ATSA Forum - Vol. XXIX, No. 4
Fall 2017  (Plain Text Version)

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In this issue:
Regular Features
 Editor's Note
 President's Message
 Why is Juvenile Polygraph Not Recommended by ATSA?
Featured Articles
 Responding to Problematic Technology Use:
Creating a Therapeutic Toolbox

 Looking After Ourselves and Each Other
 Utilizing Recreation Therapy as Part of the Treatment Model
 Understanding and Preventing Adolescent Pedophilia TEDMED Talk
 Step One of Cultural Competency Addressing Privilege & Power
Students' Voice
 Assessment of Deviant Preferences Using Novel Behavioral Assessment Procedures
 A Studentís Guide to the ATSA 2017 Conference
Book Review
 RNR Principles in Practice In the Management and Treatment of Sexual Abusers
 2017 ATSA Conference Events
 Preventing Harmful Sexual Behaviors in Youth: An Infographic from the ATSA Prevention Committee
 Welcome Incoming Board Members
 2017 ATSA Awards
 ATSA Professional Code of Ethics 2017 Revisions and Additions
 New ATSA Members

ATSA Professional Code of Ethics 2017 Revisions and Additions

Becky Palmer, MS Past Ethics Chair and Current Committee Member

The arduous task of revising and updating the ATSA Code of Ethics (COE) has been completed. The rigorous review and input by all committee members has helped shape this updated version. The COE are currently at the printer, likely by the time you receive this article you will have access to the updated version.

Ethics by definition are moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. Our hope is that each of you will make it your personal and professional responsibility to review our 2017 COE. While implicit and at times explicit within the revised document you will find encouragement to seek peer or professional consultation, it’s always a helpful reminder that we alone do not possess all of the answers to any question or dilemma we may face in our professional lives. Thankfully we have many caring and brilliant colleagues who are more than willing to talk through any ethical questions you may have. The committee also encourages you to reach out before your situation becomes a “sticky wicket”.

Of course as anyone who has spent time writing professional guidelines, standards or codes of ethics can tell you, expect to spend time discussing the occasions of when to use shall-will, should-would, and may-can. So, yes we did spend some time having robust discussions on the proper word usage but you may not notice them throughout the updated document.  The ATSA Ethics Committee hopes that each Member will find this updated version of our COE to be a helpful resource and provide some direction when faced with potential ethical questions.

Our COE is divided into two sections: Section A) Ethical Principles and Section B) Rules and Procedures. Of note our COE is meant to complement ATSA Practice Guidelines for Male Adults.

In Definitions you will notice that the definition of client has been enhanced to identify that a client is not just a person, but rather with the increasing trend of courts and agencies paying for treatment and assessments it is important to remember that we have a professional responsibility to referring agents as well.

Professional Conduct

The additional points for this section of the COE will be noted as k) ATSA may consider deviations from the ATSA Adult Practice Guidelines and ATSA Adolescent Practice Guidelines an ethics violation except to the extent that a guideline conflicts with applicable laws or professional regulations that pertain to a Member’s practice. Also of note is the addition of l) It is unethical for ATSA Members to conduct evaluations with the primary purpose of determining guilt or innocence.

We updated the professional conduct section to include sexual orientation as a part of sexual harassment and so it is not gender specific.

(e) Members shall not engage in sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unlawful discrimination within a professional relationship on the basis of gender and/or sexual orientation and includes any unwelcome verbal or physical sexually oriented conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a professional relationship or creating a hostile, intimidating, or offensive professional environment.

The standard for determining whether harassment based on an individual’s gender and/or sexual orientation is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile, intimidating, or offensive professional environment is whether a reasonable person in the circumstances of the complaining individual would so perceive it.

Payment for Services

Bartering for services may result in a dual relationship and therefore may leave a Member open to an ethical complaint. Members should conform to their specific professional discipline’s codes of ethics for further guidance (e.g., the Canadian Psychological Association or American Psychological Association). For further discussion of dual relationships, see Section 8, Dual Relationships.

An addition to this section of the COE is: Members shall address the following financial matters with clients: i. The Member shall describe the fees for services to the client either before or at the time of the initial appointment. ii. The Member shall settle payment arrangements for fees at the beginning of an assessment or a therapeutic relationship. iii. If there is a change in fees, or if a service is to be provided for which the fees have not been discussed, the Member shall inform the client of the change in fees before providing the service. In the case of an emergency, the Member shall inform the client of any fees as soon as is practical after rendering the service. iv. If the client is a minor or lacks the capacity for consent, the Member shall inform the parent or legal guardian of all fees in the manner outlined above. This has been removed from the client relationships section.

Promoting professional obligations you will notice the following inclusions under Client Relationships. (j) If Members anticipate the termination or disruption of services to a client, they shall notify the client promptly and, when possible, provide for transfer or referral to a different practitioner.

(k) Members who serve a client of a colleague during a temporary absence or emergency shall serve that client with the same consideration they afford to their own clients.

 (l) Members recognize that their primary professional obligation is to the client to whom they are providing services, regardless of who is paying for those services. Additionally, Members recognize that third-party relationships have the potential to create conflicts of interest and that the primary professional obligation remains to the client.

(m) When performing consulting services, the client may be an agency or organization. In this case, Members shall behave in accordance with the ATSA Code of Ethics and take steps to protect the organization and the individuals within.

The former section of Multiple Relationships is now titled Dual Relationships and has the following section has been added to help navigate social media, electronic communications, texting, and phone usage. Members shall clarify with clients what are considered appropriate means of communication to avoid dual relationships and to protect client confidentiality, which may include interacting via social media, electronic communication, and/or phone.

An important addition to this COE is Record Keeping. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with your professional obligation regarding good records, keeping them confidential, treatment planning and document storing, accessing, transferring and disposing of records.

Professional Relationships

It is not uncommon that many of our clients have been in treatment with another treatment provider. The committee felt it was imperative to clarify the importance of making reasonable attempts to contact any current or previous practionners.

Research and Publications

Note the addition in this section: Members shall be aware that incarcerated individuals, probationers and patients in secure forensic settings are vulnerable populations and that, therefore, additional human subject protections may apply.

SECTION 2 Rules and Procedures

Perhaps the most noticeable change in this section is that the ATSA ethics committee will no longer rely on a Special Advocate and the committee can commence an investigation by its own motion. Of course it goes without saying that if a complaint does come to the committee, then committee members will recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest with any party that is involved in the complaint.

Procedurally, we encourage Members to address their concerns at the lowest level when possible. The ATSA Ethics Committee also encourages you to seek consultation from any of its members or a colleague.