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Prevention professionals get guidance on ethical conduct

September 24, 2013
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Substance use prevention professionals on Sept. 24 received a primer on ethical guidelines for the discipline, a code that many are not aware of, in a two-hour session at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in Anaheim, Calif.

Sandra Del Sesto, a behavioral health consultant who serves on the steering committee at Rhode Island College’s Institute for Addiction Recovery, urged members of the audience to be guided both by the established ethical standards for the profession and a code that should be instituted at each individual agency as well.

Using guidelines established by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium, a partner in this year’s NCAD meeting, Del Sesto outlined details of the Prevention Think Tank Code of Ethical Conduct. The code covers six main principles, which are:

·        Non-discrimination, including the need for prevention specialists to broaden their personal understanding and acceptance of individual differences. Del Sesto added that in working with groups that often are discriminated against, professionals must remember the adage “nothing about us without us.”

·        Competence, including striving consistently to improve the quality of service delivery.

·        Integrity, in order to maintain and broaden public confidence. In this area it is critical, for example, never to misrepresent aspects of one’s professional qualifications, Del Sesto said.

·        Nature of services, covering areas such as supporting all individuals’ inherent strengths and protective factors, and adhering to policies on the completion of staff background checks and the reporting of child abuse in client families.

·        Confidentiality, including a thorough understanding of the stringent federal 42 CFR Part 2 requirements that apply to organizations that refer individuals to treatment as well as to those that offer treatment.

·        Ethical obligations for community and society, including the need to be proactive on relevant public policy and legislative matters.

“I need to walk the walk in prevention,” Del Sesto added, saying she was reminded of this once when someone said unhealthy habits she was practicing in her own life stood in conflict with the healthy lifestyles she was promoting for others in her work.