Code of Professional Conduct
AmSAT Code of Professional Conduct
As members of a professional society, the American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT), we have chosen to set down in this code these ethical guidelines to represent our common standards of professional conduct. This code applies to all categories of membership, both voting and non-voting.
This list is by no means exhaustive and in due course may be added to, modified or reformulated to represent more accurately the consensus of the Society. As members of AmSAT, we accept that the final responsibility for choosing appropriate behavior in any circumstance remains with the individual member whether that circumstance is covered clearly by specific guidelines or not. Any act or behavior, which by commission or omission, disgraces or dishonors an individual member, the membership at large or the profession would be considered a breach of professional conduct. In these guidelines we address those areas of professional conduct of most immediate concern to teacher and pupil. This document does not limit the freedom of AmSAT members to pursue individual paths of inquiry and advanced study, or to develop ideas and express opinions openly or to experiment or work outside an ordinary teaching practice. Instead it presents a practical model of professional conduct to be used in the ordinary day-to-day teaching practice of a teacher with private pupils.
It serves to inform the teacher, pupil, profession and community of actions and behavior that might call into question the ethics, conduct or intentions of a teacher and defame or undermine the reputation and integrity of the Alexander Technique, this Society or the professional community at large. These guidelines then represent a consensus of standards and values to which AmSAT members subscribe and which act as a model of ethical practices for teachers within and without the Society, and against which the conduct of an AmSAT member will be compared if a question arises.
A. The Teacher-Pupil Relationship
A member has a clear understanding of the professional protocol and decorum prevailing in private lessons and group classes and uses that knowledge to maintain a strictly professional relationship with pupils. The chief features of that protocol follow:
1. A member states clearly policies regarding payment, cancellation, lateness, appropriate apparel, etc. and changes them only with fair notice to the pupil.
2(a). No member uses the lesson time as a pretext for seducing the pupil or engaging in any sexual activity. A member does not enter into a sexual relationship with a pupil, nor an emotional relationship which compromises the effective transmission of the principles of the Alexander Technique or disrupts or damages the pupil's family life.
2(b). A member who teaches on a training course, regularly or occasionally, does not seduce a trainee; does not enter into a sexual relationship with a trainee; and does not enter into an emotional relationship with a trainee which compromises the fiduciary teacher-trainee relationship.
3. A member requires of the private pupil no special form of dress or undress other than non-restrictive clothing, does not require or ask for the adjustment or removal of clothing that might make the pupil feel uncomfortable or uncertain of the teacher's intention; if the pupil is wearing an excessively bulky garment the member may ask for its removal provided there is adequate street wear underneath; if for a special project, such as a scientific, medical or academic study or workshop, special dress or disrobing is necessary, this is clearly communicated to the participants well prior to the start and preferably in writing.
4. No member uses the lesson or the authority of the teaching position for influencing the pupil on matters outside the domain of the Alexander Technique, for gaining privileged information outside the concern of the work or for extracting gifts, favors or financial gain beyond the normal business transacted in a lesson.
5. A member always uses discretion with any information gained from a pupil, treats the pupil's privacy with confidentiality and preserves the pupil's anonymity if discussing aspects of the pupil's work with others.
B. The Teacher-Colleague Relationship
A member treats all colleagues with the respect and fairness with which the member would wish to be treated:
1. A member expresses differences of professional opinion without attacking other teachers personally or criticizing their work in a way that may undermine the confidence of the public in the profession, or otherwise reflect badly on the Alexander Technique.
2. A member takes care not to start any unfounded rumor or hearsay that might damage the reputation of another member or teacher.
3. A member may speak directly to another member or teacher about ethically suspect behavior if appropriate before taking the issue further.
4. A member reports only clear evidence of serious ethical misconduct to AmSAT. Such evidence may consist of: (a) direct personal experience; (b) clear first-hand testimony; (c) a substantial body of second-hand testimony.
5. A member informs any pupil of the option of registering a formal complaint with AmSAT about the conduct of a member or teacher.
C. The Teacher-Profession Relationship
A member works to advance knowledge and improve teaching skills and to promote the Alexander Technique, its reputation and the growth of the profession when and wherever possible. A member clearly understands that personal behavior outside the professional sphere might bear upon a teacher's professional standing. Serious misconduct, even if not directly connected with professional activity, could still compromise one's personal integrity which might call into question a teacher's professional ethics and jeopardize a member's standing with the Society.
1. A member maintains the integrity of the Alexander Technique. A member neither presents elements of other disciplines, therapies or practices as part of the Alexander Technique nor presents an amalgam of the Alexander Technique with another modality as the Alexander Technique. A member clearly identifies such material if introduced into a lesson for information, comparison or discussion.
2. A member advises a pupil to seek help from an appropriate professional for problems that lie outside the domain of the Alexander Technique.
3. In order to maintain the integrity of the Alexander Technique, described in the introductory paragraph to provision C and C.1, as well as to protect the welfare of students and potential Alexander Technique teachers, a member may participate in training others to teach the Alexander Technique for an unaffiliated training course only as a guest faculty and not as a Training Director, regular faculty member, or assistant faculty.
4. A member accurately represents professional qualifications and experience and describes the benefits of the Alexander Technique without false or exaggerated claims. Whenever possible members identify themselves as members of AmSAT. A member may advertise themselves or any other teacher to be a “senior” teacher only after the advertised teacher has been certified as a teacher for 20 years.
D. The Training Director-Trainee Relationship
In this section, “member” refers specifically to Training Course Directors, Faculty, and/or any AmSAT member who teaches on a training course, regularly or occasionally.
A member has a clear understanding of the professional protocol and decorum prevailing in training courses, and uses that knowledge to maintain a strictly professional relationship with trainees. This includes, but is not limited to the following:
1(a). A member has well-defined policies in place regarding payment, cancellation, lateness, appropriate apparel, hygiene protocol, etc. and clearly communicates them to pupils. Any necessary changes to policies are communicated in a timely manner.
1(b). A member may make an exception for a trainee regarding a course’s individual policies, or grant an exception as provided for in the Bylaws or any temporary resolutions passed by the AmSAT Board. If an exception is made, the conditions of the exception should be clear and in writing.
2(a). A member does not use the training course as a pretext for seducing the trainee or engaging in any sexual activity. A member does not enter into a sexual relationship with a trainee, even if the trainee initiates or consents to contact.
2(b). A member does not enter into an emotional relationship which disrupts or damages the trainee’s personal life or compromises the fiduciary teacher-trainee relationship.
3. A member requires of the trainee no special form of dress or undress other than clothing that doesn't interfere with the teaching of hands-on work or other aspects of training, does not require or ask for the adjustment or removal of clothing that might make the trainee feel uncomfortable or uncertain of the teacher's intention; if the trainee is wearing an excessively bulky garment the member may ask for its removal provided there is adequate street wear underneath; if a trainee is wearing clothing that is too minimal for comfortable hands-on practice, a member may request that the trainee choose different clothing; if for a special project, such as a scientific, medical or academic study or workshop, special dress or disrobing is necessary, this is clearly communicated to the participants in advance and preferably in writing.
4. A member does not use the training course or the authority of the teaching position for influencing the trainee on matters outside the domain of the Alexander Technique, for gaining privileged information outside the concern of the work or for extracting gifts, favors or financial gain beyond the normal business transacted on a training course.
5. A member uses discretion with any information gained from a trainee, and treats the trainee’s privacy with confidentiality. A member makes trainees aware that information they share with the Training Director/Faculty may be shared with other faculty if it is relevant to creating a productive, safe, and respectful training course environment. A trainee may request that information not be shared with other faculty, or not shared with designated faculty members.
6. A member is aware of the power differential within Faculty/Trainee relationships, and acknowledges and respects a trainee’s freedom of choice, and right to decline participation in an activity. If a trainee’s choices or actions negatively impact or disrupt the environment of the training course or infringe upon the rights of others on the course, a member may discuss this with the trainee. If a member determines that the trainee’s choices will result in inadequate preparation to teach the Alexander Technique, or will impede their progress toward graduation from the course, a member shall discuss this with the trainee.
Questions or concerns regarding professional conduct may be addressed confidentially by contacting the Chair of AmSAT's Professional Conduct Committee at: pcc@AmSATonline.org
Adopted by Membership, 1992 as The Guidelines for Professional Conduct; renamed Code of Professional Conduct, by Membership, 1996; amended June, 2004, June, 2009, May 2014, July 2021, July 2022, and July 2023.