Ethical Standards for School Counselors Revised
Author(s): Carolyn Stone, Ed.D.
September 1, 2010
Based on receiving many ethical questions and concerns over the past several years, it seemed that the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors needed to be more fully developed. As the school counseling profession continues to grow toward more educational leadership the ethical framework in which the school counselor profession must operate needs to be broad enough to cover the profession’s diverse needs, while also developing appropriate ethical boundaries protecting the students as the primary focus of the work.
The work setting in the educational field is vastly different from the client-centered counseling setting in the community. Because most of the school counseling clientele are minors and school counselors must operate within the family and the education systems within which, it is incumbent upon all school counselors to operate within an ethical framework encompassing all these factors and addressing the specific needs of this culture.
Therefore, the ASCA Ethics Committee has assumed the task of restructuring the ASCA Ethical Standards to be more specific to the educational system. Following are details about the revisions to the standards.
- In addition to school counselors, the preamble holds school counseling program directors/supervisors and school counselor educators accountable in providing support and upholding the ASCA Ethical Standards.
- Creating and maintain safe school environments has been added to the preamble.
- Ethical guidelines regarding student-teacher relationships have been added.
- Confidentiality is written in a more comprehensive way (e.g., how to explain the limits of confidentiality, developmental and chronological age needs to be assessed). Informed signed consent by students and/or parents/guardians is an essential aspect in developing collaborative relationships.
- School counselors need to understand and abide by legal parameters including the Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 1974) concerning confidentiality, student records and technology.
- Guidelines emphasize the use of data to help close the achievement gaps and gaps in opportunity.
- School counselors need to make the necessary referrals that are within the school counselor’s scope of education and competence, and it is not appropriate to lead therapeutic groups in a school setting.
- Comprehensive school counseling programs should include curriculum and interventions when cyberbullying is interfering with the educational process.
- Guidelines for collaboration have been added.
- School counselors should recognize teachers, faculty and administrators who can be powerful allies in supporting student success.
- Carefully filter confidential information.
- Develop a plan for transferring student records.
- A new sub-section, Collaborating and Educating Around the Role of the School Counselor,” has been added. School counselor, school counseling program supervisor/director and school counselor educators: ensure data-driven programs and broker services.
- School counselors should implement data-driven evaluation of school counseling programs.
- School counselors should not use their role as a school counselor to benefit private therapeutic or consultative practice.
- Specific examples of participation and facilitation of professional development have been added.
- E.2. has been renamed “Multicultural and Social Justice Advocacy and Leadership.”
- Added ethical standards that provide more equitable and inclusive services to multicultural students and their families.
- F.3 Supervision of School Counselor candidate Pursuing Practicum and Internship Experiences added.
- Adequate support and appropriate experiences in developing, implementing and evaluating data-driven school counseling programs added.
- F.4 Collaboration and Education about School Counselors and School Counseling Programs with other Professionals has been added.
- Collaboration with all stakeholders added.
- School counselors need to document all steps taken when ethical behavior is in question.
- G.2. added: “When school counselors are forced to work in situations or abide by policies that do not reflect the ethics of the profession, the school counselor works responsibly through the correct channels to try and remedy the condition
- G.3. added: When faced with any ethical dilemma, school counselors, school counselor program directors/supervisors and school counselor educators use an ethical decision-making model.
Carolyn Stone, Ed.D., is co-chair of the ASCA Ethics Committee and a professor at the University of North Florida. She can be reached at email@example.com.