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Ethics Policies and Procedures

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) develops and promotes high ethical conduct for counselors. The following policies and procedures provide you with important information about professional counseling services by NBCC applicants and certificants.

The NBCC Code of Ethics

As an applicant or certificant, you are responsible for ensuring that your behavior adheres to the standards identified in the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Code of Ethics. The NBCC Code of Ethics is available in a downloadable PDF version and a searchable Internet version.

The NBCC Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Professional Services

The NBCC Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Professional Services identifies the specific actions you must take when providing distance services. This includes services delivered online, by telephone and by other distance methods.

Disclosure Requirement

Whether you are an NBCC applicant or certificant, you are required to make certain disclosures.

If you are a certificant, your disclosure must be in writing and submitted to NBCC within 60 days of you becoming aware of the charge or complaint. Use this form to make a certificant disclosure.

If you are an applicant, you must submit documentation related to all past and current required disclosure matters.

Additionally, applicants must submit relevant documentation, including copies of the charges, outcomes and paperwork indicating that required actions have been completed. Documentation regarding this varies depending on the type of matter (legal, criminal or disciplinary). Examples of this documentation include a judgment and sentence document, an order of probation, and a criminal complaint form (I and II). This documentation is due within (4) weeks of submitting your initial online application to NBCC.

Review Processes

In order to effectively review any disclosures or expressed concerns about an NBCC applicant or certificant, NBCC developed clear and enforceable policies and procedures. These include the NBCC Ethics Case Procedures, the Application and Certification Appeals Procedures and the Certification Eligibility Policy-Ethics. The review process may also affect the release of test scores. You are encouraged to familiarize yourself with these documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the list of frequently asked questions prior to submitting an inquiry.

I need to make a disclosure. What steps should I take?

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Any applicant or certificant who has been charged with any of the required disclosure matters should submit their written statement and any required documents to NBCC Ethics Department, 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403. The written disclosure must be submitted within 60 days of your awareness of the charge or complaint even if the matter is ongoing. Please include your complete name and certification number in all communications. You are encouraged to retain a copy of your submission for your records. You will receive a response at the mailing address of record, so please ensure that we have your current address.

Can you verify receipt of submissions?

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Responses to submissions are sent via regular mail to the address of record following review.

How can I expedite the processing of my application disclosure?

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First, collect all required documents as explained in the e-mail you received. Review the sample documents on the Web site, but understand that jurisdictions and various entities refer to the required documents differently. Failure to provide all of the required documents will delay the review.

Retain a copy of collected documents for future reference, as submitted documents will not be returned. Submit the documents according to the instructions in the e-mail.

Remember to allow sufficient time in processing submissions. Once submissions are received, they are placed in the queue for review.

How long will it take before I receive a response?

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Actual response time depends on the volume of submissions at the time of receipt. Individuals are highly encouraged to respond as quickly as possible with all of the required information.

Can I send submissions via e-mail?

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No, submissions must be mailed to the NBCC Ethics Department at 3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403 or faxed to 336-217-4287.

About faxed materials:

Please note that some documents do not fax well; they are too light or blurry to read. Any faxed materials will be placed in the queue for review, but be advised that there may be a delay if your materials are not readable. If so, you will be required to submit clearer documents.

How can I make sure that I test in the next examination administration?

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By submitting your application and payment, you were automatically considered for the first available examination administration. However, you must submit all of the required information for your disclosure, as explained in the e-mail. Failure to provide all of the required documents will delay the review.

If you do not complete the disclosure review process by the time test sites are arranged, you will automatically be registered for the next examination administration date, assuming you are eligible.

I applied for the examination. Why do I have to disclose?

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If you received the e-mail from NBCC about your disclosure, you submitted an application for the National Certified Counselor (NCC). The examination is one of the requirements for certification.

While we understand that this may be a difficult matter or that gathering the documentation may be an inconvenience, counselors provide services to vulnerable populations. Clients or potential employers often look at national certification as an indicator of trustworthiness and professionalism. The value of national certification is that you are voluntarily submitting to review processes that provide some degree of assurance to those you may work for or provide services to.

It is a good idea to maintain a folder of these materials, as they are also frequently required by state licensure boards.

Do I have to disclose something if it was over 25 years ago?

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Yes, all NBCC applicants and certificants are required to submit required disclosure matters regardless of the time.

If a matter was dismissed or set aside, do I have to disclose it?

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Yes, applicants must disclose all required disclosure matters regardless of the outcome of the adjudication process.

The only exception is if a specific matter has completed the expungement process. Applying for an expungement does not mean that a matter has been expunged.

Certificants are required to disclose any of the required disclosure matters within 60 days of their awareness of the charge or complaint, even if the matter has not reached its conclusion in the legal system or reviewing organization.

Where can I see sample court documents referenced in the e-mail I received?

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You can find sample documents at

Can you tell me the outcome of the review over the telephone or via e-mail?

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No, reviews cannot be conducted or reported by telephone or by e-mail. Our process is to send results of reviews via regular mail to the address of record.

Will I be required to review the ethics disclosure items regularly?

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Yes. With each annual payment or recertification, certificants will be reminded of the disclosure requirement. Certificants must indicate that they have read the statement and provided the required disclosures.

NCCs are encouraged to review this language carefully prior to submission to avoid any delays in annual maintenance or recertification.

Is there someone in the Ethics Department that provides professional advice?

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The NBCC Ethics Department conducts thorough reviews of any concerns expressed about the behaviors of NBCC applicants and certificants. NBCC cannot provide specific responses to ethical issues outside of an official NBCC review.

NBCC strongly encourages the use of consultative and/or supervision services with other professionals, as these are recognized methods for the continued development of professional skills and for responding to ethical dilemmas.

How do I report a problem with one of NBCC’s certificants or applicants?

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You will need to e-mail your name and mailing address to Once we receive this information, we will send you a packet that outlines the information we need and identifies the policies used to review concerns.

You can verify if a counselor is certified by NBCC at

What if I have another question for the Ethics Department?

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Please submit any questions not addressed either in the communications provided by the Ethics Department or this FAQ in a single e-mail to Here are some important reminders when creating an e-mail:

  • Define all abbreviations before use.
  • Be as specific as possible.
  • If you are referring to a specific ethics matter, use the assigned ethics case file number. (This number is on communications generated within the Ethics Department. It is located in the “RE:” line of the letters. Automated e-mails do not contain an ethics case file number.)
  • Include your complete name and NBCC identification number (if applicable).
  • Communications regarding review outcomes are not provided via telephone or e-mail.

Further distribution of ethics communications is prohibited unless specifically authorized either in policy or by prior written approval.