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Codes of Ethics of Professional

Mental Health Associations

Professional Mental Health Ethics

A Training Resource

By James J Messina, Ph.D., CCMHC, NCC, DCMHS-T
American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
The profession of Clinical Mental Health Counseling was founded in 1976 as a distinct professional specialty in the field of professional counseling when it formally applied and became a division of the then APGA which is now the ACA. It is this national organization which is the only group which advocates for and supports the standards for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Profession. It is for this reason that the AMHCA Code of ethics is considered here as the primary code for those counselors who identify themselves as Clinical Mental Health Counselors. In additon in 2015 AMHCA revised their Standards for Clinical Practice to include Telehealth
AMHCA's Code of Ethics website:
AMHCA's Standards for Practice of Clinical Mental Health Counseling website:
American Counseling Association (ACA)
The American Counseling Association has been in existence since it was first organized as the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA) in 1952. In 1983 its name was changed to the American Association of Counseling and Development (AACD). Finally in 1992 it was named the American Counseling Association (ACA) "to reflect the common bond among association members and to reinforce their unity of purpose. (ACA at:
National Board of Certified Counselor (NBCC)
The NBCC is a voluntary national certification body which certifies both NCC's (National Certified Counselors) but also CCMHC's (Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors). These two certifications have examinations connected with them which are used by various State Licencensing Boards to identify the competency of their candidates for licensure. The exams are the NCE for the NCC certification and the NCMHCE for the CCMHC certification.
The NBCC Ethics website:
The American Psychological Association (APA)
The APA has been the home of much of the development of treatment models and research into their effectiveness in the field of professional mental health. It has also been very influential in establishing of the ethical policies and principles in the mental health health and behavioral medicine field. For this reason their code is important to consult with when involved in complicated ethical decision making. 
The APA Code of Ethics website:

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Since many of the ethical decision making in the field of clinical mental health counseling entails work with couples, families, children and adolescents, it is very useful to consult with the AAMFT Code of Ethics to gain some insight into how to they deal ethically with the specific population which the Marriage and Family Therapists are principally engaged with.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) & Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA)
Professional Social Workers who work in the clinical mental health field come into parallel issues of clinical mental health counselors and it is for this reason that it important to consult with their Code of Ethics when dealing with complication ethical decision making concerning client related issues. There are two associaition who advocate for Social workers. The first is the NASW and the second is the ACSW.
Psychiatric Nurses - American Nurses Association (ANA)
Psychiatric Nurses come under the Code of Ethics of the American Nurses Association. Since Psychiatric Nurses are very involved in many of the mental health setting in which they collaborate with other mental health professionals it is important to consult with their ethical standards when issues arise which involve collaborative mental health services. 
ANA Code of Ethics website:
Psychiatrists: American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Psychiatrist play a vital role in the provision of mental health services and it is imperative that all mental health professionals collaborate with psychiatrist to insure their clients and patients are provided optimum care in as ethical manner as possible. For this reason the Code of Ethics under which Pschiatrists work, need to be consulted when there is collaborative work with psychiatrist and a ethical decision needs to be reached based on the issues arising from such collaborative efforts.
American Psychiatric Association (APA) website:
Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CCRC)
Rehabilitation Counselors work in the mental health field and many are licensed in their states either as LMHC's or LPC's for this reason the Code of Ethics of these counselors is included to assist in broadening the consultative nature of the codes in handling complicated and intense ethical decision making.
CCRC Code of Ethics website: