Community Rules & Etiquette

Thank you for being part of the ACA Connect community. To ensure the best possible experience for all members, we have established some basic guidelines for participation.

By joining and using ACA Connect, you agree that you have read and will follow these guidelines. You also agree to reserve discussions and shared files and content to that best suited to the venue. This is a great medium with which to solicit the advice of your peers, benefit from their experience, and participate in an ongoing conversation. Questions about participation should be directed to our Member Relations department via the Contact Us link on this site.

Please take a moment to acquaint yourself with these important guidelines. In order to preserve a climate that encourages both civil and fruitful dialogue, we reserve the right to suspend or terminate membership in this community for anyone who violates these rules.

The Rules

  • By participating in ACA Connect, you are opting into a community environment. Other ACA members may be able to see your profile information and send you private messages. Private messages should not include solicitations, calls for participants in studies, or advertising for personal gain. Keep in mind that the rules that apply to public posts to ACA Connect also apply to private messages: defamatory abusive, profane, threatening, offensive will not be tolerated.
  • We value your privacy. If you would like to view or change your privacy information, click here for information from our FAQ titled How do I control what information is available on my profile.
  • Do not present aspects of a case even if the client’s name is not given. (Please see “The Legal Stuff” below for further information). Posts that give details about a specific client will be removed.
  • Don't challenge or attack others. Address the issues being discussed. Posts should stimulate conversation not create contention. Let others have their say, just as you may.
  • Due to antitrust laws such as the Sherman Act, do not discuss fees. This includes, but is not limited to, session charges, fee schedules, insurance reimbursement rates, charges for “no-shows,” and charges for clients who are in arrears. (Please see the antitrust compliance section under “The Legal Stuff” below for further information). Posts that violate antitrust laws will be removed.
  • Posting of commercial messages by entities other than ACA, ACA Divisions, ACA Regions, ACA Branches, or the ACA Foundation is prohibited, including but not limited to program, product, service, membership, or conference promotion on any topic area, discussion list, community, interest area, or resource library entry. If you would like to purchase an advertisement with ACA, please submit your request to If you have a suggestion regarding professional education opportunities, please contact We offer comprehensive marketing packages that provide your job posting with maximum exposure to professionals. If you would like more information regarding a job advertisement please contact Danielle Irving, Senior Coordinator, Professional Projects and Career Services via email at
  • Use caution when discussing products. Information posted on the lists and in the libraries is available for all to see and comments are subject to libel, slander, and antitrust laws.
  • The use of discussions in connection with contests, chain letters, junk email, or “spam” is prohibited.
  • All defamatory, abusive, profane, threatening, offensive, or illegal materials are strictly prohibited. Do not post anything that you would not want the world to see or that you would not want anyone to know came from you.
  • The use of discussions to falsely impersonate an individual, group, organization, or entity is prohibited.
  • Please note carefully all items listed in the disclaimer and legal rules below, particularly regarding the copyright ownership of information posted.
  • Post your message or documents only to the most appropriate ACA Connect community or library. Do not post the same message to more than one.
  • Do not discuss forum rules and moderation in your posts as such discussion does not add value to the conversation. Please contact the community manager with your questions at
  • Calls for participants for studies are allowed and must be posted in the Call for Study Participants community. Calls for participants posted in other discussion threads will be moved to the designated community.
  • Post messages only on your own behalf. Messages may not be posted on behalf of others.
  • ACA Connect may not be used to post solicitations for funds for personal use.
  • Due to ACA’s nonprofit status, posts may not be made which advocate for political candidates.
  • Avoid public statements that label someone with a mental disorder. For further information, read ACA's Statement on the Avoidance of Publicly Diagnosing Individuals below.
  • All messages must add to the body of knowledge of the counseling profession. ACA Connect is fully moderated, meaning all messages are reviewed prior to posting. ACA reserves the right to reject any message it deems inappropriate, misleading, and/or derogatory.

ACA respects the ACA Connect community. We understand that people may inadvertently violate the rules, and we will not immediately ban someone from the community following a single violation. Rather, ACA follows a graduated enforcement policy for these guidelines.

  • First Violation-A written notice is sent to the member who violates the guidelines.
  • Second Violation-A written notice is sent to the member who violates the guidelines. The individual’s ACA Connect Community account is put into moderation so that messages from his/her account are reviewed before they are posted online.
  • Third Violation-The member's ACA Connect Community access is suspended for six months.

Discussion Group Etiquette

  • Include a signature tag on all messages. Include your name, affiliation, location.
  • State concisely and clearly the topic of your comments in the subject line. This allows members to respond more appropriately to your posting and makes it easier for members to search the archives by subject.
  • Include only the relevant portions of the original message in your reply. Delete any header information, and put your response before the original posting.
  • When replying to messages, do not reply to the entire list if a reply is directed at a single individual. Replying to the individual may be more appropriate. Replies of a personal nature should not be sent to the group.
  • Only send a message to the entire list when it contains information that everyone can benefit from.
  • Send messages such as “thanks for the information” or “me, too” to individuals--not to the entire list. Do this by using the “Reply to Sender” link to the left of every message.
  • Do not send administrative messages, such as requests for removal from the list. Instead, use the web interface to change your settings or to remove yourself from a list. If you are changing e-mail addresses, you do not need to remove yourself from the list and rejoin under your new email address. Simply change your settings.
  • Warn other list subscribers of lengthy messages either in the subject line or at the beginning of the message body with a line that says “Long Message.”
  • Keep in mind the following: Be nice. Assume good intent. Own your own words. Keep it relevant.

The Legal Stuff

This site is provided as a service for the members of the American Counseling Association. The American Counseling Association is not responsible for the opinions and information posted on this site by others. We disclaim all warranties with regard to information posted on this site, whether posted by the American Counseling Association or any third party; this disclaimer includes all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness. In no event shall the American Counseling Association be liable for any special, indirect, or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data, or profits, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of any information posted on this site.

Do not post any defamatory, abusive, profane, threatening, offensive, or illegal materials. Do not post any information or other material protected by copyright without the permission of the copyright owner. Authors are welcome to cite their own publications. By posting material, the posting party warrants and represents that he or she owns the copyright with respect to such material or has received permission from the copyright owner. In addition, the posting party grants the American Counseling Association and users of this site the nonexclusive right and license to display, copy, publish, distribute, transmit, print, and use such information or other material.

Due to the potential violation of both the ACA Code of Ethics, state, and/or federal law, case consultation is not allowed on ACA Connect. It is not permissible to present aspects of a case on a counseling listserv or online forum even if the client’s name is not given. Information shared by a client and clinical impressions must be afforded the same level of confidentiality as the name of the client. Describing a client’s presenting problem, diagnosis, or clinical treatment approach through listservs or online forums – even if the client’s name is not given – is a violation of confidentiality. It is perfectly fine to discuss issues (e.g. asking, “Does anyone have any resources on eating disorders in male wrestlers?” or, “Does anyone have a referral to a specialist in PTSD in the Boston area?”), but please ensure that you phrase your post in a manner that does not describe an actual client.

Messages should not be posted if they encourage or facilitate members to arrive at any agreement that either expressly or impliedly leads to price fixing, a boycott of another's business, or other conduct intended to illegally restrict free trade. Messages that encourage or facilitate an agreement about the following subjects are inappropriate: prices, discounts, or terms or conditions of sale; salaries; profits, profit margins, or cost data; market shares, sales territories, or markets; allocation of customers or territories; or selection, rejection, or termination of customers or suppliers.

The American Counseling Association reserves the right to terminate access to any user who does not abide by these guidelines.

Antitrust Compliance

The American Counseling Association has a policy of strict compliance with federal and state antitrust laws. ACA, like other professional associations, comprises counselors who may compete with each other for clients or for retention by government agencies or private employers. Government antitrust law enforcement agencies frequently investigate and sue associations and their members if the agencies believe that an association or its members are engaged in practices that unreasonably restrict competition. The antitrust laws can also be enforced by private parties either following government action or independently.

ACA Connect posts and discussions should avoid any agreements that restrict the manner in which counselors compete with each other. In particular:

  • Each individual counselor, practice, agency, or setting should independently determine the fees to be charged for counseling services.
  • Agreements concerning fees, regardless of whether those agreements are express or implied, are particularly likely to be deemed unlawful under the antitrust laws. Agreements on fees among competing providers may be considered price-fixing, which is often prosecuted as a felony.
  • Discussions of fees, fee levels, insurance reimbursements, and other subjects closely related to fees may be regarded as evidence of an agreement on fees, and should be avoided.
  • Counselors should not discuss or agree on the availability of their services on a pro bono or discounted basis.
  • Counselors should not discuss or agree on the clients they serve or the geographic areas in which they practice.
  • Counselors should not agree to withhold or limit their services collectively with regard to any individual, government entity, agency, or company.  In particular, such agreements should never be used to apply pressure to induce a third party to act in a desired manner.
  • Counselors should not agree to limit their ability to solicit or accept clients who may be already receiving services from another counselor.
  • Counselors should not agree to limit the manner in which they publicize or communicate availability of their services.

Application of the antitrust laws depends on the facts of particular situations, especially in the context of the rendition of professional services. If any ACA member has any questions or concerns about the antitrust implications of an ACA Connect post that s/he is considering or that any other ACA member has made, please communicate those questions or concerns to the Community Manager at

ACA Statement on the Avoidance of Publicly Diagnosing Individuals

We live in polarized political times.  An aspect of this polarization is reflected in public questioning of the mental health status of individuals through both media outlets and social media.

Professional counselors may be tempted to weigh in on these mental health debates.  As such, ACA wants to remind all professional counselors that the ACA Code of Ethics makes it clear that counselors are required to take special care to provide proper diagnosis of mental disorders (section E.5.a).   Therefore, publicly associating an individual with any term within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD) without having interviewed and conducted a thorough assessment of the individual and having written permission for disclosure is a violation of the ACA Code of Ethics. 

When publicly discussing government officials, politicians, public figures, and others professional counselors should avoid DSM-related terms, especially, diagnosis and disorder.  Counselors should not attach a specific DSM or ICD diagnosis to any individual through media outlets or social media.

Avoiding public statements that label someone with a mental disorder is in the best interest of the public.  This promotes a core professional value stated in the preamble of the ACA Code of Ethics; that professional counselors practice in a competent and ethical manner. 

The ACA Code of Ethics is available at