South Carolina Code of Regulations
100-4 - Code of Ethics.

Universal Citation: SC Code Regs 100-4

100-4. Code of Ethics.

A. Introduction.

(1) Code of ethics. These rules of conduct constitute the code of ethics as adopted by the American Psychological Association ("APA") and as required by the Code of Laws of South Carolina. The Board adopts and incorporates by reference the APA Code of Ethics as the code of ethics for individuals licensed by this Board.

(2) Purpose. The rules of conduct constitute the standards against which the professional conduct of a psychologist is measured. Licensure as a psychologist in the State commits the licensed psychologist to adherence to these rules of conduct.

(3) Scope. The psychologist shall be governed by these rules of conduct whenever providing psychological services in any context. The rules of conduct shall not supersede other state or federal regulations; however, whenever possible, these rules of conduct should be followed along with state and federal law. These rules of conduct shall apply to the conduct of each licensee and each applicant for licensure, including the applicant's conduct during the period of education, training and supervision which is required for licensure. The term "psychologist," as used within these rules of conduct, shall be interpreted accordingly.

(4) Responsibility for own actions. The psychologist shall be fully responsible for his/her own professional decisions and professional actions.

(5) Violations. A violation of these rules of conduct constitutes unprofessional conduct and is sufficient reason for disciplinary action or denial of either original licensure or reinstatement of licensure.

B. Definitions.

(1) Client. "Client" means a receiver of psychological services. A corporate entity or other organization can be a client when the professional contract is to provide services of benefit primarily to the organization rather than to individuals. In the case of individuals with legal guardians, including minors and legally incompetent adults, the legal guardian shall be the client for decisionmaking purposes, except that the individual receiving services shall be the client for:

(a) Issues directly affecting the physical or emotional safety of the individual, such as sexual or other exploitative dual relationships; and

(b) Issues specifically reserved to the individual and agreed to by the guardian prior to rendering of services, such as confidential communication in a therapy relationship.

(2) Confidential information. "Confidential information" means information revealed by an individual or individuals or otherwise obtained by a psychologist, where there is reasonable expectation that, because of the relationship between the individual(s) and the psychologist or the circumstances under which the information was revealed or obtained, the information shall not be disclosed by the psychologist without the informed consent of the individual(s). When a corporation or other organization is the client, rules of confidentiality apply to information pertaining to the organization, including personal information about individuals when obtained in the proper course of that contract. Such information about individuals is subject to confidential control of the organization, not of the individual, and can be made available to the organization, unless there is reasonable expectation by such individual(s) that such information was obtained in a separate professional relationship with the individual(s) and is therefore subject to confidentiality requirements in itself.

(3) Licensed. "Licensed" means licensed by the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Psychology when such term identifies a person whose professional behavior is subject to regulation by the Board.

(4) Professional service. "Professional service" means all actions of the psychologist in the context of a professional relationship with a client.

(5) Supervisee. "Supervisee" means any person who functions under the extended authority of the psychologist to provide, or while in training to provide, psychological services.

C. Competence.

(1) Limits on practice. A psychologist shall limit practice and supervision to the area(s) of competence in which proficiency has been gained through education, training and experience as demonstrated to the Board.

(2) Accurate representation. A psychologist shall accurately represent areas of competence, education, training, experience and professional affiliations of the psychologist to the Board, the public and colleagues.

(3) Maintaining competency. A psychologist shall maintain current competency in the area(s) in which he/she practices through continuing education, consultation and/or other procedures, in conformance with current standards of scientific and professional knowledge.

(4) Adding new services and techniques. The psychologist, when developing competency in a service or technique that is either new to the psychologist or new to the profession, shall engage in ongoing consultation with other psychologists or relevant professionals and shall seek appropriate education and/or training in the new area. When such competence involves providing direct human services, the psychologist should inform clients of the innovative nature and the known risks associated with the service(s), so that the client can exercise freedom of choice concerning such service(s).

(5) Referral. The psychologist shall make or recommend referral to other professional, technical or administrative resources when such referral is clearly in the best interests of the client(s).

(6) Sufficient professional information. A psychologist rendering a formal professional opinion about a person (for example, about the fitness of a parent in a custody hearing) shall not do so without direct and substantial professional contact with and a formal assessment of that person.

(7) Maintenance and retention of records.

(a) The psychologist rendering professional individual services to a client (or a dependent), or services billed to a third party payor, shall maintain professional records that include:

(i) The presenting problem(s) or purpose or diagnosis;

(ii) The fee arrangement;

(iii) The date and substance of each billed or service-count contact or service;

(iv) Any test results or other evaluative results obtained and any basic test data from which they were derived;

(v) Notation and results of formal consults with other providers; and

(vi) A copy of test or other evaluative reports prepared as part of the professional relationship.

(b) To meet the requirements of these rules, but not necessarily for other legal purposes, the psychologist shall assure that all data entries in the professional records are maintained for a period of not less than five years after the last date that service was rendered. The psychologist shall also abide by other legal requirements for record retention, even if longer periods of retention are required for other purposes.

(c) The psychologist shall store and dispose of written, electronic and other records in such manner as to assure their confidentiality.

(d) For each person professionally supervised, the psychologist shall maintain, for a period of not less than five years after the last date of supervision, a record of each supervisory session that shall include, among other information, the type, place, and general content of the session.

(8) Continuity of care. A psychologist should make appropriate arrangements to deal with emergency needs of his/her client(s) during periods of his/her foreseeable absences from professional availability and inform his/her client(s) of those arrangements.

D. Impaired objectivity and dual relationships.

(1) Impaired psychologist. The psychologist shall not undertake or continue a professional relationship with a client when the psychologist is, or could reasonable be expected by the Board to be, impaired due to mental, emotional, physiologic, pharmacologic, or substance abuse conditions. If such a condition develops after a professional relationship has been initiated, the psychologist shall terminate the relationship in an appropriate manner, shall notify the client in writing of the termination, and shall assist the client in obtaining services from another professional.

(2) Dual relationships affecting psychologist's judgment. The psychologist shall not undertake or continue a professional relationship with a client when the objectivity or competency of the psychologist is, or could reasonably be expected by the Board to be, impaired because of the psychologist's present or previous familial, social, sexual, emotional, financial, supervisory, political, administrative or legal relationship with the client or a relevant person associated with or related to the client. If such dual relationship develops or is discovered after the professional relationship has been initiated, the psychologist shall terminate the professional relationship in an appropriate manner, shall notify the client in writing of this termination, and shall assist the client in obtaining services from another professional.

(3) Prohibited dual relationships.

(a) The psychologist, in interacting with any current human services client or with a person to whom the psychologist has at any time within the previous 24 months rendered counseling, psychotherapeutic, or other professional psychological services for the treatment or amelioration of emotional distress or behavioral inadequacy, shall not:

(i) Engage in any verbal or physical behavior toward him/her which is sexually seductive, demeaning, or harassing; or

(ii) Engage in sexual intercourse or other physical intimacies with him/her; or

(iii) Enter into a financial or other potentially exploitative relationship with him/her.

(b) The prohibitions set out in (a) above shall not be subject to the 24 month limitation and shall extend indefinitely if the client is proven to be clearly vulnerable, by reason of emotional or cognitive disorder, to exploitative influence by the psychologist.

(4) Supervisees. A psychologist shall not initiate or continue a relationship involving the supervision of professional activities with an employee/supervisee when the objectivity or competency of the psychologist is, or could be expected by the Board to be, impaired because of the psychologist's present or previous familial, social, sexual, emotional, financial, supervisory, political, administrative or legal relationship with the client or a relevant person associated with or related to the employee/supervisee.

E. Client welfare.

(1) Providing explanation of procedures. A psychologist shall give, subject to professional judgment, a truthful, understandable, and complete account of the client's condition to the client or those responsible for the care of the client. The psychologist shall keep the client fully informed as to the purpose and nature of any evaluation, treatment or other procedures and of the client's right to freedom of choice regarding services provided.

(2) Termination of services. Whenever professional services are terminated, the psychologist shall offer to help locate alternative sources of professional services or assistance, if indicated. The psychologist shall terminate a professional relationship when it is reasonably clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship and shall prepare the client appropriately for such termination.

(3) Stereotyping. The psychologist shall not impose on the client any stereotypes of behavior, values or roles related to age, gender, religion, race, disability, nationality or sexual preference or diagnosis which would interfere with the objective provision of psychological services to the client.

(4) Sexual or other dual relations with a client. The psychologist shall not enter into a sexual or other dual relationship with a client, as specified in Section (D) of these rules of conduct.

(5) Solicitation of business by clients. The psychologist providing human services to a client shall not induce that client to solicit business on behalf of the psychologist.

(6) Referrals on request. The psychologist providing human services to a client shall make an appropriate referral of the client to another professional when requested to do so by the client.

F. Welfare of supervisees and research subjects.

(1) Welfare of supervisees. The psychologist shall not exploit a supervisee in any way - sexually, financially or otherwise.

(2) Welfare of research subjects. The psychologist shall respect the dignity and protect the welfare of his/her research subjects and shall comply with all relevant statutes and administrative rules concerning treatment of research subjects.

G. Protecting confidentiality of clients.

(1) In general. The psychologist shall safeguard the confidential information obtained in the course of practice, teaching, research or other professional duties. With the exceptions set forth below, the psychologist shall disclose confidential information to others only with the informed written consent of the client.

(2) Disclosure without informed written consent. The psychologist may disclose confidential information without the informed written consent of the psychologist when the psychologist judges that disclosure is necessary to protect against a clear and substantial risk of imminent serious harm being inflicted by the client on the client or another person. In such case, the psychologist shall limit disclosure of the otherwise confidential information to only those persons and only that content which would be consistent with the standards of the profession in addressing such problems. When the client is an organization, disclosure shall be made only after the psychologist has made a reasonable and unsuccessful attempt to have the problems corrected within the organization.

(3) Services involving more than one interested party. In a situation in which more than one party has an appropriate interest in the professional services rendered by the psychologist to a recipient or recipients, the psychologist shall, to the extent possible, clarify to all parties prior to rendering the professional services the dimensions of confidentiality and professional responsibility that shall pertain in the rendering of services. Such clarification is specifically indicated, among other circumstances, when the client is an organization.

(4) Multiple clients. When service is rendered to more than one client during a joint session, the psychologist shall at the beginning of the professional relationship clarify to all parties the manner in which confidentiality will be handled. All parties shall be given opportunity to discuss and to accept whatever limitations to confidentiality adhere in the situation.

(5) Legally dependent clients. At the beginning of a professional relationship, to the extent that the client can understand, the psychologist shall inform a client who is below the age of majority or who has a legal guardian of the limit the law imposes on the right of confidentiality with respect to his/her communications with the psychologist.

(6) Limited access to client records. The psychologist shall limit access to client records to preserve their confidentiality and shall assure that all persons working under the psychologist's authority comply with the requirements for confidentiality of client material.

(7) Release of confidential information. The psychologist may release confidential information in compliance with the Code of Laws of South Carolina or to conform to other state or federal law, rule or regulation.

(8) Reporting of abuse of children and vulnerable adults. The psychologist shall be familiar with any relevant law concerning the reporting of abuse of children and vulnerable adults and shall comply with such law.

(9) Discussion of client information among professionals. When rendering professional services as part of a team or when interacting with other appropriate professionals concerning the welfare of the client, the psychologist may share confidential information about the client to the extent permitted by the Code of Laws of South Carolina, provided the psychologist takes reasonable steps to assure that all persons receiving the information are informed about the confidential nature of the information and abide by the rules of confidentiality.

(10) Disguising confidential information. When case reports or other clinical materials are used as the basis of teaching, research or other published reports, the psychologist shall exercise reasonable care to insure that the reported material is appropriately disguised to prevent client identification.

(11) Observation and electronic recording. The psychologist shall ensure that diagnostic interviews or therapeutic sessions with a client are observed or electronically recorded only with the informed consent of the client.

(12) Confidentiality after termination of professional relationship. The psychologist shall continue to treat as confidential information regarding a client after the professional relationship between the psychologist and the client has ceased.

H. Representation of services.

(1) Display of license. The psychologist shall display prominently on the premises of the professional practice the psychologist's license to practice psychology in the State.

(2) Misrepresentation of qualifications. The psychologist shall not misrepresent directly or by implication his/her professional qualifications such as education, experience or areas of competence.

(3) Misrepresentation of affiliations. The psychologist shall not misrepresent directly or by implication his/her affiliations or the purposes or characteristics of institutions and organizations with which the psychologist is associated.

(4) False or misleading information. The psychologist shall not include false or misleading information in public statements concerning psychological services offered.

(5) Misrepresentation of services or products. The psychologist shall not associate with or permit his/her name to be used in connection with any services or products in such a way as to misrepresent:

(a) The services or products;

(b) The degree of his/her responsibility for the services or products; or

(c) The nature of his/her association with the services or products.

(6) Correction of misrepresentation by others. The psychologist shall correct others who misrepresent the psychologist's professional qualifications or affiliations.

I. Fees and statements.

(1) Disclosure of cost of services. The psychologist shall not mislead or withhold from the client, prospective client or third-party payor, information about the cost of his/her professional services.

(2) Reasonableness of fees. The psychologist shall not exploit the client or responsible payor by charging a fee that is excessive for the services performed or by entering into an exploitative bartering arrangement in lieu of a fee.

(3) Itemized fee statement. The psychologist shall itemize fees for all services for which the client or a third party payor is billed and ensure that the itemized statement is available to the client. The statement shall identify the date on which the service was performed, the nature of the service, the name of the individual providing the service and the name of the individual who is professionally responsible for the service.

(4) No misrepresentation. The psychologist shall not misrepresent directly or by implication to the client or to a third party payor billed for services the nature of services, the identity of the person who provided the services or the individual who is professionally responsible for the services provided.

(5) Fees to be claimed only by the provider. The psychologist shall not claim a fee for services unless the psychologist is the direct provider of the services or the individual who is professionally responsible for the provision of the services and under whose direction the services were provided.

(6) No remuneration for referrals. No commission, rebate or other form of remuneration may be given or received by a psychologist for the referral of clients for psychological services.

J. Assessment procedures and reports.

(1) Confidential information. A psychologist shall treat an assessment result or interpretation regarding an individual as confidential information.

(2) Communication of results. The psychologist should accompany, subject to professional judgment, communication of results of assessment procedures to the client, parents, legal guardians or other agents of the client by adequate interpretive aids or explanations.

(3) Reservations concerning results. The psychologist shall include in his/her report of the results of an assessment procedure any deficiencies of the assessment norms for the individual assessed and any relevant reservations or qualifications which affect the validity, reliability or other interpretations of results.

(4) Protection of integrity of assessment procedures. The psychologist shall not reproduce or describe in popular publications, lectures or public presentations psychological tests or other assessment devices in ways that might invalidate them.

(5) Information for professional users. A psychologist offering an assessment procedure or automated interpretation service to other professionals shall accompany this offering by a manual or other printed material which fully describes the development of the assessment procedure or service, the rationale, evidence of validity and reliability, and characteristics of the normative population. The psychologist shall explicitly state the purpose and application for which the procedure is recommended and identify special qualifications required to administer and interpret it properly. The psychologist shall ensure that advertisements for the assessment procedure or interpretative service are factual and descriptive.

K. Violations of law.

(1) Violation of applicable statutes. The psychologist shall not violate any applicable statute or administrative rule regulating the practice of psychology.

(2) Use of fraud, misrepresentation or deception. The psychologist shall not use fraud, misrepresentation or deception in obtaining a psychology license, in passing a psychology licensing examination, in assisting another to obtain a psychology license or to pass a psychology licensing examination, in billing clients or third party payers, in providing psychological service(s), in reporting the results of psychological evaluations or services or in conducting any other activity related to the practice of psychology.

L. Aiding illegal practice.

(1) Aiding unauthorized practice. A psychologist shall not aid or abet another person in misrepresenting his/her professional credentials or in illegally engaging in the practice of psychology.

(2) Delegating professional authority. A psychologist shall not delegate responsibilities to a person not appropriately credentialed or otherwise appropriately qualified to provide such services.

(3) Providing supervision. A psychologist shall exercise appropriate supervision over supervisees, as set forth in the rules and regulations of the Board.

(4) Reporting of violations to Board. The psychologist who has substantial reason to believe that there has been a violation of the statutes or rules of the Board shall so inform the Board in writing on forms provided by the Board, except that, when the information regarding such violation is obtained in a professional relationship with a client, the psychologist shall report it only with the written permission of the client. Nothing in this code shall relieve a psychologist of the duty to file any report required by applicable statutes.

M. Any other rules as promulgated by the American Psychological Association are also adopted and incorporated by reference.

HISTORY: Added by State Register Volume 8, Issue No. 5, eff May 25, 1984; Amended by State Register Volume 15, Issue No. 6, eff June 28, 1991; State Register Volume 31, Issue No. 6, eff June 22, 2007; State Register Volume 38, Issue No. 6, Doc. No. 4439, eff June 27, 2014.

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