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HOD S06-20-28-25 [Amended HOD S06-19-47-67; HOD S06-09-07-12; HOD S06-00-12-23; HOD 06-91-05-05; HOD 06-87-11-17; HOD 06-81-06-18; HOD 06-78-06-08; HOD 06-78-06-07; HOD 06-77-18-30; HOD 06-77-17-27; Initial HOD 06-73-13-24] [Standard]


The Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist (Code of Ethics) delineates the ethical obligations of all physical therapists as determined by the House of Delegates of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

The purposes of this Code of Ethics are to:

  1. Define the ethical principles that form the foundation of physical therapist practice in patient and client management, consultation, education, research, and administration.

  2. Provide standards of behavior and performance that form the basis of professional accountability to the public.

  3. Provide guidance for physical therapists facing ethical challenges, regardless of their professional roles and responsibilities.

  4. Educate physical therapists, students, other health care professionals, regulators, and the public regarding the core values, ethical principles, and standards that guide the professional conduct of the physical therapist.

  5. Establish the standards by which the American Physical Therapy Association can determine if a physical therapist has engaged in unethical conduct.

No code of ethics is exhaustive, nor can it address every situation. Physical therapists are encouraged to seek additional advice or consultation in instances where the guidance of the Code of Ethics may not be definitive. The APTA Guide for Professional Conduct and the APTA Core Values for the Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant provide additional guidance.

This Code of Ethics describes the desired behavior of physical therapists in their multiple roles (eg, management of patients and clients, consultation, education, research, and administration), addresses multiple aspects of ethical action (individual, organizational, and societal), and reflects the core values of the physical therapist (accountability, altruism, collaboration, compassion and caring, duty, excellence, integrity, and social responsibility). Throughout the document the primary core values that support specific principles are indicated in parentheses. Unless a specific role is indicated in the principle, the duties and obligations being delineated pertain to the five roles of the physical therapist. Fundamental to the Code of Ethics is the special obligation of physical therapists to empower, educate, and enable those with impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, and disabilities to facilitate greater independence, health, wellness, and enhanced quality of life.


Principle #1: Physical therapists shall respect the inherent dignity and rights of all individuals.

(Core Values: Compassion and Caring, Integrity)

  • 1A. Physical therapists shall act in a respectful manner toward each person regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, social or economic status, sexual orientation, health condition, or disability.

  • 1B. Physical therapists shall recognize their personal biases and shall not discriminate against others in physical therapist practice, consultation, education, research, and administration.

Principle #2: Physical therapists shall be trustworthy and compassionate in addressing the rights and needs ...

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