A few months have passed since the first Ethics Revision Task Force (ERTF) blog, so we felt it was time to provide an update. We appreciated all of the feedback from members and divisions regarding the revision and what, as a profession, needed to be addressed. Before going into those suggestions, here is some insight into the process thus far. Perry Francis, as the leader of the ERTF, has divided the members into eight different subgroups, one per section of the existing code. Each member of the ERTF serves on three sub-groups. Perry, David Kaplan, Erin Martz, and Michelle Wade have interactions with all of the sub-groups: Perry due to his leadership, David and Erin because of their interaction with ethics on a daily basis, and Michelle due to her technology interest. In other words, we are making sure that the profession’s voice is being heard through the input brought forth to the sub-groups.
Speaking of input, it has been refreshing to hear during every single meeting someone remark that, “people are telling me…” or “some of the concerns that are being brought to my attention include…” or “the types of questions that I am getting are…” Please know that the ERTF is very concerned about ensuring that this revision addresses concerns of the profession as well as becoming more concrete in wording. It’s been stated a number of times that we want this code to say what we mean in a clear way because we understand that, as a profession, clarity is one of the most desired outcomes of the revision.
Social networking and technology were also major concerns raised during the feedback interval. We, as a task force, understand that as technology advances and our profession strives to keep up with the times, we need to consider ethical implications of online counseling, technology-based record keeping, and social media. At the moment, we are still deciding between infusing the document throughout (much like the 2005 code did with multiculturalism), developing an entirely new section of the code or perhaps combining the two options. It is both an exciting time and a daunting task to attempt to incorporate technology in a meaningful way within the code.
Another theme from the feedback was the discussion about “when is a client a client.” ACA as an organization has stated that a client is a client upon first contact, and, yet, our code currently does not make that statement. Therefore, we as a task force understand this is very much a topic that needs to be considered along with the other aspects that have come up in legal situations such as Ward vs. Wilbanks regarding value judgments and referrals.
These are just a few of the issues and discussions going on regarding the revision of our ethical code. The ERTF will be holding a Town Hall Meeting at the ACA conference in San Francisco on March 24th at 2p-3:30pm. This will be a time for you to meet the task force members as we share some details about the process; more importantly, there will be an opportunity for feedback and questions. We will have notecards for questions/comments as well as a Q & A time so that we are able to receive as much input into the process as possible. We look forward to seeing you there.
Michelle E. Wade is a counselor and doctoral student focusing on in-home therapy and technology in counseling.