Competences, confidentiality and informed consent are the three sections of the codes that are examined for differences and similarities.
This code has nine points under the heading competence which include honoring the call to competent Christian counseling, duties to consult and refer, consultation practice, referral practice, seeking Christian help, avoiding counsel against professional treatment, duties to study and maintain expertise, maintaining integrity to work, reports and relations, and protective action when personal problems interfere. The AACC Code of Ethics stresses that Christian counselors make only realistic statements about their identity, education, experience and the counseling goals (AACC 2004, ES1-200). Moreover, the professional counseling (such as medical or psychiatric treatment) is not avoided or advised against even if the providers may not be a Christian.
ACA Code of Ethics has eight key points which include: boundaries of competence, new specialty areas of practice, qualified for employment, monitor effectiveness, consultation on ethical obligations, continuing education, impairment, and counselor incapacitation or termination of practice. The emphasis is made on the high competence of counselors who gain knowledge and skills pertinent to working with the diverse client population (ACA 2005, Section C). Counselors are able to practice in specialty areas which is new to them only after the appropriate education is gained and the experience monitored. Consulting with other specialists is highly encouraged however within the ethical boundaries.
Differences and Similarities
Despite the fact that both Codes are talking about competence issues, it appears that the issue is being discussed from completely different standpoints. AACC Code of Ethics is based on the statement that all of the information about the counselors' competence corresponds to the real facts, while ACA Code of Ethics is based on the statement that every counselor occupies the position he is eligible for, in other words according to the education and experience. One of the similarities is that both codes talk about the boundaries of competence and assistance from other specialists - such counseling is encouraged and supported by both codes for the higher benefit of the client. One of the differences is that AACC Code of Ethics makes a point that the professional help of non-Christian professionals is not avoided and advised whenever the client seems to need it. ACA Code of Ethics does not have such a point under "Competence" section. The reason for this difference is obvious: AACC supports the counseling based on the Christian moral values and similar institutions often avoid advising outside help from non-Christian institutions. There is no need to make any statement about this in ACA Code of Ethics because it is not based on Christian principles. In addition, both Codes are talking about the monitoring of effectiveness and cases of counselor's impairment. These points need to be addressed in both codes because these processes are impacting the quality of service provided to the clients.
AACC Code of Ethics
"Christian counselors secure client