American Counseling Association Statement

on

Publicly Diagnosing the Mental State of an Individual

The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics, Section E, requires counselors to take special care in providing the proper diagnosis of mental disorders in the proper manner.

The public association of any individual with any term contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD)—without having interviewed and conducted a thorough assessment of the individual and having written permission for such a disclosure—is a violation of the ACA Code of Ethics.

When publicly discussing public figures and others, professional counselors should avoid DSM- and ICD-related terms, especially diagnosis and disorder. Counselors should not attach a specific DSM or ICD diagnosis to any individual through messaging or statements in media outlets or social media.

Avoiding public statements that label an individual with a mental disorder is in the best interest of the public. This approach aligns with one of the counseling profession’s core professional values, as stated in the preamble of the ACA Code of Ethics: Practicing in a competent and ethical manner.

The ACA Code of Ethics is available online at counseling.org/ethics.

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