Understanding the Difference Between Law & Ethics

The California MFT Licensing exam, and several other state licensing exams for LCSW, LPC, Psychologist make a clear distinction between our legal requirements, and our ethical requirements. For many pre-licensed, and licensed individuals the two can easily get jumbled together in the carrying out of our daily duties. 

In addition, sometimes, cultural norms within our professions can be perceived as ethical duties or legal requirements- when there is no such requirement. Not only can this hinder us when attempting to pass the licensing exams- it can be confusing in our future independent clinical practice. And that is what licensing exams are about- it is the licensing boards best effort to ensure we are ready to practice on our own without forced oversight. 

I wrote an article for ZynnyMe about Is it Ethical for me to ________ in private practice? While the questions I answered might not be on your mind for a bit if you aren't in private practice yet- definitely check out the recommendations for developing a clear understanding of your ethical obligations, and developing your own personal code of ethics! 

Here are some of the questions I cover: 

 

  • It is unethical not to accept insurance. 
  • It is unethical not to offer sliding scale to everyone who calls you. 
  • It is unethical to charge a certain fee. 
  • It is unethical to hire contractors to work within your private practice- no matter the situation. 
  • It is unethical to refer a colleague to any other business if that business offers any sort of thank you, or perk, for that referral. 
  • It is unethical to offer coaching if you are a licensed or unlicensed therapist. 
  • It is unethical to start to market or brand yourself prior to licensure. 
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    Read the entire post about common ethical questions in private practice here. 

    Did you know that one of the things people search this site for is free study materials? The ethical code of your professional organization is one of those free study guides! Go and read it, soak it in, understand it- it will help you prepare for your exams and doesn't cost a dime! 

    AAMFT Code of Ethics

    CAMFT Code of Ethics

    NASW Code of Ethics