Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional And Occupational Licensing
Agency 115. Board of Counseling
Chapter 80. Regulations Governing the Registration of Qualified Mental Health Professionals

18VAC115-80-90. 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 registered 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. Practice only within the competency area for which they are qualified by training or experience and shall not provide clinical mental health services for which a license is required pursuant to Chapters 35 (§ 54.1-3500 et seq.), 36 (§ 54.1-3600 et seq.), and 37 (§ 54.1-3700 et seq.) of the Code of Virginia.

3. Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of qualified mental health professionals.

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

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

C. In regard to confidentiality and client records, persons registered by the board shall:

1. 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.

2. Disclose client records to others only in accordance with applicable law.

3. 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.

4. Maintain timely, accurate, legible, and complete written or electronic records for each client, to include dates of service and identifying information to substantiate treatment plan, client progress, and termination.

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

1. Not engage in dual relationships with clients or former clients that are harmful to the client's well-being, that would impair the practitioner's objectivity and professional judgment, or that would increase the risk of client exploitation. This prohibition includes such activities as providing services to 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. For at least five years after cessation or termination of professional services, practitioners 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, the practitioner 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 practitioner 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 service provider, as defined in § 54.1-2400.1 of the Code of Virginia, is or may be guilty of a violation of standards of conduct as defined in statute or regulation, persons registered by the board shall advise their clients of the client's 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 Virginia Register Volume 36, Issue 4, eff. November 13, 2019.

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