The Counselor Code of Conduct provides comprehensive documentation on how to behave in the profession of an SUD Counselor. SUD Counselors, by the very nature of their work, must be held to a high standard of ethics as they work with a vulnerable population. There are three basic principles with extensive descriptions of each including: individual conduct, conduct with others, and conduct relating to licensing and regulations. A Code of Conduct must be signed with the Initial Certification application and the Exam. Download the document at the bottom of this page.

Adopted May 2012


The current California Regulations governing registrants and certified alcohol and other drug (AOD)
counselors require each certifying organization (CO) to develop a code of conduct which establishes
“minimum” standards that are designed to safeguard the rights of clients in SUD programs and facilities. CO’s
may impose more stringent standards that do not conflict with the standards contained within this Uniform
Code of Conduct.

Principle 1

Registrants and Certified AOD Counselors shall conduct themselves in an honest, forthright and professional
manner. Registrants and Counselors are prohibited from engaging in the commission of any dishonest, corrupt,
or fraudulent act substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registrant or counselor
including but not limited to the following:

a. Securing a registration, certification or renewal by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation on any
application or material in support of any application for registration certification or renewal;
b. Misrepresenting the type or status of registration or certification held by the person, or otherwise
misrepresenting or permitting misrepresentation of his or her education, professional qualifications
or professional affiliations to any person, program or entity;
c. Refusal or failure to provide proper identifying registration, credential, certification or license where
appropriate or required (e.g., when offering or providing AOD counseling services, on business
cards, on informational or marketing materials, etc.);
d. Advertising, marketing or promoting programs, services, training, education or experience in a false
and misleading manner, as set forth in Business and Professions Code sections 17200, et seq.

Principle 2

Registrants and Certified AOD counselors shall maintain professionally appropriate boundaries with clients
and family members of clients and shall conduct themselves in a professional, non-exploitive and lawful
manner, and are prohibited from:

e. Engaging in inappropriate social relationships, sexual relations or soliciting sexual relations with a
client or with a former client within two years from the termination date of the counseling
f. Committing an act of sexual abuse, misconduct or an act punishable as a sexually related crime;
g. Engaging in a business relationship with clients, patients, program participants, residents and/or
other persons significant to them within one year from the termination of the counseling relationship;
h. Physically, verbally, sexually harassing, threatening or abusing other staff members, clients,
patients, program participants, residents and/or other persons significant to any of the above;
i. Unlawfully administering to himself or herself any controlled substance as defined in Section 4021
of the California Business and Professions Code (B&P), or using any of the dangerous drugs or
devices specified in Section 4022 of the B&P, or using any alcoholic beverage to the extent, or in a
manner, as to be dangerous or injurious to the person holding or applying for a registration,
certification or license or to any other person, or to the public.

Principle 3

Registrants and Certified AOD counselors shall comply with all Federal and State Laws and Regulations that
pertain to patient/client confidentiality, mandated reporting exceptions, record keeping requirements and
patient/client records access. Registrants and Certified AOD counselors are prohibited from:

a. Violating client/patient confidentiality except as required or permitted by law including, but not
limited to, Title 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 2, Child Abuse, Elder Abuse and Public Safety
laws and Regulations;
b. Failing to maintain records consistent with the nature of the services being rendered;
c. Refusing or denying patient/client access to charts and records as required by law;
d. Violating, attempting to violate or conspiring to violate any law or regulation governing AOD
registrants, certified or licensed AOD counselor.
1 California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 9, Division 4, Chapter 8, Sections 13000, et seq., as enacted April 1, 2005.
2 CCR Title 9, Div. 4, Chap. 8, Section 13060.
3 CCR Title 9, Div. 4, Chap. 8, Section 13060(f).

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears” in 2017.” Her newest book, “The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty” is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE’s, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward’s Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”