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Codes of Ethics on Therapists' Impairment, Burnout and Self Care

Complete comparative list of different Codes of Ethics on a variety of topics

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.
 

This paper reviews the sections in the major psychotherapeutic professional organizations' code of ethics relating to burnout, impairment and self-care.

 

THE FOLLOWING CODES OF ETHICS ARE CITED: APA, NASW, ApA, ACA, AMHCA, AAMFT, CAMFT
 

ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT (APA) 2010:
http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf

2.06: Personal Problems and Conflicts
(a) Psychologists refrain from initiating an activity when they know or should know that there is a substantial likelihood that their personal problems will prevent them from performing their work-related activities in a competent manner.

(b) When psychologists become aware of personal problems that may interfere with their performing work-related duties adequately, they take appropriate measures, such as obtaining professional consultation or assistance, and determine whether they should limit, suspend, or terminate their work-related duties. (See also Standard 10.10, Terminating Therapy.)

 
CODE OF ETHICS OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS (NASW) 2008:
http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

2.09: Impairment of Colleagues
(a) Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague’s impairment that is due to personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties and that interferes with practice effectiveness should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.

(b) Social workers who believe that a social work colleague’s impairment interferes with practice effectiveness and that the colleague has not taken adequate steps to address the impairment should take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and other professional organizations.

2.10: Incompetence of Colleagues
(a) Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague's incompetence should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.

(b) Social workers who believe that a social work colleague is incompetent and has not taken adequate steps to address the incompetence should take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and other professional organizations.

 
THE PRINCIPLES OF MEDICAL ETHICS WITH ANNOTATIONS ESPECIALLY APPLICABLE FOR PSYCHIATRY, 2013 EDITION:

Addendum 2: Questions & Answers About Procedures for Handling Complaints of Unethical Conduct
http://www.psychiatry.org/File Library/Practice/Ethics Documents/principles2013--final.pdf

Section 2
A physician shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional interactions and strive to report physicians deficient in character or competence, or engaging in fraud or deception to appropriate entities.

4. Special consideration should be given to those psychiatrists who, because of mental illness, jeopardize the welfare of their patients and their own reputations and practices. It is ethical, even encouraged, for another psychiatrist to intercede in such situations.

 
AMERICAN COUNSELING ASSOCIATION (ACA) CODE OF ETHICS AND STANDARD OF PRACTICE, 2014:
http://www.counseling.org/Resources/aca-code-of-ethics.pdf

C.2.g. Impairment
Counselors monitor themselves for signs of impairment from their own physical, mental, or emotional problems and refrain from offering or providing professional services when impaired. They seek assistance for problems that reach the level of professional impairment, and, if necessary, they limit, suspend, or terminate their professional responsibilities until it is determined that they may safely resume their work. Counselors assist colleagues or supervisors in recognizing their own professional impairment and provide consultation and assistance when warranted with colleagues or supervisors showing signs of impairment and intervene as appropriate to prevent imminent harm to clients.

C.2.h. Counselor Incapacitation, 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.

Section F.5.Student and Supervisee Responsibilities
F.5.b. Impairment

Students and supervisees monitor themselves for signs of impairment from their own physical, mental, or emotional problems and refrain from offering or providing professional services when such impairment is likely to harm a client or others. They notify their faculty and/or supervisors and seek assistance for problems that reach the level of professional impairment, and, if necessary, they limit, suspend, or terminate their professional responsibilities until it is determined that they may safely resume their work.

 
AMERICAN MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS ASSOCIAION (AMHCA) CODE OF ETHICS, 2015
https://amhca.site-ym.com/?page=codeofethics

C. Counselor Responsibility and Integrity
1. Competence

h. Recognize that their effectiveness is dependent on their own mental and physical health. Should their involvement in any activity, or any mental, emotional, or physical health problem, compromise sound professional judgment and competency, they seek capable professional assistance to determine whether to limit, suspend, or terminate services to their clients.

F. OTHER ROLES
1. Consultant

Mental health counselors acting as consultants have a high degree of self-awareness of their own values, knowledge, skills and needs in entering a helping relationship that involves human and/or organizational change.

 
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS (AAMFT) CODE OF ETHICS, 2015
https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Legal_Ethics/code_of_ethics.aspx

3.3 Seek Assistance. Marriage and family therapists seek appropriate professional assistance for issues that may impair work performance or clinical judgment.

3.12 Professional Misconduct. Marriage and family therapists may be in violation of this Code and subject to termination of membership or other appropriate action if they: (a) are convicted of any felony; (b) are convicted of a misdemeanor related to their qualifications or functions; (c) engage in conduct which could lead to conviction of a felony, or a misdemeanor related to their qualifications or functions; (d) are expelled from or disciplined by other professional organizations; (e) have their licenses or certificates suspended or revoked or are otherwise disciplined by regulatory bodies; (f) continue to practice marriage and family therapy while no longer competent to do so because they are impaired by physical or mental causes or the abuse of alcohol or other substances; or (g) fail to cooperate with the Association at any point from the inception of an ethical complaint through the completion of all proceedings regarding that complaint.

 
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPITS (CAMFT), ETHICAL STANDARDS 2011:
http://www.camft.org/images/PDFs/CodeOfEthics.pdf

3.1 CONVICTION OF CRIME:
Marriage and family therapists are in violation of this Code and subject to termination of membership, or other appropriate action, if they: a) are convicted of a crime substantially related to their professional qualifications or functions; b) are expelled from or disciplined by other professional organizations; c) have licenses or certificates that are lapsed, suspended, or revoked or are otherwise disciplined by regulatory bodies; d) if they continue to practice when they are no longer competent to practice because they are impaired due to physical or mental causes or the abuse of alcohol or other substances; or e) fail to cooperate with the Association or the Ethics Committee at any point from the inception of an ethical complaint through the completion of all proceedings regarding that complaint.

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