A Therapist's Oath
Law and Ethics in Clinical
As a licensed therapist, I took no oath when I received my license to practice. Professional mental health therapists swear nothing. Doctors have the Hippocratic oath, which, contrary to popular belief, does not start with, or even include the phrase, “First, do no harm." It does include the promise to “keep them from harm and injustice.” Emergency medical technicians, physical therapists, and veterinarians are among those in the healing professions who take an oath.
A Therapist's Oath
I solemnly swear that
I will, first, do no harm...I
will strive to be wise, compassionate and
contained with those in my care.
6. I will be respectful.
7. I will know my abilities, my limits and myself.
8. I will ask for help when I need it, and acknowledge when I don't know something.
9. I will give back, and strive to make my presence be a healing one in the world.
10. I will take care of myself, so that I can take care of others.
I am hoping this is a work in progress, and want to know what YOU think of this list. What did I forget? What would you take out? Please email me through our contact us page. This will open a new window. (Sorry about this, but the spammers and robots that cull email addresses from websites are relentless.)
How can it be, that we who are dedicated to the healing of trauma, can participate in torture? The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have declared that participation in interrogations violates basic international human rights and the ethical imperative to do no harm. The American Anthropological Association condemns the use of anthropological knowledge as an element of physical or psychological torture.
Psychologists are allowed to participate in military interrogations. Quoting from the American Psychological Association website:
Based on years of careful and thorough analysis, APA has affirmed that psychology has a vital role to play in promoting the use of ethical interrogations to safeguard the welfare of detainees and facilitate communications with them. By staying engaged, APA is able to work with the many parties, both within and outside of the military, who are dedicated to preventing torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. (Source: “Frequently asked questions regarding APA’s policies and positions on the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during interrogations” (2007, November 15). In APA online Retrieved 21:02, November 15, 2007, from http://www.apa.org/releases/faqinterrogation.html)
In writing this course, I began to wonder why there are so few oaths which define our responsibilities as therapists. I compiled the oaths I found; please click here her to open a new window and see them.
Please click here for Oaths by Professional Associations
Please click here for Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Are there other oaths out there? If so, please let me know, so that I can include them.
Good Ethics equal Good Therapy.
When we, as clinicians, have good boundaries, our patients feel safer to explore the depths of their pain.
When we, as clinicians, respect and honor confidentiality, our patients feel safer to explore their problems.
When we, as clinicians, report child abuse and elder abuse, our patients feel safer, and society is safer.
When we, as clinicians, follow the scope of our practice, our patients feel more confident.
When we, as clinicians, practice informed consent, our patients know what to expect.
This course is designed to help therapists identify the components and importance of good ethical behavior in clinical practice.
In this 6 unit course clinicians will:
1. be able to identify
components of ethical professional conduct.
Board of Registered Nursing (#13620)
maintains responsibility for the program.
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The material contained in this course is not a substitute for legal, ethical or clinical advice or consultation. This is NOT a legal document. This material is solely for the purpose of continuing education; it is not a substitute for personal or clinical consultation, or legal advice.
Laws, standards , guidelines, and regulations often change. Students should stay in touch with their professional associations, state licensing boards and other state or federal agencies for the most current legislation, guidelines and information.
All material included in this course is either in the public domain, or used with express permission.
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