Patrick B. McGinnis, PhD, LMHC

Psychotherapy for Self-Actualization and Prosperity Coaching



The Laypersonís Guide to Counselor Ethics: What You Should Know About the Ethical Practice of Professional Counselors

Approved by the ACA Governing Council, October 1999


What You Should Know About the Ethical Practice of Professional Counselors


As clients make decisions concerning the professional counselor from whom they will seek services, they should realize that there are standard practices and procedures that they can expect. Many of these practices and procedures are driven by the State Licensing Board's code of ethics that your professional counselor is bound to follow, the American Counseling Associationís (ACA) Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. This document offers some highlights specifically relevant to you as consumer. You have the right to ask your professional counselor for a complete copy of the ACA Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. The following will highlight some of these practices and procedures that you should expect from your professional counselor.


What to Expect


Your professional counselor will describe her or his qualifications and areas of expertise.


Your professional counselor will treat you with respect and dignity, especially in regard to age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status.


Your professional counselor will inform you of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks, and benefits of all counseling services that you will receive. You may request this information in writing.


Your professional counselor will inform you of and give you the opportunity to discuss matters of confidentiality, privacy, and disclosure of information. She or he will also inform you of the limitations to confidentiality.


Your professional counselor will inform you of all financial arrangements related to service prior to entering the counseling relationship. You may request this information in writing.


Your professional counselor will, when necessary, assist in making appropriate alternative service arrangements. Such arrangements may be necessary following termination, at follow-up, and for referral.


When questions or concerns arise regarding services requested or services received, please discuss them immediately with your professional counselor.




Confidentiality and privileged communication are rights of all clients of psychologists and counselors according to the law and professional ethics. No information about you, or the psychological or counseling services provided to you will be released without your permission. There are, however, certain circumstances in which it may be required or helpful to release patient information:


1. If a court of law issues a subpoena, then I am required to provide the information specifically described in the subpoena.


2. If you indicate that you intend to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, then I must act to notify potential helpers or victims if I believe there is a real danger.


3. If you report, or if I have reason to suspect, that you are a perpetrator of child abuse or molestation, or abuse of the elderly, I am obliged to report this to the authorities. Likewise if you are a child or elder person who is currently being victimized I may be required to make a report for your protection.


4. If your insurance or managed care company requires me to provide them with patient information, I may release information to them needed to determine coverage or reimbursement.


5. If you are a minor, your parents or guardians must be informed of your progress, if they ask; but I do not have to tell them details.

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