The PACC Code of Ethics has been adapted through the hard work of AGST Ed.D. in Counseling students under the supervision of Dr. & Mrs. Fred & Heather Gingrich.
BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE CODE
1st Foundation – We acknowledge that God the Father is the sovereign Creator of all.
2nd Foundation – Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counselor and the Author of our profession, and is our Model for Christian counseling practice and ministry (Is. 61:1-3)
3rd Foundation – The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Partner in the therapeutic process (John 14:16; John 15:26; John 14:26)
4th Foundation – Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Because of sin, pathological needs resulted, sinful choices are made causing problems and needing reconciliation with God, with human beings and with him/herself (Rom. 3:23; Ps. 37:7; John 16:33; Rom. 2:9).
5th Foundation – It is the counselor’s task to help, encourage, comfort clients and each other in love (Acts 15:32; Rom. 12:8; 1 Thes. 4:18; 2 Tim. 4:2; Heb. 3:13; 10:25; 2 Thes. 2:16,17; 1 Cor. 14:3; 2 Cor. 1:4; Rev. 3:19; Luke 17:3; Heb. 12:5).
6th Foundation – The goal of counseling is to restore the fallen human being to becoming what God intends him/her to be (Gal. 5:1; 6:1; Matt. 5:18; Mat. 18:15).
7th Foundation – Counseling is to be done in excellence (Mark 7:37).
CODE OF ETHICS
- We commit ourselves to cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord. Our effectiveness as counselors depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ, our model of counselor.
- We pledge to take care of ourselves being temples of the Holy Spirit and as bearers of God’s image.
- The Scriptures are our bases for life and counseling practice. We shall endeavor to understand the Scriptural basis of problems that clients bring in counseling.
- We acknowledge that we are channels through whom the grace of God flows. Our counseling practice is built on theological as well as psychological foundations that is integrative.
B. THE COUNSELOR-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP
- We shall not reject any client on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, income, education, ethnic background, and values system unless we are not able to handle the client due to our own lack of training, or unresolved issues, or if the effectiveness of the therapeutic process will be impeded or impaired.
- We view our clients as God’s image bearers, unique and special in His eyes and are deserving of respect/dignity.
- We shall abstain from manipulation and exploitation of clients or the invasion of their privacy to satisfy our personal needs.
- As Counselors
- We shall maintain the highest standards of competence and in our professional relationships with clients, colleagues and supervisors.
- We submit ourselves to be accountable to regular supervision by mentors and fellow practitioners.
- We shall abide by the existing, applicable national and local laws, and regulations governing counseling ethics and practice (e.g. family code, violence against women, child abuse)
- We shall strive to develop treatment plans for guidance and direction in helping people, at the same time use them as a basis for review and supervision.
- We recognize the limits of our knowledge on tests and administer only the ones that we have been trained to use for the welfare of clients. We are committed to administer tests that are reliable, valid and culturally appropriate.
- As Trainers/ Supervisors
- We adhere to ethical, moral, legal and professional counseling ethics. We will strive toward efficiency and equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge on principles, methods and techniques for the proper training of students/supervisees.
- We must be careful to give due credit to student/supervisees for all contributions what we deem significant contributions or/ and achievements in the counseling field.
- We shall clearly communicate to supervisees/trainees in advance, about training goals, expectations, appraisal methods and schedules of evaluation. We shall provide trainees/supervisees, periodic opportunities for appraisal and improvement throughout the training program.
- Trainers/supervisors shall properly and lovingly inform trainees regarding trainees’/supervisees’ deficiencies and substandard performance,
- As Researchers and Publishers of Research Data
- We commit to conduct research without breaking rules of confidentiality and causing harm to subjects of research. We shall obtain informed consent from them should be publish data results. We will give credit to our sources of data.
- We seek to maintain integrity in all writing and publication endeavors. We will be faithful to recognize the works of others that we have directly and/or substantially contributed to articles/books that we publish.
- We shall endeavor to network with local churches for the training of lay counselors. It is important that in training lay counselors we shall teach ethics and proper practice of counseling
- INFORMED CONSENT
- Christian counselors shall secure consent for all counseling and related services. This includes the video/audio-taping of client sessions, and the use of client’s data for consultation with supervisors and other counselors.
- Christian counselors respect the need for informed consent regarding the structure and process of counseling, fees and terms of payment, counselor status and credentials, confidentiality and limits. This will be done through a professional service contract.
- Christian counselors shall secure a written informal consent from the client through a professional service contract.
- If counselor is supervised, that information shall be disclosed and the supervisor’s name and role will be indicated to the client.
- Christian counselors shall obtain consent from parents or legal guardians when clients are minors or adults who are legally incapable of giving consent.
- Use in therapy, when appropriate, of religious interventions such as prayer and Scriptures shall be part of informed consent.
- PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
- Respect for Privacy – The counselors respect their clients’ right to privacy by taking reasonable precautions to maintain confidentiality.
- Safeguard of Privacy
- Record keeping. The counselors are to maintain confidentiality in creating, storing, accessing, transferring, and disposing of records by counselors, whether in written, automated, or in any other medium. The disposal of records are to be in accordance with institutional rules and guidelines.
- Consultations. In situations of consultation with mental health colleagues, proper care are to be observed to ensure that only information germane to the purposes of the consultation be shared and that information leading to the identification of a patient, client, research participant are adequately safeguarded.
- Subordinates. Counselors are to make every effort to ensure that privacy and confidentiality of clients are maintained by all levels of subordinates, which would include employees, clerical assistants, and volunteers.
- LIMITS TO CONFIDENTIALITY. As much as the rights to confidentiality of clients are to be observed, limits to this confidentiality exist in the following aspects.
- Client Waiver. The right to privacy may be waived by the client or his or her legally recognized representative.
- Danger to Clients or others. When the counselor is privy to information that puts the client or others in imminent and clear danger, as in cases of threats of suicide, homicide, violent acts, contagious diseases, etc., the counselor is required to take proactive steps to secure the safety of the parties, and in doing so would need to break the privacy and confidentiality code.
- Minor or Incapacitated Clients. In cases of minors or individuals who are unable to give voluntary or informed consent, counselors may include parents or guardians in the counseling process when necessary. In this case, counselors are to act in the best interests of the clients taking measures to safeguard their confidentiality.
- Church, Organizational, Agency Requirements for Disclosure. Counselors employed in the church, organization or agency setting would be bound by the rules of such church, organization or agency.
- Groups and Families
- Group Work: Counselors are to give clear definition of confidentiality and the parameters for the specific group involved in group work.
- Family or Couple Counseling: The privacy rights of each family member are to be protected by the counselor. Information about one family member cannot be disclosed to another member without prior consent.
- Court-Order and other Legal or Official Requests for Disclosure. Counselors should attempt at all cost to continue to protect the client’s right to privacy and confidentiality in cases of legal subpoenas and official requests for information, and stress the importance of permission of client for any information to be revealed.
- Church Institutions
III. DUAL RELATIONSHIPS
- Dual relationships should be avoided in the counseling context. However, as Asians, we cannot avoid multi-roles because we put high premium on relationships. Thus, counseling sometimes happen in spite of a certain relationship between the therapist and the client. However, the therapist should avoid counseling clients with whom he/she has relationship that will hamper the therapist’s objectivity or blur his/her judgment/mind on the client’s case.
- Exception to the Rule. The Filipino Christian counselor has the burden of proving a justified dual relationship by showing 1) Informed consent, including discussion of how the counseling relationship might be harmed as other relations proceed; and 2) lack of harm or exploitation to the client.
- Counseling with friends, family and acquaintances. Counseling with family, friends and acquaintances thought it might look complicated are not prohibited because a lot of times counseling in this setting is more of a trust system whereby people come because of some relationship. Boundaries need to be defined by the counselor.
- Counseling with fellow church members. This is already a practice done by the pastor, church leaders and even fellow church parishioners. A lot of times this is done on the basis of friendship and being part of the big family, the “church”.
- Counseling with business associates. Proof will include showing informed consent, including discussing the potential harm in the relationship; and absence of exploitation or harm to the client.
- Termination in Order To Engage In Dual Relationship. Termination in order to engage in dual relationships is not always prohibited, provided that it is not a termination to engage in a) romantic and sexual relationship, b) business
IV. SEXUAL INTIMACY WITH CLIENT
All forms of sexual misconduct, and every kind of sexual exploitation, deception, abuse, or harassment in pastoral, professional or lay relationships are unethical. This includes relations where the sexual involvement is invited or informed consent presumably exists – such apparent consent is illusory and illegitimate.
Forbidden sexual activities and deceptions include, but are not limited to, direct sexual touch or contact; seductive sexual speech or non-verbal behavior; solicitation of sexual or romantic relations; erotic contact or behavior as a response to the sexual invitation or seductive behavior of clients; unnecessary questioning and / or excessive probing into the client’s sexual history and practices; advocacy of the healing value of counselor-client sexual relations; secretive sexual communications and anonymous virtual interaction via the Internet or other electronic means; sexual harassment by commends, touch, or promises / threats of special action; and sexual misconduct as defined by all applicable laws, ethics, and church, organizational, or practice policies.
V. SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH FORMER CLIENTS FORBIDDEN
All sexual relations are defined above with former clients are unethical. Counselors do not engage in sexual intimacies with a former therapy patient or client for at least two years after cessation or termination of professional services. Furthermore, we do not terminate and refer clients or parishioners, even at first contact, in order to pursue sexual or romantic relations.
Because sexual intimacies with a former therapy patient or client are so frequently harmful to the patient or client, and because such intimacies undermine public confidence in the other psychology of profession and thereby deter the public’s use of needed services, counselors do not engage in sexual intimacies with former therapy patients and clients even after a two-year interval except in the most unusual circumstances. The counselors who engages in such activity after the two years following cessation or termination of treatment bears the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation, in light of all relevant factors, including (1) the amount of time that has passed since therapy terminated, (2) the nature and duration of the therapy, (3) the circumstances of termination, (4) the patient’s or client’s personal history, (5) the patient’s or client’s current mental status, (6) the likelihood of adverse impact on the patient or client and others, and (7) any statements or actions made by the therapist during the course of therapy suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post termination sexual or romantic relationship with the patient or client.
Any member who is found violating any section of the code is subject to the following procedures:
- Practitioner will voluntarily submit him/herself to the board of PACC for disciplinary action.
- He/she will be assessed by a member of the board, to determine the gravity of the situation. This should be done in a spirit of restoration.
- If the practitioner subjects him/herself to the above, rehabilitation process will follow. However, if he/she does not do 1) or 2) above, he/she will have his/her license revoked. If there is no licensing setting yet, practitioner will be excluded from membership of the professional association. When necessary, inform the church and the family of the therapist.
Incarnating Jesus’ compassion to the poor and destitute, we extend our expertise for free on a regular basis to a particular needy community.
VIII. FINANCES, GIFTS AND REMUNERATION
The practice of collecting fees and remuneration for counseling services by Christian counselors and psychotherapists is more of an exception than a rule. In cases where fees are collected, the following are the guidelines for the practitioner:
- Fee rates, schedules and other policies should be stated clearly to the client at the onset, or even before the start, of the counseling relationship. This will include policy on missed appointments, and collection policy on delinquent payments.
- Fees should be reasonable and fair. It should be established in the spirit of ministry and not out of monetary gain.
- Barter or exchange of services is discouraged. However, in the Philippine setting, particularly in the rural setting and in depressed urban setting, Filipino clients, influenced by the concept of “hiya and utang na loob” would, despite their financial constraints, want to pay in the form of service or in kind. Out of respect of, and to extend dignity to the client, such practice may be allowed, provided care is taken by the practitioner that no exploitation of the client occurs nor the objectivity and judgment of the practitioner compromised or hampered.
- Gifts from the clients are allowed provided such gifts are minimal.
- In obedience to Christ’s command to consider the poor and the destitute, practitioners are encouraged to render services for free or at a reduced rate to clients who cannot afford to pay the regular rates.
- Fees will not be collected for referrals done.
IX. ETHICS AND LEGAL COMMITTEE
- The Ethics and Legal Committee is responsible for
- Educating the membership as to the Organization’s Code of Ethics;
- Periodically review and recommend changes in the Code of Ethics as well as the Policies and Procedures for Processing Complaints of Ethical Violations
- Receiving and processing complaints of alleged violations of the Code of Ethics of the Organization
- Receiving and processing questions
- Filing Complaints
- Only written complaints, signed by the complainants, will be considered.
- Individuals eligible to file complaints will send a letter outlining the nature of the complaint to the Committee.
- Notification of Accused Members
- Once signed formal complaints have been received, accused members will be sent a copy of the formal complaint and copies of all evidence and documents submitted in support of the complaint.
- Accused members will be asked to respond to the complaint against them.
- Legal Complaints. Any legal complaints that concern the member will be attended by the Ethics and Legal Committee of the organization.
X. CONFLICT RESOLUTION
- We recognize the reality of conflicts occurring between practitioners. On such situations we, as Christian professionals, submit to the authority of Christ by first attempting to harmonize biblical, clinical, legal, ethical and client interests, if possible. We will secure proper consultation and submit to the due process promulgated by the Ethics and Legal Committee.
- Conflict resolution will be done in a manner that is:
- Defensible biblically and ethically
- According to the interest of both parties (i.e., fell colleague, or counselor- client)
- Done without self-seeking purposes
- Done with sober consideration after dialogue with the Ethics and Legal Committee
- Done with the willingness to pay any adverse consequence
Submitted by :
- Ruel R. Billones
- Linda Bubod
- Anna Liza Co
- Lemuel Engcoy
- Samuel Galvez
- Hannah Haskell
- Elson Lao
- Penny Lim
- Evelyn Palarca
- Madora Perez
- Cecilia Regencia
Adapted from the following Sources:
- Sanders, R. Christian Counseling Ethics. A Handbook for Therapists, Pastors and Counselors. Illinois, Inter Varsity Press. 1997
- Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association
- Ethical Guidelines for the Christian Association for Psychological Studies
- American Association of Pastoral Counselors Code of Ethics
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Code of Ethics
- Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the American Counseling Association
- American Association of Christian Counseling