An Overview of the Missouri State Committee of Marital and Family Therapists Standards for Ethics

In Missouri, the State Committee of Martial and Family Therapists governs all licensees practicing marital and family therapy. The State Committee of Marital and Family Therapists (“the Committee”) is established by statute and is charged with passing regulations establishing the ethical standards of marital and family therapy, among other issues involving marital and family therapists. The regulations provide minimum professional standards for therapists and delineates specific concerns regarding client welfare. The regulations seek to maintain the public trust in the profession as well as protection of the individual patient. A violation of the ethical standards allows the Committee to seek discipline against a licensed therapist.  Professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is a skilled advocate for licensees facing discipline resulting from an alleged violation of ethical standards of therapists.

Chapter 3 of Division 2233 of the Code of State Regulations for Missouri codifies the ethical standards of marital and family therapists. Not only does Chapter 3 regulate the general practice of marital and family therapy, it also purports to establish the minimum requirements to which a therapist must adhere to protect a patient’s welfare. Although seemingly rudimentary, failure to adhere to these standards is grounds for discipline. All of the regulations are designed to protect the best interest of the patient.

Section .010 of Chapter 3 delineates the competency requirements of a martial and family therapist. A marital and family therapist must limit his or her practice to those areas in which the therapist has studied and trained. The therapist is required to maintain competence by attending continuing educational classes, trainings, and supervision that meets current scientific standards in the profession.  A therapist is not limited to practicing only what they studied. If they do wish to employ a therapeutic technique new to them or practice in a new area, they must educate and train themselves in that new technique or service. The therapist must obtain informed consent from the patient before using the technique or service by warning of the process as well as any potential risks associated with the technique or service.

Section .010 also guides the therapist as to when counseling may not be commenced or must be terminated. Counseling must be terminated if the therapist is unable to perform his or her duties owning to emotional, psychological, or addiction concerns.  Also, a therapist cannot accept a patient or continue to counsel a patient if the therapist’s objectivity or competency is compromised by emotional, sexual, familial, or other relationship with the patient. The therapist is expressly prohibited from making sexual advances, having a sexual relationship, or sexually or suggestively touch a patient. Section .010 contains other patient protections. The therapist must not take financial advantage of a patient and must always maintain strictest confidentiality. 

The patient welfare component of Chapter 3 is set out in Section .020. This section requires that the therapist must advise and obtain informed consent of the patient prior to commencing therapy. Informed consent, in this context, requires advising the patient about the specific form of therapy, the goals of therapy, the benefits and risks involved in therapy, the therapist’s credentials, the financial consideration, and the limits of confidentiality. Additionally, therapists are required to obtain a substitute therapist in the event of lengthy absence from practice. Therapists must also explain the patient’s diagnosis and condition to the patient in terms the patient can understand.

An accusation of unethical conduct is harmful.

If you have been accused of unethical conduct as a marital or family therapist, call Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger. She is a tireless advocate for professional licensees. She will fight to protect your livelihood. Her experience in defending ethical violations is unparalleled. Call Attorney Sanger today at (785) 979-4353 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn what a difference experience makes.