Purpose and Goals of the International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST)

The International Society for Sandplay Therapy (ISST) is an international organization of legal and natural persons trained in Sandplay Therapy who are engaged in the practice of this form of therapy and its further development through scientific research. Its goals are:

  1. Promotion of the study of Sandplay Therapy.
  2. Propagation and dissemination of knowledge about Sandplay Therapy.
  3. Promotion of qualified standards of training and practice on the basis of ethical therapeutic conduct.
  4. Organization and execution of congresses and conventions.

The society pursues these goals with due consideration of the autonomous status and professional interests of its ISST-certified members of the ISST Member societies, as well as its individual members.

The members of ISST pledge themselves to creating and following rules of equal rights, which forbid all discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual preference in relation to applications for membership in professional organizations, training programs, and public events organized by ISST.


Purpose of ISST Code of Ethics

The ISST Code of Ethics serves four main purposes:

  1. The Code enables the society to clarify the nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by its current and future members, and those served by members.
  2. The Code helps support the mission of the society.
  3. The Code serves as an ethical guide designed to assist members in constructing a professional course of action that best serves those utilizing Sandplay Therapy and best promotes the values of ISST.
  4. The Code serves as the basis for adjudication of ethical complaints and inquiries initiated against members of the society.

Application of ISST Code of Ethics

This Code applies to all ISST-certified members of ISST Member societies (legal persons), ISST-certified direct members (natural persons), ISST honorary members, and candidates for certification. These ethical principles are not intended to create any legal liability on the part of the members of ISST.



Professional Responsibilities

A.1. Primary Responsibility. ISST members and candidates should conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards and shall hold the best interests of their clients to be paramount. This responsibility is central to being an ISST member or candidate.

A.2. Familiarity with Standards. ISST members and candidates are expected to be familiar with and abide by these standards.

A.3. Applicable Laws. In addition to the standards cited in this document, each ISST member and candidate shall comply with applicable national and regional laws and professional regulations governing the conduct of his or her licensed and/or certified specialty within the country, region, or state in which he or she practices.

A.4. Informed Consent. Before therapy begins, ISST members and candidates shall state clearly the nature of the treatment method to be used, the length and frequency of sessions, fee arrangements, where and when meetings shall take place, and conditions for cancellation of sessions.

A.5. Records. ISST members and candidates maintain records necessary for rendering professional services to their clients and as required by local laws, regulations, or agency or institutional procedures.




B.1. Confidentiality. ISST members and candidates respect client rights to privacy and do not share confidential information without client consent or without sound legal or ethical justification.

B.2. Explanation of Confidentiality Limitations. At initiation and throughout the therapeutic process, ISST members and candidates inform clients of the limitations of confidentiality and seek to identify foreseeable situations in which confidentiality must be breached.

B.3. Professional Use of Client Material. Identity and confidentiality of clients must be protected when client material is used in professional settings. When material is presented in large venues, such as conferences, public presentations, journal articles, and books, written permission shall be obtained from the client and/or parent(s) or legal guardian.

B.4. Confidentiality of Case Study. With the submission of the final case study, a signed statement from the candidate must be included verifying that the candidate holds written permission from the client regarding use of case material.

B.5. Confidentiality of Records. ISST members and candidates ensure that records are kept in a secure location and that only authorized persons have access to records.

B.6. Transmitting Confidential Information. ISST members and candidates take precautions to ensure the confidentiality of information transmitted electronically, including but not limited to electronic mail, voicemail, answering machines, facsimile machines, and websites.



Relationships with Clients

C.1 Dual Relationships. Nonprofessional relationships with clients, their romantic partners, or their family members should be avoided.

C.2 Dual Relationships with Candidates. It is recognized that in some cases members of ISST may assume dual roles in the training of sandplay therapists. Special consideration must be undertaken to preserve the boundaries between the personal psychotherapeutic process and the supervision and training of a candidate. In the view of ISST, the supervisor(s) should be different from the personal process therapist. Further, the candidate’s supervisor(s), personal process therapist, and advisor must not serve as a formal evaluator of the final case study.

C.3. Avoiding Harm. ISST members and candidates act to avoid harming their clients and supervisees and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm. Sexual or romantic therapist-client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic partners, or their family members are prohibited.

C.4. Abandonment Prohibited. ISST members and candidates do not abandon or neglect clients. Therefore, during interruptions, such as vacations and illness, therapists assist in making appropriate arrangements for continuation of treatment, when necessary.

C.5. Appropriate Termination. ISST members and candidates terminate a therapy relationship when it becomes reasonably apparent that the client no longer needs assistance, is not likely to benefit from, or is being harmed by continued therapy. Pretermination therapy or closure sessions are provided and other serviceproviders are recommended when necessary.



Professional Conduct

D.1. Professional Competence. ISST members and candidates practice only within the boundaries of their competence and use techniques for which they are qualified, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state, regional, and national professional credentials and appropriate professional experience.

D.2. Misrepresentation. ISST members and candidates may not misrepresent their academic background, professional training, experience, or professional affiliations. They may not advertise to the public using materials that contain inaccurate or untruthful claims about their preparation or the techniques and approaches they use in therapy.

D.3. Continuing Development. ISST members and candidates maintain high standards of competence and continue to pursue their personal and professional growth and development.

D.4. Consultation on Ethical Obligations. ISST members and candidates take reasonable steps to consult with other ISST members, therapists, or related professionals when they have questions regarding their ethical obligations or professional practice.

D. 5. Impairment. ISST members and candidates refrain from undertaking any activity in which their personal problems or physical or mental impairments are likely to lead to inadequate performance or harm to a client, colleague, or supervisee. If engaged in such activity, they must seek competent professional assistance to determine whether they should suspend, terminate, or limit the scope of their professional activities.



Resolving Ethical Issues

E.1. Knowledge. ISST members and candidates shall understand the ISST Code of Ethics, other applicable ethics codes from professional organizations, and from certification and licensure bodies of which they are members. Lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of an ethical responsibility is not a defense against a charge of unethical conduct.

E.2. Conflicts Between Ethics and Laws. If ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, ISST members or candidates take steps to resolve the conflict. If the conflict cannot be resolved, adherence to the requirements of law, regulations or other governing legal authority takes precedence.

E.3. Ethical Behavior Expected. ISST members and candidates expect ISST colleagues to adhere to the Code of Ethics. When members and candidates possess knowledge that raises doubts as to whether another ISST colleague is acting in an ethical manner, they take appropriate action. (See E.4., E.5, E.6, and E.7. below.)

E.4. Informal Resolution. When ISST members and candidates have reason to believe that another member or candidate is violating or has violated an ethical standard, they attempt first to resolve the issue informally with the other colleague if feasible, provided such action does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved.

E.5. Reporting Ethical Violations. If an apparent violation has substantially harmed, or is likely to substantially harm, a person or organization and is not appropriate for informal resolution or is not resolved properly, ISST members and candidates take further action appropriate to the situation. Such action might include referral to state, regional, or national committees on professional ethics, voluntary national certification bodies, state licensing boards, ISST Ethics Committee, or to the appropriate institutional authorities. This standard does not apply when an intervention would violate national or regional confidentiality regulations (SEE G.4.).

E.6. Consultation. When uncertain as to whether a particular situation or course of action may be in violation of the ISST Code of Ethics, ISST members and candidates consult with others who are knowledgeable about ethics and the ISST Code of Ethics, with professional colleagues, or with appropriate authorities.

E.7. Cooperation With Ethics Committees. ISST members and candidates assist in the process of enforcing the ISST Code of Ethics and cooperate with investigations, proceedings, and requirements of the ISST Ethics Committee or ethics committees of other duly constituted associations or boards having jurisdiction over those charged with a violation (SEE Section G).

E.8. Unwarranted Complaints. ISST members and candidates do not initiate, participate in, or encourage the filing of ethics complaints that are made with reckless disregard or willful ignorance of facts that would disprove the allegation.



Grounds for Expulsion from ISST

F1. Possible Grounds. Should an ISST member or candidate be expelled from an affiliated or other recognized professional association, be de-licensed in his or her field of practice, or be convicted of a felony, ISST shall investigate and adjudicate the matter in accordance with the procedures promulgated by ISST(SEE Section G).

F.2. Mental or Physical Disability. Any physical or mental disability (e.g., senility, substance abuse) that causes an ISST member or candidate to be unable to perform the service implicit in the psychotherapeutic contract or to fulfill his or her responsibilities as a member in good standing in ISST, and/or the professional community shall be grounds for ISST to institute its own investigation and adjudication of the conduct of a member or candidate of ISST.



Procedures for Possible Expulsion from ISST

G.1. Wherever possible, complaints will be resolved by the ISST Member society using their rules and procedures.

G.2 The ISST Member society will inform the ISST Board of the complaint and report developments and outcomes related to the complaint.

G.3 If the complaint cannot be resolved locally, the ISST Member society may request assistance from the ISST Board.

G.4 In the event of a written complaint of an alleged breech in the code of ethics by a direct member (natural person) or a failure to resolve a complaint at a local level, the ISST Board will appoint three members to hear and investigate the complaint. The three members will not be affiliated with the accused member.

Ratified at the General Assembly in Cambridge August 24, 2007