The Ethical Activity Professional
When I think of ethics, a few words come to mind: Integrity, Honesty, and Moral Principles. These words mean that I, as an individual, practice principles that I believe in. These principles could be spiritually-minded or they could be business- minded. Either way, the discipline of dealing with good and bad comes with a moral duty and obligation. A question I ask myself is, “What is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior on the part of a professional?”
As a member of NAAP, I adhere to a Code of Ethics that are for my benefit. The Preamble to this Code is: “The National Association of Activity Professionals and its members are dedicated to providing activity services and programs, which meet the unique needs and interests of the individuals they serve.” This preamble is a great reminder to us as members of what we should stand for. Within the code are 13 principles that guide us along the way. They include: Conduct, Dignity/Rights, Confidentiality, Empowerment, Participation, Record Keeping, Professional, Supervisory, Communication, Provision of Services, Legal, and Professional Associations. This Code of Ethics was adopted by the NAAP Board of Trustees in April 1996.
I would like to focus of a couple of these principles, namely conduct and professional.
Conduct: The Activity Professional shall maintain high standards of personal conduct and professional integrity at all times. The Activity Professional shall treat colleagues with professional courtesy. The Activity Professional shall obey the By-Laws and Code of Ethics governing all professional associations to which he/she belongs.
Professional: The Activity Professional shall participate in continuing education opportunities, strive for professional competence and excellence in all matters, ensure accurate resumes, and differentiate between personal comments/actions, official NAAP positions and/or official positions of other associations to which he/she belongs. The Activity Professional shall encourage professional peers and colleagues to participate in professional associations and accept leadership roles.
Since 1982, NAAP has been the membership organization for Activity Professionals in providing education, advocacy and support. This organization was created by Activity Professionals for Activity Professionals. I love this statement because it is the true essence of who we are. I am here to provide these opportunities to our members. Our board members believe in this too, and want to provide the same.
Over the last several years there have been major changes within our organization. We made these changes to better meet the needs of our members. But, what hasn’t changed is our focus in providing education, support, and advocacy. When we provide educational opportunities to our members we want to be sure our membership can use these continuing education hours for new certification or renewal with whatever credentialing body the individual is certified with, including applying for pre-approvals to these organizations. Some of these groups charge a lot of money for the pre-approval process, but this is not a hardship for us because we know it benefits our members.
Over the last few years, NAAP has made several attempts to mend the bridge that has been formed with one of the certification bodies, NCCAP. Unfortunately, these attempts have been shot down by NCCAP’s Board of Directors and Executive Director, citing that NAAP is an unethical organization and does not advocate for NCCAP. These two cites are unfounded and I am saddened by this.
NAAP advocates for NCCAP just as much as any credentialing body. We apply and pay for pre-approvals for the continuing education we provide, our board members are NCCAP certified and some teach the MEPAP training. In addition, we have a direct link to the NCCAP website on our website with information on their organization, and we provide certification information when requested by our members.
When I hear or read the word unethical I reevaluate the situation. I pride myself on being honest, true, and having integrity. I also pride myself in being involved with organizations that hold the same standards.
When looking at ethical dilemmas, it is good to think of these options (William Hitt):
- To determine if an action is right or wrong, one must concentrate on its likely consequences.
- Rules of action must take their character from the end to which they are subservient.
- Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.
- Happiness may be defined as the presence of pleasure in the absence of pain.
- Since each person desires his or her own happiness, this is sufficient reason to posit happiness as an ultimate end.
- Because happiness is the sole end of human action, the promotion of it is the criterion of morality.
- The happiness that determines what is right in conduct is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned.
- An action has utility to the extent that is can produce happiness or prevent unhappiness.
- An action is right from an ethical point of view if and only if the sum total of utilities produced by that act is greater than the sum total of utilities produced by any other set the agent could have performed in its place.
- Utility serves as the common umpire in choosing between incompatible moral obligations.
When questioning ethics and standards, I recommend you make your decision based on the following:
- On the basis of expected results, what would give the greatest return on your investment.
- On the basis of what the law says, on the legality of the matter.
- On the basis of strategy and values of my organization.
- On the basis of my personal convictions and what my conscience tells me to do.
As NAAP moves forward into this new year, we will to continue to provide education, support and advocacy for our members and the Activity Profession. We look forward to seeing you in Dallas in April.
Be proud to be an Activity Professional!
Alisa Tagg, BA ACC/EDU AC-BC CDP
National Association of Activity Professionals