Code of Ethics Comparison and Contrast: American Association of Christian Counselors and American Counseling Association Essay


An organization’s Code of Ethics lays the fundamental stipulations pertinent to appropriate approaches, conduct of affairs and acceptable operations of and within an organization. To this end, both the American Association of Christian Counselors and American Counseling Association have adopted their respective Codes of Ethics. While the two organizations hereinabove cited are evidently distinct in both approach and mission, their respective Codes nevertheless exhibit strains of correspondences in the aspects of competence, inter-collegial relations and mandated standards. All these serve to protect the welfare of their clients in the ultimate analysis.

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Code of Ethics Comparison and Contrast: AACC and ACA

The roadmap of this paper is to make a ponderous juxtaposition of the Codes of Ethics stipulated and duly implemented by the American Association of Christian Counselors[1] and the American Counseling Association,[2] in order to draw certain aspects of resemblances against the backdrop of their patent differences. Specifically, this paper shall try to bring into the fore discussions pertinent to only three aspects namely: areas of competence, colleague relationships and community standards. Ultimately, this paper hopes to argue that despite evident differences in approach and perceived goals, the two Codes of Ethics in question can nevertheless exhibit areas of correspondences, while maintaining their respective uniqueness just the same.

Drawing Correspondences from Patent Differences

            It has to be firstly noted that the two counseling organizations significantly differ in implementing specific approaches to address the needs of their clients. On the one hand, AACC promises to try its best to offer or refer Christian counselors whose advanced skills and expertise are informed by Christian beliefs and norms. On the other hand, ACA does not subscribe to any religious leaning in its counseling programs. It is wise to note though that Christian counseling does not necessarily restrict the competence of AACC to handle counseling sessions beyond select Christian clients. Despite preponderance to Christian beliefs, AACC claims competence and readiness to “express a loving care to” practically any type of client (AACC Code of Ethics, 2004, p. 6). Along the same vein, ACA boasts of a team of professionals who are able to “work in a variety of settings” and “serve in multiple capacities” (ACA Code of Ethics, 2005, p. 3). And like AACC, ACA does strive to cater to the needs of clients coming from a broad network of backgrounds and differences; putting a fair amount of dedication and effort to understand the diversity of socio-cultural backgrounds of the clients whom it serves.

            That being said, it needs to be further mentioned that both counseling organizations have put higher premium than most on maintaining a level of competence and expertise into their respective crafts. This can be seen in how, first, both AACC and ACA express commitment to uphold a considerable level of professional competence by making truthful claims about their otherwise defined sets of services, and employing a pool of competent counselors with adequate educational backgrounds; and that, second, the two organizations see the crucial importance of acknowledging the occasional limits to their competence through the following: (1) by not offering services beyond the boundaries set by their relative capacities; (2) by employing and/or assigning counselors whose competence best addresses the specific needs of the clients; and (3) by encouraging their respective counselors to attend continuing study programs and keep themselves abreast of the latest scientific theories available to their advantage (AACC, 2004, pp. 9-10; ACA, 2005, p. 9). AACC moreover sets that its members cannot advice against professional or medical treatment as a way to respect the competence of those who may be simultaneously involved with the clients well being. By contrast, ACA places much emphasis on the need for a continued monitoring of progress so as to evaluate the efficiency not only of the counselor but also the counseling therapy sessions.

            In the area of colleague relationships, one can find palpable differences and notable similarities between the Codes of AACC and ACA. One can for instance note that the scope of the organizations’ inter-collegial relationships differs significantly. On the one hand, AACC takes into careful consideration the context of the church in its definition of existing colleague relationships. In other words, Christian counselors are demanded to respect the working boundaries not only with their immediate colleagues within the organization, but also with the larger Christian community who may be deemed involved in the welfare of the client; i.e., church ministers, counselors and pastors to be exact. On the other hand, ACA does not have a larger community or “church” in defining its inter-collegial relations. Instead, ACA maintains that collegial relationships consist in interactions with either members of the same organization, or those who may come from inter-disciplinary teams. As with AACC however, ACA believes that maintaining a respectable relationship between and among colleagues is crucial in that it can in fact “influence the quality of services provided to clients” (ACA, 2005, p. 11).

Both Codes of Ethics, it has to be further noted, recognize the need to maintain a healthy atmosphere of professionalism as a case of critical importance. Which is why, both AACC and ACA place much weight on the sheer necessity of adhering to certain measures so as to ensure that any existing collegial relationships within and outside the organization are guided by the parameters set by their respective Codes of Ethics. In particular, it has to be mentioned that both AACC and ACA pay close attention the observance of absolute confidentiality under normal circumstances of inter-collegial interactions. ACA for instance stipulates that counselors are mandated by law to observe the “parameters of confidentiality” without compromising “extraordinary circumstances” that require appropriate divulging of information pertinent to the welfare of clients, especially on account of extreme reasons (ACA, 2005, p. 11). Along the same vein, AACC provides that except on instances when the client so permits, and/or when “crisis” is imminent, counselors are strongly prohibited solicit information from, or offer the same to a colleague under normal circumstances (AACC, 2004, p. 16).

Lastly, it may also help to cite that AACC and ACA have differing notions of community standards implemented within their respective frames. ACA for instance seeks to promote of a culture of professionalism for the entire community to subscribe into. In other words, so as to maintain an atmosphere of professionalism, all the members of the community of ACA agree to abide by rules prohibiting untoward behaviors that may compromise the promotion of clients’ welfare. Such instances may include, but are not limited to engaging in relations with clients and former clients which may either be romantic/sexual or business in nature, as well as imposing personal opinions which are inconsistent with the goal of the organization, among many others (ACA, 2005, p. 5). On the other hand, AACC implements explicitly Christian standards for its community. Particularly, on account of the need to promote a Christian culture within the organization, all counselors are demanded not to consent to any decision involving matters that run contrary to the teachings of the faith. These may include, but are not limited to abortion, divorce, pre-marital or extra-marital relations, homosexual or transgender activities, euthanasia and assisted suicide (AACC, 2004, pp. 6-7).


This paper ends with a conclusion that affirms the above cited thesis statement: that despite patent differences, the Codes of Ethics stipulated and implemented by AACC and ACA nevertheless manifest areas of correspondences. Of chief importance to this would be to cite that both AACC and ACA seek nothing but to promote the welfare of their clients, notwithstanding the different approaches which they deem to be appropriately employed. In the discussions which were developed, it was seen that both AACC and ACA express commitment to uphold professionalism into their fields, as well as promise to observe confidentiality and prudence relative to their inter-collegial interactions. In the final analysis, this paper further concludes that, it is not without good reasons to suppose that their clients are the ones directly benefiting from the benevolent stipulation laid by the two Codes of Ethics.


American Association of Christian Counselors. (2004). AACC Code of Ethics. Retrieved 18       September 2008, from <>.

American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved 18 September 2008, from <>.

[1] Hereinafter referred to simply as AACC.

[2] Hereinafter referred to simply as ACA.

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