Missouri and Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Discusses Substance Abuse Counselor Ethics In Missouri

With opiate addiction rates rising across the country, licensed addiction counselors are in high demand.  In Missouri, addiction counselors must obtain their credentials to practice from Missouri’s Credentialing Board (“the Board”).  The Board promulgated a set of ethical rules and responsibilities by which an addiction counselor must abide to remain credentialed.  The Board possesses the authority to investigate and sanction a credentialed counselor. Consequently, addiction counselors must familiarize themselves with the ethical rules and understand that they bear the responsibility for doing so.  Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger maintains her law practice by vigorously defending professional licensees facing professional discipline.

The rules by which addiction counselors must conduct themselves are substantially similar to the ethical rules governing other healthcare professions.  Addiction counselors owe a duty to their clients to inform them of the course of counseling as well as the consequences of refusing the course of treatment. Clients, of course, are free to refuse any course of treatment. However, aftercare is vital to the success of initial counseling. Therefore, addiction counselors are ethically obligated to warn of the consequences of refusing aftercare.  Furthermore, addiction counselors must inform their clients of the counselor’s obligation to maintain confidentiality and the boundaries of that duty.

Addiction counselors are responsible for maintaining appropriate professional relationships with their clients. Counselors must take pains to ensure that no harm befalls their clients.  Maintaining a strictly professional relationship with clients, while treating them with dignity and respect, permits counselors to adhere to the lofty standards required of addiction counselors.  Treating clients professionally also means referring clients to other professionals when the situation requires consistent with the needs of the client.  The counselor must avoid dual relationships as well.  The addiction counselor must refer the client to another professional if the possibility of a dual relationship arises. A dual relationship is one in which the counselor is asked to provide counseling to the client, but the client is a family member, friend, financial or other close relationship.  Similarly, the ethical rules prohibit addiction counselors from entering into an intimate relationship with a client within two years after the counselor-client relationship ends.

Addiction counselors must take every precaution against disclosing confidential client information.  A counselor not only must guard against disclosure but also be aware of foreseeable situations which could lead to the disclosure of private client information.  The counselor is vicariously responsible for their subordinates’ actions when protecting clients’ private information.  In conjunction with guarding clients’ privacy right, an addiction counselor must preserve the confidentiality of any records generated by counseling.  A counselor should only release records to competent clients with the caveat that the records should not contain any information detrimental or embarrassing to the client.

Addiction counselors have an affirmative duty to learn about the diversity of their clientele. The addiction counselor has an affirmative duty to learn about their clients’ cultural background as well as learning how the counselor’s cultural background may impact the manner in which the counselor delivers their services.

Addiction counselors have a duty to do no harm to their clients. Doing no harm means refusing to counsel clients when the counselor because of personal incapacity poses a risk of doing harm to clients or others. Addiction counselors need to be role models for their clients and their community. Consequently, addiction counselors have the responsibility to obey all criminal laws and follow all ethical rules.

Who To Call For Help

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger zealously represents all professional -licensees including addiction counselors facing discipline. Count on the experience of Attorney Sanger to vigorously defend your livelihood. Call Attorney Danielle Sanger at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation today.