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

Ethical Categories

Ways of Organizing Essential Ethical & Legal Information

In order to understand their responsibilities, mental health professionals must know their ethical duties, as defined by their professional Ethics Codes, their legal responsibilities under Virginia laws & HIPAA regulations, and their obligations under their legally-binding third-party contracts.

This workshop uses clinical vignettes to illustrate ways of organizing the wide range of information that mental health professionals are responsible for knowing and for describing to prospective patients.

Ethical Responsibilities

[per Ethics Codes: AAMFT, ACA, APA, NASW]

 I. General Ethical Practices

• Maintaining Professional Competency
• Obtaining Cultural Competency
• Record Keeping
• Use of Technology
• Fees, Billing, & Reimbursement Policies
• Delegating Work to Others

 II. Relationships With Clients/Patients

• Informed Consent
• Confidentiality & Minimum Necessary Disclosure
• Boundaries
• Dual Relationships; Conflicts of Interest
• Interruption of Services; Termination
• Harassment; Discrimination

III. Services to Clients

• Therapy
• Assessment
• Consultation
• Other

IV. Interaction With Other Professionals

• Referrals; Shared Cases
• Consultation; Peer Consultation Groups
• Supervision

 V. Teaching, Research, & Writing

VI. Advertising & Public Statements

Legal Requirements

 I. State

• Virginia Licensing Board Regulations
• Virginia State Agency Regulations
• Virginia Statutes

II. Federal:

• Federal Regulations (e.g., HIPAA)
• Federal Statutes (e.g., re: S.A. Records)

III. Legally-Binding Private Contracts:

• Third Party Reimbursement Contracts
• Private Group Contracts
• Consultation Contracts
• Other


  1. To describe categories that would help me organize and understand ethical and legal material.
  2. To test the usefulness of those categories using hypothetical cases from my own practice.
  3. To use case vignettes involving ethical and legal issues to practice using these categories.