The special relationship between chemical dependency counselors and their clients demands that no impropriety or appearance of impropriety be allowed to damage that professional bond. The California Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CAADAC) requires registrants and certificants to sign its Code of Ethics as part of its registration/certification process.
Because of the highly specialized nature of chemical dependency counseling and the potential damage to the client from treatment by inept or unauthorized people, the CAADAC requires its members to prevent and report chemical dependency counseling practiced by unqualified persons. In addition, members of the CAADAC must refrain from offering services beyond their level of ability. Finally, members must recognize the consequences of professional impairment and seek appropriate treatment should impairment occur.
Welfare of the Client
In the event of professional conflict, a member’s primary responsibility must be to the client, and if the counseling relationship is producing no benefit for the client, the member must terminate the counseling. Members must not use a client for demonstration purposes in a workshop setting if doing so might harm the client. Additionally, members must always protect clients’ privacy and only reveal confidential information when a danger exists for the client. Finally, to protect clients from harm and the profession from censure, members must perform their services in an appropriate setting.
Relationship with the Client
Members must develop relationships with the client as equals rather than take advantage of clients’ vulnerability and exploitability. In addition, members must not engage relationships with clients that conflict with family members and friends or exploit relationships for personal gain. Further, members are prohibited from entering into a sexual relationship with a client or former client for at least two years from the date of the end of the counseling relationship. Finally, members must refrain from accepting gifts from clients, vendors or other treatment organizations.
Members must treat colleagues and other professionals with fairness, courtesy and respect. Members also must give proper credit and attribution to all who have contributed to a published work. Members are forbidden to offer counseling services to a client already in a professional relationship with another counselor without the express knowledge of that counselor. Members are also prohibited from exploiting relationships with students, volunteers or research participants. Finally, members must cooperate fully with ethic committees and refrain from attempting to coerce the committee, colleagues or staff members with threatening behavior.
Members must inform clients about all financial policies. Additionally, members are prohibited from giving or receiving kickbacks or rebates in exchange for referrals or engaging in fee splitting. Members are also prohibited from accepting payment from a client entitled to the member’s services through an agency or institution. In addition, members may not use their relationship with a client to promote or profit any agency or commercial enterprise.
A Los Angeles native, Russ Buchanan has been writing and editing for such disparate publications as “Midnight Graffiti Magazine” and “Op/Ed News.” He has been writing professionally since 1990. He attended Pierce College and California State University, Northridge.