Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional And Occupational Licensing
Agency 115. Board of Counseling
Chapter 30. Regulations Governing the Certification of Substance Abuse Counselors and Substance Abuse Counseling Assistants

18VAC115-30-140. Standards of practice.

A. The protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the best interest of the public shall be the primary guide in determining the appropriate professional conduct of all persons whose activities are regulated by the board.

B. Persons certified by the board shall:

1. Practice in a manner that is in the best interest of the public and does not endanger the public health, safety, or welfare.

2. Be able to justify all services rendered to clients as necessary for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

3. Practice only within the competency area for which they are qualified by training or experience.

4. Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of certified substance abuse counselors or certified substance abuse counseling assistants.

5. Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services. Make appropriate consultations and referrals based on the best interest of clients.

6. Stay abreast of new developments, concepts, and practices that are necessary to providing appropriate services.

7. Document the need for and steps taken to terminate a counseling relationship when it becomes clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship. Document the assistance provided in making arrangements for the continuation of treatment for clients when necessary, following termination of a counseling relationship.

8. Not willfully or negligently breach the confidentiality between a practitioner and a client. A breach of confidentiality that is required or permitted by applicable law or beyond the control of the practitioner shall not be considered negligent or willful.

9. Not engage in conversion therapy with any person younger than 18 years of age.

10. Practice under supervision as specified in § 54.1-3507.1 of the Code of Virginia. Substance abuse counselors shall not directly bill for services rendered, or in any way represent themselves as independent, autonomous practitioners.

C. In regard to client records, persons certified by the board shall:

1. Disclose counseling records to others only in accordance with applicable law.

2. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality, and provide for the destruction of records that are no longer useful in a manner that ensures client confidentiality.

3. Ensure confidentiality in the usage of client records and clinical materials by obtaining informed consent from the client or the client's legally authorized representative before (i) videotaping, (ii) audio recording, (iii) permitting third-party observation, or (iv) using identifiable client records and clinical materials in teaching, writing, or public presentations.

4. Maintain timely, accurate, legible, and complete written or electronic records for each client, to include counseling dates and identifying information to substantiate the substance abuse counseling plan, client progress, and termination.

5. Maintain client records for a minimum of five years or as otherwise required by law from the date of termination of the counseling relationship with the following exceptions:

a. At minimum, records of a minor child shall be maintained for five years after attaining the age of majority (18 years);

b. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time; or

c. Records that have been transferred to another mental health service provider or given to the client or the client's legally authorized representative.

D. In regard to dual relationships, persons certified by the board shall:

1. Not engage in dual relationships with clients, former clients, supervisees, and supervisors that are harmful to the client's or supervisee's well-being or that would impair the substance abuse counselor's, substance abuse counseling assistant's, or supervisor's objectivity and professional judgment or increase the risk of client or supervisee exploitation. This prohibition includes such activities as counseling close friends, former sexual partners, employees, or relatives or engaging in business relationships with clients.

2. Not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with current clients or supervisees. For at least five years after cessation or termination of professional services, certified substance abuse counselors and certified substance abuse counseling assistants shall not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with a client or those included in collateral therapeutic services. Because sexual or romantic relationships are potentially exploitative, certified substance abuse counselors and certified substance abuse counseling assistants shall bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation. A client's consent to, initiation of, or participation in sexual behavior or involvement with a certified substance abuse counselor or certified substance abuse counseling assistants does not change the nature of the conduct nor lift the regulatory prohibition.

3. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of obligations, responsibilities, and loyalties to third parties.

E. Upon learning of evidence that indicates a reasonable probability that another mental health provider is or may be guilty of a violation of standards of conduct as defined in statute or regulation, persons certified by the board shall advise their clients of their right to report such misconduct to the Department of Health Professions in accordance with § 54.1-2400.4 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-2400 and 54.1-3505 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR560-01-03 § 5.1, eff. May 8, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 14, eff. May 4, 1994; Volume 16, Issue 7, eff. January 19, 2000; Volume 19, Issue 1, eff. October 23, 2002; Volume 19, Issue 18, eff. June 18, 2003; Volume 36, Issue 11, eff. February 19, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 24, eff. August 18, 2021; Volume 38, Issue 10, eff. February 17, 2022.

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