The AACC Law and Ethics Committee recently completed its review and revision work on the initial draft of the 2014 Christian Counseling Code of Ethics. Committee members who contributed their time and expertise to the project include Drs. Tim Clinton (President, AACC), Eric Scalise (Vice President for Professional Development, AACC), Ken Nichols (Former Executive Director, Board of Christian Professional & Pastoral Counseling, IBCC), David Jenkins (Associate Professor, Liberty University) and George Ohlschlager, as well as attorneys, Jeanneane Maxon (Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel, Americans United for Life) and John Sandy.
During the review process, current ethics codes from the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy (AAMFT), were examined to compare and contrast and help ensure that relevant parameters were appropriately addressed. Out-of-date statements were either removed or updated. One adjustment was to approach the revised Code from an orientation of beneficence (do good to others) vs. the absence of malfeasance (do no harm to others).
The entire code was restructured and reformatted utilizing eight Foundational Principles to guide Christian counselors and caregivers. They include the following:
- Compassion in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Servanthood
- Competence in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Excellence
- Consent in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Integrity
- Confidentiality in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Trustworthiness
- Cultural Regard in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Dignity
- Case Management in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Soundness
- Collegiality in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Relationship
- Community Presence in Christian Counseling – Represents a Call to Humility
Every section was completely reformatted (including numbering) for easier readability and flow. Statements that reflected general commentary were removed and the focus was more on basic Code standards. Future efforts will include the development of guidance documents that will provide greater depth and biblical considerations regarding the interpretation and application of various sections within the Code.
Other revisions include an increased depth in the cultural competency section (ethnicity and cultural groups), as well as adding an entirely new section devoted to the use of technology in counseling (the delivery of eCounseling/eCare services, protecting client confidentiality, privacy issues related to medical/counseling records, consent considerations, the proper use of social media, etc.). Finally, the Procedural Rules were reoriented to reflect Credential Holders with the International Board of Christian Care (IBCC) and their affiliate boards (the Board of Christian Professional and Pastoral Counselors, the Board of Christian Life Coaching, the Board of Christian Crisis and Trauma Response) and Christian Counseling Network (CCN) members, as opposed to general AACC members.
Overall, Committee members felt that the new 2014 Christian Code of Ethics represents one of the most comprehensive documents currently used within the counseling field. Members of the AACC, as well as Christian counselors everywhere (both nationally and internationally) are invited to adopt this Code of Ethics in their work as Christian mental health practitioners, lay and pastoral counselors, ministers and chaplains, and caregivers and helpers.