The Hippocratic oath
“…I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about….”
The ancient father of medicine, Hippocrates, composed the oath that continues to set out the overarching and guiding principles for healthcare professionals today. Following on the principles of the Hippocratic oath, every mental health and other health care association has a code of ethics that implicitly or explicitly precludes sexual relations with or emotional abuse of patients and requires confidentiality in the professional-patient relationship.
If you are thinking about starting therapy, or are in therapy and wondering whether your therapist’s behavior meets the ethical standards set forth by his/her professional association, the following list gives you directions to the websites that describe those standards. This list is also useful for finding the appropriate place to direct an ethics’ committee complaint against an abuser.
American Medical Association
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60610
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to:
American Psychoanalytic Association
309 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to the home page and click on ethics.
American Psychiatric Association
1000Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
Arlington, VA 22209-3901
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.psych.org/psych_pract/ethics/ethics.cfm
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: http://www.apa.org/ethics/
National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, NE, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20002-4241
This organization does not post a central telephone number.
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/default.asp
For further information, call the NASW office in your state.
American Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22304
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.counseling.org/Content/NavigationMenu/RESOURCES/ETHICS/ACA_Code_of_Ethics.htm
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
The Association for Addiction Professionals
901 N. Washington St., Suite 600
Alexandria, VA 22314
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: http://naadac.org/documents/index.php?CategoryID=23
Biofeedback Certification Institute of America
10200 W. 44th Ave, Suite 310
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-2840
To view this organization's code of ethics, go to:
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
112 South Alfred Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3061
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.aamft.org/resources/lrmplan/ethics/index_nm.asp
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
9504A Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22031-2303
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.aapc.org/ethics.cfm
National Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 300
McLean, VA 22102
To view this organization’s code of ethics, go to: www.ncbtmb.com/ethics_&_standards.htm
American College of Nurse Practitioners
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20036
This organization does not post a code of ethics.
In Australia, the codes of ethics for Psychologists and Psychiatrists can be found at:
Australian Psychological Society
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry
In Australia, occupations such as Counsellor, Social Worker, Psychotherapist or Caseworker are not required by government legislation to be registered. Some practitioners choose voluntarily to be members of relevant voluntary professional associations. The codes of ethics for some relevant organizations include:
Australian Association of Social Workers
Australian Counseling Association
Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia
If you know of other professional organizations that should be included on this list, please e-mail name and contact information to: email@example.com.
To return to the Resources list, click here.