- Center for Ethical Practice - https://centerforethicalpractice.org -

Want to Delegate It?

What Are Your Ethical Responsibilities When Entrusting Tasks to Others?

Do others serve as “on call” clinicians for you? Do you use clerical staff, a billing agent, an answering service, a computer guru, etc.? Do others participate in interviewing your clients or obtaining signatures on consent forms?  Do you have assistants who administer or score tests?  Ethics Codes impose some specific obligations when we entrust tasks to others.  HIPAA also imposes legal requirements if those delegated tasks involve interactions with clients or with their protected health information.  This workshop summarizes the ethical and legal obligations and considers their practical implications.

I. Ethical Standards

APA – American Psychological Association

ACA – American Counseling Association

NASW – National Association of Social Workers

AMFT – Association of Marriage & Family Therapists

II. Legal Considerations

Virginia Licensing Board Standards

Virginia Statute: § 54.1-3614. Delegation to unlicensed persons.

HIPAA: 45 C. F. R. 184.530(b)(1). Required “Workforce Training”

III. Delegating – When & To Whom?

Clinical Staff, Colleagues on Call

Clinical Students, Trainees, Interns, Supervisees

Non-Clinical Employees

Non-Clinical Contracted Agents


IV. Practical Issues When Delegating For:

Billing Patients &/Or Third Parties for Reimbursement

Phone Messages/Answering Services

Scheduling Appointments


Interviewing for Intake/ HIPAA Forms/ Informed Consent

Conducting Assessments – Test Administration &/or Scoring


V. Case Vignettes . Potential Ethical Complications

Educational Goals:
1. Review the types of tasks most likely to be delegated to others.
2. In each case, consider the ethical implications of “farming out” that responsibility.
3. Determine the training that will be required for the person accepting the task.
4. Decide how to provide the training and monitor their performance