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The materials in this course are based on current published ethical standards and the most accurate information available to the authors at the time of writing.

Many ethical challenges arise on the basis of highly variable and unpredictable contextual factors.

Documenting the steps you have followed and your rationale for any decisions made will also help to show that you engaged in a thoughtful, deliberate approach should problems later arise.

We consider a family in its simplest form to consist of two adults who have forged some type of mutual commitment.

Family therapy – sometimes referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling - involves two or more people with personal commitment and/or kinship ties. Which one of us is your favorite (most talented, smartest, best looking) child? This course will parse out those ethical nuances across the fundamentals of professional ethics codes.

A key ethical challenge in any treatment involving more than one client flows from the nature of the therapist’s non-exclusive obligations to more than one person. Couples and families typically include: people with non-congruent, competing, or conflicting interests; people with different histories, coping skills, expectations, and ability levels; people who wish to keep secrets from each other; people who do not want to be totally candid with each other; and people with differing levels of decisional capacity and dependence. Throughout the course, we will address the four current ethics codes of major national organizations whose members provide couple and family therapy.

Codes differ in lengths and specificity, and the overarching themes in every code are integrity and competence, even if every facet of these ethical mandates are not further delineated.

This course material will equip mental health professionals to gain a basic understanding of core ethical principles and standards related to the topics discussed and to ethical decision-making in general, but cannot cover every possible circumstance.

We advise consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and/or professional association ethics committees when in doubt.

We hope our code-referencing scheme will make it easy to look up the exact wording of the codes, all of which are readily available online. The ethics code of the American Counseling Association.

Their policies and procedures for processing complaints. The ethics code of the American Psychological Association.

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At the simplest level, when we have more than one person in the room, our professional obligations as psychotherapists becomes much more complex than when treating individuals. Family members often ask each other questions that seem to seek candid appraisal, when they actually hope for emotional support, rather than blunt candor.