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Code of Ethics

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Running Head: Ethics Code

Ethics Code of Comparison Paper

COUN 501-B13

January 29, 2012

Abstract

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) was established to exceed the mark of professional counseling as a Christian counseling. The AACC is based on Christian principles with a strong biblical foundation. The AACC incorporates Psychology and theology to develop and expand effective Christian counselors. The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics was designed to raise the bar of the counseling profession. The primary focus of the ACA Code of Ethics is based on a worldly perspective. The AACC and ACA share several similarities and differences between the two Codes of Ethics as the AACC offers the Christian perspective, while the ACA provides the worldly point of view. These two viewpoints influence ethical values and decisions as counselors.

Section I: General comparison of the two codes

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and American Counseling Association (ACA) share the same goal of helping clients and ultimately striving to be phenomenal professional counselors. The American Association of Christian Counselors was created in 2004, and the American Counseling Association was established in 2005. The primary purpose of the AACC Code of Ethics is to aid and encourage the members to effectively provide extraordinary Christian counseling to their clients. In doing this, “the primary goals of the AACC- to bring honor to Jesus Christ and his church, promote excellence in Christian counseling, and bring unity to Christian counselors” (AACC Code of Ethics, 2004) can be accomplished. The ACA Code of Ethics is explained through five key purposes. These purposes include ethical responsibilities, maintaining the mission, establishes principles, ethical guide, and managing ethical complaints (2005). A significant distinction between the American Association of Christian Counselors Code of Ethics and the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics is the AACC Code of Ethics is mainly based on biblical principles and Christian values. Although the AACC has a biblical foundation, both codes have a primary focus of training and educating counselors to become more proficient at counseling. The AACC identifies seven Biblical-Ethical Foundations that serve as a basis for Christian counselors. Each foundation contributes to Christian counselors making ethical based decisions. The ACA identifies eight individual categories that provide counselors a roadmap to make ethical decisions. These categories serve as a jumpstart to assist counselors when faced with simple or complex ethical situations. The AACC and the ACA Code of Ethics share the expectations that counselors should provide optimal counseling services to their clients.
Section II: Specific comparison of three particular areas

Relationship to Society The AACC and ACA share only one common thread in regards to their relationship or role in society. They are similar in that they both support identifying various avenues for the growth of their clients. The AACC (2004) and the ACA (2005) specifically discuss the importance of being advocates on different levels of society and government in order to better serve their clients. The ACA Code of Ethics surprisingly only had a small section regarding the roles and relationships to society, whereas the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) had five subheadings listed in the section Ethical Relations with the State and Other Social Systems. It appears that the AACC is considerably more passionate about their relationship and the role they ultimately play in society. The AACC recognizes the importance of having relationships within numerous sectors of the community namely the church, mental health professions, state and government (2004). The AACC not only want to have better relationships within society, but they are also willing to confront any unethical issues that take place (2004). The AACC express a need to have continuity in ethical relationships with other Christian counselors and other Christian organizations. The AACC also acknowledges the significance of their relationship with Christ and that they are Christians before they are Christian counselors. In doing this, they desire to build strong relationships between the church and the government. Therefore, it is important to allow others to see Christ in their lives as they build relationships on the different levels of society.

Fees The AACC and the ACA both acknowledge the client’s needs are the primary focus in setting, establishing, and collecting fees. They recognize that the main purpose of counseling is to provide the needed help to the client, and not only to make money. The AACC stresses to its members the importance of pro bono work to provide services to clients who might not be able to afford their services on a regular fee scale (2004). They are also cautioned to avoid self-serving financial relations (2004). The basis of client selection should not be determined by the client’s capacity to pay. The ACA (2005) discussed the concern of taking compensation from clients for services provided by the counselor’s agency. The ACA permits this if company procedure allocates. If the company procedure does allocate this, the client must be given substitute choices for therapy. Both Codes of Ethics maintain a level of honesty and integrity while serving others. The AACC is expected to be fair and just when setting fees for the client, even if it means making less money. The relationship with the client is expected to be honest, and not deceptive or confusing (2004). The client definitely comes first, and the fee schedule is secondary. They are also encouraged to use a sliding fee scale (2004). The client definitely comes first, and the fee schedule is secondary. The sliding fee scale will allow all clients to receive treatment regardless of their ability to pay. However, the ACA encourages counselors to evaluate a client’s financial situation prior to setting a fee schedule. If the client is unable to afford the fee schedule that is outlined by the counselor, the counselor will assist the client to locate equivalent services that are more reasonably priced (2005). The ACA discusses how to handle bartering and receiving gifts, whereas the focal point for the AACC is maintain honesty and integrity in the area of fees and finances. The AACC does not make mention of bartering or receiving gifts, but rather than providing pro bono work for disadvantaged clients. They are encouraged to not be self-serving, but to serve others. The ACA allows counselors to take legal action against clients as a collection method for clients who do not pay in a timely manner or who have broken their payment agreement (2005). The AACC does not have a section that discusses responding to a client in this manner or any at all regarding clients that have not paid. This might not be the case as the AACC tries to tailor fee schedules specifically to their client’s needs; therefore the client is able to afford the payment arrangement. The AACC is definitely more concerned about the client’s well-being and success, more so than simply receiving payment for services rendered. The AACC encourage counselors to determine fee schedules and payment plans in the beginning, and be prepared to give an accurate accounting of any and all charges (2004). They are encouraged to strategically allow fees to be affordable for all clients that receive treatment.
Records
The AACC and the ACA express the importance of client confidentiality regarding client records. They both have policies and procedures in place that allow client access to records. The AACC (2004) and the ACA (2005) articulate that records are stored in safe locations and also accordingly with the law and ethical procedures. The AACC appears to be slightly more relaxed when it comes to maintaining client records, whereas the ACA Records section of the Code of Ethics has eight subheadings pertaining to records. The AACC guarantees to have accurate and meticulous record-keeping of clients’ files. Records will be very detailed and in order. The AACC provides ownership of all client records to the counselor’s employer or the therapist, if in a private practice (2004). They feel that in the best interest of the client, all records should ultimately remain with the client. This allows clients continual access to their records. The AACC did not discuss in detail the storage of client records or how the records will be maintained. The ACA is substantially more detailed in the area of record-keeping than the AACC. It is noted that only specific personnel will have access to client records (2005). The ACA explains that counselors receive consent from clients to record sessions, or observe and analyze sessions with other employees (2005). This is pertinent as it pertains to client records, because these records are subject to containing any and all information whether written or recorded by a device. In comparison to the AACC, the ACA is not as quick to allow access to client records with their clients. There is a process and procedure that clients must undergo before given access to their records. The ACA does acknowledge following governmental guidelines regarding client records. However, the client’s confidentiality is extremely important, and the ACA makes a diligent effort to protect the client as well as the counselor.
Conclusion
The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics both serve the purpose of helping clients by effectively teaching, training, and transforming ordinary counselors to extraordinary counselors. Although the AACC and the ACA share similarities and differences in various areas, the common goal for both groups and its members is to remain ethical. After reading both Codes of Ethics, the AACC really displayed the responsibility and burden Christian counselors must bear in the counseling profession. Christian counselors must follow all policies and procedures as professional counselors as well as honor Christ in all they do.

References

American Association of Christian Counselors (2004). AAC Code of Ethics. Retrieved January

23, 2012, from http://www.aacc.net/about-us/code-of-ethics/

American Counseling Association (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from http://www.counseling.org

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