AI Work Group Recommendations

The American Counseling Association has convened a panel of counseling experts representing academia, private practice and students to comprise its AI Work Group. The work group used research-based and contextual evidence; the ACA Code of Ethics; and clinical knowledge and skill to develop the following recommendations. The goal is to both prioritize client well-being, preferences, and values in the advent and application of AI, while informing counselors, counselor-educators and clients about the use of AI today. The recommendations also highlight the additional research needed to inform counseling practice as AI becomes a more widely available and accepted part of mental health care.

Artificial intelligence (AI) influences and applies to counselor education and clinical counseling. The following recommendations are written to provide guidance to counselors-in-training as they matriculate and begin counseling practice. Students are advised to abide by the rules and policies of their universities, professors, and clinical placements prior to engaging with AI. It is also imperative that students abide by the ACA code of ethics. Students are encouraged to acquaint themselves with AI and stay abreast of its evolving applications within counseling contexts.


1. Understanding Your University's AI Usage Policies
Students should know their university's policies on using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in their studies. With AI constantly evolving, universities regularly update their rules to tackle issues related to ethics, legalities, and academic honesty. By familiarizing yourself with these updated policies, you ensure that you're using AI responsibly and in ways that align with the expectations of your academic community, promoting a fair and ethical learning environment (Foltynek et al., 2023; University of North Carolina - Chappel Hill, n.d.)

2. Legal and Ethical Considerations in AI Usage
It is crucial to stay informed about legal frameworks and ethical guidelines when using AI in counseling to ensure compliance and ethical practice (Gianni et al., 2022). Counselors-in-training must the rapidly evolving regulations and potential issues over data privacy and confidentiality.(Chan, 2023)

3. Understanding AI: A Technical Glossary
Using a technical glossary to clarify AI terms and concepts is beneficial, making AI more accessible and understandable. However, the technical complexity of AI tools poses a challenge, emphasizing the importance of such resources to bridge understanding gaps through continuing education. (Jobin, et al., 2019)

4. Transparency
Be transparent about how you are using AI, why you are using it, and how it works, especially when submitting work that may be attributed to you. Be sure to cite AI contributions in a format that your university or professor has specified. (Hollister, et al., 2019)

5. Mindful Sharing
Exercise discretion when sharing sensitive or personal information with AI platforms. Prioritize privacy and confidentiality to protect private or sensitive information on platforms with loose or unfamiliar security or data management (Gianni et al., 2022).You should consider tools with robust security measures, such as encryption and secure data storage, and clear policies around data privacy.(Murdoch, 2021)


6. Enhancing Educational Experience
Utilizing large Language Models (LLMs) to simulate counseling scenarios and generate ideas may offer an interactive and diverse educational experience. However, to maintain accuracy, it is important to cross-verify the generated information with established counseling practices. While LLMs provide significant educational benefits, caution must be exercised to avoid misinformation and overdependence on the technology. (Hosseini, 2023)

7. Validate AI Sources and Content
Exercise caution when relying on AI-generated content, as it may introduce biases or produce invalidated outputs (Perkins, 2023). AI-generated content may only sometimes be accurate or reliable, and it is essential to verify the information and ensure that it is properly cited. Additionally, using AI-generated content without being stated clearly and made transparent by students can be consider plagiarism (Perkins, 2023). Using your words and giving credit where credit is due is always important. (Weber-Wulff, 2023)

8. Intentional Use
Employ AI applications to augment or personalize your learning experiences rather than replacing the critical thinking skills essential for developing professional dispositions and personalization skills. Emphasize the role of AI as a supplementary tool to enhance learning outcomes and expand knowledge. Use AI to personalize your learning to individual learning styles (e.g., generate examples or case studies to practice conceptualization skills). Use AI-powered tools to analyze data on your own performance and identify areas for improvement (e.g., use AI to give you feedback on the quality of your writing). (Crompton & Burke, 2023)

9. Manage Expectations
Acknowledge the limitations of AI applications, including potential biases and restricted functionalities (Perkins, 2023). Presently, AI excels in performing route, mechanical tasks (e.g., scheduling, prioritizing). However, you should exercise increased discretion when relying on AI for analytical, intuitive, or empathic tasks. Foster realistic expectations about AI capabilities and leverage its strengths judiciously in education or professional practice. (Kooli, 2023)

10. AI Writing Tools: Navigating Academic Integrity
AI writing tools can serve as valuable aids in academic writing, helping with structure and ideation. However, it is crucial to ensure originality and properly cite sources in your work to uphold academic integrity (Perkins, 2023). The use of these tools must be balanced with caution against plagiarism and preserving one's personal academic voice.

11. Image Generators: Visual Aid in Counseling
When using image generators in counseling to create educational visual aids, it is crucial to ensure content appropriateness. These tools can significantly enhance learning through visualization but also pose risks of generating misleading or inappropriate content (King, 2022). Professionals should prioritize creating relevant and suitable materials, leveraging the benefits of visual aids while mitigating potential risks.

12. PDF Readers/Summarizers: Streamlining Research
For preliminary research, utilizing PDF readers and summarizers can streamline the process, offering efficient summarization of lengthy texts as a key advantage. However, it is important to cross-check these summaries with original sources to ensure context and accuracy are maintained. The main risk lies in potentially overlooking crucial details or context, underscoring the need for careful review and verification (Inam et al., 2024).

13. Balancing AI’s insight with Counseling Skills
Enhancing the learning experience can be achieved by teaching essential counseling theories and techniques coupled with the insights offered by AI tools, thereby broadening both perspective and skill set. However, an over-reliance on AI may hinder the development of essential counseling skills and professional autonomy , highlighting the need for a balanced approach (Abrams, 2023).

Keeping Up

14. Keeping Up-to-Date with AI Advancements
Regular updates on the latest AI developments and their implications in counseling are essential to stay informed about emerging trends. This approach ensures you keep pace with the rapid evolution of AI and its impact on counseling practices, addressing potential concerns proactively. (Fiske et al., 2019)


Abrams, Z. (2023, July 1). AI is changing every aspect of psychology. Here’s what to watch for. Monitor on Psychology, 54(5).

Chan, C.K.Y. A comprehensive AI policy education framework for university teaching and learning. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 20, 38 (2023).

Crompton, H., & Burke, D. (2023). Artificial intelligence in higher education: the state of the field. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 20, 22.

Fiske, A., Henningsen, P., & Buyx, A. (2019) Your Robot Therapist Will See You Now: Ethical Implications of Embodied Artificial Intelligence in Psychiatry, Psychology, and Psychotherapy, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(5):e13216 URL: DOI: 10.2196/13216

Foltynek, T., Bjelobaba, S., Glendinning, I., Khan, Z. R., Santos, R., Pavletic, P., & Kravjar, J. (2023). ENAI Recommendations on the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence in Education. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 19(1), 1-4.

Gianni, R., Lehtinen, S., & Nieminen, M. (2022). Governance of responsible AI: from ethical guidelines to cooperative policies. Frontiers in Computer Science, 4, 873437.

Hollister, K., & Berenson, M. L. (2019). Ethical Considerations in the Use of AI in Higher Education. Journal of Academic Ethics, 17(3), 227-238

AI Work Group Members

S. Kent Butler, PhD
University of Central Florida
Russell Fulmer, PhD
Husson University
Morgan Stohlman
Kent State University
Fallon Calandriello, PhD
Northwestern University
Marcelle Giovannetti, EdD
Messiah University- Mechanicsburg, PA
Olivia Uwamahoro Williams, PhD
College of William and Mary
Wendell Callahan, PhD
University of San Diego
Marty Jencius, PhD
Kent State University
Yusen Zhai, PhD
UAB School of Education
Lauren Epshteyn
Northwestern University
Sidney Shaw, EdD
Walden University
Chip Flater
Dania Fakhro, PhD
University of North Carolina, Charlotte