AGPA and IBCGP Guidelines for Ethics
The American Group Psychotherapy Association is a
multi-disciplinary, membership organization dedicated to advancing
knowledge, research, and training in group psychotherapy and other
group interventions to benefit the client/patient population. The
International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists advances group
psychotherapy by certifying group psychotherapists according to
nationally accepted criteria, and promotes these practitioners and
principles to other mental health professionals, employers,
insurers, educators, and clients for the purpose of maintaining the
highest standards for group psychotherapy practice and quality care.
Membership in AGPA and/or inclusion in the Certification Board requires adherence to standards of ethical practice as outlined by
state licensing boards and/or designated national professional
organizations, whichever was applicable in establishing clinical
credentials. Those who do not belong to a professional group having
a published standard of ethics must follow the principles of ethics
established by the American Psychological Association.
Ethical complaints about
individuals who are members of AGPA and/or listed in the
should be directed to the state licensing board or, in the absence
of a state license, to the designated primary professional
organization of the individual. Should an ethical complaint be
received regarding an individual who is a member of AGPA and/or
listed in the Certification Board whose state does not have licensure and who
does not belong to a primary professional organization, the
complainant will be directed to the state or federal legal system to
file his or her complaint.
In the event of the revocation, suspension or voluntary
relinquishment of a clinical license to practice or
membership/certification in the designated national professional
organization, membership in AGPA and/or inclusion in the
Certification Board will be revoked. In the event an individual referred to the
governmental agencies or courts of law is found guilty, his or her AGPA membership and/or his or her inclusion in the
Certification Board will be
revoked. It is the responsibility of the individual to inform AGPA
and/or the Certification Board of any revocation, suspension or voluntary
relinquishment of licensure or membership/certification, whichever
was used to verify clinical credentials for inclusion in the
Guidelines of Group Psychotherapy Practice
The following guidelines of group psychotherapy practice shall
serve as models for group therapists' ethical behavior.
Responsibility to Patient/Client
1. The group psychotherapist provides services with respect for
the dignity and uniqueness of each patient/client as well as the
rights and autonomy of the individual patient/client.
1.1 The group psychotherapist shall provide the potential group
patient/client with information about the nature of group
psychotherapy and apprise him or her of the risks, rights and
obligations as a member of a therapy group.
1.2 The group psychotherapist shall encourage the
patient/client's participation in group psychotherapy only so long
as it is appropriate to the patient/client's needs.
1.3 The group psychotherapist shall not practice or condone any
form of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual
orientation, age, religion, national origin or physical handicap,
except that this guideline shall not prohibit group therapy
practice with population specific or problem specific groups.
2. The group psychotherapist safeguards the patient/client's
right to privacy by judiciously protecting information of a
2.1 The group shall agree that the patient/client as well as
the psychotherapist shall protect the identity of its members.
2.2 The group therapist is knowledgeable about the limits of
privileged communication as they apply to group therapy and
informs group members of those limits.
2.3 The group psychotherapist shall not use identifiable
information about the group or its members for teaching purposes,
publication or professional presentations unless permission has
been obtained and all measures have been taken to preserve
2.4 Except where required by law, the group psychotherapist
shall share information about the group members with others only
after obtaining appropriate patient/client consent. Specific
permission must be requested to permit conferring with the
referring therapist or with the individual therapist where the
patient/client is in conjoint therapy.
2.5 When clinical examination suggests that a patient/client
may be dangerous to himself/herself or others, it is the group
psychotherapist's ethical and legal obligation to take appropriate
steps in order to be responsible to society in general, as well as
3. The group psychotherapist acts to safeguard the patient/client
and the public from the incompetent, unethical, illegal practice of
any group psychotherapist.
3.1 The group psychotherapist must be aware of her/his own
individual competencies, and when the needs of the patient/client
are beyond the competencies of the psychotherapist, consultation
must be sought from other qualified professionals or other
3.2 The group psychotherapist shall not use her/his
professional relationship to advance personal or business
3.3 Sexual intimacy with patients/clients is unethical.
3.4 The group psychotherapist shall protect the patient/client
and the public from misinformation and misrepresentation. She/he
shall not use false or misleading advertising regarding her/his
qualifications or skills as a group psychotherapist.
Professional Standards - The group psychotherapist shall
maintain the integrity of the practice of group psychotherapy.
1. It is the personal responsibility of the group
psychotherapist to maintain competence in the practice of group
psychotherapy through formal educational activities and informal
2. The group psychotherapist has a responsibility to contribute
to the ongoing development of the body of knowledge pertaining to
group psychotherapy whether involved as an investigator,
participant or user of research results.
3. The group psychotherapist shall accept the obligation to
attempt to inform and alert other group psychotherapists who are
violating ethical principles or to bring those violations to the
attention of appropriate professional authorities.