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Ethics and Standards

Standards of Professional Practice and Code of Ethics of the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapy Association Ltd

Scope of this code

The ANZACATA Standards of Professional Practice and Code of Ethics defines the behaviour, commitment and integrity that the association expects of all practising members in their professional interactions with:

  • the association,
  • clients,
  • supervisors and supervisees,
  • professional colleagues and
  • the public.

Ethical practice encompasses

  • therapeutic practice,
  • research,
  • teaching,
  • supervision,
  • publication and
  • any other professional undertakings.

Creative arts therapists will abide by the ethical standards of their professional association in all work settings, whether employed by government/non-government agencies or self-employed.

It is a requirement of all members, upon joining the association, to read the Standards of Professional Practice and agree to abide by the standards by signing a declaration to that effect.

Creative arts therapists also abide by the laws of the society, and lands in which they practice.

Foundation for this code

Creative arts therapists are committed to the absolute welfare of their clients and to the preservation of their human rights and privileges with sensitivity to gender identification, ability, age, background, culture, ethnicity, sexual identity and religious beliefs. ANZACATA's Code of Ethics is based upon that commitment. The ethical principles serve as a guideline for the professional conduct of creative arts therapists, to ensure integrity and a high standard of creative arts therapy practice. This code affirms the pursuit of professionally responsible actions and the appraisal of ethical issues and their implications, so that creative arts therapists provide services that are ethically sound and therefore in the best interest of our clients.

Underpinning ethical principles

The code is built on five general ethical principles:

  1. Promoting the best interests of the client
  2. Respecting confidentiality
  3. Respecting professional boundaries
  4. Working in a professionally responsible way
  5. Responsibility to ANZACATA and creative arts therapy colleagues
Principle 1: Promoting the best interests of the client

Creative art therapists are committed to the absolute welfare and dignity of clients. They offer a caring and compassionate professional service that aims to improve client well-being, empower clients to meet their goals and honours their individuality. They put clients first.

  1. Creative arts therapists inform clients on the nature of the therapeutic services offered and do not make unjustifiable claims about outcomes or their services.
  2. Creative arts therapists obtain informed consent from clients and respect their right to continue in therapy or to withdraw.
  3. Creative arts therapists are mindful of not fostering a dependent relationship with clients, are clear at the outset about therapeutic aims and determine duration of therapy according to client needs.
  4. When it is apparent that the creative arts therapist is unable to be of professional help to a client, the creative arts therapist should not start working with a client or should terminate therapy if it has already begun, while offering help in seeking satisfactory alternative services for the client.
  5. Creative arts therapists end therapy in a responsible manner when the therapist and client agree that the client has gained as much as possible, and/or that the therapy goals have been achieved, and that termination of creative arts therapy is a logical extension of the therapeutic process.
  6. Creative arts therapists shall not exploit their clients financially. They are required to be honest, straightforward, and accountable - disclosing fees, cancelation processes, and costs related to out of session support.
  7. Creative arts therapists are prohibited from exploiting clients, past or present, in a financial, sexual, emotional or any other way.
  8. Creative arts therapists will seek counsel from their supervisors and experts when required and in an ongoing manner to serve the best interests of their clients
  9. Creative arts therapists will act to protect clients who they believe are at risk of harm and ensure they comply with laws in their jurisdiction regarding mandatory reporting.


  1. Creative arts therapists commit to ongoing education about the significance of respecting, understanding and considering the meanings of indigenous cultures in their work. In all our jurisdictions where a bi-cultural and/or multicultural situation is present, cultural issues of indigenous people, and people from ethnic, and other minorities, must be respected and understood. This includes the meaning and implications of the Treaty of Waitangi and the principles of protection, participation and partnership with Maori people of New Zealand. In Australia, creative arts therapists recognise the unique position of Indigenous people in Australian culture and history.
  2. Creative arts therapists will assume responsibility for their own education on aspects of diversity and intersectionality relevant to their clients' issues related to sex, gender identity/expression and sexual orientation and incorporate these concerns into the development of best practice models. Creative arts therapists will work from a position that acknowledges the validity of diverse identity and assume responsibility for ongoing updating of best care practices and up-to- date clinical approaches and information to support clients from the LGBTIQA+ community.
  3. Creative arts therapists do not discriminate against clients in relation to background, ability, age, culture, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender or religious beliefs.  On becoming aware of any prejudice, creative art therapists discuss the issue with a supervisor and if necessary, refer the client on.
  4. Creative arts therapists will work in an inclusive way with clients from backgrounds of diversity outside the nuclear family structure.
Principle 2: Respecting confidentiality

Creative arts therapists have a primary responsibility to respect and honour client confidentiality and to safeguard all written, taped, digitally (or analogue) recorded, and visual, work, or information produced during the course of therapy.

  1. In both individual and group therapy, and prior to the commencement of arts therapy, creative arts therapists are obliged to inform clients of their right to confidentiality and the exemptions and limitations of confidentiality in law.
  2. All information obtained during the course of therapy, be it verbal, written, taped or visual, is shared only with the creative arts therapist's supervisor (with consent if the client is identified), and where necessary, with the appropriate professionals concerned with the client's case, such as a multidisciplinary team.
  3. Subject to mandatory reporting requirements, creative arts therapists ensure that they have obtained informed consent from any clients before they disclose clients' relevant personal information to other parties.
  4. Creative arts therapists must abide by the laws of their jurisdiction in relation to the correct use of technology i.e. Skype, Zoom, web cameras, and in particular when working with minors, to provide best practice.
  5. Creative arts therapists may breach confidentiality without client consent when mandated by law, or when the client's mental and emotional state clearly indicates an immediate danger to the client and/or others. In such cases, the creative arts therapist must act in accordance with the law and document the event.
  6. Creative Arts Therapists must obtain written consent for therapy for any minors, from parents/legal guardians. The legal position varies between jurisdictions for clients aged 16 years and over and it differs for minors where custody orders may be in place. Therefore Creative Arts Therapists must obtain their own advice relating to the law in their jurisdiction for (a) 'minors and medical therapy' and for (b) minors with separated/divorced/non-custodial parents and for those considered 'mature minors' (16 years and older). Best practice for Creative Arts Therapists is to seek written permission from both parents/legal guardians for all clients under the age of 16 years. If consent from both parents is not obtained or if one parent hasn't consented to therapy and this lack of consent could compromise the effectiveness of the therapy or affect the wellbeing of the child, the practitioner may decide whether proceeding with therapy is in the child's best interest. .

Record keeping

  1. Creative arts therapists must keep appropriate records (notes, artwork/photos) for a minimum of seven years following the date of last client contact. Records regarding children are to be kept until the child attains the age of 25. All client material, whether written, art, audio, digital, or other, must be kept in a secure location until disposed of appropriately, ensuring ongoing confidentiality at every stage of the process.
  2. Creative arts therapists keep all ANZACATA related records for seven years. This includes records of supervision and continuing professional development (CPD) undertaken annually.


  1. Creative arts therapists have a responsibility to ensure that imagery created during the period of therapy is safeguarded. No photographs or exhibitions of client artwork are to be represented and no images of clients, or client artwork, are to be posted on social network sites unless written and verbal informed consent has been obtained from the client concerned or, if under 18, their parent/ carer/guardian. In addition, this requirement also applies to students and trainees who may need examples of case studies for education or supervision purposes. Creative arts therapists must be mindful that content posted on social media is available immediately to a wide audience and must remember that content posted online becomes a 'digital footprint' that lasts forever.
Principle 3: Respecting professional boundaries

Creative arts therapists are responsible for setting and maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, understanding there is a potential power imbalance that may impact the therapeutic relationship. At all times, the client's best interests must be the first consideration.

  1. Creative arts therapists are aware of potential power imbalances and foster a sense of personal autonomy in clients.
  2. Creative arts therapists avoid any situations that compromise a sense of objectivity, and/or present a conflict of interest.
  3. Creative arts therapists do not engage in romantic or sexual relationships with clients or with clients' close family members.
  4. Creative arts therapists avoid any personal relationships with former clients and former clients' friends or family members. 
  5. Creative arts therapists avoid dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients. Dual or multiple relations are ones in which the therapist has one or more different types of relationship with a client (e.g. personal or business relationships). Such relationships represent a conflict of interest.
  6. If a potential dual or multiple relationship arises, creative arts therapists must discuss the issue with a supervisor and put the best interests of the client first.
  7. Some creative arts therapies interventions necessitate a relational engagement of bodies and as such involve the use of touch amongst clients in a group or between client/s and the therapist. Any use of touch in therapy should be approached with great sensitivity, ensuring the client agrees to any use of touch in the context of your work together. When considering touch, be sure to assess the nature and intent of the touch. Be sure to assess that the touch will continue to promote the therapeutic aspects of the work only.
Principle 4: Professional Responsibility

Creative arts therapists have an obligation to provide safe, high-quality professional services that put the needs of clients first.

  1. To ensure safe and effective services, creative arts therapists must not work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, they must not work if unfit for practice because of health impairment or personal circumstances.
  2. Creative arts therapists are required to prevent the transmission of infectious illnesses by adopting standard infection control procedures such as hand hygiene and routine cleaning of art supplies.
  3. All practising creative arts therapists should ensure they are covered by indemnity insurance.
  4. It is an expectation that creative arts therapists have regular arts-based supervision and use such supervision to develop their creative arts therapy skills, monitor performance, reflective practice and provide accountability for practice. Where possible, supervision should be sought from an experienced professional creative arts therapist registered as an approved supervisor with ANZACATA. See Supervision Policy on the website (login to view).
  5. Creative arts therapists are obligated to maintain continuing professional education and development, which includes seminars/ conferences/ reading/teaching. To continue to relate to all aspects of being a creative arts therapist including the need to maintain a personal creative practice. See Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Policy on the website (login to view).
  6. Creative arts therapists will only provide assessment, therapy and professional advice for which they are formally qualified, as recognised by their level of professional membership.
  7. Creative arts therapists must only represent themselves as a specialist within a specific area of creative arts therapy if they have undertaken further education, training, or experience which would enable them to practice in that specialist area.
  8. When a creative arts therapist offers creative arts therapy workshops or presentations they must make it clear to participants whether the activity has a therapeutic or educational intention. They must ensure the well-being of the participants by providing therapeutic assistance if needed during or following the arts therapy experience.
  9. Creative arts therapists have a responsibility to report to ANZACATA concerns of ethical misconduct or unfitness for practice. 


  1. Creative arts therapists must accurately represent their professional competence, education, training and experience in all advertisements and publications including directories, business cards, websites or through any medium, so that clients can make an informed decision about therapy.
  2. Creative arts therapist must abide by ANZACATA's social media policy
  3. Creative arts therapists must not mislead or deceive the public in any way regarding their professional identification, including qualifications and experience.
  4. Creative arts therapists must not use or amend the ANZACATA professional association logo without the permission of the Board.  Only ANZACATA Professional members can use the post nominal AThR and the Professional Member version of the ANZACATA logo created specifically for their use.
Principle 5: Responsibility to ANZACATA and Creative Arts Therapy Colleagues

Creative arts therapists are expected to support and further the goals of ANZACATA and the profession by acting with integrity in maintaining the highest standards of creative arts therapy practice.

  1. Creative arts therapists are encouraged to contribute to promoting creative arts therapy to the professional community of related health workers and to the general public through their Association and never purport to represent ANZACATA unless duly authorised to speak on its behalf.
  2. Creative arts therapists communicate in a professional and respectful way with colleagues both inside and outside ANZACATA and the creative arts therapy profession more generally.
  3. Creative arts therapists do not offer professional services to individuals receiving arts therapy from another creative arts therapist, unless agreed by all parties.
  4. ANZACATA members must not behave in any way that could bring ANZACATA or creative arts therapy into disrepute or undermine confidence in ANZACATA or creative arts therapy.
  5. ANZACATA approved supervisors do not exploit supervisees for financial, emotional, sexual, or other personal gain.
  6. In conducting research, creative arts therapists officially acknowledge all colleagues/administrators and other professionals who have contributed to their research efforts. Before embarking on research in an agency, organisation or institution, creative arts therapists provide adequate information about the research, and obtain formal permission from the appropriate authorities i.e. ethics.

In addition to the ANZACATA Code of Ethics and Standards, the following national codes of conduct should be understood by members.

Australian Members

In addition to the ANZACATA Code of Ethics and Standards, ANZACATA Australian members must abide by the National Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Workers.

As of November 2021, this is law in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

Other states and territories are working on their legislation but the national code should be used as a guide. Note that different states require different one-page summaries to be displayed. 

NZ members

NZ members should be familiar with the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights which all non-regulated health professions are subject too.

Singapore members

Singapore members should be aware of the Code of Professional Conduct developed by the Allied Health Professionals Council (AHPs) to regulate all Allied Health Professionals.

Last updated: 30 August 2022

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