Code of Ethics
The following summary of the LCMHS ethical code can provide consumers knowledge about the ethical responsibilities LCMHS employees need to adhere to when performing their jobs. These principles are intended to provide guidance and standards for professional conduct in general, but also when ethical dilemmas are encountered by staff that are difficult to resolve. Knowledge of these principles can facilitate development of careful ethical decision-making and informed judgments about most situations staff might encounter in their work with consumers. The summary below can help consumers understand the ethical duties and responsibilities of LCMHS staff better. The complete text of this summary with references is available upon request.
The Counseling Relationship
Promoting the General Welfare: Staff will place the welfare of consumers/clients and their families in matters affecting them as their number one professional priority. They will deliver kind and humane treatment to all in their care. Staff will act to prevent inhumane, discriminatory, exploitative and coercive practices. Counselors have the obligation to review in writing or verbally the rights and responsibilities of both clients and their families. Informed consent is an ongoing part of the counseling relationship in which the counselor needs to explain to the client using reasonably understandable explicit language, the limits of confidentiality and the nature of all services provided. They inform clients about issues such as but not limited to the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks and benefits of all services; but also the counselors qualifications, credentials and relevant experience. Staff will be aware of the differential in authority that exists between a consumer/client and themselves and not use this to serve their own interests. Promotion of individual and family empowerment and autonomy is the goal.
Beliefs and Values: Promotion of consumer/client belief systems, not staff value systems is essential. LCMHS staff will promote positive changes in consumers/clients in the interest of promoting recovery from the mental health issues they are being treated for. As staff, we understand and agree to support both the spirit and letter of LCMHS's ethics code and policy on consumer/client rights. From the outset and throughout the provision of services, employees will in word and action promote the autonomy, independence and the strengthening of natural supports in the community and personal lives of the people they work with.
LCMHS employees will respect client rights for privacy, avoidance of illegal and unwarranted disclosures of confidential information, unless such disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or others, is legally required or the client authorizes such disclosures. When discussing consumer/client information with other LCMHS employees in supervision or other circumstances, staff will only disclose what is necessary for treatment on an as needed basis and when there is a clear-cut need to know.
LCMHS staff will need to be alert to and resist any influences and pressures that inhibit their ability to exercise professional discretion and objectivity required for the highest level of performance of their professional responsibilities. Staff will not do harm to any consumer/client, either physically or psychologically. They will not verbally assault, ridicule, or endanger the welfare of a consumer/client; nor, will they allow others to do so without reporting such actions to the proper authorities. Staff will remain aware of their own skills and limitations. They will never attempt to counsel or advise consumers/clients on matters not within their area of expertise. When services or relationships are no longer benefiting consumer/client interests termination needs to be done with the least amount of harm resulting. LCMHS employees, interns or volunteers need to be are aware of their influential positions with respect to clients and avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of clients. They will make every effort to avoid dual relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase risk of harm to clients. If there are questions, LCMHS employees will seek consultation or supervision available through the LCMHS Ethics Committee, the Senior Leadership Team, immediate supervisors, managers or programs.
Resolving Ethical Issues
Staff will exhibit personal concern for the wellbeing of clients, peers and the LCMHS community by not ignoring manifestations of illness or unethical conduct. LCMHS employees are responsible for reporting such conduct to supervisory personnel. Should such behaviors continue, their professional obligation is to report these concerns to outside organizations. When conflicts arise, staff attempts to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. LCMHS employees are expected to abide by this ethical code and standards of practice that govern this profession.