2014 Code of Ethics

Ethics & Professional Standards

2014 ACA Code of Ethics

The 2014 ACA Code of Ethics was approved by the Governing Council at its meeting at the ACA conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The 2014 ACA Code of Ethics replaces the 2005 edition.  The new edition is the first code that speaks to the ethics of using social media with clients.  It also presents new or expanded guidelines for preventing the imposition of counselor personal values, distance counseling, confidentiality, dual relationships, multiculturalism and diversity, the use of technology, recordkeeping, diagnosis, end-of life care and the selection of interventions.

2014 ACA Code of Ethics (PDF)


The department of Ethics is responsible for providing access to and interpretation of the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.  We hope that this webpage will provide ACA members and interested members of the public with the necessary tools to ensure compliance with the rules of professional counseling.

To that end, please peruse our page and take advantage of resources such as the Online Ethics Courses, A Practitioner’s Guide to Ethical Decision Making and the compilation of Risk Management FAQ’s supplied by Nancy Wheeler, our Risk Management consultant.

If you are a student member, please follow the link to our library to access articles and databases that may assist you with research projects.

To file a complaint against a counselor who is an active ACA member, please review the Policies and Procedures for Processing Complaints of Ethical Violations and email ethics@counseling.org to begin the process of filing a complaint.

Ethical Consults

Ethical dilemmas and professional challenges surround us on a daily basis, and assistance with these issues is at hand! An ACA member receives as a benefit FREE confidential ethical/professional standards consultation five days a week between 8:30am and 4:30pm ET. Though the service is not designed to function as a hotline, inquiries are prioritized and answered within 72 hours. The Professional Affairs staff values the opportunity to provide you with this valuable service. Professional assistance is only an email/letter and phone call away. Contact the ACA Ethics and Professional Standards Department at (800) 347 6647, ext. 314 or email: ethics@counseling.org.

Ethics Resources

Find a list of all the available resources for 2014 Code here.

Practioner's Guide to Ethical Decision Making
This article was published in 1996 and, as such, precedes the most recent version of the ACA Code of Ethics; however, the guidance provided within this article remains relevant and can be used to formulate sound ethical decisions. Please consult the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics for current references.

New Concepts in the ACA Code of Ethics

The 2014 revision of the ACA Code of Ethics is a game changer that raises the bar for ethical practice. As a service to members, ACA is conducting interviews with members of the Ethics Revision Task Force to help flesh out critical new concepts in the code. Each column is also published in the corresponding issue of Counseling Today.

July column
August column
September column
October column
November column

2014 Code of Ethics Interviews

2014 Code of Ethics Overview

Ethical Implications of a Critical Legal Case for the Counseling Profession: Ward v. Wilbanks

Read the article here.

Graduate Student Ethics Competition

Registration for the 2014-2015 ACA Graduate Student Ethics Competition is closed; please click here to view the rules and requirement and to access the registration page.

Please click here to see the 2013-2014 competition results to view the competition results.

To cite the ACA Code of Ethics as a resource for an academic work, use: 
American Counseling Association (2014). ACA Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author.



Tick Tock...Heed the HIPAA/HITECH Clock!

Anne Marie “Nancy” Wheeler, J.D.
Counselors should be aware that 2013 has brought important new changes to HIPAA and that September 23, 2013 is the compliance deadline for many of these new regulatory requirements. Any counselor who is not sure if she is considered a “covered entity” under HIPAA should immediately access the online decision-making tool available at the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All counselors who are covered entities should move quickly to come into compliance or risk very stiff monetary penalties. Read More



Ethics Committee Reports

Risk Management

The documents on the following members-only page are de-identified composite of calls made to the ACA’s Risk Management Helpline, operated by Anne Marie "Nancy" Wheeler, J.D., an attorney licensed in Maryland and the District of Columbia. For specific legal advice, please consult your own local attorney.

Visit our Risk Management Section

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