Codes of Ethical and Professional Conduct for Certified Professionals

The ADACBGA Codes of Ethical and Professional Conduct for Certified Professionals (hereafter referred to as ‘the Rules’) shall be honored by all applicants and certified professionals. Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition set forth in the Rules will result in disciplinary action.

Discussion sections accompany some of the Rules. These discussions are intended to interpret, explain, or illustrate the meaning of the Rules, but the Rules themselves remain the authoritative statements of the conduct for which disciplinary action may be imposed.

1. Professional Standards

1.1 An applicant or certified professional shall meet and comply with all terms, conditions, or limitation of any professional credential they hold.

1.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not perform services outside of their area of training, expertise, competence, or scope of practice.

Discussion of Rule 1.2: When a consumer’s therapeutic issues are outside their level of professional functioning or scope of practice, the certified professional must refer the consumer to another professional who will provide the appropriate therapeutic approach for the consumer.

1.3 An applicant or certified professional shall not in any way participate in discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, national origin, socio-economic status, political belief, psychiatric or psychological impairment, physical disability, or the amount of previous therapeutic or treatment occurrences.

1.4 An applicant or certified professional shall place their application or credential(s) on inactive status for any mental, physical, or behavioral health related adversity that interferes with their professional functioning.

Discussion of Rule 1.4: The private life of an applicant or certified professional remains a personal matter to the same degree as any other person. However, when a personal issue begins to adversely affect professional performance, affecting the quality of service delivered and thus putting the consumer at risk, the applicant or certified professional must take sufficient and timely action to resolve any adversity that interferes with their professional functioning.

1.5 An applicant or certified professional shall not practice during the period of any denial, suspension, revocation, probation, or other restriction or discipline on certification, license, or other authorization to practice issued by any certification authority or any state, province, territory, tribe, or the federal government.

1.6 An applicant or certified professional must maintain a high standard of ethical and professional conduct. The moral, ethical and legal standards of behavior of the certified professional are a personal matter to the same degree as they are for any other citizen, except as these may compromise the fulfillment of their professional responsibilities or reduce the public trust in applicants or certified professionals

2. Criminal Activity

2.1 An applicant or certified professional shall report all arrests and case disposition, regardless of adjudication to any felony or first-degree misdemeanor crime. Such report must be received within 72 hours of release from any state or federal confinement.

Discussion of Rule 2.1: Any public record pertaining to an arrest, charge, disposition or sentencing of a certified professional shall be deemed as conclusive evidence of guilt of the felony or misdemeanor for which he or she has been convicted. If that felony or misdemeanor relates to the individual’s ability to practice in the credentialed discipline, the fact of conviction shall also be proof of violation of this Rule. All proceedings in which the sentence has been deferred, suspended, adjudication withheld, or a conviction expunged shall be deemed a conviction within the meaning of this section.

2.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not use, possess, or sell any unprescribed or illegal substance. 

2.3 An applicant or certified professional shall comply with all federal and state laws.

 

3. Sexual Misconduct

3.1 An applicant or certified professional shall not engage in sexual misconduct with a consumer during the period of time services are being rendered to the consumer and a minimum of two years after the professional relationship has terminated.

Discussion of Rule 3.1: This Rule applies to any consumer of the agency by which the certified professional is employed, regardless of whether or not the consumer is assigned to the certified professional. For purposes of determining if sexual misconduct has occurred, the professional relationship is deemed to continue for minimum of 2 years from the date of the consumer’s last professional interaction with the certified professional’s employer. Although the professional relationship is deemed to be terminated 2-years after termination of professional services, the certified professional shall not engage in or request sexual contact with a former consumer at any time if engaging with that consumer would be exploitative, abusive or detrimental to that consumer’s welfare.

3.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not engage in sexual misconduct with any family member or guardian of a consumer during the period of time services are being rendered to the consumer.

3.3 An applicant or certified professional shall not engage a supervisee in sexual misconduct during the period of time supervisory relationship exists.

 

4. Fraud-Related Conduct

4.1 An applicant or certified professional shall not present fraudulent documents when applying for certification, certification upgrades, or certification renewal.

4.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not prepare fraudulent certification documents for certification applicants.

4.3 An applicant or certified professional shall not use a title designation, credential or license, firm name, letterhead, publication, term, title, or document which states or implies an ability, relationship, or qualification that does not exist.

4.4 An applicant or certified professional shall not practice under a false name or under a name other than the name under which his or her certification or license is held.

4.5 An applicant or certified professional shall not prepare, present, or participate in activities related to fraudulent billing or benefit claim under any employee benefit program or insurance policy/program.

4.6 An applicant or certified professional shall not produce, publish, create, or partake in the creation of any false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading advertisement.

 

5. Exploitation of Consumers

5.1 An applicant or certified professional shall not develop, implement, or maintain exploitative relationships with current or past consumers.

Discussion of Rule 5.1: Ethical problems are often raised when a certified professional blends his or her professional relationship with a consumer with another kind of relationship. The nature of the consumer-professional relationship is such that the consumer remains vulnerable to the real or perceived influences of the certified professional. An applicant or certified professional who is in a position to influence a consumer’s behavior may not impose their own desires upon the consumer.

5.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not misappropriate property from a consumer.

5.3 An applicant or certified professional shall not enter into a relationship with a consumer which involves financial gain to the certified professional or a third-party resulting from the promotion or the sale of services unrelated to treatment.

5.4 An applicant or certified professional shall not recommend to a consumer any unnecessary, ineffective, or unsafe device, treatment, procedure, product or service.

5.5 An applicant or certified professional shall not solicit gifts or favors from consumers.

Discussion of Rule 5.5: When a certified professional “plays” or “preys” upon the consumer’s gratitude for counseling services; or covertly or overtly implies or states that the consumer remains indebted to the certified professional and should “repay” him or her through gifts or other favors, their unique position of trust and responsibility with the consumer becomes jeopardized.

5.6 An applicant or certified professional shall not offer, give, or receive commissions, rebates, or any other forms of remuneration for a consumer referral.

Discussion of Rule 5.6: This standard shall be interpreted to include the practice commonly known as “patient brokering.”

6. Safety & Welfare

6.1 When a condition of clear and imminent danger exists that a consumer may inflict serious bodily harm on another person or persons, an applicant or certified professional shall, consistent with federal and state confidentiality laws, take reasonable steps to warn any likely victims of the consumer’s potential behavior. 

6.2 An applicant or certified professional shall know and understand the different allowances and consumer protections between HIPAA (45 CFR Parts 160 & 164) and the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Confidentiality Rule (42 CFR Part 2), upholding both to the broadest possible interpretation in the protection of consumer confidentiality.

6.3 When a condition of clear and imminent danger exists that a consumer may inflict serious bodily self-harm, an applicant or certified professional shall, consistent with federal and state confidentiality laws, take reasonable steps to protect the consumer.

Discussion of Rules 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3: If during the course of treating a consumer, an applicant or certified professional becomes aware that a consumer:

  • intends or is likely to commit some act which may result in serious bodily harm to another person or persons and there is a clear and imminent danger of such harm occurring, the certified professional has a duty to take reasonable steps to warn such persons; and/or
  • intends or is likely to inflict serious bodily harm to himself or herself and that there is a clear and imminent danger of such harm occurring, the certified professional has a duty to take reasonable steps to protect the consumer.

In doing so, the certified professional should be aware that state and federal regulations set forth rules concerning the confidentiality of applicant-consumer or certified professional-consumer communications, consumer records, and identifying information.

In cases where the threat is of the commission of a crime on agency premises or against agency personnel, the rules may allow disclosure of the circumstances of the threatened crime and identity of the consumer directly to law enforcement officers.

In some instances, however, it may be necessary for the applicant, certified professional or their agency to make an emergency application to a court for an order permitting disclosure of information concerning the consumer or communications from the consumer before such information can be disclosed.

7. Records Management

7.1 An applicant or certified professional shall not falsify, amend, knowingly make incorrect entries, or fail to make timely essential entries into the consumer record.

7.2 An applicant or certified professional shall follow all Federal and State regulations regarding consumer records.

7.3 An applicant or certified professional shall comply with all federal and state confidentiality laws, applying the broadest possible interpretation of confidentiality protections in the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Confidentiality rule (42 CFR Part 2).

Discussion of Rule 7.3: Except as may otherwise be indicated in this Code, applicants and certified professionals are expected to refrain from revealing confidential information except as may be authorized by the consumer or required or authorized by law.

Applicants and certified professionals are expected to be familiar with and act in accordance with federal and state regulations concerning confidentiality of consumer records and identifying information.

8. Cooperation with the Board

8.1 An applicant or certified professional shall cooperate with an ADACBGA disciplinary investigation or proceeding.

8.2 An applicant or certified professional shall not attempt to prevent or interfere with a complaint from being filed or ADACBGA disciplinary investigation or proceeding to occur. Interference attempts may include but are not limited to: (a) the use of threats or harassment against, or an inducement to, any person in an effort to prevent or attempt to prevent a complaint from being filed, prosecuted or completed; (b) the use of threats or harassment against, or an inducement to, any consumer or witness in an effort to prevent them from providing evidence in an investigation, disciplinary proceeding or any other legal action; and (c) the willful misrepresentation of facts before the disciplining authority or its authorized representative.

8.3 An applicant or certified professional shall report any violation of the Rules by filing a formal Ethics Complaint with the ADACBGA. Complaints must be filed within no more than 30 calendar days of becoming aware of the violation.

8.4 An applicant or certified professional shall not file a false or misleading Ethics Complaint or information to the ADACBGA.

8.5 An applicant or certified professional shall comply with all federal and state confidentiality requirements when submitting any information to the Board.

 

If you believe that a counselor certified through our board has violated one of these ethical principles, please contact our ETHICS CHAIR at Ethics@adacbga.org.