Is Asking for Client Reviews or Testimonials Ethical?


I am coming to you because I have been so confused regarding client testimonials.

I have asked over and over and gotten the same information when I ask whether or not clients can give me testimonials. “No, it is a violation of ethics because they see it as using clients for personal gain”.  Now I am very confused because on the your website which is promoted by ACA you are talking about how you use client testimonials all the time.

I would love to be able to use this in my marketing and feel it would be immensely helpful.

Please advise.

Aaron Smith, M.A. [Name changed by editor]

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Dear Aaron,

Thank you for your email!

I’m happy to help, and to clear up any confusion.

The article was published in Counseling Today Magazine (ACA) with a notable revision. According to the American Counseling Associations (ACA), asking for client reviews/feedback violates the ACA ethics code. Hence, the recommendation in the article is NOT advisable.

I cannot say that I like ACA’s position regarding this small issue. In fact, I would like there to be more discussion, and possibly even revision, in the future. However, I see that being a member of the ACA, and practicing under their ethical code, to be of immense value and importance to the profession. I, therefore, respect and abide by the ethical code.

It’s nice to hear that people have been reading the Thriveworks website–so Closely!! I didn’t realize that the article had been posted without the recommend revision of the ACA. I have updated the article, by adding the following text.

Update: This article was published in Counseling Today magazine, with a notable revision. According to the American Counseling Associations (ACA), asking for client reviews/feedback violates the ACA ethics code. Hence, the above recommendation is not advisable. However, I believe the issue of client reviews could benefit from further discussion and debate. Perhaps making clients aware that they are able to write reviews if they choose is an appropriate and ethical alternative. Perhaps not. Please seek advice from your own ethical board.

Aaron, I hope this helps!


Anthony Centore Ph.D.


I myself think this is the WORST code we abide by. I came from the real estate industry and I fed my family based off the testimonials I got from others and so does EVERY other small business owner out there! It’s like marketing 101.

In today’s digital age consumers are no longer satisfied by looking at a “brochure” and seeing a trustworthy person. They want reviews. They want proof from others. That is why every single industry (even others in the medical field with protected relationships!) allow others to post comments and reviews on sites should they so choose. People review and “like” everything they consume now. So if someone is allowed (because I can’t regulate that) to come to my facebook site and “like” my page isn’t that giving a review and even more so posting their personal information (you can see a persons name when they like your page) than giving an anonymous review?

Anyway, I am done on my rant about this and will make it my personal mission to get this changed because it is outrageous. I sit on the board for the [name removed] Counseling Association and will see what I can do about getting some guidance for direction for this to be at least reviewed if not changed. I know it will be an uphill battle :)!

Thanks for the quick reply!

Kindest Regards, Aaron Smith