Nondiscrimination: Position Statement

Preventing Discrimination and Harassment

The American Counseling Association is committed to nondiscrimination and to the prevention of harassment in all forms—verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological—including protections for transgender, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Every human being on earth is unique and uniquely important. Each person embarks on the adventure of life guided by their own spirit, outlook, and traits of character. These facets help to shape and guide the course of every human journey. Everyone is equal on this path. No individual has the right or the authority to judge or mock another, or to force anyone to adhere to any type of societal norm.

Through its members, ACA strives to enhance quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity. ACA members help advocate for equity and fair treatment for all people and groups in order to end oppression and injustice affecting clients, students, families, communities, schools, workplaces, governments, and other social and institutional systems.

ACA and its members agree that all individuals have the right to be accepted for their unique and authentic self. ACA members consider it a privilege to work with—and on behalf of—people of all orientations, emphasizing multicultural competence and a respect for diverse views. We encourage our clients to be genuine and to work to find their own authentic self, even if that authentic self appears to be somewhat different from dominant social norms.

The ACA commitment to nondiscrimination and the prevention of harassment includes, but is not limited to, access to learning environments that are free of discrimination, bullying, and harassment; access to restrooms and changing facilities that are safe and affirming for gender non-conforming youth and adults; and use of preferred names.

ACA recognizes the stress and psychological impact of discrimination and is committed to helping counselors advocate for nondiscrimination policies and practices in their work settings and practices.

Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe, unthreatened space to continuously build a vibrant, thriving self, which in turn can build a vibrant, thriving family, as well as a constantly evolving and improving community.

We respect and honor the unique human spirit that everyone—regardless of cultural attributes or sexual orientation—brings to our communities. At ACA, it is our goal to help make certain that everyone has an opportunity to grow and to achieve their full potential.

Competencies for Counselors

The American Counseling Association has endorsed two sets of competencies that address these issues:  Advocacy Competencies and Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients.

The Advocacy Competencies, developed by Lewis, Arnold, House & Toporek, were endorsed by the ACA Governing Council in March 2003. These competencies provide 43 strategies spanning the areas of:

  • Client/Student Empowerment
  • Client/Student Advocacy
  • Community Collaboration
  • Systems Advocacy
  • Public Information
  • Social/Political Advocacy

Read the complete text of the Advocacy Competencies here. (PDF file)

The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC) Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients were approved by the ACA Governing Council in November 2009. These competencies provide 103 strategies in the areas of:

  • Human Growth & Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Work
  • Professional Orientation
  • Career & Lifestyle Development
  • Appraisal
  • Research

Read the complete text of the ALGBTIC Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients. (PDF file)


Links to other related ACA resources:

Counseling Today articles:

ACA Publications

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