The Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics Revision Process

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) maintains a high standard of ethics for its practitioners. They outline the details of these expectations in the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. However, in 2014, the process of revising the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics began.

According to the AOTA, the 2015 Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics serves two purposes:

  1. It provides aspirational Core Values that guide members toward ethical courses of action in professional and volunteer roles.
  2. It delineates enforceable Principles and Standards of Conduct that apply to AOTA members.

As a traveling occupational therapist, you are required to adhere to all facets of the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics as it pertains to your client base, including any modifications made by the AOTA Ethics Commission throughout the life of the document. For example, the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics was updated in 2015. Below, we’ll take a look at the process of making those changes and how to prepare for future modifications. Studying this document and being aware of any changes is something that all occupational therapists must do. Continue reading for more information!

occupational therapy code of ethics

The Process of Changing the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics

Beginning in April of 2014, the Ethics Commission began discussing the proposed changes to the former Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. This was done as part of a routine 5-year review process of official documents. The purpose of these reviews is to ensure that all practices align with the current standards of the field. Healthcare workers must adjust as technology and societal changes occur so that practitioners can provide the best care to their patients. This is particularly true when it comes to ethics. You never want to apply old principals to this facet of the job!

It’s important to note that the AOTA values the opinions of its members. Changes to such a vital document do not occur without their feedback. From April through June of 2014, the AOTA accepted input from its members of the AOTA regarding the proposed modifications. If you wished to weigh in on the discussion, you could have sent an email to To be considered, your feedback was to have been sent to reviewers by June 6, 2014. Deadlines such as this ensure that the Ethics Commission has an adequate amount of time to review the responses.

The First Draft

When it comes to policy changes, transparency is very important to the AOTA. Throughout the month of August 2014, the proposed changes to the former Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics were on display for AOTA members to review. This draft was posted on their website and could be viewed by all members. Links for any future drafts will be available on the AOTA Alerts page, just as they were for that one. So, make sure you’re checking it often!

We get it. Not everyone remembers to check. To help with this, the AOTA notifies members by email when the link is available for review. This email helps members stay informed on potential changes to the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. Once the link became available to members in August of 2014, a discussion forum also opened.

This discussion board gives AOTA members the opportunity to read and discuss the proposed changes. But, there are a few other methods that they use to collect data. Not only do they accept feedback through the email address listed above, but they also create a survey so that occupational therapists can quickly record their thoughts regarding the changes. The association appreciates honest and thoughtful commentary because it helps them enact changes that affect the entire profession of occupational therapy. Without the input of practicing occupational therapists, the AOTA runs the risk of enforcing inadequate standards. Once the feedback is collected, the Ethics Commission is able to implement suggested changes, which were then reviewed again.

The Second Draft

From October through November, the Ethics Commission worked to incorporate the feedback it received from members concerning proposed changes to the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. A second draft was generated that reflects the input given by members, state licensure boards, and NBCOT.

In December of 2014, the revised draft of proposed changes became available for review. At this stage in the process, feedback from members goes to their designated Representative Assembly spokesperson. This is important to keep in mind when giving feedback in the future, as the recipient changes. This period is the second round of changes for the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. The reason for such a rigorous review process is because the code guides all practitioners. Therefore, the AOTA should not alter it without careful consideration.

The Vote

In the early spring of 2015, the Representative Assembly met to vote on the revised code of ethics. Once the document was voted on and approved, the changes were passed. The AOTA follows this process each time it considers changing the document. Remember, it is subject to review every 5 years, so keep it on your radar!

Preparing for Future Changes

If any changes make it through this revision process, all AOTA members must understand and adopt the new code. Even if the changes are minor, it’s still important to familiarize yourself with the new document. A copy of the current Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics is always available online. You can find it at any time by visiting the AOTA Ethics page. The document is public so that people outside of the profession know what to expect from occupational therapists. Therefore, it can be helpful for everyone to view it, not just occupational therapists.

Now that you understand the process of changing the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics, you can better prepare for future proposals. As a member of the AOTA, it’s important to do your part and review any potential changes to this vital document. The AOTA will continue to make the process of collecting feedback easy, so take advantage of this. Your voice does matter. Use it!

Staying up-to-date on the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics is crucial for any practicing occupational therapist. But, that’s not the only thing that’s important! Staying fresh is also important for any health care professional. Are you looking for a new challenge besides reviewing and studying this document? Consider becoming a travel occupational therapist! This is a great way to explore the country while learning new skills and earning top pay. AlliedTravelCareers will connect you with the best occupational therapy travel jobs out there. Apply today for a chance to reinvigorate your career!

Do you have any questions about the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics? Are you a member of the AOTA? Do you have any experience with the revision process? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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