TITLE 16             OCCUPATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LICENSING

CHAPTER 27     COUNSELORS AND THERAPISTS

PART 18               CODE OF ETHICS

 

16.27.18.1             ISSUING AGENCY:  Regulation and Licensing Department Counseling and Therapy Practice Board

[16.27.18.1 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.1, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.2             SCOPE:  All professional clinical mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, professional art therapists, professional mental health counselors, registered independent mental health counselors, licensed mental health counselors, associate marriage and family therapists, alcohol and drug abuse counselors, alcohol abuse counselors, drug abuse counselors, and substance abuse associates.

[16.27.18.2 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.2, 6-15-01; A, 7-1-04; A, 2-10-06]

 

16.27.18.3             STATUTORY AUTHORITY:  These parts are promulgated pursuant to the Counselor and Therapist Practice Act, Section 61-9A-1 through 61-9A-30 NMSA 1978.

[16.27.18.3 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.3, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.4             DURATION:  Permanent

[16.27.18.4 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.4, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.5             EFFECTIVE DATE:  June 15, 2001 unless a later date is cited at the end of a section.

[16.27.18.5 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.5, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.6             OBJECTIVE:  The objective of Part 18 is to outline the code of ethics all applicants and licensed professional clinical mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, professional art therapists, professional mental health counselors, registered independent mental health counselors, associate marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health counselors, alcohol and drug abuse counselors, alcohol abuse counselors, drug abuse counselors, and substance abuse associates must adhere to as licensed professionals.  Failure to adhere to the code of ethics may result in disciplinary action by the board.

[16.27.18.6 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.6, 6-15-01; A, 7-1-04; A, 2-10-06]

 

16.27.18.7             DEFINITIONS:  [Reserved]

 

16.27.18.8             WHO MUST ADHERE TO THE CODE OF ETHICS:  The counseling & therapy practice board code of ethics for professional mental health counselor, professional clinical mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, professional art therapist, associate marriage and family therapist, registered independent mental health counselor, licensed mental health counselor, alcohol and drug abuse counselor, alcohol abuse counselor, drug abuse counselor, and substance abuse associate and approved supervisors.  Licensure/registration is binding to all individuals holding licensure in the state of New Mexico.

[16.27.18.8 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.8, 6-15-01; A, 7-1-04; A, 2-10-06]

 

16.27.18.9             SCOPE:  This code of ethics regulates the ethical and professional conduct of:

                A.            all licensed and registered individuals;

                B.            all applicants for licensure;

                C.            licensed mental health counselors, licensed associate marriage and family therapists and substance abuse associates and supervisors during their education, practicum and postgraduate training; and

                D.            expert witnesses: it applies to all licensed or registered individuals, in direct contact with clients, as well as during education, training, and research endeavors.

[16.27.18.9 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.9, 6-15-01; A, 7-1-04; A, 2-10-06]

 

16.27.18.10          PURPOSES:  The purpose of this code of ethics is to provide clear guidelines for the New Mexico counseling and therapy practice board to assess the professional conduct of licensed or registered individuals.  Standardization eliminates confusion and misinterpretation of ethical behavior within the profession and by the public.

[16.27.18.10 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.10, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.11          VIOLATIONS:

                A.            A violation of a code of ethics is referred to as "unprofessional" or "unethical" conduct.  It constitutes sufficient grounds for disciplinary action by the board.

                B.            Costs of disciplinary proceedings:  Licensees or applicants shall bear all costs of disciplinary proceedings unless they are excused by the board from paying all or part of the fees, or if they prevail at the hearing and an action in section 61-1-3 of the Uniform Licensing Act is not taken by the board.

[16.27.18.11 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.11, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.12          INTEGRITY:  A licensed or registered individual is expected to behave according to the standards of professional integrity and competence as defined by rule or law.  A licensed or registered individual must not condone, associate with, or participate in dishonest, fraudulent, or deceitful behavior.  A licensed or registered individual must not misrepresent themselves, their training, or their services.  It is the responsibility of licensees and registered mental health counselors to be completely informed about this code of ethics by which they are governed.

[16.27.18.12 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.12, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.13          AIDS TO INTERPRETATION:  Code of ethics and standards for providers promulgated by the American mental health counselors association (AMHCA), the American counseling association (ACA), the American association of marriage and family therapy (AAMFT), the American art therapy association (AATA), national association of alcoholism and drug abuse counselors (NAADAC) and other relevant professional groups shall be used as an aid in resolving ambiguities which may arise in the interpretation of this code of ethics, except that this code of ethics shall prevail whenever any conflict exists between this code and any professional association standard.

[16.27.18.13 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.13, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.14          CLIENT:  Means a recipient of counseling or therapy services.  A corporate entity or other organization can be a client when the professional contract is to provide services of benefit primarily to the organization rather than individuals.  In the case of individuals with legal guardians, including persons under the age of consent and legally incompetent adults, the legal guardian shall be the client for decision-making purposes, except that the individual receiving services shall be the client for:

                A.            issues directly affecting the physical or emotional safety of the individual, such a sexual or other exploitive dual relationships, and

                B.            issues specifically reserved to the individual, and agreed to by the guardian prior to the rendering of services, such as confidential communication in a therapy relationship.

[16.27.18.14 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.14, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.15          CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION:  Means information revealed by a client(s) or otherwise obtained by a counselor or therapist, within the therapeutic context.  The information shall not be disclosed by the counselor or therapist without the informed written consent of the client(s).  When the client is a corporation or organization, the confidential relationship is between the counselor or therapist and the corporation/organization and not between the counselor or therapist and the employee/individual. Information obtained from the employee by the counselor or therapist shall be available to the organization unless such information was obtained in a separate therapeutic context which is subject to confidentiality requirements.

[16.27.18.15 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.15, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.16          PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE, CONDUCT & INTEGRITY:

                A.            A licensed or registered individual shall not misrepresent his or her credentials, degrees, or competencies either through spoken word, written, or electronically transmitted material.

                B.            A licensed or registered individual, when interacting with a client or former client to whom the counselor or therapist has at anytime within the previous 60 months rendered counseling or therapy, shall not:

                    (1)     engage in sexual intercourse, contact or other physical intimacies with the client; or

                    (2)     enter into a financial or other potentially exploitive relationship with the client.

                C.            The prohibitions set out in 16.27.18.16 above shall not be limited to the 60-month period but shall extend indefinitely if the client is proven to be clearly vulnerable, by reason of emotional or cognitive disorder, to exploitive influence by the counselor or therapist.  The counselor or therapist who engages in such activity after the 60-month period following cessation or termination of treatment bears the burden of providing proof that there has been no exploitation, in light of all relevant factors, including

                    (1)     the amount of time that has passed since therapy terminated;

                    (2)     the nature and duration of the therapy;

                    (3)     the circumstances of termination;

                    (4)     the patient's or client's personal history;

                    (5)     the patient's or client's mental status;

                    (6)     the likelihood of adverse impact on the patient or client and others; and

                    (7)     any statements or actions made by the counselor or therapist during the course of therapy suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post termination relationship with the patient or client.

                D.            A licensed or registered individual shall not undertake or continue a professional relationship with a client when the counselor or therapist is impaired due to mental, emotional, physiological, or substance abuse conditions.

                E.            A licensed or registered individual is in violation of this code and subject to loss of licensure or other disciplinary action if they:

                   (1)     are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor related to their qualifications or functions, or;

                   (2)     are disciplined by other state licensing boards for acts which would be a violation under this code of ethics, statutes or regulations, or;

                   (3)     are no longer competent to practice, or;

                   (4)     fail to cooperate with the state at any point from the inception of a conduct complaint through the completion of all proceedings regarding that complaint.

                F.             Licensed or registered individuals shall only perform counseling or therapy services within the scope of practice for their license.  Licensed or registered individuals shall only perform testing and assessment services for which they are authorized under the act.

                G.            Licensed or registered individuals shall not use advertising, which is misleading, deceptive or false.  All and any announcements of services shall include state designation and license number.

                H.            A licensed or registered individual, when developing competency in a service or technique that is either new to the counselor or therapist, or new to the profession, shall engage in ongoing consultation with other relevant professionals and shall seek appropriate education and training in the new area.  The counselor or therapist, shall inform the client of the innovative nature and the known risks associated with the services, so that the client can exercise freedom of choice concerning the services.

[16.27.18.16 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.16, 6-15-01; A, 7-1-04]

 

16.27.18.17          CONFIDENTIALITY AND DATA PRIVACY:

                A.            The counselor or therapist shall safeguard the confidential information obtained in the course of practice, teaching, research or other professional services.  This includes a counselor or therapist's employees and professional associates as defined by law.  The counselor or therapist shall disclose confidential information to others only with the informed written consent of the client.

                B.            A licensed or registered individual shall inform a client of limitations of confidentiality.  These limitations include, but are not limited to:

                    (1)     Limitations mandated by the law.

                    (2)     When the counselor or therapist judges that disclosure is necessary to protect against a clear and substantial risk of imminent serious harm being inflicted by the client on the client or another person(s).

                    (3)     When the counselor or therapist is a defendant in a civil, criminal, or disciplinary action arising from the therapy, in which case, client confidences may be disclosed in the course of that action.

                    (4)     When a written waiver has been obtained, all information revealed must be in accordance with the terms of the waiver.  If there is more than one party involved in the therapy, the waiver must be signed by all members legally competent to execute such a waiver (i.e., couples, marital couples, family, group).

                    (5)     When release of information pertaining to a client under the age of consent is requested, it must be signed by a parent or guardian.  The counselor or therapist, to the extent the client can understand, shall inform the minor client of the limit the law imposes on his/her right of confidentiality.

                   (6)     Reporting of abuse of children and vulnerable adults.  The counselor or therapist shall be familiar with any relevant law, and shall comply with such laws.

                    (7)     Limitations mandated by employing agencies.

                C.            A licensed or registered individual shall ensure that all records and written data are stored using reasonable security measures that prevent access to records by unauthorized persons.

                D.            A licensed or registered individual shall ensure that the content and disposition of all records is in compliance with the relevant state laws and parts.

                E.            A licensed or registered individual shall continue to treat information regarding a client as confidential after the professional relationship between the counselor or therapist and the client has ceased.

                F.             A licensed or registered individual shall exercise reasonable care to ensure that confidential information is appropriately disguised to prevent client identification when used as a basis of supervision, teaching, research or other published reports.

                G.            A licensed or registered individual shall, clarify to the client the limitations and foreseeable uses of confidential information.

                H.            Record retention

                    (1)     A licensed or registered individual rendering professional services to an individual client or billed to a third party payor, shall maintain professional records that include:

                              (a)     the presenting problem(s) or purpose or diagnosis,

                              (b)     the fee arrangement,

                              (c)     the date and substance of each billed service,

                              (d)     any test results or other evaluative results obtained and any basis test data from which they were derived,

                              (e)     notation and results of formal consultations with other providers,

                              (f)     a copy of all tests or other evaluative reports prepared as part of the professional relationship.

                    (2)     A licensed or registered individual shall assure that all client professional records are maintained for a period of not less than six years after the last date that professional services was rendered.

                    (3)     A licensed or registered individual shall store and dispose of written, electronic data and other recorded information in such a manner as to ensure their confidentiality.

                    (4)     A licensed or registered individual may not withhold records under their control that are requested for a client's treatment solely because payment has not been received, except as otherwise provided by law.

[16.27.18.17 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.17, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.18          RESPONSIBILITY TO CLIENTS:

                A.            A licensee shall inform clients before or at the time of the initial counseling session with the licensee of the following:

                    (1)     professional education, training and experience of the licensee;

                    (2)     fees and arrangements for payment;

                    (3)     counseling purposes, goals, and techniques;

                    (4)     any restrictions placed on the license by the board;

                    (5)     the limits on confidentiality;

                    (6)     any intent of the licensee to use another individual to provide counseling services to the client; and

                    (7)     supervision of the licensee by another licensed health care professional, including the name and qualifications of the supervisor.

                    (8)     A licensee shall inform the client of any changes to the items above prior to initiating the change.

                B.            A licensed or registered individual shall not discriminate against or refuse professional services to anyone on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or any basis proscribed by law.

                C.            A licensed or registered individual shall not impose on the client any stereotypes of behavior, values, or roles related to age, gender, religion, race, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or diagnosis which would interfere with the objective provision of counseling or therapy services.

                D.            A licensed or registered individual shall not enter into a sexual or other dual relationship with a client, as specified in Section 16.27.18.16 D of this code of ethics.

                E.            A licensed or registered individual shall continue therapeutic relationships only so long as it is reasonably clear that a therapeutic context exists.

                F.             A licensed or registered individual shall give a truthful, understandable, and appropriate account of the nature of the client's condition to the client or to those responsible for the care of the client.

                G.            A licensed or registered individual shall not mislead or withhold information about the cost of his/her professional services.

                H.            A licensed or registered individual shall keep the client fully informed as to the purpose and nature of any evaluation, treatment, or other procedures, and of the client's right to freedom of choice regarding services provided.

                I.             A licensed or registered individual providing services to a client shall make an appropriate referral of the client to another professional when requested to do so by the client or in the best interest of the client.

                J.             A licensed or registered individual shall not abandon or neglect clients in treatment without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of such treatment.  Counselors or therapists shall assist persons in obtaining other therapeutic services if the counselor or therapist is unable or unwilling, for appropriate reasons, to provide professional help.

                K.            A licensed or registered individual providing services to an individual client shall not induce that client to solicit business on behalf of the counselor or therapist.

                L.            When consulting with colleagues,

                    (1)     a licensed or registered individual shall not share confidential information that reasonably could lead to the identification of a patient, client, research participant, or other person or organization with whom they have a confidential relationship unless they have obtained the prior consent of the person or organization or the disclosure cannot be avoided, and

                    (2)     they share information only to the extent necessary to achieve the purposes of the consultation.

                M.           A licensed or registered individual shall obtain written informed consent from clients before videotaping, audio recording, or permitting third party observation.

                N.            A licensed or registered individual who uses the designation of “Doctor” in their title shall disclose to their client the area of education.

                O.            A licensee shall not knowingly offer or provide counseling or therapy to an individual concurrently receiving counseling from another mental health services provider except with that provider's knowledge.  If a licensee learns of such concurrent therapy, the licensee shall take immediate and reasonable action to resolve the situation.

                P.             A licensee shall not enter into a professional therapeutic relationship with immediate family members, personal friends, or business associates.

                Q.            A licensee shall bill clients or third parties for only those services actually rendered or as agreed to by mutual understanding at the beginning of services or as later modified by mutual agreement.

                    (1)     Actual provider of services must be reflected on billing documents.

                    (2)     On the written request of a client, or a client's legal guardian, a licensee shall provide, in plain language, a written explanation of the charges for counseling services previously made on a bill or statement for the client.  This requirement applies even if the charges are to be paid by a third party.

                    (3)     A licensee may not overcharge a client.

                    (4)     A licensee may not submit to a client or third payer a bill for counseling or therapy that the licensee knows were not provided or knows were improper, unreasonable, or medically or clinically unnecessary.

[16.27.18.18 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.18, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.19          RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PROFESSION:

                A.            A licensed or registered individual shall not aid or abet another person in misrepresenting his/her professional credentials or illegally engaging in the practice of counseling or therapy.

                B.            A licensed or registered individual shall not delegate professional responsibilities to a person not appropriately qualified to provide such services.

                C.            A licensed or registered individual shall exercise appropriate supervision over supervisees, as set forth in the Parts and regulations of the board.

                D.            Licensed or registered individuals who have substantial reason to believe that there has been a violation of the statutes or parts of the board which presents eminent danger to the licensee, client or the public shall so inform the board in writing.  If this information is obtained in a professional relationship with a client, the written permission of the client will be needed before reporting it.  Counselors or therapists shall not file or encourage the filing of ethical complaints that are frivolous or are intended to harm the licensee rather than protect the public.

                E.            Licensed or registered individuals shall be familiar with this code of ethics, and its application to counselors or therapists' work.  Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of the conduct standards is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct.

                F.             When licensed or registered individuals are uncertain whether a particular situation or course of action would violate this code of ethics, the counselor or therapist shall consult with the board's ethics committees.

                G.            Licensed or registered individuals shall cooperate in ethics investigations, proceedings, and resulting requirements of this code. Release of confidential information in an investigation by the board does not constitute a violation of confidentiality.  Failure to cooperate in an investigation is itself an ethics violation.

[16.27.18.19 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.19, 6-15-01]

 

16.27.18.20          INVESTIGATIONS:  If a licensed or registered individual voluntarily surrenders their license or registration in anticipation of or during the course of an investigation, the complaint committee will continue to completion its investigation.  Any publication of action taken by the committee and the counseling and therapy practice board will include the fact that the licensed or registered individual voluntarily surrendered their license or registration during the investigation.

[16.27.18.20 NMAC- Rp 16 NMAC 27.14.20, 6-15-01]

 

HISTORY OF 16.27.18 NMAC:

Pre-NMAC History:  The material in this part was derived from that previously filed with the State Records Center and Archives under:

Rule 14, Code of Ethics, 3-20-95

 

HISTORY OF REPEALED MATERIAL:

16 NMAC 27.14, Code of Ethics - Repealed 6-15-01