Professional Organizations' Codes of Ethics On
Bartering in Psychotherapy, Counseling and Mental Health Services

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

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Table Of Contents

1. American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) – (2015)
2. American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE) – (2006)
3. American Counseling Association (ACA) – (2014)
4. American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) – (2015)
5. American Psychological Association (APA) – (2016)
6. Association of State And Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) – (2018)
7. California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) – (2011)
8. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) – (2007)
9. Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) – (2000)
10. Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW)
11. National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) – (2011)
12. National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – (2017)
13. National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) – (2012)
14. Northamerica Association of Masters in Psychology (NAMP) – (2000)

The Current Codes of Ethics, Verbatim

1. American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) – (2015)

STANDARD VIII Financial Arrangements states:
8.5 Bartering. Marriage and family therapists ordinarily refrain from accepting goods and services from clients in return for services rendered. Bartering for professional services may be conducted only if: (a) the supervisee or client requests it; (b) the relationship is not exploitative; (c) the professional relationship is not distorted; and (d) a clear written contract is established.

2. American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE) – (2006)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter

3. American Counseling Association (ACA) – (2014)

Section A.10.e. Bartering:
Counselors may barter only if the bartering does not result in exploitation or harm, if the client requests it, and if such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the community. Counselors consider the cultural implications of bartering and discuss relevant concerns with clients and document such agreements in a clear written contract.

4. American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) – (2020)

E. Record-Keeping, Fee Arrangements, and Bartering
2. Fee Arrangements, Bartering, and Gifts.

CMHCs are cognizant of cultural norms in relation to fee arrangements, bartering, and gifts. CMHCs clearly explain to clients, early in the counseling relationship, all financial arrangements related to counseling.

  • a. CMHCs usually refrain from accepting goods or services from clients in return for counseling services, because such arrangements may create the potential for conflicts, exploitation, and distortion of the professional relationship. However, bartering may occur if the client requests it, there is no exploitation, and the cultural implications and other concerns of such practice are discussed with the client and agreed on in writing.
  • b. CMHCs are encouraged to contribute to society by providing pro bono, volunteer, or reduced rate/sliding scale services when feasible.
  • c. When accepting gifts, CMHCs take into consideration the therapeutic relationship, motivation of giving, the counselor’s motivation for receiving or declining, cultural norms, and the value of the gift.

A. Counselor-Client Relationship
1. Primary Responsibility

  • b. CMHCs communicate clearly with clients about the parameters of the counseling relationship. In a professional disclosure statement, they may provide information about … business practices.

5. American Psychological Association (APA) – (2016)

6.05 Barter with Clients/Patients: Barter is the acceptance of goods, services, or other nonmonetary remuneration from clients/patients in return for psychological services. Psychologists may barter only if (1) it is not clinically contraindicated, and (2) the resulting arrangement is not exploitative.

6. Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) Code of Conduct – (2018)

Section H. Fees and Statements, section 2., states:
Reasonableness of fee. The psychologist shall not exploit the client or responsible payor by charging a fee that is excessive for the services performed or by entering into an exploitive bartering arrangement in lieu of a fee.

7. California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) – (2019)

12.5 Bartering:
Marriage and family therapists ordinarily refrain from accepting goods or services from clients/patients in return for services rendered due to the potential for conflicts, exploitation, and/or distortion of the professional relationship. Bartering should only be considered and conducted if the client/patient requests it, the bartering is not otherwise exploitive or detrimental to the therapeutic relationship, and it is negotiated without coercion. Marriage and family therapists are responsible to ensure that such arrangements are not exploitive and that a clear written agreement is created. Marriage and family therapists are encouraged to consider relevant social and/or cultural implications of bartering including whether it is an accepted practice among professionals within the community.

7.12 Bartering with Supervisees:
Marriage and family therapists ordinarily refrain from accepting goods or services from supervisees in return for services rendered due to the potential for conflicts, exploitation, and/or distortion of the professional relationship. Bartering should only be considered and conducted if the supervisee requests it, the bartering is not otherwise exploitive or detrimental to the supervisory relationship, and it is negotiated without coercion. Marriage and family therapists are responsible to ensure that such arrangements are not exploitive and that a clear written agreement is created. Marriage and family therapists are encouraged to consider relevant social and/or cultural implications of bartering including whether it is an accepted practice among professionals within the community.

4.3 Unethical Dual/Multiple Relationships:
Acts that could result in unethical dual relationships include, but are not limited to, borrowing money from a client/patient, hiring a client/patient, or engaging in a business venture with a patient, or engaging in a close personal relationship with a client/patient. Such acts with a client’s/patient’s spouse, partner or immediate family member are likely to be considered unethical dual relationships.

5.2 Financial Incentives:
Marriage and family therapists avoid contractual arrangements that provide financial incentives to withhold or limit medically/psychologically necessary care.

8. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) – (2007)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter.

9. Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) – (2000)

Section 1.15 states:
Establish fees that are fair in light of the time, energy, and knowledge of the psychologist and any associates or employees, and in light of the market value of the product or service.

10. Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter

11. National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) – (2011)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter.

12. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – (2017)

Section 1.13, Payment for Services states:
Social workers should avoid accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional services. Bartering arrangements, particularly involving services, create the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, and inappropriate boundaries in social workers’ relationships with clients. Social workers should explore and may participate in bartering only in very limited circumstances when it can be demonstrated that such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the local community, considered to be essential for the provision of services, negotiated without coercion, and entered into at the client’s initiative and with the client’s informed consent. Social workers who accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or the professional relationship.

13. National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) – (2016)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter.

14. North America Association of Masters in Psychology (NAMP) – (2000)

This code of ethics does not mention the term barter.

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