Code of Ethics
For Members of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists
BENEFITS OF HAVING A CODE OF ETHICS
As a result of the 2011 Sunset review of the Mental Health Statute, it is more important than ever to be a part of a professional organization with a Code of Ethics. The State will look more favorably on practitioners who are part of a professional organization and who follow a Code of Ethics.
Ethics focuses on personal conduct and standards of practice. Ethical conduct holds a higher standard than the letter of the law.
The Code of Ethics is designed to provide guidelines and ethical standards of practice for the members of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists.
We pledge to observe the spirit of the golden rule in all of our business activities and to conduct our business according to this ideal.
- Members shall strive to maintain a professional image that connotes competency, integrity honesty and fairness in the best interests of the client, the profession, and the community.
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE COMMUNITY
- Members shall promote the general welfare of the public and act to expand choice and opportunity for all persons.
- Members shall promote the best interest of clients and the public.
- Members shall advocate changes in policy and legislation to ensure their right to practice.
- Members shall learn to identify behavior which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the profession of psychotherapy. Members of our profession who have direct personal knowledge of behavior which may damage or harm the public have an obligation to bring such matters to the attention of the appropriate board.
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PROFESSION
- Respect the rights and responsibilities of professional colleagues and participate in activities that advance the goals of the profession.
- Refrain from demeaning or denigrating colleagues or clients in any legal mode or model of practice.
- Cooperation with other professionals in our field promotes the best interests of all those who utilize our services. We refrain from making unsolicited comments about other practitioners. In instances where a professional opinion is sought, an opinion will be offered in an objective, professional manner, uninfluenced by personal motivation or gain.
- As professionals, we must continuously strive to become knowledgeable and remain informed on all issues, laws, and regulations affecting our profession and to willingly share the fruits of our knowledge with others.
- Members shall make reasonable efforts to avoid interfering with the therapy provided by another psychotherapist.
- Members shall advocate changes in state policy and legislation to ensure their right to practice. This involves being active in CAP, in the community, and in the state legislature.
RESPONSIBILITY TO CLIENTS, STANDARDS OF PRACTICE
MEMBERS SHALL NOT DISCRIMINATE
- Members shall not discriminate against or refuse professional services solely on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.
- Members shall not sexually harass any client or former client.
- Harassment shall be defined by an objective, reasonable person standard and shall include sexual solicitation, physical advances, verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature or is offensive or unwelcome.
- Members shall not engage in sexual activities with clients during counseling or for a period of two years after the termination of counseling.
TERMINATING THE PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
- Members shall not abandon clients.
- Members shall terminate the client/therapist relationship when it becomes clear to the member that:
- the client no longer needs counseling, or
- the client is not benefiting from therapy, or
- the client is being harmed by continued counseling.
Members may terminate the therapeutic relationship for the following reasons:
- Because of non-payment by the client
- In the member’s best judgment, the relationship should be terminated because the member believes he or she cannot provide services according to this ethical code.
- Prior to termination, the member shall suggest alternative mental health providers and take appropriate steps for the professional termination in the client’s best interest.
Referrals shall be made:
- In the client’s best interest,
- To practitioners who the member has good reason to believe are competent professionals or paraprofessionals.
- If the client refuses to accept the referral, the member is not obligated to continue the counseling relationship.
UNDUE INFLUENCE (CONFLICTUAL DUAL RELATIONSHIPS)
- Members shall not enter into a therapeutic relationship with a client where there is an undue influence to the detriment of the client or where there is a risk of exploitation or impaired judgment by the member.
- Members shall be especially sensitive to conflicts of interest that may arise from dual relationships during or immediately before or after a therapeutic relationship. Factors to be considered are:
- Personal or family relationships.
- Size of community.
- Length of time between the therapeutic relationship and any other relationship.
- The level of intimacy of the non-therapeutic relationship.
- Exchange of goods and services that may be contraindicated or exploitative.
QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPETENCE
- Members shall provide only those services that they are competent to provide by education, training or experience.
- Members shall make a reasonable effort to accurately and clearly explain their qualifications to clients, including giving the client the State-mandated Disclosure Statement.
- Members shall make a reasonable effort to continue their professional growth by further education, training, or experience.
- Members shall be aware that to the client, confidentiality is an essential part of the trust relationship between the psychotherapist and the client. It is the client’s right to expect that the confidences divulged in the course of therapy, shall be protected by the therapist to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Members may disclose confidential information in certain circumstances:
- If expressly waived by the client in writing, such as for disclosure to a supervisor or for the purpose of conferences with colleagues.
- If implicitly waived by the client, such as in a legal dispute brought by the client in which the client puts confidential information at issue.
- Where the law places an obligation on the psychotherapist to divulge certain information to protect others threatened specifically or generally by the client or the law requires certain types of abuse to be reported to certain authorities.
- Where the psychotherapist must use legal processes to collect fees owed, the therapist may divulge information regarding said fees.
- When ordered by a court or an administrative agency acting in a quasi-judicial manner.