One of the charges of the American Counseling Association Ethics Committee is to educate ACA members about the ACA Code of Ethics. As one way of meeting this task, the Ethics Committee recently held its Fourth Annual Student Case Study Competition. The purpose of the competition was to engage aspiring counseling professionals in the process of becoming aware of, studying and engaging in ethical reflection and decision making.

We were very pleased that 23 teams of master’s students and 10 teams of doctoral students from graduate programs across the country participated in the competition. The team members critically analyzed the hypothetical cases and developed an ethical decision-making plan to respond to the situations presented.

The Ethics Committee members found all the responses very interesting. As anticipated, different teams chose to focus on different aspects of the cases and selected a variety of ethical decision-making models to guide them in developing their responses to the case studies. The Ethics Committee members independently rated responses to the case studies. The members then conferred to review the ratings and selected the top three winning teams of master’s students and doctoral students.

Master’s-level winning teams

First place: University of North Texas. Faculty: Casey Barrio Minton — Team members: Daisy Colin, Lorena Rodriguez Fernandez, David D. Huffman and Kimberlee Tucker

Second place: Oakland University. Faculty: Thomas W. Blume — Team members: Kirsti J. Reeve, Suzanne Sebree and Amy Willett

Third place: Argosy University–Seattle. Faculty: Deidra L. Clay — Team members: Brandin Chapman, Kris Goodman and Karmen Lynn Walker

Doctoral-level winning teams

First place: University of Toledo. Faculty: Nick Piazza — Team members: Tara M. Hill, Christie D. Jenkins, Amber Lange and Megan Mahon

Second place: Old Dominion University. Faculty: Edward Neukrug — Team members: Michael Hauser, Amanda C. Healey, Katherine Moore and Cynthia Walley

Third place: University of Akron. Faculty: Cynthia R. Reynolds — Team members: Kevin P. Feisthamel, Kara Kaelber and Michelle E. Toth

First-place team members were each awarded $75 ACA Bookstore coupons, a letter of recognition and a certificate. Members of the second-place teams received $25 ACA Bookstore coupons, a letter of recognition and a certificate. Third-place team members received a certificate and a letter of recognition. Each of the winning team’s programs also received a letter of recognition that included the names of the winning team members.

In addition, the first-place case study submissions, both at the master’s and doctoral level, were posted on the ACA website at

The ACA Ethics Committee and ACA wish to congratulate the winning teams and their respective graduate programs. The committee also wishes to commend the other participating teams from outstanding graduate programs across the nation.

Other participating master’s teams

Alaska Pacific University
California State University–Fresno
California University of Pennsylvania
Capella University
Drake University
Duquesne University
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Mennonite University
Loyola College in Maryland
Lynn University
Neumann College
North Georgia College & State University
Northeastern State University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University–Cascades
Southern Illinois University–Carbondale
Stetson University
University of Houston
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

Other participating doctoral teams

Auburn University
Idaho State University
Kent State University
Texas Tech University
University of Arkansas
University of Central Florida
University of South Carolina

The cases for the competition were developed in consultation with all members of the ACA Ethics Committee: Darlene Daneker, Louis Downs, Jackie Flanagan, Larry Freeman, Sharon Kurpius, Karen McCleskey, Sally Murphy, June Williams and Patrick Wilson. We applaud all of the students for the work they put into their responses.

Again, we thank everyone for their participation and commitment to raising awareness of the ethical standards that are so vital to our profession.

Shawn Spurgeon and Lynn Linde are co-chairs of the ACA Ethics Committee.