Preamble The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a professional organization supporting school counselors, school counseling students/interns, school counseling program directors/supervisors and school counselor educators. School counselors have unique qualifications and skills to address preK–12 students’ academic, career and social/emotional development needs. 

These standards are the ethical responsibility of all school counseling professionals. School counselors are advocates, leaders, collaborators and consultants who create systemic change by providing equitable educational access and success by connecting their school counseling programs to the district’s mission and improvement plans. School counselors demonstrate their belief that all students have the ability to learn by advocating for an education system that provides optimal learning environments for all students.

 All students have 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 but not limited to: ethnic/racial identity, nationality, age, social class, economic status, abilities/disabilities, language, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, family type, religious/spiritual identity, emancipated minors, wards of the state, homeless youth and incarcerated youth. School counselors as social-justice advocates support students from all backgrounds and circumstances and consult when their competence level requires additional support. 

• Receive the information and support needed to move toward self-determination, self-development and affirmation within one’s group identities. Special care is given to improve overall educational outcomes for students who have been historically underserved in educational services. 

• Receive critical, timely information on college, career and postsecondary options and understand the full magnitude and meaning of how college and career readiness can have an impact on their educational choices and future opportunities. 

• Privacy that should be honored to the greatest extent possible, while balancing other competing interests (e.g., best interests of students, safety of others, parental rights) and adhering to laws, policies and ethical standards pertaining to confidentiality and disclosure in the school setting. 

• A safe school environment promoting autonomy and justice and free from abuse, bullying, harassment and other forms of violence. ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors (Adopted 1984; revised 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010, 2016) PURPOSE In this document, ASCA specifies the obligation to the principles of ethical behavior necessary to maintain the high standards of integrity, leadership and professionalism. The ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors were developed in consultation with state school counseling associations, school counselor educators, school counseling state and district leaders and school counselors across the nation to clarify the norms, values and beliefs of the profession.

The purpose of this document is to: 

• Serve as a guide for the ethical practices of all 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 support and direction for self-assessment, peer consultation and evaluations regarding school counselors’ responsibilities to students, parents/guardians, colleagues and professional associates, schools district employees, communities and the school counseling profession. 

• Inform all stakeholders, including students, parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, community members and courts of justice of best ethical practices, values and expected behaviors of the school counseling professional. 


A.1. Supporting Student Development School counselors: 

a. Have a primary obligation to the students, who are to be treated with dignity and respect as unique individuals.

 b. Aim to provide counseling to students in a brief context and support students and families/guardians in obtaining outside services if the student needs long-term clinical counseling.

 c. Do not diagnose but remain acutely aware of how a student’s diagnosis can potentially affect the student’s academic success. 

d. Acknowledge the vital role of parents/guardians and families. 

e. Are concerned with students’ academic, career and social/ emotional needs and encourage each student’s maximum development. 

f. Respect students’ and families’ values, beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identification/expression and cultural background and exercise great care to avoid imposing personal beliefs or values rooted in one’s religion, culture or ethnicity.