The American Counseling Association (ACA)


Multicultural Counseling Center offers a full range of opportunities for scholarship and social engagement at the American Counseling Association (ACA) conventions.

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is an educational, scientific and professional organization whose members are designed to contribute to the development of a person throughout his life. Members of the association recognize the existence of differences in our society and adhere to the work of the cross-cultural approach in their desire to maintain the well-being, dignity, potential and uniqueness of each individual.

All members of the American Counseling Association must strictly adhere to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The Code of Ethics is the basis for dealing with complaints of ethical violations received by members of an association.

Ethical Standards of the American Counseling Association

Customer welfare

  • The main duty. Consultants do not demean the dignity of their clients and contribute to strengthening their well-being;
  • Constructive growth and development of customers. Consultants promote growth and development of their clients in every possible way, applying any means that meet their interests and well-being. Consultants should not support the development of dependency relationships in the counseling process;
  • Planning counseling. The consultants, together with their clients, develop individual comprehensive counseling plans, according to which a certain success is reasonably expected to be achieved and which correspond to the abilities and circumstances of the clients. Consultants and clients systematically review counseling plans to ensure their long-term viability and effectiveness. At the same time, the principle of respecting the freedom of clients’ choice is respected;
  • Family involvement. Consultants recognize that the family in most cases plays an important role in the lives of clients, and seeks to gain understanding of family members and involve them as needed in the work as a positive resource;
  • The need for career development and employment. Consultants work with their clients to address their employment issues, ensuring that the nature and conditions of work are consistent with the general abilities of clients, the boundaries of their professional competence, physical limitations, character traits, interests, inclinations, social skills, education, general qualifications and relevant characteristics and needs. Consultants should not put clients in a position that could lead to damage to the interests and well-being of clients, employers or the public, and also do not take part in similar actions of other people.

Respect for customer identity

  • Lack of discrimination. Counselors do not indulge and do not allow discrimination themselves based on age, sex, skin color, cultural characteristics, limitations in capacity, membership of a particular ethnic group, religion, race, sexual orientation, marital status, and social and economic status;
  • Respect the differences. Consultants will actively try to understand the cultural characteristics of all clients with whom they work. This implies (but not limited to) the knowledge of how the consultant’s own cultural, ethnic, and racial characteristics influence his values and beliefs regarding the counseling process.

Client rights

  • Open to customers. At the very beginning of the consultation process and as needed throughout the process, consultants inform clients about the goals, objectives, methods, procedures, restrictions, potential difficulties and benefits of the services they provide, as well as provide any other necessary information. Consultants take steps to ensure that clients understand the meanings of the diagnosis, the purpose of the intended use of the tests, as well as the conditions for maintaining the documentation, payment, and order of operation. Clients have the right to demand confidentiality and explanations of confidentiality limitations, including an introduction to the case supervisors and / or a team of professionals involved in the service. Clients are entitled to require specific information regarding the records kept in their case, seek participation in the planning for the continuation of counseling, and may also refuse any recommended services and take note of the consequences of such refusal;
  • Freedom of choice. Consultants provide clients with the right to freely choose whether to enter into a consulting relationship or not, and also to decide which specialist (s) will carry out the consultation. Restrictions that reduce the choice of customers must be fully justified;
  • Inability to give consent. When counseling minors or people who are unable to give voluntary informed consent, counselors act on the basis of maximum respect for the interests of these clients.

Clients served by other specialists

  • If a client receives services from another mental health professional, counselors, with the consent of the client, notify this specialist and work out a clear agreement to avoid misunderstandings and conflict for the client.

Own needs and values of consultants

  • Personal needs. In counseling relationships, counselors are aware of having close relationships with clients and their obligations to them, due to counseling relationships, maintain respect for clients and avoid actions that are aimed at meeting their personal needs at the expense of clients;
  • Personal moral values. Consultants recognize their own moral values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, understand how applicable they are in a different society, and avoid imposing their values on clients.

Dual relationship

  • Avoid as much as possible. Consultants are aware of their influential position in relation to clients and avoid exploiting the trust and dependence of clients. Consultants make every effort to avoid ambivalent relationships with clients that could affect the impartiality of professional judgment or increase the risk of harm to clients. Examples of such relationships are (but are not limited to) family, social, financial, business or close personal relationships with customers. In cases where ambivalence cannot be avoided, counselors take appropriate professional precautions, such as obtaining informed consent (consent based on full awareness), consultation, work under the supervision of a supervisor and documentation to ensure observance of objectivity of judgment and the absence of any kind of exploitation;
  • Relationship seniority / subordination. Consultants do not accept as clients the people with whom they are in administrative, supervisory or evaluative relations, implying seniority or subordination.

Sexual relations with clients

  • Current customers. Counselors do not enter into any type of sexual relations with clients and do not consult people with whom they have sex;
  • Former customers. Counselors do not have sex with former clients for at least two years after the end of the counseling relationship. Consultants who enter into such relations two (or more) years after the completion of the consultation are obliged to carefully check and prove that such relations are not exploitative. Counselors base their evidence on factors such as the duration of counseling, the amount of time elapsed after counseling, the circumstances of the completion of counseling, the client’s personal history and mental state, the adverse effect on the client, and the presence in the counselor’s actions of intent to have sex with the client after counseling is completed.

Several clients

  • When counselors agree to provide counseling services to two or more people who are related to each other (for example, husband and wife, or parents and children), they find out who the clients are and what character the consultant will take with each person involved at the outset. If it becomes obvious that the consultants will be offered to perform duties that would potentially lead to a conflict, they clarify these duties, coordinate them or refuse them, depending on the circumstances.

Group work

  • Selection of participants. Counselors carefully select prospective participants in group counseling or therapy. Consultants, as far as possible, select those participants whose needs and goals are compatible with the goals of the group, who will not delay the process of group development and whose well-being will not suffer from participation in group work;
  • Customer protection. In a teamwork environment, counselors take all reasonable precautions to protect clients from physical or psychological trauma.

Payment and barter services

  • Achievement of mutual understanding. Even before the beginning of the consultation, the consultants explain to the clients in detail all the financial conditions relating to professional services, including the costs of attracting a collection agency or applying legal sanctions against defaulters;
  • Justification of fees. When justifying the payment of professional counseling services, consultants take into account the financial position of clients and their location. In the event that a reasonable system of payment is unacceptable to the client, an attempt is made to help find similar services at a reasonable price;
  • Unwillingness of barter relations. Consultants, as a rule, refrain from accepting goods or services from clients as payment for consulting services, because this form of payment creates a real opportunity for conflict, exploitation and distortion of professional relationships. Consultants can agree to barter only if the relationship is not exploitative, if the client insists on it, if an explicit written agreement is reached and if such an agreement is common practice among professionals in this community;
  • Charity service. Consultants make a charitable contribution by carrying out part of their professional activities in the form of free services or services for which a small financial reward is awarded.

Completion of counseling and referral

  • Inadmissibility waiver of customers. Consultants do not abandon clients and do not neglect them during counseling. Consultants, when necessary, contribute to the achievement of acceptable agreements for the continuation of services (during temporary interruptions, for example, during the holidays) and the associated end of the relationship;
  • Inability to help customers. If counselors determine that they are not able to provide professional assistance to clients, they do not start or immediately terminate the counseling relationship. Consultants are aware of referral opportunities to other specialists and offer clients suitable alternatives. If clients reject the proposed referral, counselors must end the relationship;
  • Normal completion. Counselors terminate the counseling relationship, reaching, when possible, an agreement with the client in the following cases: 1) when it becomes obvious that the client no longer benefits from the counseling; 2) when services are no longer required; 3) when counseling no longer meets the needs and interests of clients; 4) when customers do not pay a fixed fee; 5) or when restrictions imposed by an agency or institution impede the continued provision of counseling services.

Professional responsibility

  • The boundaries of competence. Consultants should be engaged in practical work only within their competence;
  • Continuing education. Consultants should participate in continuing education in order to maintain their professional competence;
  • Harm by a specialist. Consultants should refrain from offering professional services in cases where their personal problems or conflicts could harm the client or other people;
  • Exact advertising. Consultants must accurately represent their diplomas and services when advertising;
  • The use of official position in order to recruit customers. Consultants should not use their official position or their relationship with the institution to find clients for their private practice;
  • Declared diplomas. Consultants should declare or indicate only those professional diplomas that they possess, and should correct any known inaccuracies in the presentation of their diplomas by other people;
  • Sexual harassment. Counselors should not tolerate sexual harassment;
  • Illegal income. Consultants should not use their professional position to claim or receive illegal personal gain, sexual favors, illegal advantage, as well as unearned income or services;
  • Clients served by other professionals. With the consent of the client, counselors must inform all other mental health professionals who serve the client about the counseling relationship between the counselor and the client;
  • Negative working conditions. Consultants should warn their entrepreneurs about actions or conditions that could be potentially destructive and damage the professional duties of the consultant, or limit their effectiveness or violate the rights of clients;
  • Selection of personnel. Consultants should select a competent staff and distribute responsibilities among employees that are compatible with their qualifications and experience;
  • Exploiting relationships with subordinates. Consultants should not allow exploitative relations to be established with those people over whom they have control or authority related to the performance of supervisory, evaluation, or training functions.


  • Privacy Requirement. Counselors must respect the confidentiality of information related to counseling servants, except when disclosure is necessary for the benefit of clients or is required for the welfare of other people or in accordance with the law. When disclosure is necessary, only necessary and explicit information is disclosed, and the client is informed about this disclosure;
  • Privacy requirements for subordinates. Consultants should take steps to ensure that their subordinates respect the privacy and confidentiality of clients;
  • Confidentiality in group work. Consultants should clearly communicate to group members that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed under group work conditions;
  • Confidentiality in family counseling. In the process of counseling, counselors should not provide information about one family member to another family member without his prior consent;
  • Confidentiality of records. Consultants must maintain the necessary confidentiality when creating, storing, accessing, transferring and using counseling records;
  • Permission to record or monitor. Before you conduct an electronic recording or observation of counseling sessions, counselors receive permission from clients;
  • Disclosure or transfer of records. In order to make public or transfer records to third parties, consultants must obtain written permission from clients;
  • Required data masking. Consultants should conceal a client’s identity when using data for educational, research, or publication purposes.