Ethical Guidelines

Professional Attire

CAPS staff strives to provide a professional and safe environment for clients to explore sensitive areas in their lives. How we dress contributes to the environment that our clients experience. It is important that our clothing styles do not create an overly casual, distracting or sexualized environment. It is also important to distinguish between dress clothes that may be appropriate for a social function and professional clothing. When present at CAPS these guidelines should apply whether or not you are seeing clients. If you have questions about this please consult with your supervisor, the Training Director, the coordinator of your program, or a trusted colleague.

Relationships and Roles at the Center

We endeavor to create an environment at CAPS that is conducive to excellent training. Because we believe that developing skilled clinicians is critical to the mental health field, we are committed to maintaining a program within which trainees can focus exclusively on developing their clinical skills and their professional identities.  In order to engage in the level of self-reflection and openness to learning that is essential to becoming a competent clinician, trainees and staff members must have a level of trust in their relationships that allows for the reciprocal provision of authentic feedback. It is therefore important that trainees are not in the position of navigating conflicting or complicated roles with staff members.    Whenever a situation arises that makes it difficult for a trainee to be vulnerable, direct, and honest, training can be compromised. 

One of the ways in which we ensure an optimal training environment, is to try to avoid multiple relationships/roles between staff and trainees. In practical terms, this means that staff members and trainees do not form social relationships with each other while the trainee is still in training or may continue to pursue training at CAPS (e.g, an externship student who plans to apply for internship or an intern who will continue at CAPS as a post doc).  If, for instance, a staff member wishes to invite trainees to a social function, that staff member must first consult the Training Director and/or the training committee to discuss the context and possible consequences. Since every senior staff member at CAPS has the potential to have a mentoring and/or evaluative role with every trainee, this policy applies to all clinical staff members and all trainees. Other examples of the ways in which the lines between trainee and staff roles can become blurred include giving and receiving gifts; very personal disclosures by staff to trainees that are unrelated to clinical training or professional development; unnecessarily involving trainees in staff dynamics; engaging in a therapy relationship with a trainee; and forming business relationships with trainees outside of CAPS.  This list is not exhaustive and there may be times when such examples do not prove to be problematic.  Staff members and trainees are asked to reflect on their interactions with each other and determine whether their actions may compromise their ability to function fully and freely in their roles of trainee and supervisor/mentor/evaluator.  In any of these situations or others of this nature, staff and trainees are encouraged to consult with the Training Director and/or the training committee.

Social Media Policy

Even when the most stringent privacy setttings are applied, social media are considered to be public vehicles for communication.  CAPS trainees who utilize social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkIn, etc�) must consider the relevant ethical and legal issues and ensure that their behavior is in accordance with the highest ethical standards. 

  • Becoming a “friend” or “follower” of a current or previous client on a social media site is viewed as a multiple relationship with that client and should be avoided. 
  • Trainees are obligated to protect client confidentiality through any type of medium.  The posting/sharing of any information that pertains to a client, client-type, or presenting concern is unacceptable.   Trainee “posts” and “tweets” about their work at CAPS, even when there is no mention of a client, may unintentionally reveal general information about clientele and should be carefully considered before posting.  When in doubt, please consult your supervisor or the Training Director and do not post until you have discussed this thoroughly.
  • Professional behavior is a sign of professional competence and it is expected at all times, as trainees are always representing CAPS, even outside the office.  Any comment made by a trainee on a social media site that could reduce public confidence in our professions or the services at CAPS should be avoided.