Professional Association Codes of Ethics and Guidelines On
Retirement or Death of Therapist, or Sudden Closure of Practice
Complete comparative list of different Codes of Ethics on a variety of topics
By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
This page is part of an Online Course,
Retirement of Therapists: Ethical, Legal, Clinical and Psychological Considerations.
online course on Termination in Psychotherapy and Counseling: Ethical & Clinical Considerations
Table Of Contents
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
American Counseling Association Code of Ethics
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
Australian Psychological Society
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association
Canadian Psychological Association
National Association for Addiction Professionals
National Association of Social Workers
National Board for Certified Counselors
United States Association for Body Psychotherapy
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Code of Ethics (AAMFT, 2015):
2.6 Preparation for Practice Changes.
In preparation for moving a practice, closing a practice, or death, marriage and family therapists arrange for the storage, transfer, or disposal of client records in conformance with applicable laws and in ways that maintain confidentiality and safeguard the welfare of clients.
American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (ACA, 2014):
Counselors take reasonable precautions
to protect client confidentiality in the
event of the counselor's termination of
practice, incapacity, or death and appoint a records custodian when identified as appropriate.
Death, Retirement, or
Termination of Practice
Counselors prepare a plan for the transfer of clients and the dissemination of
records to an identified colleague or
records custodian in the case of the
counselor's incapacitation, death, retirement, or termination of practice.
Research and Publication
G.2.i. Research Records Custodian
As appropriate, researchers prepare and disseminate to an identified colleague or records custodian a plan for the transfer of research data in the case of their incapacitation, retirement, or death.
American Mental Health Counselors Association Code of Ethics (AMHCA, 2015):
B. Counseling Process
5. Termination and Referral
Mental health counselors do not abandon or neglect their clients in counseling.
Assistance is given in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of
treatment, when necessary, during interruptions such as vacation and following
American Psychiatric Association Principles of Medical Ethics (ApA, 2013):
http://www.psychiatry.org/File Library/Practice/Ethics Documents/principles2013--final.pdf
American Psychological Association Code of Ethics (APA, 2010):
3. Human Relations
3.12 Interruption of Psychological Services
Unless otherwise covered by contract, psychologists
make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating services in the
event that psychological services are interrupted by factors
such as the psychologist's illness, death, unavailability, relo-
cation, or retirement or by the client's/patient's relocation or
financial limitations. (See also Standard 6.02c, Maintenance,
Dissemination, and Disposal of Confidential Records of Pro-
fessional and Scientific Work.)
Maintenance, Dissemination, and Disposal of Confidential Records of Professional and Scientific Work
(c) Psychologists make plans in advance to facilitate
the appropriate transfer and to protect the confidentiality of
records and data in the event of psychologists' withdrawal from
positions or practice. (See also Standards 3.12, Interruption of
Psychological Services, and 10.09, Interruption of Therapy.)
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards Code of Conduct (ASPPB, 2005):
Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics (APS, 2007):
make reasonable arrangements for the continuity
of service provision when they are no longer able to deliver the
Psychologists whose employment, health or other factors
necessitate early termination of relationships with
(a) provide clients with an explanation of the need for the termination;
(b) take all reasonable steps to safeguard
clients' ongoing welfare;and
(c) offer to help clients
locate alternative sources of assistance.
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Code of Ethics (CAMFT, 2011):
1. RESPONSIBILITY TO PATIENTS
1.3 TREATMENT DISRUPTION:
Marriage and family therapists are aware of their professional and clinical responsibilities to provide consistent care to patients and maintain practices and procedures that assure undisrupted care. Such practices and procedures may include, but are not limited to, providing contact information and specified procedures in case of emergency or therapist absence, conducting appropriate terminations, and providing for a professional will.
Marriage and family therapists use sound clinical judgment when terminating therapeutic relationships and do so in an appropriate manner. Reasons for termination may include, but are not limited to, the patient is not benefiting from treatment; continuing treatment is not clinically appropriate; the therapist is unable to provide treatment due to the therapist's incapacity or extended absence, or in order to avoid an ethical conflict or problem.
Marriage and family therapists do not abandon or neglect patients in treatment. If a therapist is unable or unwilling to continue to provide professional services, the therapist will assist the patient in making clinically appropriate arrangements for continuation of treatment.
Canadian Psychological Association Code of Ethics for Psychologists (CPA, 2007):
Collect, store, handle, and transfer all private information, whether
written or unwritten (e.g., communication during service provision,
written records, e-mail or fax communication, computer files,
video-tapes), in a way that atte
nds to the needs for privacy and
security. This would include having adequate plans for records in
circumstances of one's own serious illness, termination of
employment, or death.
National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC, 2011).
National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (NASW, 2008)
NCCs take appropriate action to prevent harm.
9. NCCs shall take proactive measures to avoid interruptions of counseling services due to illness, vacations or
unforeseen circumstances. To prevent the harm that
may occur if clients are unable to access professional
assistance, such measures shall identify other professionals
with whom the NCC has a working agreement or local
emergency service agencies that can respond
to clients in a mental health crisis.
10. NCCs shall create written procedures regarding the handling of client records in the event of their unexpected
death or incapacitation. In recognition of the harm that may occur if clients are unable to access professional
assistance in these cases, these procedures shall ensure that the confidentiality of
client records is maintained and
shall include the identification of individual(s) who are
familiar with ethical and legal requirements regarding the
counseling profession and who shall assist clients in locating other professional mental health providers as well as
ensure the appropriate transfer of client records. These written procedures shall be provided to the client, and theNCC shall provide an opportunity for the client to discuss concerns regarding the process as it pertains to the transfer of his or her record.
National Board for Certified Counselors Code of Ethics (NBCC, 2012)
59. NCCs who are retiring or departing from an established practice with other mental health professionals shall notify current and former clients as appropriate regard ing their pending departure from the practice. Such notifications should include information about record availability and access, and contact information of appropriate referrals within the established practice.
United States Association for Body Psychotherapy Code of Ethics (USABP, 2007):
IV. AVOIDING HARM
6. Body psychotherapists make reasonable efforts to ensure continuity of treatment. When services must be terminated for a legitimate reason, the therapist makes every reasonable effort to insure that appropriate referrals are made for the ongoing needs of the client prior to termination and makes reasonable efforts to terminate the relationship satisfactorily.
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