Ethical & Legal Issues

"Because there is no governmental licensing or regulation of Surrogate Partners, International Professional Surrogates Association has assumed the responsibility of assuring the therapeutic community and the public that IPSA members have received adequate training, achieved professional competency, and adhere to the highest standards of ethical practice." (IPSA)

Some therapists fear personal legal consequences from recommending surrogates, but in over 40 years, there have been no successful legal challenges to IPSA Certified Surrogates, or to therapists who have worked with them.

I re-state the IPSA Ethical Standards here in personal terms:

  1. I describe myself as "Surrogate Partner" only in therapeutic situations comprised of client, supervising therapist and myself as surrogate (“the therapeutic team”). I may be designated to act primarily as either a substitute partner or a co-therapist depending upon the agreement within the team.
  2. I do my best to foster effective communication within the therapeutic team.
  3. My primary responsibility is to the therapeutic team and the therapeutic situation. Within this situation, my chief focus and primary ethical responsibility is for the client's welfare.
  4. The objectives and parameters of the therapeutic relationship will be discussed within the team so that the client may make informed decisions.
  5. My relationship with the client is temporary, always within the context of the therapeutic situation and in association with the supervision of the therapist.
  6. I seek to recognize and work within the boundaries and limitations of the client’s competence. And I will not attempt to use methods outside the range of my training and experience either. If I think that the client will benefit from methods beyond my expertise, I will communicate this to the supervising therapist.
  7. Even though I have significant professional training and experience in addition to my certification in Surrogate Partner Therapy, the function of “Surrogate Partner” shall be primary while I am working as a Surrogate. However, if there is agreement in the team that other methods and techniques within my competence are appropriate for the welfare of the client, I may use these additional skills.
  8. If, during my work with a client, the supervising therapist is not available when a situation arises in which consultation with the therapist would normally be required, I will take appropriate action for the welfare of the client.
  9. My responsibility for the welfare of the client continues until it is terminated by mutual agreement in the therapeutic team; or the client voluntarily terminates the therapy.
  10. The identity of a client, and all information received from or about him in the therapeutic situation shall not be communicated outside the therapeutic team without the client's expressed permission, except under the following conditions: a) when there is a clear and imminent danger to individuals or society, and then only to appropriate professional colleagues or public authorities; b) for the purpose of professional consultation with appropriate professional colleagues, if the identities of individuals are disguised to protect confidentiality. c) for the presentation of information to professional or lay groups, if the identities of individuals are disguised to protect confidentiality.
  11. I shall be responsible for taking adequate precautionary measures against the transmission of communicable diseases and infections. It is also my responsibility to determine that the client has taken similar precautions.
  12. I shall be responsible to ensure protection against conception.
  13. In order to continue to be effective in the therapeutic situation, I will maintain independent, personally fulfilling social and sexual relationships.
  14. In order to maintain optimum professionalism, I will: a) periodically stretch my awareness and skills through relevant continuing education; b) seek prompt and effective help when personal problems arise; c) arrange for adequate supervision for each case.
  15. When I present information either publicly or privately about surrogate work or the IPSA organization, I shall indicate clearly whether the statements represent official IPSA policy or are my personal opinions.
  16. I recognize that I may be regarded as representative of all surrogates and of IPSA even at times when I am not acting in this capacity. Therefore, I will conduct myself such as to uphold the professional reputation of surrogates and of IPSA.
  17. Announcements of my surrogate services to the therapeutic community shall be limited to simple statements of name, training, credentials and experience, address, phone number, a brief statement of methods used and times available. I identify current and former supervising therapists only with their explicit permission.
Parent Category: ROOT

Legal Status

"The legal status of Surrogate Partner Therapy is undefined in the United States and most countries around the world. This means that there are generally no laws regulating the profession." (IPSA)
Surrogate Partner Therapy