Mental health counselors promote the mission, goals, values, and knowledge of the profession. They engage in activities that maintain and increase the respect, integrity, and knowledge base of the counseling profession and human welfare. Such activities include but are not limited to teaching, research, serving on professional boards and membership in professional associations.
As teaching professionals, mental health counselors perform their duties based on careful preparation to provide instruction that is accurate, current, and educational.
Mental health counselors, as researchers, conduct investigations and publish findings with respect for dignity and welfare of the participants and integrity of the profession.
Research and Publications
- The ethical researcher seeks advice from other professionals if any plan of research suggests a deviation from any ethical principle of research with human subjects. Such deviation protects the dignity and welfare of the client and places on the researcher a special burden to act in the subject’s interest.
- The ethical researcher is open and honest in the relationship with research participants.
- The ethical researcher protects participants from physical and mental discomfort, harm, and danger. If the risks of such consequences exist, the investigator is required to inform participants of that fact, secure consent before proceeding, and take all possible measures to minimize the distress.
- The ethical researcher instructs research participants that they are free to withdraw from participation at any time.
- The ethical researcher understands that information obtained about research participants during the course of an investigation is confidential. When the possibility exists that others may obtain access to such information, participants are made aware of the possibility and the plan for protecting confidentiality and for storage and disposal of research records.
- The ethical researcher gives sponsoring agencies, host institutions, and publication channels the same respect and opportunity for informed consent that they accord to individual research participants.
- The ethical researcher is aware of his or her obligation to future research and ensures that host institutions are given feedback information and proper acknowledgement.
When serving as members of governmental or other organizational bodies, mental health counselors represent the mental health counseling profession and are accountable as individuals to the Code of Ethics of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
Service on public or private boards and other organizations
Mental health counselors recognize they have a moral, legal, and ethical responsibility to the community and to the general public. Mental health counselors are aware of the prevailing community and cultural values, and the impact of professional standards on the community.
Mental health counselors in their professional roles may be expected or required to make public statements providing counseling information or professional opinions, or supply information about the availability of counseling products and services. In making such statements, mental health counselors accurately represent their education, professional qualifications, licenses and credentials, expertise, affiliations, and functions, as well as those of the institutions or organizations with which the statements may be associated. Public statements serve the purpose of providing information to aid the public in making informed judgments and choices. All public statements will be consistent with this Code of Ethics.
Mental health counselors market the following: highest counseling-related degree, type and level of certification or license, and type and/or description of services or other relevant information concerning areas of clinical competence. These statements will not be false, inaccurate, misleading, or out of context.
Accessibility of marketing materials: mental health counselors will create marketing materials that will be accessible to individuals with disabilities and diverse cultural groups. This includes websites and other promotional materials.
Members are encouraged to consult with the AMHCA Ethics Committee regarding processes to resolve ethical dilemmas that may arise in clinical practice. Members are also encouraged to use commonly recognized procedures for ethical decision-making to resolve ethical conflicts. Sources for examples of such ethical decision-making procedures are attached to this code.
The American Mental Health Counselors Association, its Board of Directors, and its National Committee on Ethics do not investigate or adjudicate ethical complaints. In the event a member has his or her license suspended or revoked by an appropriate state licensure board, the AMHCA Board of Directors may then act in accordance with AMHCA’s National By-Laws to suspend or revoke his or her membership.
Any member so suspended may apply for reinstatement upon the reinstatement of his or her licensure.