Unified Code of Ethics for Healers


We invite feedback from healers and other CAM therapists who are concerned with the ethics of caregiving practice. We are particularly interested to have feedback from those who have worked on codes of ethics within a specific therapeutic modality.

Responses please to Daniel J. Benor, MD, ABHM, Founder and Past Coordinator, Council for Healing - DB@WholisticHealingResearch.com or simply use the Contact Us link on the website.

Download Code of Ethics as a Word Document


•  Develop a consensus of ethics and standards that will help to bring greater unity to the healing profession;
•  Raise standards internally within healing modalities and individual healing practices; and
•  Enhance the professional standing of healing in the world at large.


Over the past 5 years the Council has reviewed and compiled codes of ethics and solicited input from individuals with expertise in healing and ethics and from various organizations, including: The American Holistic Nurses Association’s Standards of Holistic Nursing Practice; The AOBTA Code of Ethics;  Brennan Healing Science; Canon of Ethics for Somato Respiratory Integration ™ Wellness Educators; Canon of Ethics for Network Spinal Analysis; Code of Ethics for Shamanic Practitioners; Healers’ Code of Ethics by Michael Cohen; International Code of Ethics for Healing Touch Practitioners; Ken Cohen; Mietek and Margaret Wirkus School of Bioenergy Practice; Model of Whole-Person Caring; NH-PAI Code of Ethics (Therapeutic Touch); andRN Reiki Code of Ethics. 

Developing a common Code of Ethics appropriate for all healers is an ongoing and evolving process.  The Council has identified and articulated areas of common ground that can serve as a foundation for further dialogue and exploration among and between individual healers and organizations involved with healing. Those healers and healing organizations wishing to respond and contribute their perspective are invited to reply directly to DB@WholisticHealingResearch.com.  The Council operates within a consensus framework and seeks to honor the wisdom and perspectives of all healers and healing traditions.


As the Council reviewed the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of various organizations it became clear that the terms “ethics” and “standards for practice” were interpreted differently by various individuals and organizations.   Some organizations included “ethics” as part of their “standards for practice,” other organizations treated them as two separate entities, and others used the terms interchangeably.   

For the purpose of this review and discussion the following definitions will be used:

Code of Ethics for Healers:  A code of conduct that identifies principles and ways of being and behaving that are in harmony and congruent with the mission and purpose of healing and based upon moral precepts and professional behavior inherent to healing.  

Standards of Practice for Healers:  A group of statements describing the expected level of care by a healer. Standards of practice describe behaviors and minimal levels of performance that are intended to guide daily practice.  Most healing professions have their own standards of practice that are specific to their modality and profession.  See websites for organizations individual standards of practice:   


From the above definitions it is apparent that the code of ethics and standards of practice will vary between different healing modalities and cultures.  Just as there are many perspectives on the mission and purpose of healing, likewise there will be many perspectives on what constitutes appropriate conduct and behavior for different healing modalities in various social contexts and cultures.  

For instance, Ken Cohen makes the point that for indigenous healing practices it is not useful or desirable to establish a code of ethics or standards of practice as these are already understood and enforced in the unwritten, oral tradition passed down through the teachings of the wise elders and shamans. The tribes and healers have their own internal means of discipline, including ostracism, ’bad press’ through word of mouth, and criticism by elders, sometimes in a ceremonial context.  In addition, indigenous healing is considered to be a branch of indigenous spirituality or religion and must be protected as an individual freedom, not subject to outside regulation.  In more general terms, Cohen observes that Native American healing culture views as ethical that which promotes social cohesion.

Indigenous healing that is guided and regulated within tribal structure and viewed as a spiritual process rather than a profession has no need for an external code of ethics. Standards of practice are neither applicable nor useful to indigenous healing practiced in this milieu. 

However, it would be appropriate for western shamanism as taught in various healing schools to include a code of ethics for its practitioners – who are not bound by indigenous tribal traditions and guidelines. 

There are general principles, however,  shared by both indigenous healers and healers involved in mainstream culture that are useful to identify and articulate for the purpose of unifying and strengthening the voice of healing in this world. Identifying the ethical concepts and standards that can be shared by all healers will help bring unity to the healing professions and make each a more potent and powerful force for the manifestation of healing energies in this world.

Standards of Practice are also required for professional healing organizations. This review did not address standards of practice, which are the responsibility of individual organizations – because these are specific to each therapeutic modality and vary in significant ways between healing organizations because their interventions differ.  (For instance, practices of spiritual healing, acupuncture, homeopathy and massage involve very different skill sets and levels of competence are based on interventions with little overlap between modalities.)



I.  The Healer’s Purpose

A. The healing professions have for their objective serving humanity for its greatest good. 

B. Healers honor all peoples and all paths as sacred or may view their own path as the only path. The Council for Healing is open to considering all codes of ethics. 

II. Commitment to Client

A. Wholeness and Healing: 
1.    Healers are committed to assisting the client in reclaiming wholeness at any or all levels of being, such as body, emotions, mind, relationships (with other people and the environment) and spirit
2.    Healers render service to humanity with full respect for the dignity, autonomy and sensitivity of fellow beings.  
3.    Healers view all of existence as sacred and interconnected and provide services with reverence and respect for all. Healing relationships occur within all of existence and may include people, animals, plants and the environment, locally, globally and cosmically.

B. Equality and Acceptance:  
1.    Healers render care to beings regardless of race, sex, cultural, national or ethnic origins, or political persuasions.  
2.    Healers and clients are equal partners in the process of healing.

C. Respect and Unconditional Regard:  
1. Healers respect the beliefs, values, customs, choices and coping mechanisms of the individual. 
2. Healers offer care from an infinite field of love and compassion.

III. Qualifications of Healer

A. Initial Training: 
1.    Healers provide services commensurate with their training and perform only those services for which they are qualified.  
2.    Healers observe all laws, and uphold the dignity and honor of their profession.  

B. Professional and Personal Development:  
1.    Healers avail themselves of opportunities for continuing professional education and training to maintain and enhance their competence. 
2.     Healers work with others in their field and the healing professions in general to maintain and monitor high professional standards of care.
3.    Healers acknowledge that clients may bring lessons to the healer
4.    Healers recognize that their presence and way of being are as important to the healing process as the modality that they practice, so it is important for healers to engage in ongoing personal development.

C. Self-Care and Self-Healing:  
1.    Healers identify and integrate self-care strategies to enhance their own physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual well-being.

2.    Healers consciously cultivate awareness and understanding about the deeper meaning, purpose, inner strengths, and connections with self, others, nature, and God/Life Force/Absolute/Transcendent.
3.    Healers model healthy behavior and engage in practices that nurture self-wholeness and well-being, teaching by example. 
4.    Healers recognize that every person has healing capacities that can be enhanced and supported through self-care practices.

D. Validation

1. Healers acknowledge the sources of their teachings as either traditional, derived through personal intuition or based upon research.

IV Professional Behavior

A. Guiding Principles: 
1.    Healers embrace the following principals in their professional behavior: reverence, respect, trust, honesty, integrity, equality, competence, generosity, courage, humility and confidentiality.  
2.    Healers maintain a compassionate regard for the client by demonstrating a way of being that is courteous, tactful, sensitive, accepting, empathetic andnon-judgmental.

B. Communication and Confidentiality:  
1.    Healers maintain clear and honest communication with their clients and keep all information, whether medical or personal, strictly confidential.  A healer may not reveal the confidences entrusted in the course of the professional relationship, or the peculiarities he or she may observe in the character of clients, unless required to do so by law or to prevent harm to client or other persons.
2.    Healers cooperate with other healing professionals, including physicians, nurses, other complementary/ alternative therapists, psychologists, counselors, scientists and religious personnel and other professional caregivers in the exploration and provision of healing modalities.

C. Availability and Accessibility: 
1.    Healers shall make known their availability and accessibility to clients in need of their professional services. 
2.    Having undertaken care of the client, healers may not neglect the client.
3.    Should healers become unavailable, they should make appropriate referrals to other therapists
4.    Healers may discontinue services only after adequate notice. 

D. Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries and Parameters of Practice:  
1.    Healers maintain appropriate boundaries for self and client and do not enter into inappropriate relationships with clients or take physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial advantage of clients.
2.    Healers do not make medical diagnoses or prescribe medications without appropriate training and licensure.
3.    Healers do not recommend nutritional supplements without appropriate knowledge.
4.    Healers associated with the development or promotion of products should disclose any vested interest and ensure that such products are presented in a factual and professional way.

E. Relationships with Colleagues:
1.     Healers must know the limits of their professional competence. 
2.    Healers know that a patient’s health and safety may depend on receiving appropriate services from members of other professional disciplines. Healers are responsible for maintaining knowledge of, and appropriately utilizing the expertise of such professionals on the patient’s behalf.
3.    In referring patients to allied professionals, healers ensure that those to whom they refer patients are recognized members of their own disciplines and are competent to carry out the professional services required.
4.    If Healers’ services are sought by individuals who are already receiving similar services from another professional, consideration for the patients’ welfare shall be paramount. It requires healers to proceed with great caution, carefully considering both the existing professional relationship and the spiritual/therapeutic issues involved. 

V Conduct in a Professional Session  

A. Creating a Healing Environment:  
1.    Healers provide a safe, welcoming, supportive and comfortable environment that is conducive to healing.  
2.    Healers maintain a clean practice environment and professional personal appearance. 
3.    Healers display certification, training and educational certificates and diplomas in public view. 
4.    Healers honor the privacy of their clients and do not allow others in the treatment room without consent.

B. Disclosing Professional Information and Practices: 
1.    Healers provide clients with information regarding their healing philosophy and modality or modalities and what to expect during a healing session.  
2.    Healers inform the client of possible outcomes and side effects.  
3.    Healers share with clients prior to their sessions logistical considerations such as: length of session, punctuality and lateness policy, cancellation policy, and fees.

C. Recording, Securing and Releasing Records:  
1.    Healers record accurate client records. 
2.    Healers store records in a secure and safe place.   
3.    All information contained in the clients’ record is confidential.  
3.    Healers share information with other parties only with the written consent of the client, in accordance with guidelines and regulations of their professional organization and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

D.  Client Education:  
1.    Healers understand that a person’s ability to retain information is limited and therefore provide written information about the session.
2.    Healers provide clients with appropriate educational materials that will aid in the process of self-care for clients after the healing session.  Educational materials might include but are not limited to: written instructions regarding specific practices or exercises to enhance well-being; dietary suggestions; visualization or meditative practices; breathing exercises; affirmations; suggestions for journaling and other educational guides specific to individual healing practices.


Copyright ©  2007 The Council for Healing
This material may be reproduced with written permission from The Council for Healing. You may use this document as a resource on condition that you reference The Council for Healing as the source and reference the link http://councilforhealing.org/Ethics