Declaration of Ethics: Principles and Standards of Conduct.

I. Principles

Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont members affirm the following principles, and strive to implement them consistently in our practices:

1.   We include psychotherapists of many different talents, training styles, and persuasions with a diversity of ideas and practices. These are sources of strength and vigor which extend our usefulness to a broad variety of clients and enliven our professional discourse with each other.

2.   We emphasize that ancient and honored traditions from many cultures have value in facilitating healing and growth.

3.   We assert that innovation is a source of growth in our field, benefitting both clients and practitioners.

4.   We affirm that the human psyche is influenced and inter-affected by spiritual, physical, and social conditions and considerations, and that mental functioning does not exist separate from such concerns.

5.   In embracing a model of wellness we implicitly declare our trust in the client’s process and our commitment to foster his or her self-empowerment.

6.   We agree that growth and change are integral components of life and healthy functioning, and that we, as practicing therapists, are committed to the pursuit and process of our own growing and changing.


II. Standards of Conduct

1. First Standard

Members of Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont abide by all relevant state and federal laws, including but not limited to the body of statutory regulations of the State of Vermont governing psychotherapists who are nonlicensed and noncertified.

2. Second Standard

A. Members of Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont abide by the principles of privacy, protection, respect, and responsibility, which are the cornerstones of our practice.

a)   Privacy. The trust that clients repose in us is to be honored by appropriate measures to safeguard the privacy of their communications.

i.      We inform clients of their right to confidentiality and of any limitations affecting that confidentiality, such as mandated reporting in specific circumstances to appropriate authorities, or recording or use of clinical material for purposes of supervisory or other consultation, insurance, research, or training.

ii.     We discuss clients’ material only in appropriate settings for professional purposes that are in the client’s interest.

iii.    We keep any notes or recordings secure, with provision for their disposal when no longer needed.

iv.   We inform clients about the special risks and responsibilities with regard to confidentiality in a group setting, where that is appropriate.

v.    We use clinical and other material in teaching and writing only when no information is given that might identify the party or parties involved.

vi.   We obtain written client consent before disclosing or transferring records to third parties, except when disclosure is required for the welfare of the client or others, or is required by law.

b)  Protection. Our clients’ physical and psychological safety is to be protected with all reasonable measures, including the use of clearly articulated and understood ground rules, by which the parties to the therapeutic process agree to abide.

 c)   Respect. Our understanding of the client’s autonomy and inherent wisdom and striving for wholeness, even at times when this is not outwardly manifest, informs our therapeutic interventions and decisions.

i.    Our respect for the client shall guide our decisions to enter into a therapeutic relationship and provide treatment only when there is a reasonable expectation that it will benefit the client.

ii.   As psychotherapists, we respect the client’s boundaries with regard to emotional expression, beliefs, and perceptions so the client may have the conditions and the permission needed for his or her journey of self-discovery and healing.

d)  Responsibility. As trained professionals, we hold positions of considerable power. We take great care, therefore, to exercise that power responsibly.

i.    We cultivate our self-awareness, in order to bring a clear presence to our client’s process.

ii.   We exercise the power vested in us in a caring, scrupulous, and attentive manner, in order to provide a bulwark on which the client may rely for the strength he or she has not yet mastered, or has temporarily lost.

B. Members of Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont are urged to uphold these additional precepts and to incorporate them as an integral part of their work.

a)   Supervision. Regular consultation with peers on issues that arise for us in our work with clients, and on related matters, including our internal processes and reactions to events that arise in the clinical situation, is both necessary and desirable. Willingness to engage in on-going supervision betokens, not inexperience, but seasoned wisdom for psychotherapists.

i.    To avail ourselves of this resource is to dedicate ourselves to hone our awareness and to deal with potential difficulties before they become problems for ourselves and our clients.

ii.   Regular supervision represents a commitment to our continued growth and development as persons and as instruments of our craft, and provides an opportunity for collegiality and relief from the often isolating nature of our work.

iii.  Supervision affords us stimulation and refreshment, as well, and these are potent counter-measures against burn-out and despair.

b)  Professional Development. We heartily endorse the practice of continuing education. Further refinement of skills as well as personal growth in general rank among our highest priorities.



Appendix A
26 VSA, Chapter 78, § 4093: definition of unprofessional conduct

(a) Unprofessional conduct shall include:

  1. Providing fraudulent or deceptive information in an application for entry on the roster.
  2. Willfully making or filing false reports or records in the practice of psychotherapy, willfully impeding or obstructing the proper making or filing of reports or records, or willfully failing to file the proper report or record.
  3. Advertising which is intended or has a tendency to deceive the public.
  4. Exercising undue influence on or taking improper advantage of a person using psychotherapeutic services, or promoting the sale of services or goods in a manner which exploits a person for the financial gain of the practitioner or of a third party.
  5. Failure to comply with statutes governing rostered psychotherapists.
  6. Conviction of a crime that evinces an unfitness to practice psychotherapy.
  7. Failing to make available to succeeding health care professionals or institutions, upon written request of a person using psychotherapeutic services, copies of that person’s records in the possession or under the control of the psychotherapist.
  8. Practicing psychotherapy when the person is medically or psychologically unfit to do so.
  9. Unauthorized use of a protected title in professional activity.
  10. Conduct which evidences moral unfitness to practice psychotherapy.
  11. Gross or repeated malpractice.
  12. Engaging in any sexual conduct with a client, or with the immediate family member of a client, with whom the psychotherapist has had a professional relationship within the previous two years.
  13. Harassing, intimidating or abusing a client.
  14. Entering into an additional relationship with a client, supervisee, research participant or student that might impair the psychotherapist’s objectivity or otherwise interfere with his or her professional obligations.

(b) Practicing outside or beyond a psychotherapist’s area of training, experience or competence without appropriate supervision.