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Cultural Bias, Self-Awareness, and Professional Code of Ethics

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Ethical Challenges in a Complex World: Highlights of the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics

Kocet, Michael M. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD; Alexandria Vol. 84, Iss. 2, (Spring 2006): 228-234. DOI:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2006.tb00400.x


Being an effective counselor includes having knowledge of and the ability to integrate a code of ethics into one’s professional practice. This article addresses some of the
highlights of the changes in the 2005 ACA [American Counseling Association] Code of Ethics such as end-of-life issues, boundaries and relationships, and multicultural and
diversity considerations. It is critical for counselors to demonstrate cultural sensitivity during the ethical decision-making process throughout their counseling, supervision,
teaching, and research practice. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Being an effective counselor includes having knowledge of and the ability to integrate a code of ethics into one’s professional practice. This article addresses some of the
highlights of the changes in the 2005 ACA [American Counseling Association] Code of Ethics such as end-of-life issues, boundaries and relationships, and multicultural and
diversity considerations. It is critical for counselors to demonstrate cultural sensitivity during the ethical decision-making process throughout their counseling, supervision,
teaching, and research practice.

A code of ethics for most professional organizations or associations is designed to articulate the standards of practice for a group of people. It is a way to express the collective
values of a profession. A code of ethics “is a living document that can assist with individual ethical quandaries and be broad enough to encompass many divergent ethical
situations” (Kocet, 2006, p. 7). There are two central components of a code of ethics for counselors: First, a code outlines the prescribed or mandatory professional behaviors by
which counselors are expected to govern their conduct, and, second, a code contains aspirational components, which encourage active ethical reflection that fosters clarification
of the fundamental ethical beliefs of the profession (Hinman, 2003; Welfel, 2006). No code of ethics can encompass every potential ethical dilemma faced by a professional;
however, a code of ethics can serve as a blueprint for laying the foundation necessary to promote the competency and efficacy of counselors.

Last year, the American Counseling Association (ACA) Governing Council approved the adoption of the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics (2005 Code). The Code is revised approximately
every 7 to 10 years and provides an opportunity for the counseling profession to examine current practices and issues faced by professionals in the roles and settings in which
counselors most frequently work (such as mental health agencies, schools, research, clinical practice, supervision, and counselor education). A central focus of the professional
code of ethics is to help guide professional practice with clients, students, supervisees, colleagues, and research participants. A code of ethics is designed to protect the
wellbeing of those served by counselors, as well as to advance the work of the profession (Eriksen & Kress, 2005; Kocet, 2005). The purpose of this article is to provide a brief
overview of the revision process and to highlight some of the differences between the 1995 Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (1995 Code) and the current 2005 Code.

The Revision Process

In early 2002, David Kaplan, then ACA president, created what was to be called the ACA Ethics Code Revision Task Force. The purpose of this task force was twofold: (a) to
propose revisions to the 1995 Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and (b) to make recommendations for changes within the 1995 Code of Ethics with special (but not
exclusive) emphasis on multicultural, diversity, and social justice issues. The following individuals selected to serve on the task force were chosen because of their areas of
professional expertise, their scholarship and research, and service to the association: John Bloom, Tammy Bringaze, Rocco Cottone, Harriet Glosoff, Barbara Herlihy, Michael M.
Kocet (chair), Courtland Lee, Judy Miranti, E. Christine Moll, and Vilia Tarvydas. In addition, Anna Harpster and Michael Hartley, two doctoral students, served as notetakers and
were responsible for taking meeting minutes and recording the main changes made to the document.

The process of revising the 1995 Code took place between 2002 and 2005. Task force members met primarily via monthly telephone conference calls and one face-to-face
meeting a year held during the annual ACA convention. Technology (e-mail and an electronic mailing list) played a critical role in enabling the members to accomplish the
business of the task force between formal meetings with the entire group. To make the work of the task force proceed efficiently, smaller “working groups” were responsible for
reviewing and creating recommendations on one of the eight main sections of the 1995 Code. The entire task force would then review the recommendations of each working
group and discuss new additions, changes, and deletions for each section and provide input on what the individual working groups created.

During the code revision process, there were various avenues allowing members of the association to provide comments and feedback to the Code Revision Task Force on the
new document. A draft Code of Ethics was placed in the ACA publication Counseling Today as well as on the ACA Web (Kocet, 2004). An online mechanism enabled members to
provide their comments in an electronic format that provided feedback to the task force that was organized and easy to review. Leaders in the ACA divisions, state leaders,
national counseling experts, as well as legal counsel provided input on relevant sections of the draft. Counselor educators and faculty members used the draft Code of Ethics
document as an academic assignment for students in ethics courses who reviewed the entire code and critiqued its strengths and limitations. Providing students with an
opportunity to give suggestions on the new code of ethics was not only an excellent pedagogical activity, but it also helped students become more knowledgeable about the
professional code of ethics and helped them become more invested in the profession by making a significant contribution to this historic document. As Hinman (2003) stated,
ethics can be viewed “as an ongoing conversation” (p. 3), and it is incumbent upon counselor educators and those supervising counselors to engage counselors-in-training by
helping them become ethically intentional when weighing the cultural complexities inherent in most ethical dilemmas (Frame & Williams, 2005; Kocet, 2005). Scholars in the
area of feminist ethics encourage the forming of mutually respectful relationships in the counseling process and seek to recognize the power differential that can exist by
handling power in an ethical manner that honors both individuals in the relationship and emphasizes care and concern as a central fixture in the therapeutic process (Eriksen &
Kress, 2005; Stocker, 2005; Welfel, 2006). Many of the changes in the 2005 Code are designed to integrate this perspective throughout the document, which emphasizes the
promotion of growth-fostering relationships.

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In addition to receiving electronic feedback, two town hall meetings were held during the 2004 and 2005 ACA national conventions. These were open meetings where members
of the association met with members of the Code Revision Task Force and viewed and discussed highlights of the draft document. The feedback provided by members during
both town hall meetings was instrumental in making necessary changes to the document. Throughout the process of creating the 2005 Code, input was sought on all levels and
in a variety of venues.

Various changes were made to the 2005 Code; however, it is beyond the scope of this article to present a comprehensive and detailed review. Counselors are encouraged to
consult with additional resources that provide a more detailed analysis of the 2005 Code (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2007; Herlihy & Corey, 2006; Welfel, 2006). In the following
sections, I discuss highlights of some of the major differences in the document.

New Features

Numerous features were added to the 2005 Code. The first is a section stating the five main purposes of the Code: (a) to enable the association to clarify to current and future
members, and to those served by members, the nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by its members; (b) to support the mission of the association; (c) to
establish principles that define ethical behavior and best practices; (d) to serve as an ethical guide designed to assist members in constructing a professional course of action
that best serves those utilizing counseling services and best promotes the values of the counseling profession; and (e) to serve as the basis for processing of ethical complaints
and inquiries initiated against members of the association.

Another new feature is the aspirational introductions that begin each of the main sections of the code. Each of these aspirational introductions helps “set the tone for that
particular section and provides a starting point that invites reflection on the ethical mandates contained in each part of the ACA Code of Ethics” (ACA, 2005, p. 3). It is crucial to
point out that although some ethical issues tend to be more gray and have a wider range of possible avenues to resolve them, others have a clearly prescriptive expectation in
the way that the ethical dilemma should be handled. The new introductions acknowledge that reasonable differences of opinion can occur among counseling professionals
regarding which values, ethical principles, and ethical standards should be applied when faced with certain situations (Glosoff & Kocet, 2006). The 2005 Code calls upon
counselors to be “empowered to make decisions that help expand the capacity of people to grow and develop” (p. 3). Practitioners are encouraged to review the ethics literature
and to select an ethical decision-making model that best fits their counseling approach and to seek consultation with supervisors and colleagues when faced with an ethical
challenge (Frame & Williams, 2005; Glosoff & Kocet, 2006; Herlihy & Corey, 2006; Welfel, 2006). An ethical consult can include (but is not limited to) (a) arranging a face-to-
face or telephone meeting with a supervisor or colleague; (b) participating in a workshop or seminar on ethical issues; (c) reading a book, journal, or online article on ethics; or
(d) reviewing a case scenario presenting an ethical conundrum.

Two additional features to the new document are a glossary and an index. The glossary provides readers with definitions of basic terminology found within the 2005 Code. These
definitions are not intended to be viewed as the only way of defining these terms, but the glossary was included to provide readers with a consistent framework for
understanding how the terms were being used within the document. An index was also added to the new Code to provide a quick and user-friendly guide for locating specific
sections of the document that pertain to a particular ethical situation or academic discussion.

Highlights of the 2005 Code

The 2005 Code consists of the same eight main sections as the 1995 document with some minor changes in the titles: A. The Counseling Relationship; B. Confidentiality,
Privileged Communication, and Privacy; C. Professional Responsibility; D. Relationships With Other Professionals; E. Evaluation, Assessment, and Interpretation; F. Supervision,
Training, and Teaching; G. Research and Publication; and H. Resolving Ethical Issues.

The “Standards of Practice” found in the 1995 document were removed as a separate section and were instead integrated into the body of the main document. This decision was
made to streamline the document and to eliminate the confusion over the role of how to use the Standards of Practice. Although the Standards’ original purpose was to outline
the minimum expectations for ethical behavior, the purpose became unclear when it came to the actual implementation of the Standards to direct clinical practice, as well as
challenges when trying to use the Standards in adjudications by the ACA Ethics Committee, as well as in personal study and use. Therefore, it was decided early in the current
code revision process to incorporate the standards into the body of the Code of Ethics itself. Therefore, the 2005 document is simply titled the ACA Code of Ethics

Some key areas new to the 2005 edition are Counseling Plans (A.1.c.), Potentially Beneficial Interactions (A.5.d.), Advocacy (A.6.a), End-of-Life Care for Terminally 111 Clients
(A.9.), Technology Applications (A.12.), Deceased Clients (B.3.f.), Counselor Incapacitation or Termination of Practice (C.2.h.), Historical and Social Prejudices in the Diagnosis
of Pathology (E.5.c.), Multicultural Issues/Diversity in Assessment (E.8.), Innovative Theories and Techniques (F.6.f.), change from use of the term research subjects to
participants (Section G), Plagiarism (G.5.b.), and Conflicts Between Ethics and Laws (H.1.b.). The 2005 Code also infuses multicultural and diversity issues throughout the

As previously stated, one of the charges given to the Code Revision Task Force by the ACA Governing Council was that the 1995 Code be revised with special (but not exclusive)
consideration of cultural and social justice issues faced by counselors in today’s complex world. The following is a brief review of some ways that multicultural and diversity
issues are infused in the 2005 Code.

Multicultural and Diversity Issues

An ethical mandate for counselors is being a culturally competent practitioner, which means demonstrating awareness of diverse cultures (recognizing both our own and others’
cultural identities), acquiring and using knowledge about others’ cultures, and incorporating counseling skills in a culturally respectful manner (Eriksen & Kress, 2005; Frame &
Williams, 2005; Welfel, 2006). Throughout the 2005 Code, particular attention was paid to ensure that multicultural and diversity issues were incorporated into key aspects of
counseling practice. For example, section A.2.c., Developmental and Cultural Sensitivity, addresses the significance of counselors communicating in a manner that can be
understood by clients as developmentally and culturally appropriate (ACA, 2005, p. 4). Section C.5., Nondiscrimination, has been expanded to include not only issues identified
in the 1995 Code (age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status) but also the concern that discrimination not take place
based on other key aspects of a person’s identity such as “spirituality, . . . gender identity, marital status/partnership, language preference, . . . or any basis proscribed by law”
(ACA, 2005, p. 10). This section of the code illustrates the profession’s more inclusive way of defining multiculturalism.

Following are a few more examples of ways in which issues of culture, diversity, and social justice are addressed in the new 2005 Code. The title of Section A.1.d. was changed
from “Family Involvement” to “Support Network Involvement” and revised wording in the section broadens the concept of family to include any person from the perspective of
the client who plays a central role in that person’s life. This can include individuals such as a religious or spiritual leader, friends, or family. Another culturally relevant example
contained in the 2005 Code is the new Standard A.10.e., Receiving Gifts, which states “Counselors understand the challenges of accepting gifts from clients and recognize that
in some cultures, small gifts are a token of respect and showing gratitude” (p. 6). According to Glosoff and Kocet (2006), counselors must also be aware of and sensitive to
cultural meanings of confidentiality and privacy and how these issues may be viewed differently depending on the cultural worldview of the client (see B.1.a., Multicultural/
Diversity Considerations). Another central facet of counseling that is multicultural/diversity sensitive takes into account the cultural ramifications of labeling clients with an
inappropriate diagnosis or as having pathology. Eriksen and Kress (2005) challenged traditional notions of what abnormal behavior is and who decides the criteria that
determine whether or not a client has a mental disorder. They purport that inappropriately diagnosing a client can have a negative impact on client well-being and can lead
women and people from marginalized communities to feel disempowered and actually feel harmed. The 2005 Code addresses this issue in the new Standard E.5.c., which
directs counselors to “recognize historical and social prejudices in the misdiagnosis and pathologizing of certain individuals and groups and the role of mental health
professionals in perpetuating these prejudices through diagnosis and treatment” (p. 12). There are also additional sections of the 2005 Code that address multicultural/diversity
in the areas of supervision, research, and counselor education. I now briefly highlight some of the key changes in the remainder of the document.

Section A: The Counseling Relationship

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ACA made several additions to this section. The standards related to boundary issues between counselors and clients and counselors and former clients are evolving. A
paradigm shift is currently taking place within the counseling profession and within other mental health organizations when it comes to how professionals view dual or multiple
relationships with clients. Traditionally, avoiding dual/multiple relationships whenever possible has been the standard practice. However, recent ethics scholars challenge this
notion and say that dual/multiple relationships, sometimes known as “boundary crossings,” are normative and can actually be meaningful in the counseling relationship,
particularly in rural or certain cultural communities (Glosoff, Corey, & Herlihy, 2006; Moleski & Kiselica, 2005). For example, in some smaller communities, a client may also be
the only mechanic in town or a client who has been attending counseling to work on improving her relationship with her partner invites the counselor to attend her wedding. It
is the counselors’ responsibility to monitor any multiple relationships, or boundary crossings, that exist between themselves and clients and to ensure that they are not
exploitive or detrimental to clients in any manner. Counselors must maintain an ongoing dialogue with clients about any challenges or difficulties that either the counselor or the
client is experiencing and to explore ways to remedy the situation.

The 2005 Code contains a new standard, A.5.d., that speaks to potentially beneficial interactions between counselors and clients that go beyond the traditional professional
counseling relationship. Please consult A.5.d. to learn more about potentially beneficial relationships and factors that should be considered. Another change related to boundary
issues is in Standard A.5.b., which changed the prohibition on having sexual or romantic relationships with former clients from 2 to 5 years following the last professional
contact and expanded the language to include prohibiting such relationships with romantic partners or family members of former clients. Although many in the profession
advocate that counselors should never engage in sexual or intimate relationships with former clients, the task force recognized the varying types of counseling relationships and
the range of issues that bring people to counseling. For example, when applying Standard A.5.b. to their own relationship with a former client, counselors must consider the
primary reason for which the client is seeking services. The situation of a client seeking career-related guidance for editing a résumé is significantly different from that of a
counselor helping a client through a childhood trauma or abusive situation. The counseling context significantly governs the ethical steps taken by a practitioner.

A significant addition to the 2005 Code is Section A.9., which provides guidance to counselors serving clients who request support when considering end-of-life issues. ACA is
one of the few national mental health organizations to specifically address end-of-life care in its code of ethics. In doing so, ACA does not endorse one way of approaching this
sensitive issue. Rather, it directs counselors to take measures that enable clients

1. to obtain high quality end-of-life care . . .;

2. to exercise the highest degree of self-determination possible;

3. to be given every opportunity possible to engage in informed decision making regarding their end-of-life care; and

4. to receive complete and adequate assessment regarding their ability to make competent, rational decisions on their own behalf from a mental health professional who is
experienced in end-of-life care practice. (ACA 2005, A.9.a., p. 5)

Counselors facing end-of-life issues are also ethically responsible for seeking supervision and consultation to help clients receive competent care from a wide range of

Section A.12. Technology Applications greatly expands on the same section in the 1995 Code. ACA integrated the Ethical Standards for Internet On-Line Counseling adopted by
ACA in 1999 into the new Section A.12. and broadened the ethical use of technology in research, record keeping, and the provision of services to consumers.

Section B: Confidentiality, Privileged Communication, and Privacy

One major change in Section B is an increased discussion of privacy and confidentiality when working with clients who are minors or adults who cannot give informed consent.
Standards B.5.a., B.5.b., and B.5.c. outline the need for counselors to protect the confidentiality of such clients and to collaborate with parents and legal guardians in
determining the best possible services needed by the minor or client incapable of giving consent. To maintain an appropriate therapeutic relationship, counselors must actively
involve minor clients and adults incapable of giving consent in understanding (on their developmental level) how information will be shared and used by others.

Two new standards in Section B are pertinent. First, Standard B.3.f. reminds counselors that even in the event of the death of a client, a counselor has the obligation to protect
and maintain the confidentiality of deceased clients. Confidentiality does not end upon the death of a client. Second, there is a significant change related to family counseling.
Standard B.4.b. of the 2005 Code is now called Couples and Family Counseling and addresses the need of counselors to

clearly define who is considered “the client” and discuss expectations and limitations of confidentiality. Counselors seek agreement and document in writing such agreement
among all involved parties having capacity to give consent concerning each individual’s right to confidentiality and any obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information
known. (p. 8)

Section C: Professional Responsibility

Counselors work with clients on a variety of significant and heart-wrenching issues such as sexual abuse, grief and loss, and natural disasters, just to name a few. Consistently
dealing with such severe and complex issues without obtaining personal support can often lead to counselors’ professional impairment. Section C of the 2005 Code provides
more detailed language on counselor impairment in Standard C.2.g. In addition to counselors being responsible for seeking assistance with problems that reach the level of their
professional impairment, we, as counselors, are now also ethically obligated to “assist colleagues or supervisors in recognizing their own professional impairment and provide
consultation and assistance when warranted” (pp. 9-10). In addition, counselors must recognize that situations, even unanticipated or unwelcome life events such as illnesses,
accidents, or even death, can affect our work as counselors. Standard C.2.h. addresses the importance for all counseling professionals to create a plan for the transfer of clients
and records to an appropriate colleague in the event of a counselor’s incapacitation, death, or termination of practice (Standard C.2.h.). Whether a professional works in a
school setting, mental health agency, hospital, university, or other types of environments, counselors must have a specific plan in place in the event that they either choose to,
or can no longer continue to, practice counseling.

Another addition to the 2005 Code is Standard C.6.e., Scientific Bases for Treatment Modalities. Although the 1995 Code directed counselors to monitor their effectiveness, it did
not speak to the responsibility to base techniques and treatment plans on theory and/or empirical or scientific results. Standard C.6.e. further states that counselors who do not
have such a basis “must define the techniques/procedures as ‘unproven’ or ‘developing’ and explain the potential risks and ethical considerations of using such
techniques/procedures and take steps to protect clients from possible harm” (ACA, 2005, p. 11). Counselors must be careful not to engage in modalities that do not treat clients
with dignity and respect their cultural identity.

Section D: Relationships With Other Professionals

Section D addresses the relationship between counselors and other colleagues and constituents. Typically, counselors find themselves part of an interdisciplinary team. There are
several new standards that address responsibilities to develop and strengthen relationships with colleagues from other disciplines to best serve clients (D.1.b.); to keep the
focus on the well-being of clients by “drawing on the perspectives, values, and experiences of the counseling profession and those of colleagues from other disciplines” (D.1.c.;
ACA, 2005, p. 11); and to clarify professional roles, parameters of confidentiality, and ethical obligations of the team and its members (D.1.d., D.1.e.).

Section E: Evaluation, Assessment, and Interpretation

Counselors ensure that they have the necessary training and competency to engage in a variety of assessment approaches. One noteworthy semantic change can be found
throughout this section. The word test used in the 1995 Code has been replaced with the word assessment, which has a broader, more holistic meaning that can be applied in a

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variety of contexts. Another significant addition to the 2005 document is standards that address the ever-increasing counselor involvement in legal proceedings, including
forensic evaluations. New Standards E.13.a. through E.13.d. were created to address the need for counselors to understand their primary obligations when conducting forensic
evaluations, how these obligations differ from those involved in counseling, and their responsibility to explain this to clients, for example, what and how much testimony will be
shared that is based on the client’s files and other clinical information. The new standards also prohibit counselors from conducting forensic evaluations with clients they are
counseling or have counseled and advise them to “avoid potentially harmful professional or personal relationships with family members, romantic partners, and close friends of
individuals they are evaluating or have evaluated in the past” (E.13.d.; ACA, 2005, p. 13).

Section F: Supervision, Training, and Teaching

Section F features a number of new additions that affect the way that new professionals are trained, including some of the key components that should be included in training
programs. This section addresses the basic expectations for counselors-in-training and those professionals and educators who supervise their work. Section F focuses on two
central components: first, the supervisory relationship between the counseling supervisor and the supervisee, and, second, the relationship between counselor educators and
students. In the supervisory relationship, the following issues are addressed: client welfare across settings, informed consent in the supervisory relationship, competence of
counseling supervisors, supervisor responsibilities, potentially harmful and beneficial relationships between supervisors and supervisees, and termination of the supervisory
relationship (F.4.d.). This section addresses the importance of the supervisor and supervisee attempting to work through any difficulties that are negatively affecting the
relationship. If these difficulties cannot be resolved, the supervisor has an obligation to provide the supervisee with a referral to an appropriate alternative supervisor. Sections
F.6. through F.10. specifically pertain to the role of counseling faculty and students. Areas discussed in these sections include student welfare and orientation, self-growth
experiences, impairment of counseling students and supervisees, ethical evaluation of the performance of supervisees and students, and endorsement of supervisees and
students. Because of the significant number of changes made to Section F, counselors, supervisors, counselor educators, and counseling students are encouraged to closely
review this section of the 2005 Code. Multicultural and diversity issues are intertwined throughout section F as these pertain to the role that culture plays within the supervisory
relationship and within academic training programs.

Section G: Research and Publication

This section discusses the guidelines necessary to conduct research in an ethical manner and in a way that promotes the growth of knowledge within the field. Research
contributes to knowledge that can be used by clinicians in the field, and work done by clinicians influences the type of research that is being conducted. It is a cyclical
relationship, and counselors, even those who may not consider themselves researchers, are encouraged to review this section. Another semantic change in the Code can be
found in the change from the term research subjects (in the 1995 Code) to the term research participants (in the 2005 Code), meant to be more inclusive and less clinically
detached. This section provides guidance to counselors on the appropriate handling of records during the research process, informed consent with research participants, and
confidentiality regarding people involved with research projects. Although research is often conducted by faculty members of counselor education programs, there are
counselors practicing in a variety of settings who are engaged in research. According to the new Standard G.1.c., when these “independent” researchers do not have access to
an institutional review board (IRB), they have an ethical obligation to consult with researchers who are knowledgeable with IRB procedures for providing appropriate safeguards
for research participants. section G also addresses issues related to publication. There is a new standard specifically stating that counselors do not plagiarize the work of others

Section H: Resolving Ethical Issues

The 2005 Code provides greater clarity and more specificity to counselors regarding ways to address potential conflicts between ethical guidelines and legal requirements.
Counselors are reminded that one of the first steps taken when attempting to resolve an ethical dilemma is to try to resolve the situation informally (H.2.b.). Counselors who
are concerned about the unethical conduct of colleagues or supervisors and who circumvent the process and do not first address their concerns informally and directly with the
party or parties involved may in fact be acting unethically themselves. If the conflict cannot be resolved by such means, counselors may then adhere to the requirements of law,
regulations, or other governing legal authority. Another change in this section is expansion of the list of potential agencies/organizations to which information regarding
suspected or documented ethical violations may be reported to include “state or national committees on professional ethics, voluntary national certification bodies, state
licensing boards, or . . . the appropriate institutional authorities” (Standard H.2.c., p. 19). Finally, there is a new standard (H.2.g.) that protects the rights of ACA members who
either have made or been the subject of an ethics complaint. Counselors who file a formal ethics complaint or who are formally accused of committing an ethical violation should
not be denied employment or admission opportunities simply by being involved in an ethics inquiry. However, once a proceeding or official outcome has taken place, such action
appropriate to the ethical violation may be warranted.


It is critical, in fact it is an ethical obligation, for counselors to thoroughly review the entire 2005 Code to understand how to apply the new Code to their day-to-day practice. No
code of ethics can address any and all situations that counselors may face. Consulting with ethics experts in the field should be an ongoing part of one’s professional
development. It is recommended that practitioners contact the ACA Ethics Committee for a formal interpretation of the 2005 Code by submitting a scenario and questions about
specific standards to the ACA Ethics Committee staff liaison. This is one more step toward achieving ethical clarity.

As stated by Herlihy and Corey (2006), “Resolving the ethical dilemmas . . . requires a commitment to questioning your own behavior and motives. A sign of your good faith is
the willingness to share your struggles openly with colleagues or with fellow students” (p. 257). As they maneuver through the multiple layers of information and complexities
inherent in most ethical situations, counselors must continually evaluate, study, consult, and reflect on the response that seems to fit the “best practice” standard and takes into
account the cultural and contextual information in the dilemma. It is important for all practitioners to know that they have trusted colleagues, supervisors, and the profession
itself to provide guidance, empathy, and support through even the most difficult and emotionally challenging situation.


American Counseling Association. (1995). Code of ethics and standards of practice. Alexandria, VA: Author.

American Counseling Association. (1999). Ethical standards for Internet on-line counseling. Alexandria, VA: Author.

American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA code of ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author.

Corey, G., Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks Cole.

Eriksen, K., & Kress, V. (2005). Beyond the DSM story: Ethical quandaries, challenges, and best practices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Frame, M. W., & Williams, C. B. (2005). A model of ethical decision making from a multicultural perspective. Counseling & Values, 49, 165-179.

Glosoff, H., Corey, G., & Herlihy, B. (2006). Avoiding detrimental multiple relationships. In B. Herlihy & G. Corey (Eds.), ACA ethical standards casebook (6th ed., pp. 209-222).
Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Glosoff, H. L., & Kocet, M. M. (2006). Highlights of the 2005 ACA code of ethics. In G. R. Walz, J. C. Bleuer, & R. K. Yep (Eds.), Vistas: Competing perspectives on counseling,
2006 (pp. 5-10). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

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Subject Counseling;
Counselor client relationships;
Professional ethics;
Task forces;
Historic documents;
Decision making;
Multiculturalism & pluralism;
Working groups;
Professional practice;
Counselor education

Business indexing term Subject:


Professional ethics;
Professional practice

81391: Business Associations;
81392: Professional Organizations

Company American Counseling Association
Classification 81391: Business Associations

81392: Professional Organizations
Title Ethical Challenges in a Complex World: Highlights of the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics
Author Kocet, Michael M
Publication title Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD; Alexandria
Volume 84
Issue 2
Pages 228-234
Number of pages 7
Publication year 2006
Publication date Spring 2006
Section Special Section: 2005 ACA Code of Ethics
Publisher Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Place of publication Alexandria
Country of publication United Kingdom, Alexandria
Publication subject Occupations And Careers, Psychology, Education
ISSN 07489633
e-ISSN 15566676
Source type Scholarly Journal
Language of publication English
Document type Journal Article
Document feature References
ProQuest document ID 219025865
Document URL

Copyright Copyright American Counseling Association Spring 2006
Last updated 2022-11-21
Database ProQuest Central

Herlihy, B., & Corey, G. (2006). ACA ethical standards casebook (6th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling association.

Hinman, L. (2003). Ethics: A pluralistic approach to moral theory (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kocet, M. (2004, March). ACA Code of ethics revision in progress: Counselors encouraged to participate in process. Counseling Today, 1.

Kocet, M. (2005, October). Highlights of the ACA code of ethics. Counseling Today, 48, 1, 16-17, 63.

Kocet, M. (2006). Introduction: The 2005 code of ethics. In B. Herlihy & G. Corey (Eds.), ACA ethical standards casebook (6th ed., pp. 4-8). Alexandria, VA: American
Counseling Association.

Moleski, S., & Kiselica, M. (2005). Dual relationships: A continuum ranging from the destructive to the therapeutic. Journal of Counseling & Development, 83, 3-11.

Stocker, S. (2005). The ethics of mutuality and feminist relational therapy. Women & Therapy, 28, 1-15.

Welfel, E. R. (2006). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy: Standards, research, and emerging issues (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Michael M. Kocet, Department of Counselor Education, Bridgewater State College, and chair of the ACA Code Revision Task Force (2002-2005). Correspondence concerning this
article should be addressed to Michael M. Kocet, 110 Kelly, Department of Counselor Education, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA 02325 (e-mail:
Copyright American Counseling Association Spring 2006

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2/13/23, 12:37 PM CapraTek: Developing a Stakeholder Registry Transcript 1/5

Riverbend City ® Activity

Ethical Challenges
Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3


The real world abounds with complicated situations where
ethical behavior requires careful judgment.

In this activity, you will again assume the role of a case manager at Curt
Swann Middle School, a public school in Riverbend City, a mid-sized city
in the Midwest.

Several Swann faculty and staff members have asked you to get involved
with Lexi, a 10-year-old girl in the 4th grade. Lexi has been exhibiting
behaviors recently that make her teachers suspect that she may be on the
autism spectrum.

Scenario 1
Before you talk to Lexi, you should read the incident report written by
Lexi’s teacher.

Teacher’s Report


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DATE: May 3

Lexi had to be removed from class this morning after being disruptive
during English class. We were discussing today’s reading and she made
repeated verbal outbursts when I and other students were trying to speak.
I gave Lexi three verbal warnings to wait her turn, but the outbursts
persisted, escalating into disrespectful talkback.

This disruptive incident fits into a larger pattern of misbehavior for Lexi
this school year. Lexi has displayed a great deal of difficulty taking her
turn in conversations, and has tended to derail class discussions to talk
about one of her few pet topics. Lexi has also consistently had trouble
following complicated instructions and respecting personal space this
year, and has demanded that other children follow specific rules when
interacting with her.

Scenario 2
Lexi Reed’s behaviors appear to indicate that she may be on the autism
spectrum. You should talk to her parents about the possibility of therapy,
treatment, and medication to help her.

Gina Reed
You think Lexi might be autistic? Oh, dear. I… I’m sorry, this is a lot to take
in. I mean, i’ve known that she could be a little high-strung, but I always
just figured that she’d grow out of it. I’ve actually talked to my Rabbi about
this quite a bit; she always advises me to just take it one day at a time.

I guess you’re the expert, so I’m not in much of a position to tell you you’re
wrong. This does make some sense; we’ve certainly noticed that Lexi
could use some help with her social skills. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been
fooling myself about how serious the problem was.

If you think that seeing a doctor or a therapist would help her, I’m certainly
open to that. I love my daughter, and I want her to have every advantage
she can! I don’t want anything holding her back; she’s such a bright girl. I
know Adam won’t be thrilled at the idea, but I think it might be the right
thing to do. God knows therapy did a lot for my mother when she was

I’ll tell you one thing, though- I think I draw the line at medication. You
think Lexi has behavior problems, that’s nothing compared to what I’ve
seen with some of the overmedicated kids we see in our social circle. It’s

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like the whole pharma industry is just out there circling, waiting for their
chance to pump your kids full of drugs and leave them glassy-eyed
robots. Not my Lexi, no way.

Adam Reed
I’m sorry, I just don’t believe you that my daughter has autism. There’s no
way that’s possible. She’s a good girl, she’s a smart girl, and she’s a
normal girl. She’s a little headstrong, but that’s a discipline problem. And
I’m on that. Gina and I, we’ll get her straightened out. I mean, you’re right,
she shouldn’t be talking out of turn in class. That’s unacceptable behavior.
But it’s not crazy behavior. It’s not a sign that she’s sick. It’s a sign that
she needs discipline and self control.

You mentioned therapy. Look. We aren’t sending my little girl to therapy or
any doctor because there’s nothing wrong with her. Gina and I will talk to
her, tell her she can’t act up like this any more or she’ll lose her allowance
and get grounded. I promise you, that will take care of it. That girl loves
her freedom. She sees that at risk, you’ll have the best-behaved student
you’ve ever seen. I’ll pray on this.

After reading the teacher’s report, and hearing from the Reeds, it’s time to
think about the implications of what you heard, and what your next steps
should be to help Lexi get the support she needs.

What services would
you recommend for
the Reeds?
Your response:
This question has not been answered yet.

How would you
facilitate the parents’
agreement to

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participate in this
Your response:
This question has not been answered yet.

How would you define
the line between
ethical persuasion and
unethical coercion in
trying to work with the
Your response:
This question has not been answered yet.

As you’ve seen, the various stakeholders involved in a project have very
distinct needs when it comes to the information they will need over the
course of the project.

As you prepare your stakeholder registry, consider what information you
will need in order to create a communications plan that will help you meet
the stakeholder expectations and needs.

When you return to the courseroom, you will analyze these scenarios in a
discussion question.


2/13/23, 12:37 PM CapraTek: Developing a Stakeholder Registry Transcript 5/5

Subject Matter Expert:
Jolee Darnell
Interactive Design:
Marty Elmer
Interactive Developer:
Dre Allen
Instructional Design:
Alan Carpenter
Media Instructional Design:
Keith Pille
Marc Ashmore
Project Management:
Marc Ashmore, Stefani Pequin

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

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