Professional Ethics

The Association of Professional Chaplains upholds a strong commitment to high standards of professional conduct. In addition to offering opportunities for continuing education and collegial relationships, APC’s affiliate, Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc., certifies chaplains for their professional ministry. Certification privileges impose ethical responsibilities. To meet these responsibilities, the board of directors adopted a Code of Professional Ethics. Foundational to the code is commitment to accountability for ethical behavior by professional chaplains. The people served by BCCI certified chaplains can expect interactions based upon the standards of the Code of Ethics.

To support the code of ethics, APC works in conjunction with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education in a Process for Addressing Allegations of Ethical MisconductACPE-APC Ethics Complaint FormACPE-APC Ethics Response Form. This joint process was implemented to ensure fair and objective evaluation of the allegations and the parties involved.

The APC Code of Ethics and the processes implemented to support it are motivated by concern for the safety and well being of members and those whom they serve. Neither are intended to “protect” the association or its members from public scrutiny. Each is designed to guide the association and its members in recognizing norms for ethical conduct and calling people to accountability when these norms are violated.

Ethical behavior is a justice issue. Honesty about competency, clarity about professional roles, and the ability to articulate and keep appropriate boundaries while still entering into empathetic pastoral relationships are critical to public respect for and trust in the work of professional chaplains. The APC Code of Ethics and processes take a restorative rather than retributive view of justice making. When investigating allegations of unethical behavior, the stories of everyone involved are heard and concerns of each person are honored. If an allegation leads to formal discipline, the focus is not retributive punishment but restorative discipline. The goal is to renew the ability to live and work ethically.

The Code of Ethics represents much discussion and careful discernment on the part of the Professional Ethics Committee and board of directors. These are statements of hope and belief in the ability of professional chaplains to assume their rightful place among other helping professions who hold certified practitioners to specific standards of accountability for ethical behavior. The Association of Professional Chaplains is committed to working with its BCCI certified chaplains and candidates as they seek to demonstrate the ethical requirements necessary for responsible chaplaincy.

APC Code of Professional Ethics

Common Code of Ethics developed by the Council on Collaboration