It is essential for any organization to have an ethical code because it helps professionals and entrepreneurs conduct business honestly and morally right. Generally, an ethical code aims at regulating the performance of an organization at three levels. At the first and the most basic level, an ethical code regulates the overall idea of a company. At the second level, it is directed on the relations between the employees and the internal atmosphere of a team. Finally, and most importantly, an ethical code says how to behave with the consumers of the provided services, be it clients, customers, or patients. The current paper analyzes ethical codes of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Counseling Association (ACA).
To begin with, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of the three associations mentioned above. The ACA is the largest non-profit organization in the world that represents counselors and educates everyone interested in mastering the counseling profession. The mission of the ACA is to improve the quality of life in society by enhancing the skills and knowledge of counselors and promoting “respect for human dignity and diversity” (The ACA, 2014, p. 2).
The AACC targets Christian counselors, pastors, and even lay church members with no professional experience in this sphere. The critical aim of the AACC is to reveal “biblical truth and psychosocial insights” to the caregivers because this will help them to decently help others and maintain their mental health (The AACC, 2014, p. 9). The APA is a professional organization that represents American psychologists. This organization aims to contribute to the resolution of burning societal issues through psychology, educate specialists, and improve public awareness of what psychology is and how it is used.
The basic principles proclaimed in the ethical codes of the ACA, the AACA, the APA are the same. These include responsibility, confidentiality, and respect for people’s rights. These principles are an indispensable part of any counselors or psychologist’s work, and, therefore, the associations should transmit these principles. Coming to an appointment with a counselor, a person trusts him with the most profound feelings, emotions, and fears. Therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt, any professional should strictly adhere to the idea of a patient’s confidentiality, be polite, and do his or her best to provide a person with the necessary assistance.
Whereas the principles of confidentiality and respect for people’s rights are universal, the principle of responsibility is immensely broad. For instance, according to the ethical code of the ACA (2014), this principle implies that a person who wants to be a counselor should be educated and trained, possess professional competencies, respect colleagues, and even control self-image in social media and on the public. The ethical code of APA (2017) also adds that a responsible specialist should not hesitate to “cooperate with other professionals and institutions” if it could improve the quality of his or her work (para. 3).
Besides, according to the APA (2017), responsibility also means that a psychologist should be willing to dedicate some of his or her professional time to work for “little or no compensation or personal advantage” (para. 3). The last idea implies that a real professional should be motivated not by income but by the desire to improve people’s lives and helping them to resolve their problems.
Another peculiar detail about these organizations is that the ethical codes of the AACC (2014) and the ACA (2014) include the entire chapter dedicated to the topic of application of technologies, whereas the APA’s (2017) ethical code does not have such a section. The ACA’s (2014) code discusses how to use video recordings from the appointments, behave in social media, and use the Internet to assist people who cannot come in person. Concerning the use of technologies, the AACC (2014) discusses the same questions mentioned in the preceding sentence. The key takeaway from the chapters on the application of technology is that it enables counselors to help people online and that they should be conscious about the information they post on social media and websites.
All of the three ethical codes claim that counseling professionals should treat not only all clients but also all colleagues equally. The politeness, attention, and quality of the provided services cannot depend on the cultural background, race, age, gender, disabilities, religion, social and economic statuses, or nationality. In other words, the ethical codes of the APA (2017), the AACC (2014), and the ACA (2014) are united with the principle of non-discrimination. At this point, particular attention should be paid to the ethical code of the AACC (2014).
Even though the AACC is a Christian organization, in the document, it is written that its representatives are not allowed to impose their worldview on people of other faiths. Furthermore, the professionals should be respectful to other religions and try to understand other religions’ values and ideas because it is a way to help the clients. In their ethical codes, the AACC, the ACA, and the APA fix the idea that all people are equal, and everyone has a right to a decent help of a well-educated and trained specialist.
The American Association of Christian Counselors (2014). AACC Code of Ethics. Web.
The American Counseling Association (2014). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics. Web.
The American Psychological Association (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Web.