Tennessee Board For Professional Counselors, Marital And Family Therapists, And Clinical Pastoral Therapists
0450-02-.13 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. The AAMFT code of ethics shall govern the conduct of marital and family therapists registered with the board.
In addition to the other requirements of this rule, all licensees and certificate holders who
practice marital and family therapy electronically shall comply with the Online Ethical
Advisory Opinions adopted by the AAMFT, www.aamft.org, except to the extent that they
conflict with the laws of the state of Tennessee or the rules of the Board. If the standards for
the ethical practice of marital and family therapy over the Internet conflict with state law or
rules, the state law or rules govern the matter. Violation of the standards for the ethical
practice of marital and family therapy over the Internet or state law or rules may subject a
licensee or certificate holder to disciplinary action.
AAMFT Code of Ethics
TECHNOLOGY-ASSISTED PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Therapy, supervision, and other professional services engaged in by marriage and family therapists take place over an increasing number of technological platforms. There are great benefits and responsibilities inherent in both the traditional therapeutic and supervision contexts, as well as in the utilization of technologically-assisted professional services. This standard addresses basic ethical requirements of offering therapy, supervision, and related professional services using electronic means.
6.1 Technology Assisted Services.
Prior to commencing therapy or supervision services through electronic means (including but not limited to phone and Internet), marriage and family therapists ensure that they are compliant with all relevant laws for the delivery of such services. Additionally, marriage and family therapists must: (a) determine that technologically-assisted services or supervision are appropriate for clients or supervisees, considering professional, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs; (b) inform clients or supervisees of the potential risks and benefits associated with technologically-assisted services; (c) ensure the security of their communication medium; and (d) only commence electronic therapy or supervision after appropriate education, training, or supervised experience using the relevant technology.
6.2 Consent to Treat or Supervise.
Clients and supervisees, whether contracting for services as individuals, dyads, families, or groups, must be made aware of the risks and responsibilities associated with technology-assisted services. Therapists are to advise clients and supervisees in writing of these risks, and of both the therapist’s and clients’/supervisees' responsibilities for minimizing such risks.
6.3 Confidentiality and Professional Responsibilities.
It is the therapist’s or supervisor’s responsibility to choose technological platforms that adhere to standards of best practices related to confidentiality and quality of services, and that meet applicable laws. Clients and supervisees are to be made aware in writing of the limitations and protections offered by the therapist’s or supervisor’s technology.
6.4 Technology and Documentation.
Therapists and supervisors are to ensure that all documentation containing identifying or otherwise sensitive information which is electronically stored and/or transferred is done using technology that adhere to standards of best practices related to confidentiality and quality of services, and that meet applicable laws. Clients and supervisees are to be made aware in writing of the limitations and protections offered by the therapist’s or supervisor’s technology.
6.5 Location of Services and Practice.
Therapists and supervisors follow all applicable laws regarding location of practice and services, and do not use technologically-assisted means for practicing outside of their allowed jurisdictions.
6.6 Training and Use of Current Technology.
Marriage and family therapists ensure that they are well trained and competent in the use of all chosen technology-assisted professional services. Careful choices of audio, video, and other options are made in order to optimize quality and security of services, and to adhere to standards of best practices for technology-assisted services. Furthermore, such choices of technology are to be suitably advanced and current so as to best serve the professional needs of clients and supervisees.
Counselors are to follow ACA’s Code of Ethics.
Marriage and Family Therapists are to follow AAMFT’s Code of Ethics.
Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and
Family Therapists, and Psycho-Educational Specialists
Provision of Services via Electronic, Distance Professional Services
Effective Date: November 17, 2015
In response to inquiries from licensees, supervisors and other interested parties, the SC
Licensure Board has confirmed that it has no separate view per se with regard to the provision
of services via electronic means as long as a licensee is practicing in a manner consistent with
his/her training and experience, is receiving supervision as is appropriate, and the medium for
doing so is not an issue. However, it is incumbent upon any licensed counselor, therapist or
psycho-educational specialist to recognize that as he or she moves away from direct face to
face contact with clients, there are losses to the processes and interactions.
The Board considers that the practice of counseling, marriage and family therapy occurs both
where the therapist who is providing therapeutic services is located and where the individuals
(patients/clients) who are receiving services are located. In order for an individual to provide
counseling and therapy services in South Carolina, that individual must be licensed by the South
Carolina Board for Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-educational
Specialist. On this basis, if an individual licensed in South Carolina renders services
electronically to an out-of-state client, it is recommended that the licensee contact the
licensure board for counselors, marriage and family therapist or psycho-educational specialist
in the state in which the clients resides to determine whether or not such practices are
permitted in that jurisdiction. Licensees are advised to review the South Carolina Licensure Law
and the Code of Ethics.
Delivery of clinical services via technology assisted media such as telephones, use of video, or
the internet requires the therapist to be sensitive to various issues. These areas include:
confidentiality, acquiring required signatures on intake forms (consent to treat, release of
information, professional disclosure forms, consent to treat minors, consent to tape, etc.).
Other issues include: confidentiality, boundaries of competence, computer security, avoiding
harm dealing with fees and financial arrangements, and advertising. Other specific challenges
include, but are not limited to verifying the identity of the client, determining if the client is a
minor, explaining to the clients the procedures for contacting the therapist/counselor when he
or she is off-line, discussing the possibility of technology failure and alternate means of
communication if technology occurs. It is important for counselors and therapists to use
encrypted technology as required by HIPPA. Clients should be informed of the encryption
methods used to help ensure the security of communications. Also, counselors and therapists
should inform clients as to whether session data is being preserved and if so, for in what
manner and for how long. In addition, clients need to be informed regarding the procedures
that will be in place in receiving and releasing client information received through the internet
and other electronic sources.
Last of all, it is important that when providing services through electronic methods, the
counselor and therapist be knowledgeable regarding emergency services available in the
communities where their clients live.CHAPTER 36.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION-- BOARD OF EXAMINERS FOR THE LICENSURE OF PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS, AND PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL SPECIALISTS
Code of Ethics for Professional Counselors: Chapter 36-19, Article 7, (B) Counseling Relationship, 12, 13, 14.
(12) Professional Counselors who employ electronic means in which the counselor and client are not in immediate proximity must present clients with local sources of care before establishing a continued short or long-term relationship.
(13) Professional Counselors shall obtain legal authorization to practice in any jurisdiction in which they maintain an electronic presence via the internet or other
(14) Professional Counselors shall ensure that clients are intellectually, emotionally, and physically compatible with computer applications used by the counselor and understand
their purpose and operation.
The provision of social work services to an individual in this state, through telephonic, electronic or other means, regardless of the location of the social worker, shall constitute the practice of social work and shall be subject to regulation.