Substance Abuse BLOG

American Counseling Association Code of Ethics

Just like in any profession, addiction counselors have codes of ethics to follow and this one is called the Counselors' Code of Ethics. This is administered by the American Counseling Association whose purpose is to define the behavior that every addiction counselor must practice. This also serves as a set of guidelines that will basically describe professional courses of action. Furthermore, it is also the basis by which professionals should handle complaints raised by their clients.

Most important parts of the Code of Ethics for addiction counselors

The Code of Ethics, as we all know, can serve as guide for the behavior of a professional. In the addiction counseling profession, the most important ones include:

    1. There's no such a thing as a "no money, no counseling thing." The system does not work that way. Counseling should be open to everyone. The quality expected out of the counseling should never be sacrificed even when the client has no money to pay for such services.
    2. Addiction counselors must treat their counselors equally. As mentioned, the quality of the service rendered should never be sacrificed. This is the most acceptable way of serving the best interest of the client.
    3. Professional responsibility should be practiced. It should be served over self. An addiction counselor should see to it that he serves the needs of his clients first before actually serving his own interests.
    4. Confidentiality of information is also important. Drug or substance abuse patients already have this dilemma in their lives. Come to think of how adamant they are to subject themselves to counseling. Well, with this, the counselor should be professional enough to understand that the patient will never like it if any information about him will be disclosed to others. Here is where the role of the code of ethics on confidentiality of information comes in.

Are revisions to the Code of Ethics necessary?

Well, yes, this will be necessary. The changes will definitely benefit not only the professionals but their clients. These will also increase public trust in the profession's integrity. As with any other law, updating will be needed since this can help improve the services professionals extend to their clients.

In NAADAC's revision of its own code of ethics, some areas of concern include: (1) confidentiality/privileged communication and privacy; (2) counseling relationship; (3) professional responsibility; (4) working in a culturally divine world; (5) evaluation, interpretation and assessment of patient/client data (such as when using drug test kits); (6) supervision and consultation; (7) workplace standards; and (8) resolving ethical issues.

The revisions to the codes of ethics should not be taken as a negative move by the organization or the councils that govern addiction professionals. It should be understood as a way of improving the details found within the policies and procedures implemented by the organization.