Ethics

PREAMBLE
The American College of Vedic Astrology is an educational and professional organization whose faculty and students are dedicated to the highest quality of Vedic astrology. They recognize that Vedic astrology is irrevocably linked with the Vedic, or yogic philosophy ,of India. faculty and students understand the depth of their commitment to Vedic astrology as Sanatana Dharma, or eternal duty.

Varahamihira gives the following qualifications of an astrologer in his Brihat Samhita (Vol. 1: Ch. 2 : V. 3) “[The astrologer] … must be pure, skillful, bold, eloquent, possessed of a ready wit, a knower of time and place, filled with equanimity, not timid in assembly, victorious in debate with other astrologers, expert, free from vices, well-versed in the art of performing rituals of both curative and preventive types…, ever engaged in worshipping deities, [performing] observances and austerities, possessed of scientific knowledge … and capable of answering questions and prescribing remedies.” In his Brihat Samhita, Vol. 1, Ch. 2, “Canons for [the] Astrologer,” Varahamihira gives more lengthy rules or qualifications for an astrologer. faculty and students should read the statements by Varahamihira and be aware of these ancient principles in their daily life and work as astrologers.

In the classic Prasna Marga, attributed to Namoodiri Brahmin of Kerala, the following are given as Qualifications of an astrologer (Vol 1: Stanza 15): “That person, who has mastery of this science [Vedic astrology], who has a good knowledge of mathematics, who leads a religious life, who is truthful, who is free from conceit and who is well versed in the Vedas, mantras, and tantras, he [she] alone can be called a Daivajnya or seer.”

Obviously, some concepts need to be translated for modern times. For instance, “leading a religious life” does not signify belonging to or practicing only one form of religion. In the Hindu/Vedic tradition, “religious” refers more to a secular way of respecting the Divine presence in all peoples and in the environment. It also refers to one who has a genuine spiritual path and practice. In so doing, one has an inherent respect for all religions, bearing in mind that though spiritual paths may vary, they all have the same goal.

The study of the Vedas and the Upanishads, which underlie all of Vedic astrology, speak of many deities. But all are aspects of the One Supreme Deity, also called the One Underlying Reality.

Vedic astrologers work to develop a valid and reliable body of knowledge based on research, both quantitative and qualitative. They may apply that knowledge to human behavior in a variety of contexts: counselor, consultant, administrator, psychotherapist, and educator. These Ethical Standards and Guidelines have as their primary goal the welfare and protection of individuals and groups with whom astrologers work, as well as the professional astrologer and the professional astrological community.

Towards this end, faculty and students should promote data accuracy, educational services, counseling standards, and ongoing research in astrology across a variety of disciplines. Just as it is a privilege to be a Vedic astrologer, likewise its is incumbent upon a Vedic astrologer to maintain the highest possible moral standards and conduct, thereby totally fulfilling one’s responsibilities to each client and to the public.

The Ethical Standards and Guidelines enables ACVA to clarify the nature of the ethical responsibilities held in common by its faculty and students. All faculty and students of ACVA should adhere to the Ethical Standards and Guidelines.

As there are several disciplines within Vedic astrology, a comprehensive listing of ethical standards and guidelines must endeavor to cover a variety of different situations. What is ethically relevant to a Prasna astrologer may not apply to a Counseling astrologer whose client is struggling with a relationship problem. These guidelines, therefore, strive to recognize the specific ethical standards that apply in the various different disciplines within astrology. It also covers activities such as interactions with the public, teaching, supervision, and research.

We recognize that the development of standards is an ongoing process and that these guidelines are a living document subject to revisions and updates as needed. Every conceivable situation that may occur cannot be expressly covered by this document. The absence of a specific prohibition against a particular kind of conduct does not mean that such conduct is ethical. Accordingly, while the specific wording of these standards is important, the spirit and intent of the principles should always be taken into consideration by those utilizing or interpreting this code.

Adherence to a dynamic set of ethical standards requires a personal commitment to a life-long effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by one’s colleagues; and to consult with others, as needed, concerning ethical problems.

We wish to acknowledge the International Society for Astrological Research (I.S.A.R.) for providing us with a model for A.C.V.A.’s Ethical Standards and Guidelines.

Section A: Professional Responsibility

A.1. DEFINITION
A professional Vedic astrologer provides astrological services as a source of livelihood or as a career. Services may include, but are not limited to, counseling, forecasting and prediction, teaching, lecturing, writing, research, financial and business guidance, answering specific questions, electing times for various enterprises, health matters, prescribing remedial measures, spiritual guidance, and relocation matters.

A.2. FOUNDATIONAL STANDARDS
a. Responsibility to Learn the Ethical Standards and Guidelines. Professional astrologers have a responsibility to read, understand, and follow the Ethical Standards and Guidelines. Ignorance of them is not an acceptable defense against a charge of unethical conduct.

b. Primary Responsibility: The prime directive that supercedes all other ethical issues is, do no harm. Astrologers act at all times in the client’s best interest.

c. Enhance Image of the Profession: Astrologers behave in a manner that does not damage the status of the profession. Astrologers present an image of professionalism when representing astrology.

A.3. PERSONAL NEEDS AND VALUES
a. Personal Needs: Astrologers should be aware of the intimacy and responsibilities inherent in the counseling relationship, maintain respect for clients, and avoid actions that seek to meet the astrologer’s personal needs at the expense of clients’ needs.

b. Personal Values: Astrologers recognize their own values, attitudes, or beliefs, realize that we live in a diverse society, and avoid imposing their values on clients.

A.4. RESPECTING DIVERSITY
a. Nondiscrimination: Astrologers do not discriminate against clients, students, or supervisees in a manner that has a negative impact based on their age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status, or for any other reason.

b. Respecting Differences: Astrologers will actively attempt to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of the clients with whom they work. This includes, but is not limited to, learning how the astrologer’s own cultural identity impacts his/her values and beliefs.

A.5. PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE
a. Boundaries of Competence: Astrologers practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, and appropriate professional experience.

b. New Specialty Areas of Practice: Astrologers practice in specialty areas new to them only after appropriate education and training. While developing skills in new specialty areas, astrologers take steps to ensure the competence of their work .

c. Monitor Effectiveness: Astrologers consistently strive to achieve excellence in their work, and take steps to improve when necessary. Astrologers should also seek out peer supervision to evaluate their efficacy as astrologers.

d. Ethical Issues Consultation: Astrologers take reasonable steps to consult with other astrologers or related professionals when they have questions regarding their ethical obligations or professional practice.

e. Continuing Education: Astrologers recognize the need for continuing education to maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current scientific and professional information in their fields of activity. This may include attending conferences, taking courses, and studying literature. Astrologers strive to maintain competence in the skills they use and are open to new procedures.

f. Limitation: Astrologers refrain from rendering professional services when their physical, mental, or emotional problems are likely to harm a client or others. They are alert to signs of limitation, seek assistance for problems, and, if necessary, limit, suspend, or terminate their professional responsibilities.

A.6. ADVERTISING AND SOLICITING CLIENTS
a. Definition: Advertising entails, but is not limited to, all paid and unpaid statements in media, brochures, business cards, direct mail promotions, directory listings, resumes, and other printed matter. Advertising also includes statements made in oral presentations such as lectures and classes, as well as comments for use in electronic media such as television, radio, and the Internet.

b. Accurate Advertising: It is unethical for astrologers to make false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive claims that are designed to induce the rendering of professional services.

c. Citing of Degrees: Astrologers may only advertise the highest degree earned which is in astrology, counseling or a professional related field from a college or university that was accredited when the degree was awarded by one of the regional accrediting bodies recognized by the Council on Post-secondary Accreditation.

d. Statements by Others/Media: Astrologers make reasonable efforts to ensure that statements made by others/media about them or the profession of astrology are accurate.

e. Products and Training Advertisements: Astrologers who develop products related to their profession or conduct workshops or training events ensure that the advertisements concerning these products or events are accurate and disclose adequate information for consumers to make informed choices.

f. Promoting to Those Served: Astrologers refrain from counseling, teaching, training, or supervisory relationships to promote their products, services, or training events in a manner that is deceptive or would exert undue influence on individuals who may be vulnerable. In accordance with the Vedic scriptures, and respecting the laws of dharma, when making remedial recommendations, Vedic astrologers should provide a variety of remedial measures including, but not limited to prayer, mantras, gemstones, or charitable work.

g. Professional Association Involvement: Astrologers strive to actively participate in local, state, or national associations that foster the development and improvement of astrology.

A.7. CREDENTIALS
a. Credentials Claimed: Astrologers claim or imply only professional credentials possessed and are responsible for correcting any known misrepresentations of their credentials by others. Professional credentials include certification from a recognized astrology program, graduate degrees in astrology, philosophy, religion, counseling or closely related fields, government issued certifications or licenses, or any other credential that might indicate to the public specialized knowledge in a field related to their astrological work.

b. Credential Guidelines: Astrologers follow the guidelines for use of credentials that have been established by the entities that issue the credentials.

c. Doctoral Degrees from Other Fields: Astrologers who hold a masters or doctoral degree in a field other than astrology, counseling or a closely related field such as philosophy, religion or medicne, do not use the title “Dr.” in their practices.

A.8. FEES AND BARTERING
a. Advance Understanding: Astrologers clearly explain to clients, prior to entering the counseling relationship, all financial arrangements related to professional services.

b. Establishing Fees: In the event that the established fee structure is cost-prohibitive for the client, assistance is provided in attempting to find comparable services of acceptable cost.

c. Bartering: Astrologers may accept goods or services in return for astrological services provided that the relationship is not exploitative, if the client requests it, and if astrologer and client make a clear agreement about their bartering arrangement.

d. Referral Fees: Astrologers should be aware of the potential conflict of interest involved in accepting a referral fee from other professionals including but not limited to fee splitting, credit or commissions from related service providers.

e. Pro Bono Service: Astrologers strive to contribute to society by devoting a portion of their professional activity to services for which there is little or no financial return (pro bono).

A.9. PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY
a. Charts of Public Figures: Interpretations of the charts of public figures are confined to areas that are considered public domain due to specific achievements or notoriety as revealed in interviews, published documents, or recorded observations. When interpreting charts of public figures, astrologers refrain from making slanderous comments. Information should be presented in a manner that is respectful to the individual whose chart is being discussed.

b. Mundane, economic, or political predictions: When interpreting charts that refer to large groups of people, whether financial, social, political, or geophysical, astrologers avoid extreme statements of imminent disaster that could cause public alarm. Astrological variables can manifest in differing events of similar meaning, and astrology cannot predict with absolute certainty the outcome of future astronomical events.

c. Sexual Harassment: Astrologers do not engage in sexual harassment, which is defined as sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, that occurs in connection with professional activities or roles, and that either: (1) is unwelcome, is offensive, or (2) is sufficiently severe or intense to be perceived as harassment to a reasonable person in the context. Sexual harassment can consist of a single intense or severe act or multiple persistent or pervasive acts.

d. Media Presentations: When astrologers provide advice or comment by means of public lectures, demonstrations, radio or television programs, prerecorded tapes, printed articles, computer reports, mailed material, or other media, they take reasonable precautions to ensure that (1) the statements are based on appropriate professional astrological literature and practice; (2) the statements are otherwise consistent with the Ethical Standards and Guidelines; (3) they do not represent themselves as spokespersons for an organization without the proper authorization from that organization; and (4) the recipient of the information is not encouraged to infer that a professional counseling relationship has been established.

e. Unreasonable Claims: Astrologers do not exploit the anxieties and gullibility of the public by inducing people to purchase astrological services on the basis of unrealistic claims, such as the promise of love, happiness, or prosperity. Neither do astrologers exploit the vulnerability of clients to purchase services on the premise of protecting them from negative future events that the astrologer claims to see.

A.10. SEXUAL INTIMACIES WITH CLIENTS OR STUDENTS
a. Current Clients or Students: Astrologers do not have any type of sexual intimacies with clients or students before, during, or immediately following a consultation.

b. Former Clients or Students: Astrologers do not date or engage in sexual intimacies with current or former clients or students within a minimum of six months following a consultation. If any sort of dating relationship is initiated, then any professional relationship should be terminated.

A.11. RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHER PROFESSIONALS
a. Different Approaches: Astrologers are respectful of approaches to professional astrology that differ from their own. Astrologers know and take into account the traditions and practices of other professional groups with which they work.

b. Personal Public Statements: When making personal statements in a public context, astrologers clarify that they are speaking from their personal perspective and that they are not speaking on behalf of all astrologers or the profession.

c. Clients Served by Others: If a client is receiving services from a mental health professional, and the astrologer contracts to see the client for regular sessions, e.g., once monthly, the astrologer, with client consent, may inform the professional persons already involved and develops clear agreements to avoid confusion and conflict for the client. However, the client should be encouraged to inform all the professionals involved.

Section B: Confidentiality

B.1. RIGHT TO PRIVACY
a. Respect for Privacy: Astrologers respect their client’s right to privacy and avoid unwarranted disclosures of confidential information.

b. Multiple Relationships: When an astrologer agrees to provide consulting services for someone at the request of a third party, the astrologer clarifies that confidentiality will be maintained with respect to both parties.

c. Client Waiver: The right to confidentiality may be waived by the client or their legally recognized representative.

d. Exceptions: The general requirement that astrologers keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or others. Astrologers may chose to seek legal advice in such situations.

e. Supervision: If client treatment will involve a continued review by a supervisor or treatment team, the client will be informed of the supervisor/team’s existence. Astrologers obtain the client’s permission before presenting the case, and assure clients that names and other identifying information that is not essential to the supervisory process will be withheld.

f. Group Work: In group work, astrologers clearly define confidentiality and the parameters for the specific group being entered, explain its importance, and discuss the difficulties related to confidentiality involved in group work. The fact that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed is clearly communicated to the faculty and students.

g. Minor Clients: When interpreting charts of individuals who are minors and who are unable to give voluntary, informed consent, parents or guardians may be included in the counseling process as appropriate. Astrologers act in the best interests of clients and take measures to safeguard confidentiality.

h. Confidentiality of Records: Astrologers are responsible for securing the safety and confidentiality of any records they create, maintain, or transfer whether the records are written, taped, computerized, or stored in any other medium.

i. Permission to Record or Observe: Astrologers obtain permission from clients prior to electronically recording or observing sessions.

j. Disclosure or Transfer: Astrologers obtain written permission from clients to disclose or transfer records to legitimate third parties (e.g., therapists or other astrologers). Steps are taken to ensure that receivers of records are sensitive to their confidential nature.

B.2. THIRD PARTY HOROSCOPES
a. Interpretation of a Third Party’s Horoscope: If a client wants an astrologer to interpret the chart of a third party, it is incumbent upon the astrologer to ask the client to obtain the third party’s permission.

b. Failure to obtain permission: If the primary client does not obtain permission from the third party, astrologers may use the third party’s birth data to better understand the client’s relationship with this third party, but avoids direct interpretation of third party horoscopes to the client.

c. Synastry and composite charts: For purposes of synastry or composite charts, astrologers may utilize the birth data of third parties without their permission. However, astrologers avoid direct interpretation of third party horoscopes to the client.

B.3. RESEARCH AND TRAINING
a. Data Disguise Required: Use of data derived from counseling relationships for purposes of training, research, or publication is disguised to ensure the anonymity of the individuals involved. Such disguises may include, but are not limited to, false names, gender, geographical location, race, career, and other indicators that can be altered without losing the essential significance of the data.

b. Agreement for Identification: Identification of a client in a presentation or publication is permissible only when the client has reviewed the material and has agreed to its presentation or publication.

Section C: Consulting Astrology

C.1. DEFINITION
An astrological consultant is one whose services include discussion of an astrological chart in order to (1) help individuals recognize their strengths and talents, (2) provide insight into life challenges 3) elucidate patterns of growth and development, (4) encourage self-knowledge, (5) suggest the life purpose, (6) reveal periods of challenge and opportunity, (7) explore the meaning of a particular experience or phase of life, or (8) provide guidance as to timing or decisions with regard to a particular course of action, such as financial and business decisions, prasna and muhurtha.

C.2. COMPETENCE IN CONSULTATIONS
a. Boundaries of Competence: Consulting or counseling astrologers practice only within the boundaries of their competence and do not attempt to provide ongoing psychotherapy unless they have received the appropriate training and supervision.

b. Education: Consulting astrologers are encouraged to take at least one course in counseling skills and ethics training. They seek additional training and education to improve when necessary. We encourage peer support and supervision.

c. Supervision: Counseling astrologers are encouraged to seek peer support groups and/or peer supervision in their work with clients.

C.3. DISCLOSURE TO CLIENTS
a. Fees and Appointments: When making appointments, astrologers clearly inform clients of the fee, duration, and locale of the session.

b. Nature of Services: When ongoing consulting is initiated, astrologers inform clients of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks and benefits of services to be performed.

c. Non-Astrological Techniques and Practices: Astrologers who use other techniques in their practices (such as Tarot or Numerology) distinguish these sources of information from astrological sources and techniques. Likewise, astrologers who derive information by intuitive means distinguish this information from that which is derived from astrological analysis.

d. Accurate Information: Astrologers are mindful of the limitations of predictive accuracy and avoid the use of universal qualifiers such as every, always, never, for certain, any, no one. Astrologers provide accurate information and avoid false claims or misconceptions about astrological techniques and interpretations. Clients are informed that it is impossible for astrology to be absolutely certain about personality profiles or future events.

e. Use of Indeterminate Qualifiers: Astrologers are encouraged to utilize terms that are open ended and indeterminate, such as may, could, might, perhaps, and possibly, with efforts to ground these statements whenever possible in research studies.

C.4. CLIENT WELFARE
a. Positive Growth and Development: Astrologers encourage the client’s autonomy, interest, and welfare. Astrologers avoid fostering dependent relationships.

b. Promoting Independence: Astrologers are choice revealers rather than choice makers with respect to client decisions in relation ships, career, relocation, sex, finances, or any other matter.

C.5. PREDICTIVE WORK
a. Continuum of Meanings: The astrologer provides a reasonable range of meanings and assures the client that actual event outcomes may vary along a continuum of possibilities.

b. Claims of Omniscience: No astrologer will claim to be infallible in the prediction of particular events.

c. Dire Warnings: Astrologers do not make predictions that are likely to create fear in the client. Astrologers avoid making rigid claims about predicting health crises, financial setbacks, that the clients will never marry, never have children, or that someone may die at a specific time. Predictions of events such as divorce, accidents, illness, death, financial hardship, or other challenging outcomes are balanced with more positive, alternative and equally probable meanings. The astrologer notes that this may or may not entail negative outcomes, and that difficulties can be conducive to growth and development.

C.6. DUAL RELATIONSHIPS
Astrologers are aware of their influential positions with respect to clients, and they avoid exploiting the trust and dependency of clients. They make every effort to be sensitive to dual relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of harm to clients. (Examples of dual relationships include, but are not limited to, familial, social, financial, business, or close personal relationships with clients).

C.7. REFERRAL
a. Referrals to Other Astrologers: When astrological issues arise that are beyond the scope of the astrologer’s training and practice, e.g., a medical, relocational, or horary question, the astrologer refers clients to other professionals who are trained in such matters.

b. Referrals to Non-astrological Professionals: If astrologers determine an inability to be of professional assistance to clients, they avoid entering or immediately terminate a counseling relationship. Astrologers are knowledgeable about referral resources and suggest appropriate alternatives, such as a licensed psychotherapist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, or 12-step program.

C.8. COMPUTER REPORTS
When computer generated astrological interpretations are used in counseling services, astrologers ensure that clients are provided information that adequately explains the limitations of computer interpretation. Accordingly, it is important for the consumer to know both the advantages and disadvantages of computerized reports.

Section D: Teaching, Training, and Supervision

D.1. ASTROLOGICAL EDUCATORS AND TRAINERS
a. Educators as Teachers and Practitioners: Astrologers who are responsible for developing, implementing, and supervising educational programs are skilled as teachers and practitioners. Astrologers conduct education and training programs in an ethical manner and serve as role models for professional behavior.

b. Endorsement: Astrologers do not endorse students or supervisees for certification or completion of an academic or training program if they believe students or supervisees are not qualified for the endorsement. Astrologers take reasonable steps to assist students or supervisees who are not yet qualified for endorsement to become qualified.

D.2. ASTROLOGICAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS
a. Orientation: Prior to admission, astrologers orient prospective students to the astrological education or training program’s expectations, including but not limited to the following: (1) the type and level of skill acquisition required for successful completion of the training, (2) subject matter to be covered, (3) basis for evaluation, (4) training components that encourage self-growth or self-disclosure as part of the training process, and (5) employment and career prospects for graduates.

b. Teaching Ethics: Astrologers make students and supervisees aware of the ethical responsibilities and standards of the profession.

Section E: Research and Publication

E.1. REPORTING RESULTS
a. Information Affecting Outcome: When reporting research results, astrologers explicitly mention all variables and conditions known to the investigator that may have affected the outcome of the study or the interpretation of data.

b. Data Source Designation: All data used in astrological research must have a source designation similar to the Rodden rating to determine the reliability of the data.

c. Accurate Results: Astrologers plan, conduct, and report research accurately and in a manner that minimizes the possibility that results will be misleading. They provide thorough discussions of the limitations of their data and offer alternative hypotheses.

a. Obligation to Report Unfavorable Results: Astrologers communicate to other astrologers the results of any research judged to be of professional value. Results that reflect unfavorably on institutions, programs, services, prevailing opinions, or vested interests are not withheld.

e. Identity of Subjects: Astrologers who engage in a research project take due care to disguise the identity of respective subjects in the absence of specific authorization from the subjects to do otherwise. Research information about public figures, derived from public domain, does not have to be disguised.

f. Replication Studies: Astrologers are obligated to make available sufficient original research data to qualified professionals who may wish to replicate the study.

E.2. PUBLICATION
a. Recognition of Others: When conducting and reporting research, or when presenting a theory, astrologers are familiar with and give recognition to previous work on the topic, observe copyright laws, and give full credit to those to whom credit is due.

b. Software Programs: Astrologers do not knowingly replicate codes or programs from other astrological software publishers.

c. Duplicate Submission: Astrologers submit manuscripts or articles for consideration to only one journal/magazine at a time. Manuscripts or articles that are published in whole or in substantial part in another journal/magazine are not submitted for publication without acknowledgment and permission from the previous publication.

d. Professional Review: Astrologers who review material submitted for publication, research, or other scholarly purposes respect the confidentiality and proprietary rights of those who submitted it.

Section F: Resolving Ethical Issues

F.1. KNOWLEDGE OF STANDARDS
Astrologers are knowledgeable about the Ethical Standards and Guidelines from other professional organizations of which they are members, or from certification and licensure bodies. Lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of an ethical responsibility is not a defense against a charge of unethical conduct.

F.2. SUSPECTED VIOLATIONS
a. Ethical Behavior Expected: Astrologers expect professional associates to adhere to the Ethical Standards and Guidelines. When astrologers possess reasonable cause that raises doubts as to whether an astrologer is acting in an ethical manner, they should consult their fellow astrologers.

b. Consultation: When uncertain as to whether a particular situation or course of action may be in violation of the guidelines, astrologers consult with other astrologers who are knowledgeable about ethics, with colleagues, or with appropriate authorities.

c. Informal Resolution: When astrologers have reasonable cause to believe that another astrologer is violating an ethical standard, they should first attempt to resolve the issue informally with the other astrologer, while honoring confidentiality guidelines.

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