How to File an Ethical Complaint 
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If you are seeing a therapist and you feel that the person is acting unethically, you may be able to file complaint against that person with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The first step is to verify if the therapist is a member of AAMFT. You can do this by calling our main number (703-838-9808) and asking the receptionist or by speaking with someone in the Ethics Department. You may also send an E-mail to

Once you have determined that the person is a member of our Association, you will need to obtain a complaint packet. These packets are available by contacting the Ethics Department at You may also call our main number, 703-838-9808 and ask to speak with someone in our Ethics Department.

It is important that you realize that our complaint process is a peer review process that is not like a civil proceeding. You will be required to sign a waiver allowing the Ethics Committee to use your name when notifying the member of your allegations. The investigation process is unlike a civil proceeding, in that you will not be provided with the member's response to the Committee's charges.

Once we receive your complaint materials, the Chair of the Ethics Committee reviews the materials and determines if the allegations, if proven factual, rise to the level of a violation of the Code of Ethics. If the complaint meets this requirement, an investigation is opened and you will be notified. If more information is needed, an Ethics Case Manager will contact you.

Our investigations are handled through correspondence and telephone contact. The Ethics Committee has one annual meeting per year, plus two-three conference calls to deliberate cases. Members and complainants are not a part of the Ethics Committee meetings. You will be notified of the outcome of your case as soon as possible. Sometimes it takes up to three months to notify complainants of the results due to time constraints in the Procedures for Handling Ethical Matters.

Only cases that result in termination of membership are publicized. The publication includes only the Principle(s) of the Code that were violated. All other case information is confidential.

For information on the Ethics process, please review the Decision Tree.

Decision Tree: AAMFT Ethics Cases

AAMFT follows a process of five major steps (each with sub-steps) in handling complaints of unethical behavior by AAMFT members, Approved Supervisors, applicants for membership or the Approved Supervisor designation, or recently resigned members or Approved Supervisors (hereafter, member).

Step One is Initial Determinations (1.a. through 3.c.).
Step Two is Investigations (4.a. through 7).
Step Three is Ethics Committee Action (8.a. through 10.b.).
Step Four is Review by Judicial Committee (11 through 13.b.).
Step Five is Appeal to the Board (14 to 15.b.).

Code of Ethics

For the complete Code of Ethics.

read more >

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
112 South Alfred Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3061
Phone: (703) 838-9808 | Fax: (703) 838-9805

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