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Code of Ethics of REAT
Ethics Registered Expressive Arts Therapists REAT

IEATA Mission Statement 

The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association® (IEATA®) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Tax ID: 94 3203797) founded in 1994 to encourage the creative spirit. Our inclusive, culturally diverse organization supports expressive arts therapists, artists, educators, consultants and others using integrative, multimodal arts processes for personal and community growth and transformation. 

The inspired collaboration of our international board of directors nurtures IEATA’s heart-felt and democratic environment. Board members work through a wide array of commit-tees and dedicate countless volunteer hours. Their caring and creative direction provides leadership, strength, and forward movement of expressive arts around the world. 

About IEATA 

IEATA exists to support the professional use of integrative, multi-modal arts processes for personal and community transformation. Expressive Arts are those activities in which creative expression fosters psychological, physical, organizational and spiritual well-be-ing. We strive to establish recognition and growth of the field of expressive arts. We pro-vide a global forum for professional dialogue and promote guiding principles for professional practice among expressive artists, educators, consultants, and therapists. 

The IEATA community has established the title of Registered Expressive Arts Therapists (REAT) for qualified members because the registered members demonstrate to the larger community the highest standards of professional practice. Each community creates this "way of the community," what the Greeks called "ethos." In the modern world, this is called ethics; a code of values and goals that help us define our behavior as a professional community. The following guidelines are IEATA suggestions for creating our own ethos, our own ethical code of professional behavior for REAT. 

I. Responsibility 

In providing expressive arts therapy, registered members maintain the highest standards of the profession and accept responsibility for the consequence of their acts. Services are to clients who are provided with statements of informed consent and voluntary participa-PO Box 40707 San Francisco, California 94140-0707 +1 (415) 489.0698 

tion. There is a specific contract, which includes method of treatment, frequency of sessions and costs. This is provided to the person before participation. 

REATs act with care and responsibility because their methods and recommendations affect the lives of others. They avoid personal, social and financial situations and pressures that might lead to misuse of one's influence. 

Special consideration must be undertaken to preserve the boundaries between personal psychotherapeutic process, and supervision and training of a candidate. It is recommended that one avoid dual relationships, such as therapist and teacher or supervisor and therapist. 

II. Competence 

The maintenance of high standards of competence is the responsibility shared by all REATs in the interest of the community and profession as a whole. REATs are responsi-ble for the realization of the boundaries of their own competence and the limitations of their own techniques. They employ only techniques for which they are qualified by training and supervision. 

When innovative techniques are used for which there are no established standards, Expressive Arts Therapists must take whatever precautions necessary to protect the welfare of their clients. REATs must recognize that personal problems may interfere with professional effectiveness. REATs recognize that the practice of therapy can be stressful and that it is important to routinely engage in self-care to support the ability to be fully present and capable of sound judgment in their work as therapists. If personal problems do interfere, the REAT must seek competent professional assistance either in terms of supervision and/or personal therapy. 

III. Moral and Legal Standards 

REATs must be sensitive to the possible impact of their professional and public behavior upon the community's trust in the profession. All members are obligated to be in compliance with all state and federal laws that govern their profession. They must respect the civil, human, and legal rights of all clients, supervisees, students or colleagues. 

REATs shall be aware that personal values affect their conduct in therapeutic work, supervision and teaching. They must recognize and respect the diverse attitudes which others bring to work and remain sensitive to those attitudes when dealing with topics which have the potential to cause offense. PO Box 40707 San Francisco, California 94140-0707 +1 (415) 489.0698 


IV. Public Statements 

When making public statements about one's professional work, REATs must utilize the most current relevant material and must exercise the highest level of professional judgment. They must distinguish their private opinions from those generally held in the profession when appropriate. They must also clarify that their personal opinions do not rep-resent the official position of IEATA. 

Members must be accurate about the efficacy of their work and their educational and training backgrounds when discussing their work in a public forum. 

V. Confidentiality 

REATs have a primary obligation to respect the confidentiality of information that is relevant to the treatment of a client, supervisee and student in the course of their professional activities. Clients are entitled to know the limits of confidentiality. 

Before using private information, the REAT must obtain written consent from the person or persons involved and must adequately disguise all identifying information. Confidential information can only be released by written consent, unless there is imminent danger to the client or the community. This includes but is not limited to clients’ artwork, photographs during group or individual sessions and any use of social media to demonstrate the expressive arts therapy process. 

At all times, the right of the client to confidentiality must be weighed, and by extension, the right to unimpaired treatment, the right of the community to protect its own welfare and the right of the profession to preserve its ethical standards must be equally weighed. 

REATs shall inform clients of appropriate and confidential ways to communicate with them and discuss the risks of electronic communication. Those in private practice establish and communicate policies that address the uses and limitations of digital technology and social media within the therapy relationship. 

REATs understand that emerging and current technology may introduce complications and risks to maintaining privacy and confidentiality. They take appropriate precautions to communicate the risks to clients and meet legal and ethical requirements for protecting client privacy and confidentiality when using electronic resources. 

REATs shall make provisions for maintaining confidentiality in the storage and disposal PO Box 40707 San Francisco, California 94140-0707 +1 (415) 489.0698  of records, including but not limited to, artwork, photographs, videos, audio taping and notes. 

VI. Welfare of the Client 

REATs have the continuing duty to respect the integrity and protect the welfare of their clients. Due to the influential position that we hold for those in our care, REATs shall make every reasonable effort to avoid dual relationships that could impair professional judgment. 

REATs shall evaluate their work with each individual, group and training to ensure that they are conducting their work within the scope of their practice and training. The parameters of their practice and training must be accurately represented to their clients. 

Registered members shall not use their professional relationship to give or receive personal gifts or services to further their business, political or religious interests. 

Sexual intimacies and sexual harassment are considered unethical behavior. If one is engaged in sexual behavior with a client, supervisee, or student, they must terminate this professional relationship and seek professional consultation and personal therapeutic assistance to resolve these personal issues. 

Nonsexual touch must be approached with great sensitivity. The guidelines for somatic therapists can act as an aid here. Be sure to avoid touching erotic areas. When considering touch, be sure to: 

  1. a. assess the nature and intent of the touch and the transference-countertransference implications, 

  2. b. consider the client’s developmental level, experience with touch, and sociocultural context, 

  3. c. assess that the touch will continue to promote the therapeutic aspects of the work and does not lead to any other type of relationship, and 

  4. d. the client consents to the touch in the context of your work together. Such consent includes the client right to refrain from touch or change the agreement at any time. 


REATs seek supervision and consultation as issues arise related to touch in therapy. 

If the registered member feels the client is not benefiting or the work is developing into an area in which they do not feel adequately trained, they must consider professional consultation and referral to another professional. This will best serve the client. PO Box 40707 San Francisco, California 94140-0707 +1 (415) 489.0698 


REATs do not abandon or neglect clients. If a REAT is unable to provide professional help or continue a professional relationship, every reasonable effort is made to provide closure to the relationship and arrange for continuation of service elsewhere. 

REATs consider the impact of societal dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression on clients’ experiences and behavior. They frequently inquire about clients’ concerns, including perceptions of cultural differences, racism, or language barriers, which the client may experience as compromising trust and communication in the therapy relationship. 

VII. Collegial Relationships 

Registered members of IEATA bear responsibility to assure that appropriate standards of competence, honesty and integrity are maintained within IEATA. REATs shall seek continuing training or assistance from colleagues to best serve their clients, as isolation can lead to a loss of perspective and judgment. They will also offer assistance to IEATA members and other professionals. 

Members shall assign credit to those who have contributed to or directly influenced their writing, presentations or research. REATs do not malign colleagues or other professionals. Speaking of other REATs with disrespect is considered unethical. REATs respect the tradition and practices of their colleagues and of other professionals within the psychotherapeutic field. If a client seeks your services and has an existing professional relationship, it is important to work in collaboration with the other professional for the welfare of the client. 

If a member knows of an ethical violation by another member, and it seems appropriate, they first shall informally attempt to resolve the issue by bringing the behavior to the attention of the member in question. If the misconduct is minor, an informal solution is preferable. If the violation is not minor and cannot be solved by the informal procedure, the member shall discuss this first with a REAT Co-Chair, who will then consult with the executive co-chairs if appropriate and deemed of serious nature. The member then can follow the guidelines for filing an ethical grievance. The procedure is to write a formal notification to the professional standards co-chairs requesting that they review this registered member's actions. PO Box 40707 San Francisco, California 94140-0707 +1 (415) 489.0698 


VIII. Special Considerations for Expressive Arts Therapy Work in Non-ordinary States of Consciousness 

When working in expressive arts therapy, the REAT must help the client move between and understand the power of the various states of consciousness, e.g., the literal, emotional and imaginal realms. It is very important that the therapist be sensitive to this and aid each client in appropriately using the metaphoric world in the literal aspects of their lives. 

As REATs who value images and symbols, we must be sensitive to the various levels that the image evokes and not reduce them or pathologize them without understanding their symbolic meaning and essence. 

As a registered member, one must provide adequate provisions to ensure a client's safety as they enter these non-ordinary states. 

In addition to abiding by the above ethical guidelines and requirements, I also agree to receive continued training and education in the field of expressive arts, as well as, keeping my professional registration and membership active and current with IEATA. Should I decide at any point to retire or abandon my IEATA membership or professional registration as a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT), I agree to discontinue using this professional label and status in my advertising, on my business cards and/or any marketing for my business. I realize that to continue using REAT as part of my title and professional status if I am no longer an active professional and registered member of IEATA would be false advertising. 

In order to keep the highest standards of professional practice, each registered member shall hold and practice this "ethos," following the ways of the IEATA community, and our code of ethics. If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of this code of ethics, please contact the professional standards co-chairs. Thank you for your support in maintaining the integrity of IEATA. 

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