S/he strives to maintain high standards of scholarship.
  3. As a therapist a member is expected to offer only those consulting services for which for which s/he has received adequate training and skills.  The clinician bears a heavy social responsibility because her/his work touches intimately the lives of others.
  4. As an artist a member is aware of the creative and emotional self in order to relate to clients and students for their mutual growth and development.


  1. No member or applicant of the College shall use in professional activity or practice any degree or title in any form connoting a degree unless (1) the degree or title was obtained from an organization that is a duly chartered public, religious, or educational institution having lawful authority from the government of the state, province, or nation in which it is located to award the degree or title and (2) the degree or title is used in a lawful manner in any jurisdiction in which it applies.  Only degrees from accredited institutions may be listed in College publications. The College has the right to inquire about member’s or applicant’s background and whether the academic degree represents the type of educational training which the College determines is adequate and acceptable for College membership.
  2. Honorary degrees may not be represented as earned degrees.
  3. When a member of the Ethics Committee learns that a member of the College is or may be in violation of this regulation, the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee may request a transcript of the questioned degree.  If the member does not supply to the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee the requested transcript within 45 days of the request, it will be assumed that the member is acting in violation of Section 2a of this Code of Ethics, prohibiting misrepresentation of one’s professional qualification, and this person then will automatically be referred to the Board of Governors with a recommendation that s/he be dropped from membership in the College.


This Association and its members are dedicated to the cultivation and preservation of the highest standards of the profession and seek to exemplify those high standards.

  1. Persons who fail to subscribe to the standards prescribed by this Association shall be denied membership.
  2. Members who violate any provision of the Code of Ethics, or any statute or regulation of any state supervisory or regulatory board, shall be reported through the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the Board of Governors for referral to the appropriate state board and/or to the appropriate law enforcement authority for disposition.
  3. Members who become aware of nonmembers who violate any statute or regulation of any state regulatory or supervisory board shall be reported through the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee to the Board of Governors for referral by the Chairperson to the appropriate state board, and/or law enforcement authority for disposition.
  4. Professional persons recognize the boundaries of their competence and the limitations of their techniques.  Their client is best served when assisted in obtaining appropriate professional help for aspects of any problem that fall outside their own competence.


Members who do individual, group, marriage, and family counseling show regard for the social codes and moral expectations of the community.  Evidence of moral turpitude, for example, sexual intercourse between client and counselor or criminal activities, is reportable by the Committee through its Chairperson to the Board of Governors for appropriate action.


Honesty, caution, and due regard for the morals of young people limits those who do individual, group, marriage, and family counseling and education when they supply information to the public, either directly or indirectly.

  1. Persons who interpret or supervise individual, group, marriage, and family counseling and education have an obligation to report fairly and accurately.
  2. Members who do individual, group, marriage, and family counseling and education do not use their affiliation with the College for purposes that are not consonant with the stated purposes of the College.
  3. It shall be unethical for professional persons to represent to the public that a clinic, agency, or center is being operated if in fact, the member is engaged in independent individual practice.  Legal incorporation shall not be in itself satisfactory evidence of the existence of a “de facto” center.



  1. Information shall be revealed only to professional persons concerned with the case.  Written and oral reports should present only data germane to the purposes of the inquiry.  Every effort should be made to avoid undue invasion of privacy.
  2. The professional person has a responsibility for informing the client of the limits of the confidentiality.
  3. Written permission shall be granted by the clients involved before data may be divulged.
  4. Information is not communicated to others without the consent of the client unless there is a clear and immediate danger to an individual or to society, and then only to the appropriate authorities.



The professional person respects the integrity of clients and protects the welfare of the persons, group, or family with whom s/he is working.

  1. Tests and test results shall be used in a professional manner.
  2. Identifiable clients shall not be used as subjects of research, beyond statistical tabulation, without their knowledge and consent.
  3. A professional employed by another person or agency should only encourage clientele of the original employer or agency to leave and come to his/her private practice when there is a mutual agreement between the professional person and original employer or agency that such a change is in the client’s best interest.
  4. A professional person conducting an encounter group, a marathon group, or a sensitivity group shall always assume reasonable responsibility for the group members’ well-being.



The College member adheres to professional rather than commercial standards in making known her/his availability for professional services.

  1. Announcements, whether agency, group or individual, are limited to a simple statement of the name, highest relevant degree, address, telephone number, office hours, and a brief explanation of the types of services rendered.  Agencies may list names of staff members with degrees.
  2. The use in a brochure of “testimonials” is unacceptable.
  3. A College member must not encourage a client to have exaggerated ideas as to the efficiency and effectiveness of services rendered.
  4. There must be two or more practitioners to advertise as a group practice.



  1. Any member of the College who engages in practice as an employee, partner, or stockholder in a professional group, co-operative, or corporation must conform in their advertising to the requirements of this Code of Ethics.  Should s/he lack the authority to do so, an attempt shall be made to convince the person or persons having such authority that the advertising should conform to the standards of the College.  In the event that such member is unsuccessful in doing so, the member shall submit a written statement to the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee explaining what attempts s/he made to influence the group, cooperative, or corporation to conform and why s/he failed in such attempt.
  2. The College logo is for the exclusive use of the American College of Counselors, Inc.
  3. All advertising including telephone directories or other directories of services rendered by a member of the College must be limited to:  (1) name, highest degree earned, (2) area of specialization and services offered, (3) indication of membership in the College, and (4) addresses and telephone numbers.
  4. Advertising of professional services in telephone directories of a group of professionals shall be limited to:

    1. Name of the group.
    2. Addresses, telephone numbers, and Email.
    3. A list of the professionals belonging to the group with their degrees and specialties, or a list of the types of specialties offered by the group.
  5. Paid advertising of the College counseling services in newspapers, radio, TV, or other mass media is forbidden.
  6. When a person or group shall be found in violation of these advertising standards, an attempt shall be made to bring them to conformity with the regulation.  If conformity with the advertising standards is not followed, the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee shall report the findings to the Board of Governors and recommend that the person or persons be dropped from membership in the College.



A professional member of the College acts with integrity inrelating to colleagues in other professions.

  1. A College member does not normally offer professional services to a person receiving counseling assistance from another psychotherapist except by agreement with the other professional person or after the termination of the client’s relationship with the other professional worker.
  2. The professional conduct of the College member requires that in joint practice or corporate activities an orderly and explicit arrangement be clearly set forth regarding the conditions of their association and its possible termination.  Members who serve as employers of other professionals have an obligation to make similar appropriate arrangements.



Financial arrangements in professional practice or activities shall be in accord with standards that safeguard the best interest of the client and the profession.

  1. In establishing rates for professional services, those who do counseling should consider carefully both the ability of the client to meet the financial burden and charges made by other professional persons engaged in comparable work.  Professional members are willing to contribute a portion of their services to work for which they receive little or no financial return.
  2. No commission or rebate or any other form of remuneration shall be given or received for referral of clients for professional services.
  3. A professional person who practices privately while also employed as a counselor for an agency or employer shall accept private fees or remuneration only when such counseling does not conflict with their employment agreements with such employer or agency.  In all instances, the client must be fully apprised of all policies affecting him/her.



Test scores, like test materials, shall be released only to professional persons who are qualified to interpret and use them properly.  In discussing tests and results with clients, members in general shall avoid raw scores and offer interpretive information instead.



The professional person is obligated to protect the welfare of his research subjects.
Research is conducted only when the subjects and their responsible agents are fully informed and agree to participate.  The conditions of the Human Subjects Experimentation Act shall prevail, as specified by appropriate government guidelines.



Credit is assigned to those who have contributed to a publication, in proportion to their contribution, and in accordance with customary publication practices.



A professional person respects the rights and reputation of the institute or organization with which s/he is associated.

  1. Professional persons publishing materials prepared as a part of their regular work under specific direction of the organization are to honor individually whatever agreements there may be between themselves and their employer concerning publication and ownership rights.  Where there is dispute, it is normally accepted that the employer has prior rights to such published materials.
  2. Other material resulting incidentally from activity supported by an agency, and for which the professional person rightly assumes individual responsibility, is published with disclaimer for any responsibility on the part of the employing agency.



The professional person associated with the development or promotion of books or other products offered for commercial sale is responsible for ensuring that such devices, books, or products, etc., are presented in a professional and factual way.

  1. Claims regarding performance, benefits, or results must be supported by acceptable evidence.
  2. The College member shall not use professional journals for commercial exploitation of her/his profession.  The member shall guard against such misuse when s/he acts as editor of a publication.

This Code of Ethics embodies standards of behavior for those who do counseling and education.  In accepting membership in the College, the professional person agrees to abide by and live up to the spirit and intent of this Code of Ethics.