PRINCIPLE I – PROLOGUE
The US Agency for Christian Counseling Credentials & Accreditation requires that any person is seeking license or certification with this agency to read this code of ethics and agree to be governed by it. The USACCCA is committed to the various theologies, traditions, and values of our faith communities and the dignity and worth of each. We are dedicated to advancing the welfare of those who seek our assistance and to the maintenance of high standards of professional conduct and competence. We are accountable for our specialized ministry whatever the setting. This accountability is express in relationships with clients, colleagues, students, our faith communities, and through the acceptance and practice of the principles and procedures of this Code of Ethics.
- To maintain in good standing our ministerial credential with the faith group in which we have ecclesiastical standing.
- To avoid discriminating against or refuse employment, educational opportunity or professional assistance to anyone according to their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin. To ensure that nothing herein shall limit a licensed Christian or Pastoral Counselor or a Christian Counseling Center from utilizing religious requirements or exercising a religious preference in employment decisions.
- To remain abreast of new developments in the field through both educational activities and clinical experience. We agree to participate in continuing education and to accumulate at least 40 continuing education units per year.
- To seek out and engage in collegial relationships, recognizing that isolation can lead to a loss of perspective and judgment.
- To manage our personal lives in a healthful fashion and to seek appropriate assistance for our personal problems or conflicts.
- To diagnose or provide treatment only for those problems or issues that are within the reasonable boundaries of our Specialized ministry and competence.
- To establish and maintain appropriate professional relationship boundaries.
PRINCIPLE II – PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES
In all professional matters at The USACCCA, we are required to maintain practices that protect the public and advance the profession.
- We use our spiritual and professional knowledge for the benefit of the people we serve and not to secure an unfair personal advantage.
Fees and financial arrangements, as with all contractual matters, are always discussed without hesitation or equivocation at the onset and are established in a Christian and professional manner.
- We are prepared to render service to individuals, families, groups and communities in crisis without regard to financial remuneration when necessary.
- We neither receive nor pay a commission for referral of a client. Upon the transfer of a Christian and Pastoral counseling practice or the sale of real, personal, tangible or intangible property or assets used in such practice, the privacy, confidentiality, and well-being of the client shall be of primary concern.
- We are careful to represent facts truthfully to clients, referral sources, and third party payors regarding credentials and services rendered. We shall correct any misrepresentation of our professional qualifications or affiliations.
- We do not malign colleagues or other professionals.
PRINCIPLE III – CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
The USACCCA requires that our Christian and Pastoral Counselors maintain relationships with clients on a Christian ethical and professional manners.
- We do not abandon or neglect clients. If we are unable, or unwilling for appropriate reasons, to provide Christian Counseling help or continue a Christian Counselor-client relationship, every reasonable effort is made to arrange for continuation of treatment with another Christian Counselor or professional.
- We make only realistic statements regarding the Christian and Pastoral counseling process and its outcome.
- We show sensitive regard for the moral, social, and religious standards of clients and communities. We avoid imposing our beliefs on others, although we may express them when appropriate in the counseling process.
- Counseling relationships are continued only so long as it is reasonably clear that the clients are benefiting from the relationship.
- We recognize the trust placed in and unique power of the therapeutic relationship. While acknowledging the complexity of some Christian and pastoral relationships, we avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of clients. We avoid those dual relationships with clients (e.g., business or close personal relationships) which could impair our professional judgment, compromise the integrity of the treatment, and use the relationship for our gain.
- We do not engage in harassment, abusive words or actions, or exploitative coercion of clients or former clients.
- All forms of sexual behavior or harassment with clients are unethical, even when a client invites or consents to such behavior or involvement. Sexual behavior is defined as, but not limited to, all forms of overt and covert seductive speech, gestures, and behavior as well as physical contact of a sexual nature; harassment is defined as but not limited to, repeated comments, gestures or physical contacts of a sexual nature.
- We recognize that the therapist/client relationship involves a power imbalance, the residual effects of which are operative following the termination of the therapeutic relationship. Therefore, all sexual behavior or harassment as defined in Principle III, G with former clients is unethical.
PRINCIPLE IV – CONFIDENTIALITY
As members of USACCCA, we respect the integrity and protect the welfare of all persons with whom we are working and have an obligation to safeguard information about them that has been obtained in the course of the counseling process.
- All records kept from a client are stored or disposed of in a manner that assures security and confidentiality.
We treat all communications from clients with professional confidence.
- Except in those situations where the identity of the client is necessary to the understanding of the case, we use only the case number of the clients when engaged in supervision or consultation. It is our responsibility to convey the importance of confidentiality to the supervisor/consultant; this is particularly important when the supervision is shared by other professionals, as in a supervisory group.
- We do not disclose clients information and confidences with anyone, except as mandated by law. Such disclosure is bridged to prevent immediate danger to self (client) or someone; in the course of a civil or criminal case; the disciplinary action arising from the counseling where the pastoral counselor is a defendant; for purposes of supervision or consultation; or by previously obtained written permission. In cases involving more than one person (as a client) written permission must be obtained from all legally accountable persons who have been present during the counseling before any disclosure can be made.
- We obtain informed written consent of clients before audio and videotape recording or permitting third party observation of their sessions.
- We do not use these standards of confidentiality to avoid intervention when it is necessary, e.g., when there is evidence of abuse of minors, the elderly, the disabled, the physically or mentally incompetent.
PRINCIPLES V. PUBLIC STATEMENTS
USACCCA does not make public statements which contain any of the following:
- A false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or unfair statement.
- A misrepresentation of fact or a statement likely to mislead or deceive because in context it makes only a partial disclosure of relevant facts.
- A testimonial from a client regarding the quality of services or products.
- A statement intended or likely to create false or unjustified expectations of favorable results.
- A statement implying unusual, unique, or one-of-a-kind abilities, including misrepresentation through sensationalism, exaggeration or superficiality.
- A statement intended or likely to exploit a client’s fears, anxieties or emotions.
- A statement concerning the comparative desirability of offered services.
- A statement of direct solicitation of individual clients.
- We do not compensate in any way a representative of the press, radio, television or another communication medium for the purpose of professional publicity and news items. A paid advertisement must be identified as such unless it is contextually apparent that it is a paid advertisement. We are responsible for the content of such advertisement. Any advertisement to the public by radio or television is to be pre-recorded, approved by us and a recording of the actual transmission retained in our possession.
- Advertisements or announcements by us of workshops, clinics, seminars, growth groups or similar services or endeavors, are to give a clear statement of purpose and a clear description of the experiences to be provided. The education, training, and experience of the provider(s) involved are to be appropriately specified.
- Advertisements or announcements soliciting research participants, in which clinical or other professional services are offered as an inducement, make clear the nature of the services as well as the cost and other obligations or risks to be accepted by participants in the research.