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Good Ethics = Good Therapy Series


A Psychologist's Oath - 2023

Katie Amatruda, PsyD, MFT, CST-T, BCETS and Jacqueline Schwarz, PhD

This course meets the qualifications for 6 hours of continuing education

2020-2022 have been hard years. We are facing a pandemic, social unrest, violence against people of color, and an armed insurrection in the Capitol building. Many therapists are feeling stressed, having to switch to online therapy, perhaps while home-schooling their children. We may be feeling burnt-out, depressed, overwhelmed.

Many of us have lost family members, colleagues, friends. These are hard times. For most of the past two years, we couldn't socialize, do any hugging outside of our "social pods" (unless you live alone, and then you may be experiencing "skin hunger.") Restaurants were closed, you couldn't go to the gym, or get your hair cut. And you still have to pay your bills, complete your CEs, and maintain the legal and ethical obligations of the profession.

Uncertainty reigns. Some parts of the world are reopening borders, others not. Wearing a mask or not can vary town to town, county to county. No one knows what is next, yet we as therapists often have to treat anxiety and depression when we ourselves are anxious and depressed. The only certainty is uncertainty. And this is why, perhaps more than ever, we must focus on self-care, and having a strong moral center. If nothing else, we must live our own best lives, so that we can treat others.

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

1. I will, first, do no harm...I will strive to be wise, compassionate and contained with those in my care.

2. I will speak up against torture, exploitation and violence, and tolerate no bullying.

3. I will protect those who are vulnerable, and cannot speak up for themselves.

4. I will be silent when it is time to be silent, protecting the sacred oath of confidentiality.

5. I will speak the truth.

6. I will be respectful of ALL people, regardless of culture, religion, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability...

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.


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

Please click here for Oaths against participating in torture and executions


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.

Learning Objectives

In this 6 unit course clinicians will be able to identify and discuss:

1. Components of ethical professional conduct.
2. Legal issues regarding mandated reporting of child abuse and elder abuse.
3. Issues that may be associated with confidentiality, client welfare, competence/scope of practice and informed consent
4 . Scope of practice and have resources for outside consultation.
5 . Patient/therapist privilege and Tarasoff Issues.

is approved by the:

APA - www.psychceu.com is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. www.psychceu.com maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

maintains responsibility for the program.



how it works

Due to the wonders of technology, the minute you submit your order over our secure line, it is encrypted, and processed safely and securely by Authorize.net, a secure web processor. Or, if you prefer, call us toll-free 888-777-3773.

You will immediately receive confirmation of your order, your password and how to access the course material. (Please do not block e-mails from classes@psychceu.com, orders@psychceu.com and info@psychceu.com)

If you ordered an online course, you can begin to take the course immediately.

You will receive instructions, via e-mail, on how to take your test online.

Contact us or call if you need technical support.

Your test will be graded online, so the moment you have passed, you may print out your certificate of completion.

That's it! You are done!

Cost of the course is $88

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.

Katie Amatruda, PsyD, MFT, CST-T, BCETS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress, and a teaching member of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy. She is a member of DMAT CA-6, a Disaster Service Mental Health volunteer with the Red Cross, and has responded to the Katrina disaster, as well as to local fires and floods with the Disaster Action Team. She is the Mental Health Lead for the Marin County Red Cross Disaster Services. She went to Sri Lanka with the Association for Play Therapy and OperationUSA. She has lectured internationally and teaches in the Extended Education departments at U.C. Berkeley and Sonoma State University. She is the author of A Field Guide to Disaster Mental Health: Providing Psychological First Aid,  HIV: The Storm, Psyche & Soma, Trauma, Terror and Treatment, and Painted Ponies: Bipolar Disorder in Children, Adolescents and Adults. Her work with children with cancer is featured in the video Sandplay Therapy and the Liminal World. She is the co-author of Sandplay, The Sacred Healing: A Guide to Symbolic Process and Reweaving the Web: The Treatment of Substance Abuse. She practices in Northern California.

Jacqueline Schwarz, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist who practices in Boulder, Colorado. Her award-winning dissertation from CU Boulder was on Moral Development in Women. Jackie specialized in children and adolescents during her training, which included working in North Wales in a Treatment Center modeled on Winnicott, and being a Fellow of Harvard Medical School at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. She now works with all ages, using a psychodynamic and neuro-developmental perspective on relationships and individual growth. She understands trauma and its intergenerational transmission, as well as the secondary-trauma that can emerge in help-providers. She supports resilience with art, Sand-tray and inter-personal tools. Dr. Schwarz has consulted with the local Public Schools, University departments, substance-abuse prevention, youth-intervention and mediations programs, and currently supervises doctoral students through CU Boulder. She can be reached at 303-442-6484.



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This course counts as a 'regular' (not self-study) course by the CA BBS!

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All material included in this course is either in the public domain, or used with express permission.


www.psychceu.com adheres to the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists. Our courses are carefully screened by our Planning Committee to adhere to APA standards. We also require authors who compose Internet courses specifically for us to follow APA ethical standards.
www.psychceu.com maintains responsibility for the program.

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