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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional And Occupational Licensing
Agency 125. Board of Psychology
Chapter 30. Regulations Governing the Certification of Sex Offender Treatment Providers

18VAC125-30-101. 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 certified practitioners who provide services to sex offenders. Sex offender treatment providers respect the rights, dignity, and worth of all people, regardless of the nature of one's crimes or offenses, and are mindful of individual differences. Regardless of the delivery method, whether in-person or by use of technology, these standards shall apply to the practice of sex offender treatment.

B. Persons certified by the board and applicants under supervision shall:

1. Practice in a manner that ensures community protection and safety;

2. Provide or supervise only services and use only techniques for which they are qualified by education, training, and experience;

3. Accurately represent their areas of competence, education, training, experience, professional affiliations, credentials, and published findings to ensure that such statements are neither fraudulent nor misleading;

4. Accurately inform sex offender clients of (i) the purposes of an interview, testing, or evaluation session; (ii) the ways in which information obtained in such sessions will be used before asking the sex offender client to reveal personal information or allowing such information to be divulged; (iii) the methods of interventions, including any experimental methods of treatment; and (iv) the risks and benefits of any treatment;

5. Clearly document at the outset of service delivery what party the sex offender treatment provider considers to be the client and what, if any, responsibilities the provider has to all related parties. Explain to juvenile sex offender clients the rights of their parents, legal guardians, or both to obtain information relating to the sex offender client;

6. Maintain current competency in the areas of practice through continuing education, consultation, or other procedures consistent with current standards of scientific and professional knowledge;

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

8. Avoid harming, exploiting, misusing influence, or misleading patients or clients, research participants, students, and others for whom they provide professional services and minimize harm when it is foreseeable and unavoidable;

9. Maintain cooperative and collaborative relationships with corrections, probation, or parole officers or any responsible agency for purposes of the effective supervision and monitoring of a sex offender client's behavior in order to assure public safety;

10. Construct, maintain, administer, interpret, and report testing and diagnostic services in a manner and for purposes that are current and appropriate. Sex offender treatment providers shall consider the validity, reliability, appropriateness, and limitations of assessments and data selected for use with sex offender clients, including to the plethysmograph and polygraph. Where questions exist about the appropriateness of utilizing a particular assessment with a sex offender client, expert guidance from a knowledgeable, certified sex offender treatment provider shall be sought;

11. Safeguard the use of sexual arousal assessment testing and treatment materials, due to the sensitivity of such materials in compliance with § 18.2-374.1:1 of the Code of Virginia and use them only for the purpose for which they are intended in a controlled penile plethysmographic laboratory assessment;

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

13. Withdraw from, avoid, adjust, or clarify conflicting roles with due regard for the best interest of the affected party and maximal compliance with these standards;

14. Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services. Make appropriate consultations and referrals consistent with the law based on the interest of the patients or clients;

15. Make arrangements for another professional to deal with emergency needs of clients during periods of foreseeable absences from professional availability and provide for continuity of care when services must be terminated;

16. Conduct financial responsibilities to clients in an ethical and honest manner by:

a. Informing clients of fees for professional services and billing arrangements as soon as is feasible;

b. Informing clients prior to the use of collection agencies or legal measures to collect fees and provide opportunity for prompt payment;

c. Obtaining written consent for fees that deviate from the practitioner's usual and customary fees for services; and

d. Not obtaining, attempting to obtain, or cooperating with others in obtaining payment for services by misrepresenting services provided, dates of services, or status of treatment;

17. Design, conduct, and report research in accordance with recognized standards of scientific competence and research ethics. Practitioners shall adhere to requirements of § 32.1-162.18 of the Code of Virginia for obtaining informed consent from patients prior to involving them as participants in human research, with the exception of retrospective chart reviews;

18. Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of sex offender treatment providers, as well as any information that a sex offender treatment provider is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety because of physical or mental impairment or substance misuse or otherwise poses a danger to the provider, the public, or clients;

19. Document the reasons for and steps taken if it becomes necessary to terminate a therapeutic relationship (e.g., when it becomes clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship or when the sex offender treatment provider feels endangered). Document assistance provided in making arrangements for the continuation of treatment for clients, if necessary, following termination of a therapeutic relationship; and

20. Comply with laws of the Code of Virginia and regulations of the board applicable to the practice of sex offender treatment providers.

C. In regard to confidentiality, persons regulated by the board shall:

1. Inform sex offender clients of the limits of confidentiality and any circumstances which may allow an exception to the agreed upon confidentiality, including (i) as obligated under dual-client situations, especially in criminal justice or related settings; (ii) when the client is a danger to self or others; (iii) when under court order to disclose information; (iv) in cases of suspected child or elder abuse; and (v) as otherwise required by law or regulation;

2. Not require or seek waivers of privacy or confidentiality beyond the requirements of treatment, training, or community safety;

3. Keep confidential their professional relationships with patients or clients and disclose client information to others only with written consent except as required or permitted by law;

4. Protect the confidentiality in the usage of client information 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 information in teaching, writing, or public presentations; and

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

D. In regard to client records, persons regulated by the board shall:

1. Maintain timely, accurate, legible, and complete written or electronic records for each client. For a sex offender treatment provider practicing in an institutional setting, the recordkeeping shall follow the policies of the institution or public facility. For a sex offender treatment provider practicing in a noninstitutional setting, the record shall include:

a. The name of the client and other identifying information;

b. The presenting problem, purpose, or diagnosis;

c. Documentation of the fee arrangement;

d. The date and clinical summary of each service provided;

e. Any test results, including raw data, or other evaluative results obtained;

f. Notation and results of formal consults with other providers; and

g. Any releases by the client;

2. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality, and dispose of written, electronic, and other records in such a manner as to ensure their confidentiality; and

3. Maintain client records for a minimum of five years or as otherwise required by law from the last date of service, with the following exceptions:

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

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 pursuant to § 54.1-2405 of the Code of Virginia pertaining to closure, sale, or change of location of one's practice.

E. In regard to dual relationships, persons regulated by the board shall:

1. Not engage in a dual relationship with a person under supervision that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of exploitation or harm. Sex offender treatment providers shall take appropriate professional precautions when a dual relationship cannot be avoided, such as informed consent, consultation, supervision, and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no exploitation occurs;

2. Not engage in sexual intimacies or a romantic relationship with a student, supervisee, resident, intern, therapy patient, client, or those included in collateral therapeutic services, such as a parent, spouse, or significant other of the client, while providing professional services. For at least five years after cessation or termination of professional services, not engage in sexual intimacies or a romantic relationship with a therapy patient, client, or those included in collateral therapeutic services. Consent to, initiation of, or participation in sexual behavior or romantic involvement with a sex offender treatment provider does not change the exploitative nature of the conduct nor lift the prohibition. Because sexual or romantic relationships are potentially exploitative, sex offender treatment providers shall bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation, based on factors such as duration of therapy, amount of time since therapy, termination circumstances, client's personal history and mental status, and adverse impact on the client;

3. Not engage in a personal relationship with a former client in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm or if the former client continues to relate to the sex offender treatment provider in the provider's professional capacity; and

4. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of the nature and directions of loyalties and responsibilities involved.

F. 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 licensed 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 54.1-3605 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 37, Issue 21, eff. July 22, 2021.

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