Code of Conduct


American Counseling Association (“ACA”) is honored to provide a safe environment for the counselor community to come together to connect, engage, and learn.  ACA is committed to providing an environment that encourages the free expression and exchange of professional information and promotes equal opportunities and respectful treatment for all participants.


This Code of Conduct applies to all attendees, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, contractors, volunteers, staff, and guests at ACA sponsored events. For clarification, an event is considered to be an ACA sponsored event if it was organized by or with the assistance of ACA staff.  An event is not considered to be an ACA sponsored event if it is a component or division event that did not receive support from ACA staff.


All participants are expected to treat others with respect and consideration, follow venue rules, and alert ACA staff or security of any dangerous situations or anyone in distress.


ACA prohibits and will not tolerate any form of harassment or bullying at its events.


Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following behaviors at an ACA sponsored event:


  • Sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. The conduct need not be sexual; a pattern of profanity or rudeness based on someone’s gender, for example, might constitute sexual harassment. Other examples of behavior that might constitute sexual harassment, depending on the circumstances, include, but are not limited to, publicly indecent behavior; subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors; repeated and unwelcome sexual jokes, innuendo, advances, or propositions; repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature; repeated and unwelcome graphic commentary about an individual's body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; repeated leering or insulting or obscene comments or gestures; and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.
  • Harassing, physically threatening, or physically or verbally abusing any person because of, but not limited to, that person’s race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, marital status, personal appearance, genetic information, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, national origin, native language, political party affiliation, viewpoint, and any other personal characteristic.
  • Conducting oneself in a manner endangering the health or safety of another person.
  • Intentionally disrupting a meeting or presentation. Peaceful protest outside of the meeting venue is not deemed to be an intentional disruption of a meeting or presentation.
  • Exhibiting disorderly conduct, including but not limited to, abuse of controlled substances or overt drunkenness.
  • Bringing any weaponry, firearms, dangerous chemicals, or any materials specifically banned by the venue space to an ACA sponsored event.
  • Defacing property.
  • Any social media posting reflecting any of the above behavior occurring at or relating to an ACA sponsored event.

Reporting misconduct


The safety, well-being and professional reputations of our members and participants is of the utmost importance. If someone engages in behavior that violates this Code of Conduct, you are urged to immediately report the situation.


If an individual experiences or witnesses a violation of this Code of Conduct, he/she/they should contact ACA staff (ACA staff are identifiable by their ACA Staff name badge) or the venue management as soon as possible or contact event security if they feel unsafe.  Individuals may also report complaints to Fraud Hotline, LLC 24-hours a day via 1(855) FRAUD-HL or (the company ID is ACA).  All complaints will be responded to promptly and treated seriously and, to the extent possible, confidentially.  


While confidentiality will be respected to the extent possible, allegations of illegal behavior must be investigated and must be based on a written complaint. ACA provides a third-party service for reporting violations of this Code of Conduct.  While reports may be made anonymously, it can be more difficult to investigate an anonymous complaint. 


ACA expressly forbids any retaliation against individuals for reporting misconduct in good faith.  


How complaints are handled


Violation of this Code of Conduct may result in an individual being asked to leave the event at which the incident occurred, without warning or refund, or being barred from attending ACA sponsored events in the future.  Event security and local police may be contacted in the event violators pose an imminent threat to others or are disrupting the event.


The Executive Committee of the ACA Governing Council will appoint a Task Force led by a lead investigator to investigate all claims of misconduct. All members of the Task Force shall be active members of ACA at the time of their appointment.  Lead investigators or their designees will interview complainants, asking for the identification of relevant witnesses and production of relevant documents. 
Persons named by a complainant will be interviewed. They will be provided with a copy of the written complaint against them, asked to respond, and asked to identify any relevant witnesses and produce relevant documents. They also will be warned about the need to protect the complainant from retaliation.


Persons with relevant information will also be interviewed. During the interview, they will be told of the need for confidentiality and the need to protect complainants from retaliation. Relevant documents and electronic records will be reviewed.


How violations and sanctions are determined


The lead investigator will prepare a report for the Executive Committee of the ACA Governing Council summarizing their findings and the basis for those findings. If any charges are upheld, the Executive Committee will determine an appropriate sanction.

How sanctions are imposed


Sanctions will be imposed and enforced by the Executive Committee of the ACA Governing Council. Sanctions can include prohibition on attending a future ACA sponsored event for a period of time or a permanent ban on event attendance.  If the sanction includes a revocation of membership in ACA, the ACA Governing Council will be asked to affect the revocation by a two-thirds vote of all members then in office. 


A violation of this Code of Conduct could also lead to an ethics charge being brought against an ACA member under the ACA Code of Ethics.  The policies and procedures for enforcement of the ACA Code of Ethics are separate and apart from enforcement of this Code of Conduct. Complaints that require broader investigation than that set forth in this Code of Conduct may be handled by ACA’s Ethics Committee.

If an ACA Staff member is found to be in violation, the applicable ACA employment policy will be followed.  Action regarding an ACA staff member may result in termination of employment.

Similar disciplinary action as that stated above may also be taken against any individual who knowingly provides false information regarding a violation of this Code of Conduct.