Professional Association Codes of Ethics and Guidelines On
Informed Consent

Complete comparative list of different Codes of Ethics on a variety of topics

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

This page is part of an Online Course,
Informed Consent.

Table Of Contents

American Academy of Psychiatry & the Law
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, AAMFT
American Counseling Association, ACA
American Mental Health Counselors Association, AMHCA
American Psychoanalytic Association, APSA
American Psychological Association, APA
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, CAMFT
Canadian Psychological Association, CPA
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification: Code of Professional Ethics
National Association of Social Workers, NASW
National Board of Certified Counselors, NBCC

American Academy of Psychiatry & the Law Ethical Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry
Available online at:


The informed consent of the subject of a forensic evaluation is obtained when possible. Where consent is not required, notice is given to the evaluee of the nature of the evaluation. If the evaluee is not competent to give consent, substituted consent is obtained in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction.


Consent is one of the core values of the ethical practice of medicine and psychiatry. It reflects respect for the person, a fundamental principle in the practices of medicine, psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. Obtaining informed consent is an expression of this request.

It is important to appreciate that in particular situations, such as court ordered evaluations for competency to stand trial or involuntary commitment, consent is not required. In such a case, the psychiatrist should so inform the subject and explain that the evaluation is legally required and that if the subject refuses to participate in the evaluation, this fact will be included in any report or testimony.

With regard to any person charged with criminal acts, ethical considerations preclude forensic evaluation prior to access to, or availability of legal counsel. The only exception is an examination for the purpose of rendering emergency medical care and treatment.

Consent to treatment in a jail or prison or other criminal justice setting must be differentiated from consent to evaluation. The psychiatrists providing treatment in these settings should be familiar with the jurisdiction’s rules in regard to the patient’s right to refuse treatment.

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Ethics Code, 2015
Available online at:

1.2 Marriage and family therapists obtain appropriate informed consent to therapy or related procedures and use language that is reasonably understandable to clients. When persons, due to age or mental status, are legally incapable of giving informed consent, marriage and family therapists obtain informed permission from a legally authorized person, if such substitute consent is legally permissible. The content of informed consent may vary depending upon the client and treatment plan; however, informed consent generally necessitates that the client: (a) has the capacity to consent; (b) has been adequately informed of significant information concerning treatment processes and procedures; (c) has been adequately informed of potential risks and benefits of treatments for which generally recognized standards do not yet exist; (d) has freely and without undue influence expressed consent; and (e) has provided consent that is appropriately documented.

1.12 Marriage and family therapists obtain written informed consent from clients before recording any images or audio or permitting third-party observation.

5.3 Marriage and family therapists inform participants about the purpose of the research, expected length, and research procedures. They also inform participants of the aspects of the research that might reasonably be expected to influence willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomforts, or adverse effects. Marriage and family therapists are especially sensitive to the possibility of diminished consent when participants are also receiving clinical services, or have impairments which limit understanding and/or communication, or when participants are children. Marriage and family therapists inform participants about any potential research benefits, the limits of confidentiality, and whom to contact concerning questions about the research and their rights as research participants.

5.5 Information obtained about a research participant during the course of an investigation is confidential unless there is a waiver previously obtained in writing. When the possibility exists that others, including family members, may obtain access to such information, this possibility, together with the plan for protecting confidentiality, is explained as part of the procedure for obtaining informed consent.

7.4 Marriage and family therapists provide written notice and make reasonable efforts to obtain written consents of persons who are the subject(s) of evaluations and inform clients about the evaluation process, use of information and recommendations, financial arrangements, and the role of the therapist within the legal system.

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American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, Effective 2014

Available online at:

A.2. Informed Consent in the Counseling Relationship

A.2.a. Informed Consent
Clients have the freedom to choosewhether to enter into or remain in a counseling relationship and need adequate information about the counseling process and the counselor. Counselors have an obligation to review in writing and verbally with clients the rights and responsibilities of both counselors and clients. Informed consent is an ongoing part of thecounseling process, and counselors appropriately document discussions of informed consent throughout the counseling relationship.

A.2.b. Types of Information Needed
Counselors explicitly explain to clients the nature of all services provided. They inform clients about issues such as, but not limited to, the following: the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks, and benefits of services; the counselor’s qualifications, credentials, relevant experience, and approach to counseling; continuation of services upon the incapacitation or death of the counselor; the role of technology; and other pertinent information. Counselors take steps to ensure that clients understand the implications of diagnosis and the intended use of tests and reports. Additionally, counselors inform clients about fees and billing arrangements, including procedures for nonpayment of fees. Clients have the right to confidentiality and to be provided with an explanation of its limits (including how supervisors and/or treatment or interdisciplinary team professionals are involved), to obtain clear information about their records, to participate in the ongoing counseling plans, and to refuse any services or modality changes and to be advised of the consequences of such refusal.

A.2.c. Developmental and Cultural Sensitivity
Counselors communicate informationin ways that are both developmentally and culturally appropriate. Counselors use clear and understandable language when discussing issues related to informed consent. When clients have difficulty understanding the language that counselors use, counselors provide necessary services (e.g., arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator) to ensure comprehension by clients. In collaboration with clients, counselors consider cultural implications of informed consent procedures and, where possible, counselors adjust their practices accordingly.

A.2.d. Inability to Give Consent
When counseling minors, incapacitated adults, or other persons unable to give voluntary consent, counselors seek the assent of clients to services and include them in decision making as appropriate. Counselors recognize the need to balance the ethical rights of clients to make choices, their capacity to give consent or assent to receive services, and parental or familial legal rights and responsibilities to protect these clients and make decisions on their behalf.

A.2.e. Mandated Clients
Counselors discuss the requiredlimitations to confidentiality when working with clients who have been mandated for counseling services. Counselors also explain what type of information and with whom that information is shared prior to the beginning of counseling. The client may choose to refuse services. In this case, counselors will, to the best of their ability, discuss with the client the potential consequences of refusing counseling services.

A.6.d. Role Changes in the Professional Relationship
When counselors change a role fromthe original or most recent contracted relationship, they obtain informed consent from the client and explain the client’s right to refuse services related to the change. Examples of role changesinclude, but are not limited to

  1. changing from individual to relationship or family counseling,or vice versa;
  2. changing from an evaluative role to a therapeutic role, or viceversa; and
  3. changing from a counselor to a mediator role, or vice versa.Clients must be fully informed of any anticipated consequences (e.g., financial, legal, personal, therapeutic) of counselor role changes.

A.10.d. Nonpayment of Fees
If counselors intend to use collection agencies or take legal measures to collect fees from clients who do not pay for services as agreed upon, they includesuch information in their informed consent documents and also inform clients in a timely fashion of intended actions and offer clients the opportunity to make payment.

B.2.d. Court-Ordered Disclosure
When ordered by a court to releaseconfidential or privileged information without a client’s permission, counselors seek to obtain written, informed consent from the client or take steps to prohibit the disclosure or have it limited as narrowly as possible because of potential harm to the client or counseling relationship.

B.5. Clients Lacking Capacity to Give Informed Consent

B.5.a. Responsibility to Clients:
When counseling minor clients or adult clients who lack the capacity to give voluntary, informed consent, counselors protect the confidentiality of information received—in any medium—in the counseling relationship as specified by federal and state laws, written policies, and applicable ethical standards.

B.5.b. Responsibility to Parents and Legal Guardians:
Counselors inform parents and legalguardians about the role of counselors and the confidential nature of the counseling relationship, consistent with current legal and custodial arrangements. Counselors are sensitive to the culturaldiversity of families and respect the inherent rights and responsibilities of parents/guardians regarding the welfare of their children/charges according to law. Counselors work to establish, as appropriate, collaborative relationships with parents/guardians to best serve clients.

B.5.c. Release of Confidential Information:
When counseling minor clients oradult clients who lack the capacity to give voluntary consent to release confidential information, counselors seek permission from an appropriate third party to disclose information. In such instances, counselors inform clients consistent with their level of understanding and take appropriate measures to safeguard client confidentiality.

D.2.b. Informed Consent in Formal Consultation
When providing formal consultationservices, counselors have an obligation to review, in writing and verbally, the rights and responsibilities of both counselorsand consultees. Counselors use clear and understandable language to inform all parties involved about the purpose of the services to be provided, relevant costs, potential risks and benefits, andthe limits of confidentiality.

E.3. Informed Consent in Assessment

E.3.a. Explanation to Clients
Prior to assessment, counselors explain the nature and purposes of assessment and the specific use of results by potential recipients. The explanation willbe given in terms and language that the client (or other legally authorized person on behalf of the client) can understand.

E.3.b. Recipients of Results
Counselors consider the client’s and/or examinee’s welfare, explicit understandings, and prior agreements in determining who receives the assessment results. Counselors include accurate and appropriate interpretations withany release of individual or group assessment results.

E.4. Release of Data to Qualified Professionals
Counselors release assessment data in which the client is identified only with the consent of the client or the client’s legal representative. Such data are released only to persons recognized by counselors as qualified to interpret the data.

F.1.c. Informed Consent and Client Rights
Supervisors make supervisees aware of client rights, including the protection of client privacy and confidentiality in the counseling relationship. Supervisees provide clients with professional disclosure information and inform them of how the supervision process influences the limits of confidentiality. Supervisees make clients aware of who will have access to records of the counseling relationship and how these records will be stored, transmitted, or otherwise reviewed.

F.4.a. Informed Consent for Supervision
Supervisors are responsible for incorporating into their supervision the principles of informed consent and participation. Supervisors inform supervisees of the policies and procedures to which supervisors are to adhere and the mechanisms for due process appeal of individual supervisor actions. The issues unique to the use of distance supervision are to be included in the documentation as necessary.

G.2.a. Informed Consent in Research
Individuals have the right to decline requests to become research participants. In seeking consent, counselors use language that

  1. accurately explains the purpose and procedures to be followed;
  2. identifies any procedures that are experimental or relativelyuntried;
  3. describes any attendant discomforts, risks, and potential powerdifferentials between researchers and participants;
  4. describes any benefits or changes in individuals or organizations that might reasonably be expected;
  5. discloses appropriate alternative procedures that would be advantageous for participants;
  6. offers to answer any inquiries concerning the procedures;
  7. describes any limitations on confidentiality;
  8. describes the format and potential target audiences for the dissemination of research findings; and
  9. instructs participants that they are free to withdraw their consent and discontinue participation in the project at any time, without penalty.

G.2.c Client Participation
Counselors conducting research involving clients make clear in the informed consent process that clients are free to choose whether to participate in research activities. Counselors take necessary precautions to protect clients from adverse consequences of declining or withdrawing from participation

G.2.e. Persons Not Capable of Giving Informed Consent
When a research participant is not capable of giving informed consent, counselors provide an appropriate explanation to, obtain agreement for participation from, and obtain the appropriate consent of a legally authorized person

H.2. Informed Consent and Security

H.2.a. Informed Consent and Disclosure
Clients have the freedom to choose whether to use distance counseling, social media, and/or technology within the counseling process. In addition tothe usual and customary protocol of informed consent between counselor and client for face-to-face counseling, the following issues, unique to the use of distance counseling, technology, and/or social media, are addressed in the informed consent process:

  • distance counseling credentials,physical location of practice, andcontact information;
  • risks and benefits of engaging inthe use of distance counseling,technology, and/or social media;
  • possibility of technology failure and alternate methods of servicedelivery;
  • anticipated response time;
  • emergency procedures to follow when the counselor is not available;
  • time zone differences;
  • cultural and/or language differences that may affect delivery ofservices; possible denial of insurance benefits; and
  • social media policy

H.6.b. Social Media as Part of Informed Consent
Counselors clearly explain to their clients, as part of the informed consent procedure, the benefits, limitations, and boundaries of the use of social media.

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American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) – (2015)
Available online at:

2. Informed Consent

Clients have the right to know and understand what is expected, how the information divulged will be used, and the freedom to choose whether, and with whom, they will enter into a counseling relationship.

  1. Mental health counselors provide information that allows clients to make an informed choice when selecting a provider. Such information includes but is not limited to: counselor credentials, issues of confidentiality, the use of tests and inventories, diagnosis, reports, billing, and therapeutic process. Restrictions that limit clients’ autonomy are fully explained.
  2. Informed Consent includes the mental health counselor’s professional disclosure statement and client bill of rights.
  3. When a client is a minor, or is unable to give informed consent, mental health counselors act in the client’s best interest. Parents and legal guardians are informed about the confidential nature of the counseling relationship. Mental health counselors embrace the diversity of the family system and the inherent rights and responsibilities parents/guardians have for the welfare of their children. Mental health counselors therefore strive to establish collaborative relationships with parents/guardians to best serve their minor clients.
  4. Informed consent is ongoing and needs to be reassessed throughout the counseling relationship.
  5. Mental health counselors inform the client of specific limitations, potential risks, and/or potential benefits relevant to the client’s anticipated use of online counseling services.

2. Confidentiality

Mental health counselors have a primary obligation to safeguard information about individuals obtained in the course of practice, teaching, or research. Personal information is communicated to others only with the person’s consent, preferably written, or in those circumstances, as dictated by state laws. Disclosure of counseling information is restricted to what is necessary, relevant and verifiable.

a) Confidentiality is a right granted to all clients of mental health counseling services. From the onset of the counseling relationship, mental health counselors inform clients of these rights including legal limitations and exceptions.

b) The information in client records belongs to the client and shall not be shared without permission granted through a formal release of information. In the event that a client requests that information in his or her record be shared, mental health counselors educate clients to the implications of sharing the materials.

c) The release of information without consent of the client may only take place under the most extreme circumstances: the protection of life (suicidality or homicidality), child abuse, and/ or abuse of incompetent persons and elder abuse. Above all, mental health counselors are required to comply with state and federal statutes concerning mandated reporting.

d) Mental health counselors (or their staff members) do not release information by request unless accompanied by a specific release of information or a valid court order. Mental health counselors make every attempt to release only information necessary to comply with the request or valid court order. Mental health counselors are advised to seek legal advice upon receiving a subpoena in order to respond appropriately.

e) The anonymity of clients served in public and other agencies is preserved, if at all possible, by withholding names and personal identifying data. If external conditions require reporting such information, the client shall be so informed.

f) Information received in confidence by one agency or person shall not be forwarded to another person or agency without the client’s written permission.

g)Mental health counselors have the responsibility to ensure the accuracy of, and to indicate the validity of, data shared with other parties.

h) Case reports presented in classes, professional meetings, or publications shall be disguised so that no identification is possible. Permission must be obtained from clients prior to disclosing their identity.

i) Counseling reports and records are maintained under conditions of security, and provisions are made for their destruction after five (5) years post termination or as specified by state regulations. Mental health counselors ensure that all persons in their employ, and volunteers, supervisees and interns, maintain confidentiality of client information.

j) Sessions with clients may be taped or otherwise recorded only with written permission of the client or guardian. Even with a guardian’s written consent, mental health counselors should not record a session against the expressed wishes of a client. Such tapes shall be destroyed after five (5) years post termination or as specified by state regulations.

k) The primary client owns the rights to confidentiality; however, in the case where primary clients are minors or are adults who have been legally determined to be incompetent, parents and guardians have legal access to client information. Where appropriate, a parent(s) or guardian(s) may be included in the counseling process; however, mental health counselors must take measures to safeguard client confidentiality within legal limits.

l) In working with families or groups, the rights to confidentiality of each member should be safeguarded. Mental health counselors must make clear that each member of the group has individual rights to confidentiality and that each member of a family, when seen individually, has individual rights to confidentiality within legal limits.

m) When using a computer to store confidential information, mental health counselors take measures to control access to such information. After five (5) years post termination or as specified by state regulations, the information should be deleted from the system.

n) Mental health counselors may justify disclosing information to identifiable third parties if clients disclose that they have a communicable or life threatening illness. However, prior to disclosing such information, mental health counselors must confirm the diagnosis with a medical provider. The intent of clients to inform a third party about their illness and to engage in possible behaviors that could be harmful to an identifiable third party must be assessed as part of the process of determining whether a disclosure should be made to identifiable third parties.

o) Mental health counselors take necessary precautions to ensure client confidentiality of information transmitted electronically through the use of a computer, e-mail, fax, telephone, voice mail, answering machines, or any other electronic means as described in the telehealth section of this document.

p) Mental health counselors protect the confidentiality of deceased clients in accordance with legal requirements and agency or organizational policy.

q) Mental health counselors may disclose information to third-party payers only after clients have authorized such disclosure or as permitted by Federal and/or state statute.

3. Dual/multiple Relationships

Mental health counselors are aware of their influential position with respect to their clients and avoid exploiting the trust and fostering dependency of the client.

  1. Mental health counselors make every effort to avoid dual/multiple relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of harm. Examples of such relationships may include, but are not limited to: familial, social, financial, business, or close personal relationships with the clients.
  2. When deciding whether to enter a dual/multiple relationship with a client, former client or close relationship to the client, mental health counselors will seek consultation and adhere to a credible decision-making process prior to entering this relationship.
  3. When a dual/multiple relationship cannot be avoided, mental health counselors take appropriate professional precautions such as informed consent, consultation, supervision and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no exploitation has occurred.
  4. Mental health counselors do not accept as clients, individuals with whom they are involved in an administrative, supervisory or other relationship of an evaluative nature.

4. Clients Served by Others

Mental health counselors do not enter into counseling relationships with a person being served by another mental health professional unless all parties have been informed and agree.

  1. When clients choose to change professionals but have not terminated services with the former professional, it is important to encourage the individual to first deal with that termination prior to entering into a new therapeutic relationship.
  2. When clients work with multiple providers, it is important to secure permission to work collaboratively with the other professional involved.

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III. Mutuality and Informed Consent
The treatment relationship between the patient and the psychoanalyst is founded upon trust and informed mutual agreement or consent. At the outset of treatment, the patient should be made aware of the nature of psychoanalysis and relevant alternative therapies. The psychoanalyst should make agreements pertaining to scheduling, fees, and other rules and obligations of treatment tactfully and humanely, with adequate regard for the realistic and therapeutic aspects of the relationship. Promises made should be honored. When the patient is a minor these same general principles pertain but the patient’s age and stage of development should guide how specific arrangements will be handled and with whom.

III. Mutuality and Informed Consent
1. Psychoanalytic treatment exists by virtue of an informed choice leading to a mutually accepted agreement between a psychoanalyst and a patient or the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a minor patient.

IV. Confidentiality
1. All information about the specifics of a patient’s life is confidential, including the name of the patient and the fact of treatment. The psychoanalyst should resist disclosing confidential information to the full extent permitted by law. Furthermore, it is ethical, though not required, for a psychoanalyst to refuse legal, civil or administrative demands for such confidential information even in the face of the patient’s informed consent and accept instead the legal consequences of such a refusal.

2. The psychoanalyst should never share confidential information about a patient with nonclinical third-parties (e.g., insurance companies) without the patient’s or, in the case of a minor patient, the parent’s or guardian’s informed consent. For the purpose of claims review or utilization management, it is not a violation of confidentiality for a psychoanalyst to disclose confidential information to a consultant psychoanalyst, provided the consultant is also bound by the confidentiality standards of these Principles and the informed consent of the patient or parent or guardian of a minor patient has first been obtained. If a third-party payer or a patient or parent or guardian of a minor patient demands that the psychoanalyst act contrary to these Principles, it is ethical for the psychoanalyst to refuse such demands, even with the patient’s or, in the case of a minor patient, the parent’s or guardian’s informed consent.

3. The psychoanalyst of a minor patient must seek to preserve the patient’s confidentiality, while keeping parents or guardians informed of the course of treatment in ways appropriate to the age and stage of development of the patient, the clinical situation and these Principles.

6. If the psychoanalyst uses confidential case material in clinical presentations or in scientific or educational exchanges with colleagues, either the case material must be disguised sufficiently to prevent identification of the patient, or the patient’s informed consent must first be obtained. If the latter, the psychoanalyst should discuss the purpose(s) of such presentations, the possible risks and benefits to the patient’s treatment and the patient’s right to withhold or withdraw consent. In the case of a minor patient, parent(s) or guardian(s) should be consulted and, depending on the age and developmental stage, the matter may be discussed with the patient as well.

8. Candidate psychoanalysts-in-training are strongly urged to consider obtaining the patient’s informed consent before beginning treatment, pertaining to disclosures of confidential information in groups or written reports required by the candidate’s training. Where the patient is a minor, the candidate is strongly urged to consider obtaining informed consent from the parent(s) or guardian(s); age and stage of development will assist the candidate in determining if the patient should also be informed

V. Truthfulness

1. Candidate psychoanalysts-in-training are strongly urged to inform psychoanalytic training patients and prospective psychoanalytic training patients that they are in training and supervised. Where the patient is a minor, the parent(s) or guardian(s) should also be informed. If asked, candidate psychoanalysts-in-training should not deny that they are being supervised as a requirement of their training.

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American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2016
Available online at:

10.01 Informed Consent to Therapy
(a) When obtaining informed consent to therapy as required in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, psychologists inform clients/patients as early as is feasible in the therapeutic relationship about the nature and anticipated course of therapy, fees, involvement of third parties, and limits of confidentiality and provide sufficient opportunity for the client/patient to ask questions and receive answers. (See also Standards 4.02, Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality, and 6.04, Fees and Financial Arrangements.)

(b) When obtaining informed consent for treatment for which generally recognized techniques and procedures have not been established, psychologists inform their clients/patients of the developing nature of the treatment, the potential risks involved, alternative treatments that may be available, and the voluntary nature of their participation. (See also Standards 2.01e, Boundaries of Competence, and 3.10, Informed Consent.)

(c) When the therapist is a trainee and the legal responsibility for the treatment provided resides with the supervisor, the client/patient, as part of the informed consent procedure, is informed that the therapist is in training and is being supervised and is given the name of the supervisor.

9.03 Informed Consent in Assessments
(a) Psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments, evaluations, or diagnostic services, as described in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, except when (1) testing is mandated by law or governmental regulations; (2) informed consent is implied because testing is conducted as a routine educational, institutional, or organizational activity (e.g., when participants voluntarily agree to assessment when applying for a job); or (3) one purpose of the testing is to evaluate decisional capacity. Informed consent includes an explanation of the nature and purpose of the assessment, fees, involvement of third parties, and limits of confidentiality and sufficient opportunity for the client/patient to ask questions and receive answers.

(b) Psychologists inform persons with questionable capacity to consent or for whom testing is mandated by law or governmental regulations about the nature and purpose of the proposed assessment services, using language that is reasonably understandable to the person being assessed.

(c) Psychologists using the services of an interpreter obtain informed consent from the client/patient to use that interpreter, ensure that confidentiality of test results and test security are maintained, and include in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, discussion of any limitations on the data obtained. (See also Standards 2.05, Delegation of Work to Others; 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality; 9.01, Bases for Assessments; 9.06, Interpreting Assessment Results; and 9.07, Assessment by Unqualified Persons.)

3.10 Informed Consent
(a) When psychologists conduct research or provide assessment, therapy, counseling, or consulting services in person or via electronic transmission or other forms of communication, they obtain the informed consent of the individual or individuals using language that is reasonably understandable to that person or persons except when conducting such activities without consent is mandated by law or governmental regulation or as otherwise provided in this Ethics Code. (See also Standards 8.02, Informed Consent to Research; 9.03, Informed Consent in Assessments; and 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

(b) For persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent, psychologists nevertheless (1) provide an appropriate explanation, (2) seek the individual’s assent, (3) consider such persons’ preferences and best interests, and (4) obtain appropriate permission from a legally authorized person, if such substitute consent is permitted or required by law. When consent by a legally authorized person is not permitted or required by law, psychologists take reasonable steps to protect the individual’s rights and welfare.

(c) When psychological services are court ordered or otherwise mandated, psychologists inform the individual of the nature of the anticipated services, including whether the services are court ordered or mandated and any limits of confidentiality, before proceeding.

(d) Psychologists appropriately document written or oral consent, permission, and assent. (See also Standards 8.02, Informed Consent to Research; 9.03, Informed Consent in Assessments; and 10.01, Informed Consent to Therapy.)

3.11 Psychological Services Delivered To or Through Organizations
(a) Psychologists delivering services to or through organizations provide information beforehand to clients and when appropriate those directly affected by the services about (1) the nature and objectives of the services, (2) the intended recipients, (3) which of the individuals are clients, (4) the relationship the psychologist will have with each person and the organization, (5) the probable uses of services provided and information obtained, (6) who will have access to the information, and (7) limits of confidentiality. As soon as feasible, they provide information about the results and conclusions of such services to appropriate persons.

(b) If psychologists will be precluded by law or by organizational roles from providing such information to particular individuals or groups, they so inform those individuals or groups at the outset of the service.

3.12 Interruption of Psychological Services
Unless otherwise covered by contract, psychologists make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating services in the event that psychological services are interrupted by factors such as the psychologist’s illness, death, unavailability, relocation, or retirement or by the client’s/patient’s relocation or financial limitations. (See also Standard 6.02c, Maintenance, Dissemination, and Disposal of Confidential Records of Professional and Scientific Work.)

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California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, CAMFT
Available online at:

Marriage and family therapists provide adequate information to patients in clear and understandable language so that patients can make meaningful decisions about their therapy.

Marriage and family therapists inform patients of the potential risks and benefits of therapy when utilizing novel or experimental techniques or when there is a risk of physical harm that could result from the utilization of any technique.

Marriage and family therapists inform patients of the extent of their availability for emergencies and for other contacts between sessions. When a marriage and family therapist is not located in the same geographic area as the patient, he/she shall provide the patient with appropriate resources in the patient’s locale for contact in case of emergency.

Marriage and family therapists obtain written informed consent from patients before videotaping, audio recording, or permitting third party observation.

Marriage and family therapists are encouraged to inform patients as to certain exceptions to confidentiality such as child abuse reporting, elder and dependent adult abuse reporting, and patients dangerous to themselves or others.

Marriage and family therapists are encouraged to inform patients at an appropriate time and within the context of the psychotherapeutic relationship of their experience, education, specialties, and theoretical and professional orientation, and any other information deemed appropriate by the therapist.

When patients are not physically present (e.g., therapy by telephone or Internet) during the provision of therapy, marriage and family therapists take extra precautions to meet their responsibilities to patients. Prior to utilizing electronic therapy, marriage and family therapists consider the appropriateness and suitability of this therapeutic modality to the patient’s needs. When therapy occurs by electronic means, marriage and family therapists inform patients of the potential risks, consequences, and benefits, including but not limited to, issues of confidentiality, clinical limitations, transmission difficulties, and ability to respond to emergencies. Marriage and family therapists ensure that such therapy complies with the informed consent requirements of the California Telemedicine Act.

Canadian Psychological Association: Canadian Code of Ethics For Psychologists (3rd Edition)
Available online at:

Informed consent

1.20 Obtain informed consent for all research activities that involve obtrusive measures, invasion of privacy, more than minimal risk of harm, or any attempt to change the behaviour of research participants.

1.24 Ensure, in the process of obtaining informed consent, that at least the following points are understood: purpose and nature of the activity; mutual responsibilities; confidentiality protections and limitations; likely benefits and risks; alternatives; the likely consequences of non-action; the option to refuse or withdraw at any time, without prejudice; over what period of time the consent applies; and, how to rescind consent if desired. (Also see Standards III.23-30.)

1.26 Clarify the nature of multiple relationships to all concerned parties before obtaining consent, if providing services to or conducting research at the request or for the use of third parties. This would include, but not be limited to: the purpose of the service or research; the reasonably anticipated use that will be made of information collected; and, the limits on confidentiality. Third parties may include schools, courts, government agencies, insurance companies, police, and special funding bodies.


1.45 Share confidential information with others only with the informed consent of those involved, or in a manner that the persons involved cannot be identified, except as required or justified by law, or in circumstances of actual or possible serious physical harm or death. (Also see Standards II.39, IV.17, and IV.18.)


III.14 Be clear and straightforward about all information needed to establish informed consent or any other valid written or unwritten agreement (for example: fees, including any limitations imposed by third-party payers; relevant business policies and practices; mutual concerns; mutual responsibilities; ethical responsibilities of psychologists; purpose and nature of the relationship, including research participation; alternatives; likely experiences; possible conflicts; possible outcomes; and, expectations for processing, using, and sharing any information generated).

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Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification: Code of Professional Ethics
(Effective Jan. 1, 2002)
Available online at:

Bc. PERMISSION TO RECORD OR OBSERVE. Rehabilitation counselors will obtain and document written or recorded permission from clients prior to electronically recording or observing sessions. When counseling clients who are minors or individuals who are unable to give voluntary, informed consent, written or recorded permission of guardians must be obtained.



a. EXPLANATION TO CLIENTS. Prior to assessment, rehabilitation counselors will explain the nature and purposes of assessment and the specific use of results in language the client (or other legally authorized person on behalf of the client) can understand. Regardless of whether scoring and interpretation are completed by rehabilitation counselors, by assistants, or by computer or other outside services, rehabilitation counselors will take reasonable steps to ensure that appropriate explanations are given to the client.

b. RECIPIENTS OF RESULTS. The client’s welfare, explicit understanding, and prior agreement will determine the recipients of test results. Rehabilitation counselors will include accurate and appropriate interpretations with any release of test results.



a. TOPICS DISCLOSED. In obtaining informed consent for research, rehabilitation counselors will use language that is understandable to research participants and that (1) accurately explains the purpose and procedures to be followed; (2) identifies any procedures that are experimental or relatively untried; (3) describes the attendant discomforts and risks; (4) describes the benefits or changes in individuals or organizations that might reasonably be expected; (5) discloses appropriate alternative procedures that would be advantageous for participants; (6) offers to answer any inquiries concerning the procedures; (7) describes any limitations of confidentiality; and (8) instructs that participants are free to withdraw their consent and to discontinue participation in the project at any time.

d. CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION. Information obtained about research participants during the course of an investigation will be confidential. When the possibility exists that others may obtain access to such information, ethical research practice requires that the possibility, together with the plans for protecting confidentiality, will be explained to participants as a part of the procedure for obtaining informed consent.

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National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (2017)
Available online at:

1.03 Informed Consent
(a) Social workers should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate, on valid informed consent. Social workers should use clear and understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the services, risks related to the services, limits to services because of the requirements of a third-party payer, relevant costs, reasonable alternatives, clients’ right to refuse or withdraw consent, and the time frame covered by the consent. Social workers should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions.

(b) In instances when clients are not literate or have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the practice setting, social workers should take steps to ensure clients’ comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible.

(c) In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide informed consent, social workers should protect clients’ interests by seeking permission from an appropriate third party, informing clients consistent with the clients’ level of understanding. In such instances social workers should seek to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with clients’ wishes and interests. Social workers should take reasonable steps to enhance such clients’ ability to give informed consent.

(d) In instances when clients are receiving services involuntarily, social workers should provide information about the nature and extent of services and about the extent of clients’ right to refuse service.

(e) Social workers should discuss with clients the social workers’ policies concerning the use of technology in the provision of professional services.

(f) Social workers who use technology to provide social work services should obtain informed consent from the individuals using these services during the initial screening or interview and prior to initiating services. Social workers should assess clients’ capacity to provide informed consent and, when using technology to communicate, verify the identity and location of clients.

(g) Social workers who use technology to provide social work services should assess the clients’ suitability and capacity for electronic and remote services. Social workers should consider the clients’ intellectual, emotional, and physical ability to use technology to receive services and the clients’ ability to understand the potential benefits, risks, and limitations of such services. If clients do not wish to use services provided through technology, social workers should help them identify alternate methods of service.

(h) Social workers should obtain clients’ informed consent before making audio or video recordings of clients or permitting observation of service provision by a third party.

(i) Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client. Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons.

1.13 Payment for Services
(b) Social workers should avoid accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional services. Bartering arrangements, particularly involving services, create the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, and inappropriate boundaries in social workers’ relationships with clients. Social workers should explore and may participate in bartering only in very limited circumstances when it can be demonstrated that such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the local community, considered to be essential for the provision of services, negotiated without coercion, and entered into at the client’s initiative and with the client’s informed consent. Social workers who accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or the professional relationship.

5.02 Evaluation and Research
(e) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should obtain voluntary and written informed consent from participants, when appropriate, without any implied or actual deprivation or penalty for refusal to participate; without undue inducement to participate; and with due regard for participants’ well-being, privacy, and dignity. Informed consent should include information about the nature, extent, and duration of the participation requested and disclosure of the risks and benefits of participation in the research.

(f) When using electronic technology to facilitate evaluation or research, social workers should ensure that participants provide informed consent for the use of such technology. Social workers should assess whether participants are able to use the technology and, when appropriate, offer reasonable alternatives to participate in the evaluation or research.

(g) When evaluation or research participants are incapable of giving informed consent, social workers should provide an appropriate explanation to the participants, obtain the participants’ assent to the extent they are able, and obtain written consent from an appropriate proxy.

(h) Social workers should never design or conduct evaluation or research that does not use consent procedures, such as certain forms of naturalistic observation and archival research, unless rigorous and responsible review of the research has found it to be justified because of its prospective scientific, educational, or applied value and unless equally effective alternative procedures that do not involve waiver of consent are not feasible.

(i) Social workers should inform participants of their right to withdraw from evaluation and research at any time without penalty.

(j) Social workers should take appropriate steps to ensure that participants in evaluation and research have access to appropriate supportive services.

(k) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should protect participants from unwarranted physical or mental distress, harm, danger, or deprivation.

(l) Social workers engaged in the evaluation of services should discuss collected information only for professional purposes and only with people professionally concerned with this information.

(m) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should ensure the anonymity or confidentiality of participants and of the data obtained from them. Social workers should inform participants of any limits of confidentiality, the measures that will be taken to ensure confidentiality, and when any records containing research data will be destroyed.

(n) Social workers who report evaluation and research results should protect participants’ confidentiality by omitting identifying information unless proper consent has been obtained authorizing disclosure.

(o) Social workers should report evaluation and research findings accurately. They should not fabricate or falsify results and should take steps to correct any errors later found in published data using standard publication methods.

(p) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest and dual relationships with participants, should inform participants when a real or potential conflict of interest arises, and should take steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes participants’ interests primary.

(q) Social workers should educate themselves, their students, and their colleagues about responsible research practices.

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National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), 2016:
Available online at:

10. NCCs shall create written procedures regarding the handling of client records in the event of their unexpected death or incapacitation. In recognition of the harm that may occur if clients are unable to access professional assistance in these cases, these procedures shall ensure that the confidentiality of client records is maintained and shall include the identification of individual(s) who are familiar with ethical and legal requirements regarding the counseling profession and who shall assist clients in locating other professional mental health providers as well as ensure the appropriate transfer of client records. These written procedures shall be provided to the client, and the NCC shall provide an opportunity for the client to discuss concerns regarding the process as it pertains to the transfer of his or her record.

12. NCCs who provide clinical supervision services shall keep accurate records of supervision goals and progress and consider all information gained in supervision as confidential except to prevent clear, imminent danger to the client or others or when legally required to do so by a court or government agency order. In cases in which the supervisor receives a court or governmental agency order requiring the production of supervision records, the NCC shall make reasonable attempts to promptly notify the supervisee. In cases in which the supervisee is a student of a counselor education program, the supervisor shall release supervision records consistent with the terms of the arrangement with the counselor education program.

32. NCCs who provide consultative services (i.e., consultants) shall establish a written plan with the professional seeking assistance. This plan shall include the identification of the primary client concern or issue, consultation goals, potential consequences of actions evaluation and other future steps. The consultant shall document this information in their professional records. Brief collaborative conversations between an NCC and other professionals are not considered consultations as long as no identifying client information is provided.

44. NCCs shall accurately note in the client’s or supervisee’s records all information necessary for the provision of quality services or as required by laws, regulations or institutional procedures.

47. NCCs who seek case consultation services from another professional shall document consultation in clients’ records.

55. NCCs shall retain client records for a minimum of five years unless state or federal laws require additional time. After the required retention period, NCCs shall dispose of records in a manner that protects client confidentiality.

69. NCCs shall inform clients of the purposes, goals, procedures, limitations, potential risks and benefits of services and techniques either prior to or during the initial session. NCCs also shall provide information about client’s rights and responsibilities including billing arrangements, collection procedures in the event of nonpayment, confidentiality and its limitations, records and service termination policies as appropriate to the counseling setting. This professional information shall be provided to the client in verbal and written forms (i.e., the counseling services agreement). NCCs shall have a reasonable basis for believing that the information provided is understood. NCCs shall document any client concerns related to the information provided in the client’s record.

75. NCCs shall clearly designate in writing the primary client in the record. NCCs shall also identify in the record individuals who are receiving related professional services in connection with such client relationship. In the event of working with minors or individuals who are unable to give informed consent, NCCs shall discuss relevant considerations regarding the preferences of the individuals receiving services and legal guardian’s rights and obligations. This information shall become a part of the client’s record.

82. NCCs shall obtain prior consent from all research participants. This consent process shall contain relevant information with regard to the recording of voices or images of participants. In the event of conducting research with individuals who are unable to give informed consent, NCCs shall document considerations between the potential subject’s desire to participate and the legal guardian’s consent.

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