ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a professional organization whose members are school counselors certified/licensed in school counseling with unique qualifications and skills to address all students' academic, personal/social and career development needs. Members are also school counseling program directors/supervisors and counselor educators. These ethical standards are the ethical responsibility of school counselors. School counseling program directors/supervisors would know them and provide support for practitioners to uphold them. School counselor educators should know them, teach them to their students and provide support for school counseling candidates to uphold them.
Professional school counselors are advocates, leaders, collaborators and consultants who create opportunities for equity in access and success in educational opportunities by connecting their programs to the mission of schools and subscribing to the following tenets of professional responsibility:
- Each person has the right to be respected, be treated with dignity and have access to a comprehensive school counseling program that advocates for and affirms all students from diverse populations including: ethnic/racial identity, age, economic status, abilities/disabilities, language, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, family type, religious/spiritual identity and appearance.
- Each person has the right to receive the information and support needed to move toward self-direction and self-development and affirmation within one's group identities, with special care being given to students who have historically not received adequate educational services, e.g., students of color, students living at a low socio-economic status, students with disabilities and students from non-dominant language backgrounds.
- Each person has the right to understand the full magnitude and meaning of his/her educational choices and how those choices will affect future opportunities.
- Each person has the right to privacy and thereby the right to expect the school-counselor/student relationship to comply with all laws, policies and ethical standards pertaining to confidentiality in the school setting.
- Each person has the right to feel safe in school environments that school counselors help create, free from abuse, bullying, neglect, harassment or other forms of violence.
In this document, ASCA specifies the principles of ethical behavior necessary to maintain the high standards of integrity, leadership and professionalism among its members. The Ethical Standards for School Counselors were developed to clarify the nature of ethical responsibilities held in common by school counselors, supervisors/directors of school counseling programs and school counselor educators. The purposes of this document are to:
Serve as a guide for the ethical practices of all professional school counselors, supervisors/directors of school counseling programs and school counselor educators regardless of level, area, population served or membership in this professional association;
Provide self-appraisal and peer evaluations regarding school counselors' responsibilities to students, parents/guardians, colleagues and professional associates, schools, communities and the counseling profession; and
Inform all stakeholders, including students, parents and guardians, teachers administrators, community members and courts of justice, of best ethical practices, values and expected behaviors of the school counseling professional.
A.1. Responsibilities to Students
Professional school counselors:
a. Have a primary obligation to the students, who are to be treated with dignity and respect as unique individuals.
b. Are concerned with the educational, academic, career, personal and social needs and encourage the maximum development of every student.
c. Respect students' values, beliefs and cultural background and do not impose the school counselor's personal values on students or their families.
d. Are knowledgeable of laws, regulations and policies relating to students and strive to protect and inform students regarding their rights.
e. Promote the welfare of individual students and collaborate with them to develop an action plan for success.
f. Consider the involvement of support networks valued by the individual students.
g. Understand that professional distance with students is appropriate, and any sexual or romantic relationship with students whether illegal in the state of practice is considered a grievous breach of ethics and is prohibited regardless of a student's age.
h. Consider the potential for harm before entering into a relationship with former students or one of their family members.
B.1. Parent Rights and Responsibilities
Professional school counselors:
a. Respect the rights and responsibilities of parents/guardians for their children and endeavor to establish, as appropriate, a collaborative relationship with parents/guardians to facilitate students' maximum development.
b. Adhere to laws, local guidelines and ethical standards of practice when assisting parents/guardians experiencing family difficulties interfering with the student's effectiveness and welfare.
c. Are sensitive to diversity among families and recognize that all parents/guardians, custodial and noncustodial, are vested with certain rights and responsibilities for their children's welfare by virtue of their role and according to law.
d. Inform parents of the nature of counseling services provided in the school setting.
e. Adhere to the FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) federal act regarding disclosure of student information.
f. Work to establish, as appropriate, collaborative relationship with parents/guardians to best serve student.
Professional school counselors:
c. Respect the confidentiality of parents/guardians to the extent that is reasonable to protect the best interest of the student being counseled.
d. Provide parents/guardians with accurate, comprehensive and relevant information in an objective and caring manner, as is appropriate and consistent with ethical responsibilities to the student.
e. Make reasonable efforts to honor the wishes of parents/guardians concerning information regarding the student unless a court order expressly forbids the involvement of a parent (s). In cases of divorce or separation, school counselors exercise a good-faith effort to keep both parents informed, maintaining focus on the student and avoiding supporting one parent over another is divorce proceedings.
The above is merely a partial listing of the American School Counselor Assn. "Ethical Standards for School Counselors," revised in 2010. Read the complete Standards at the ASCA website here.
CLICK AND READ (Ethics for Teachers): "Code of Ethics: Association of American Educators"
CLICK AND READ: "School Administrators Code of Ethics"