RULES OF CONDUCT
The following Rules of Conduct, adopted by the MABPCB, set forth the minimum standards of conduct which all certified professionals are expected to honor. Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition set forth in the rules may result in discipline by the MABPCB.
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 standards of the conduct for which disciplinary action may be imposed.
Rule 1.1 Once certified, a certified professional shall not be convicted for any misdemeanor or felony relating to the individual’s ability to provide substance abuse and other behavioral health services as determined by MABPCB.
Discussion: A certificate of conviction shall be deemed conclusive evidence of an individual's guilt of the felony or misdemeanor for which he or she has been charged. If that felony or misdemeanor relates to the individual's ability to provide substance abuse and other behavioral health services as determined by MABPCB, the conviction shall also be proof of violation of this Rule. Some specific examples within this section include, but are not limited to crimes involving violence, use or sale of drugs, fraud, theft, and sexual misconduct.
Rule 1.2 A certified professional shall not be convicted of any crime that involves the use of any controlled or psychoactive substance.
Discussion: A certificate of conviction shall be deemed conclusive evidence of a certified professional’s guilt of the crime for which he or she has been charged.
Rule 2.1 A certified professional shall, under no circumstances, engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with clients, whether such contact is consensual or forced.
Rule 2.2 A certified professional shall not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a close personal relationship when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client.
Discussion: Sexual activities or sexual contact with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a personal relationship has the potential to be harmful to the client and may make it difficult for the certified professional and client to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. Certified professionals, not their clients, their clients’ relatives, or other individuals with whom the client maintains a personal relationship, assume the full burden of setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
Rule 2.3 A certified professional shall not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with former clients because of the potential harm to the client.
Discussion: If certified professionals engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, it is certified professionals, not their clients, who assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.
Rule 2.4 A certified professional shall not provide clinical services to individuals with whom they have had a prior sexual relationship.
Discussion: Providing clinical services to a former sexual partner has the potential to be harmful to the individual and is likely to make it difficult for the certified professional and individual to maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
Rule 3.1 A certified professional shall not:
1. Present or cause to be presented a false or fraudulent claim, or any proof in support of such claim, to be paid under any contract or certificate of insurance;
2. Prepare, make, or subscribe to a false or fraudulent account, certificate, affidavit, proof of loss, or other document or writing, with knowledge that the same may be presented or used in support of a claim for payment under a policy of insurance; or
3. Present or cause to be presented a false or fraudulent claim or benefit application, or any false or fraudulent proof in support of such a claim or benefit application, or false or fraudulent information, which would affect a future claim or benefit application, or be paid under any employee benefit program;
4. Seek to have an employee commit fraud or assist in an act of commission or omission to aid fraud related behavior.
Discussion: The term "fraudulent claim" includes but is not limited to charging a client or a third-party payor for a service not performed or submitting an account or charge for services that is false or misleading. It does not include charging for an unkept appointment when the original verbal or written contract for services allows for such a charge.
Rule 3.2 An individual shall not use misrepresentation in the procurement of certification or recertification, or assist another in the preparation or procurement of certification or recertification through misrepresentation. The term "misrepresentation" includes but is not limited to the misrepresentation of professional qualifications, education, certification, accreditation, affiliations, employment experience, the plagiarism of application and recertification materials, or the falsification of references.
Rule 3.3 An individual 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 and to which they are not entitled.
Rule 3.4 A certified professional shall not provide service under a false name or a name other than the name under which his or her certification or license is held.
Rule 3.5 A certified professional shall not sign or issue, in their professional capacity, a document or a statement that the professional knows or should have known to contain a false or misleading statement.
Rule 3.6 A certified professional shall not produce, publish, create, or partake in the creation of any false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading advertisement.
Rule 3.7 A certified professional who participates in the writing, editing, or publication of professional papers, videos/films, pamphlets or books must act to preserve the integrity of the profession by acknowledging and documenting any materials and/or techniques or people (i.e. co-authors, researchers, etc.) used in creating their opinions/papers, books, etc. Additionally, any work that is photocopied prior to receipt of approval by the author is discouraged. Whenever and wherever possible, the certified professional should seek permission from the author/creator of such materials. The use of copyrighted materials without first receiving author approval is against the law and, therefore, in violation of the Code of Ethical Conduct.
EXPLOITATION OF CLIENTS
Rule 4.1 A certified professional shall not develop, implement, or maintain exploitative relationships with clients and/or family members of clients.
Discussion: Ethical problems are often raised when those persons providing services blend their professional relationships with another kind of relationship. Dual relationships can take many forms and are inherent in the work of all helping professions regardless of their setting or client population. The nature of the professional-client relationship is such that the client remains vulnerable to the real or perceived influences of the professional. Those who are in a position to influence a client’s behavior may impose their own desires upon the client.
Dual relationships may make it difficult for the professional to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. It is the professional’s responsibility to assume the full burden for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
Examples of dual or multiple relationships that are potentially exploitive through the violation of professional boundaries include but are not limited to: sexual relationships, bartering arrangements, business arrangements, counseling one’s own family members, and friendship.
Behavior that takes advantage of a client, in any way, is contrary to this rule.
Rule 4.2 A certified professional shall not misappropriate property from clients and/or family members of clients.
Rule 4.3 A certified professional shall not enter into a relationship with a client which involves financial gain to the certified professional or a third party resulting from the promotion or the sale of services unrelated to the provision of services or of goods, property, or any psychoactive substance.
Rule 4.4 A certified professional shall not promote to a client for their personal gain any treatment, procedure, product, or service.
Rule 4.5 A certified professional shall not ask for nor accept gifts or favors from clients and/or family members of clients.
Discussion: When a certified professional "plays" or "preys" upon the client's gratitude for services or covertly or overtly implies or states that the client remains indebted and should "repay" him or her through gifts or other favors, he or she violates this rule. The unique position of trust and responsibility with the client not only becomes jeopardized, but the certified professional has also engaged in unethical actions.
Rule 4.6 A certified professional shall not offer, give, or receive commissions, rebates, or any other forms of remuneration for a client referral.
Discussion: Notwithstanding this provision, a certified professional may pay an independent advertising or marketing agent compensation for advertising or marketing services rendered on their behalf by such agent. Included in this would be compensation for referrals of clients identified through such services on a per client basis.
Rule 4.7 A certified professional shall not accept fees or gratuities for professional work from a person who is entitled to such services through an institution and/or agency by which the certified professional is employed.
Rule 5.1 A certified professional shall not in any way participate in discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, socio-economic status, political belief, psychiatric or psychological impairment, or physical disability.
Discussion: The certified professional who promotes, condones, or engages in discriminatory conduct towards a client, a client's family, or a client's significant other(s) during the course of the professional activities creates an atmosphere that constitutes conduct contrary to the principles of the profession. Similarly, discriminatory conduct towards colleagues, employees, supervisors, and students/interns with whom the certified professional interacts remains unacceptable.
Rule 5.2 A certified professional who fails to seek therapy for any psychoactive substance abuse or dependence, psychiatric or psychological impairment, emotional distress, or for any other physical health related adversity that interferes with their professional functioning shall be in violation of this rule. Where any such conditions exist, and impede their ability to function competently, a certified professional must request inactive status of their MABPCB credential for medical reasons for as long as necessary.
Rule 5.3 A certified professional shall meet and comply with all terms, conditions, or limitations of a certification or license.
Rule 5.4 A certified professional shall not engage in conduct that does not meet the generally accepted standards of practice.
Discussion: A certified professional must continually enrich his or her professional knowledge and must competently comprehend and perform the global criteria within the core functions. They shall not perform any client services in a manner that falls below the minimum standards of competence for the substance abuse and other behavioral health profession.
It is recognized that honest disagreements may exist between professionals as to the best form of service for a given client. Competency does not mean perfection; nor is incompetence normally established by the showing of an isolated instance in which performance has been inadequate. However, when a professional demonstrates multiple inadequacies in performance, or when their behavior portrays a gross neglect of a client's rights and condition, a finding of incompetence will be warranted and disciplinary action imposed.
Rule 5.5 A certified professional shall not perform services outside of their area of training, expertise, competence, or scope of practice.
Discussion: A certified professional should not use a modality or a technique if they do not have the education, training, or skills to perform in a competent or qualified manner.
Rule 5.6 A certified professional shall not reveal confidential information obtained as the result of a professional relationship, without the prior written consent from the recipient of services, except as authorized or required by law.
Rule 5.7 The certified professional shall not permit publication of photographs, disclosure of client names or records, or the nature of services being provided without securing all requisite releases from the client, or parents or legal guardians of minor clients.
Discussion: The certified professional can unwittingly compromise a client's right to confidentiality by permitting photographs and articles in publications that identify clients and/or the nature of services being provided without securing releases.
Rule 5.8 The certified professional shall not discontinue professional services to a client nor shall they abandon the client without facilitating an appropriate closure of professional services for the client.
Discussion: This rule generally applies to those professionals in private practice or who have the capacity to directly bill the client or the insurer for services rendered. In an agency setting, the contract for services exists between the client and the agency. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the agency to assure continuation of services to the client in circumstances wherein the certified professional is not available to provide for the continuity of care. In the case of a certified professional who has direct contractive responsibilities, this person shall not discontinue professional services to a client unless:
1. services have been completed;
2. the client requests the discontinuation;
3. alternative or replacement services are arranged, or the client is given reasonable opportunity to arrange alternative or replacement services.
Rule 5.9 A certified professional shall not fail to obtain an appropriate consultation or make an appropriate referral when the client's problem is beyond their area of training, expertise, competence, or scope of service.
Discussion: Certified professionals should strive to achieve and maintain the highest level of professional competence. In order to provide the highest standard of service for clients, they must maintain the commitment to assess their own personal strengths, limitations, biases, and effectiveness.
When a certified professional recognizes that a client's needs exceed their education, training, and capabilities, they must pursue advice and counsel from colleagues and supervisors. When a client's issues are outside the professional's level of functioning or scope of service, they must refer the client to another professional who will provide the appropriate service.
SAFETY & WELFARE
Rule 6.1 A certified professional shall not administer to himself or herself any psychoactive substance to the extent or in such manner as to be dangerous or injurious to a recipient of services, to any other person, or to the extent that such use of any psychoactive substance impairs the ability of the professional to safely and competently provide services.
Rule 6.2 All certified professionals are mandated child abuse reporters.
Discussion: Certified professionals are encouraged to be familiar with all applicable state child abuse reporting laws.
Rule 7.1 A certified professional shall not falsify, amend, or knowingly make incorrect entries or fail to make timely essential entries into the client record.
ASSISTING UNQUALIFIED/UNLICENSED PRACTICE
Rule 8.1 A certified professional shall not refer a client to a person that he/she knows or should have known is not qualified by training, experience, certification, or license to perform the delegated professional responsibility.
DISCIPLINE IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS
Rule 9.1 A certified professional holding a certification, license, or other authorization to practice issued by any certification authority or any state, province, territory, tribe, or federal government whose certification or license has been suspended, revoked, placed on probation, or other restriction or discipline shall promptly alert the Board of such disciplinary action.
COOPERATION WITH THE BOARD
Rule 10.1 A certified professional shall cooperate in any investigation conducted pursuant to this Code of Ethical Conduct and shall not interfere with an investigation or a disciplinary proceeding or attempt to prevent a disciplinary proceeding or other legal action from being filed, prosecuted, or completed. Interference attempts may include but are not limited to:
1. the willful misrepresentation of facts before the disciplining authority or its authorized representative;
2. the use of threats or harassment against, or an inducement to, any client or witness in an effort to prevent them from providing evidence in a disciplinary proceeding or any other legal action;
3. the use of threats or harassment against, or an inducement to, any person in an effort to prevent or attempt to prevent a disciplinary proceeding or other legal action from being filed, prosecuted or completed;
4. refusing to accept and/or respond to a letter of complaint, allowing a credential to lapse while an ethics complaint is pending, or attempting to resign a credential while an ethics complaint is pending. Violation of this rule under these circumstances will result in the immediate and indefinite suspension of the certified professional’s credential until the ethical complaint is resolved.
Rule 10.2 A certified professional shall:
1. not make a false statement to the MABPCB or any other disciplinary authority;
2. promptly alert colleagues informally to potentially unethical behavior so said colleague could take corrective action;
3. report violations of professional conduct of other certified professionals to the appropriate licensing/disciplinary authority when he/she knows or should have known that another certified professional has violated ethical standards and has failed to take corrective action after informal intervention.
Rule 10.3 A certified professional shall report any uncorrected violation of the Code of Ethical Conduct within 90 days of alleged violation. Failure to report a violation may be grounds for discipline.
Rule 10.4 A certified professional with firsthand knowledge of the actions of a respondent or a complainant shall cooperate with the MABPCB investigation or disciplinary proceeding. Failure or an unwillingness to cooperate in the MABPCB investigation or disciplinary proceeding shall be grounds for disciplinary action.
Rule 10.5 A certified professional shall not file a complaint or provide information to the MABPCB, which he/she knows or should have known, is false or misleading.
Rule 10.6 In submitting information to MABPCB, a certified professional shall comply with any requirements pertaining to the disclosure of client information established by the federal or state government.