IAYT Code of Ethics:
Review Process and Outcomes
by Clare Collins1, RN, PhD, FAAN, CYT, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT
Ensuring responsible and ethical behavior on the part of yoga therapists and yoga therapy training programs—along with promoting high educational standards and effective and safe yoga therapy practice—is at the heart of establishing yoga as a recognized and respected therapy, one that is of service and benefit to the public.
At its July 29, 2015, meeting, the IAYT Board of Directors approved a comprehensive set of interim policies that support responsible and ethical practice by providing specific guidelines and procedures for all IAYT members and applicants for membership. These interim policies included:
- Code of Ethics
- Grounds for Professional Discipline
- Procedures for Professional Discipline and
- Complaint Form for Ethical Violations
In August, 2015, the IAYT Ethics Sub-Committee was convened to finalize the Code of Ethics, Grounds for Disciplinary Action, and Procedures for Disciplinary Action for IAYT certified yoga therapists (C-IAYT). Graduates of IAYT accredited training programs and applicants approved under the grandparenting process for IAYT certification are required to read and agree to abide by the Code of Ethics as part of the IAYT certification process which began in June, 2016.
The Ethics Sub-Committee used the interim Ethics policies as a starting point for discussion and expanded the scope and specificity of the document. The revised Code and policies were distributed to the IAYT Board, Certification Committee and Accreditation Committee for comment. IAYT members and IAYT member schools were asked to complete an on-line survey about the Code of Ethics, Grounds for Professional Discipline and Procedures for Disciplinary Action. The on-line survey remained open from 2/2/16- 2/23/16 with two reminders for survey completion sent during the survey period.
The Ethics Subcommittee was pleased by both the number of IAYT members who completed the survey (487) and the scope and depth of the comments provided.
In response to the question: “How important is a Code of Ethics for yoga therapists?” 80% of respondents viewed the Code as “very important” and 17% viewed the Code as “important.”
A. Not important (0 out of 497)
B. Somewhat Important (13 out of 497)
C. Important (86 out of 497)
D. Very important (398 out of 497)
In response to the question: “How supportive are you of the Code of Ethics,”93% of respondents were either very supportive or supportive of the Code.
A. Not supportive (1 out of 452)
B. Somewhat Supportive (31 out of 452)
C. Supportive (124 out of 452)
D. Very Supportive (296 out of 452)
Extensive comments were written by survey participants and these comments were carefully reviewed by the Ethics Sub-Committee. Based on member comments, changes in the Code of Ethics included: removal of references to yoga therapy as “treatment,” refinement in language describing parameters for sexual contact between yoga therapists and clients and a revision of the definition of incompetence.
Based on member comments, changes in the Procedures for Disciplinary Action included: changes in time frames and method of notification Complaint Subject, inclusion of a process to receive comments from the Complaint Subject, and refinement of the appeals process.
The three documents from the Ethics Sub-Committee received approval by the IAYT Board of Directors. We are pleased with the quality of the documents and are particularly grateful to those who took their time to review and provide comments to us. The IAYT Code of Ethics is an important milestone in our efforts to support responsible and safe yoga therapy practice.
 Clare Collins is a member of the IAYT Certification Committee and the IAYT Ethics Sub-Committee. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of IAYT (2007-2011) and served as an IAYT Board Representative to the Educational Standards Committee.