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

Peer Consultation:Paying Attention to the Ethical Issues

We are advised to maintain professional competence through continuing education and through consultation. Peer consultation can be very important, but there are ethical issues to consider when we obtain or provide peer consultation. Do we clarify the limits of confidentiality when we provide individual consultation to each others?  In our peer consultation group, do members adequately protect the rights of patients by employing strict ethical guidelines about the need for recusal if a presented patient is identifiable? This workshop will outline some of the ethical considerations that should guide our giving and receiving of needed consultation to each other.


 A.  Ethical Issues in Peer Consultation

  1. Differentiating consultation from supervision or therapy
  2. Asking important questions
  3. Considering important variables:
    What kind of issue is it?
    What type of consultation is it?
    What level of consultation is needed?
  1. Protecting the rights of consultees and their patients
    Confidentiality rights
    Informed consent rights
  1. Monitoring competence
    About content
    About process
  1. “Referring out”
  2. Making ethical decisions about using technology in requesting or providing consultation
    (e.g., email, blog, listserv, etc.)

B.  Asking Ethical Questions About Your Own Peer Group

  1. Is it a “Supervision Group ” or a “Consultation Group”?
  2. Have we conducted an informed consent process for all group members?
  3. Have we explained the confidentiality rules to all group members?
  4. Have we clarified when recusal might be ethically necessary?
  5. Do we monitor compliance with the ethical rules?
  6. Are we alert to any group leadership issues?

 C.  Deciding About Providing Individual Peer Ethics Consultation

  1. Asking oneself some questions before beginning
  2. Choosing an Ethics Consultation Model
  3. Maintaining up-to-date ethical and legal resources
  4. Fostering a “communitarian ethic”


  1. List some of the ethical issues that must be considered in peer consultation.
  2. Name ethical issues that must be clarified if participating in group consultation.
  3. Describe some things you should consider when providing individual consultation to peers.