Values & Ethics
BACP ethical principles
As a member of the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapy) accredited counsellor, I practice according to the BACP’s ethical framework.
This means following six ethical principles.
Being trustworthy is regarded as fundamental to understanding and resolving ethical issues. This principle requires that I:
- act in accordance with the trust placed in me;
- strive to ensure that my clients’ expectations are ones that have a reasonable prospect of being met;
- honour my agreements and promises;
- regard confidentiality as an obligation;
- restrict any disclosure of confidential information about clients to furthering the purposes for which it was disclosed.
Autonomy means developing a client’s ability to be self-directing within therapy and their life. This principle requires that I:
- ensure accuracy in any advertising or information about my services;
- seek freely given and adequately informed consent;
- emphasise the value of voluntary participation in the services being offered;
- engage in explicit contracting in advance of any commitment by a client;
- protect privacy;
- protect confidentiality;
- inform a client in advance of foreseeable conflicts of interest.
The principle of autonomy opposes the manipulation of clients against their will, even for beneficial social ends.
Beneficence means acting in the best interests of the client based on professional assessment. This principle requires that I:
- Work within my limits of competence and on the basis of adequate training and experience;
- Monitor my practice and outcomes;
- Continue research and reflection on a systematic basis;
- Submit to ongoing supervision by a suitably qualified peer;
- Undertake continuing professional development;
Acting in the best interests of the client is paramount in cases where a client’s autonomy is diminished.
Non-maleficence means avoiding emotional or other forms of client exploitation. This principle requires that I:
- Avoid incompetence or malpractice;
- Not providing services when unfit to do so due to illness, personal circumstances or intoxication;
- Strive to mitigate any harm caused to a client;
- Challenge the incompetence or malpractice of others;
- Contribute to any investigation concerning professional practice which falls below that of a reasonably competent practitioner.
The principle of justice requires being just and fair to all client and respecting their human rights and dignity. This principle requires that I:
- Consider conscientiously any legal requirements and obligations;
- Determine impartially the provision of services for clients and the allocation of services between clients;
- Appreciate the differences between people and be committed to equality of opportunity;
- Avoid discrimination between people or groups;
- Strive to ensure a fair provision of counselling and psychotherapy services, accessible and appropriate to the needs of potential clients.
Self-respect means that the practitioner applies all the above principles as entitlements for self. This principle requires that I:
- Seek counselling or psychotherapy for personal development;
- Use supervision for personal and professional support and development;
- Obtain appropriate insurance;
- Engage in life-enhancing activities and relationships outside of counselling and psychotherapy.
Download a full text of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy ethical principles by clicking here.
Contracting with The Client (Counsellor-Client Contract)
I will adhere to the following points regarding the Counsellor-Client contract: here is some of the code of ethics regarding the contract with the client which as a counsellor I adhere and which I do before I commence a session with the client.
- Counsellor are responsible for reaching agreement with their clients about the terms on which counselling is being offered, including availability, the degree of confidentiality offered, arrangements for the payment of any fees, cancelled appointments and other significant matters. The communication of essential terms and any negotiations should be concluded by having reached a clear agreement before the client makes any commitment (or liability of any kind) to treatment.
- The counsellor has a responsibility to ensure that the client is given a free choice whether or not to participate in counselling, and it is important that the client is given opportunities to review their participation in their treatment. Reasonable steps should be taken in the course of the counselling relationship to ensure that the client is given an opportunity to review the counselling.
- Counsellor must avoid conflicts of interest wherever possible. Any conflicts of interest that do occur must be discussed in counselling supervision and where appropriate with the client and/or associated parties.
- Records of appointments should be kept and clients should be made aware of this. If records of counselling sessions are kept, clients should also be made aware of this. At the clients request information should be given about access to these records, their availability to other people, and the degree of security with which they are kept.
- Counsellor must be aware that computer-based records are subject to statutory regulations. It is the counsellor’s responsibility to be aware of any changes the government may introduce in the regulations concerning the clients right of access to his/her records.
- Counsellor is responsible for addressing any client dissatisfaction with counselling services received.
With The Client
The counsellor is responsible for setting and monitoring boundaries throughout the counselling sessions and will make explicit to clients that counselling is a formal and contracted relationship and nothing else.
The counselling relationship must not be concurrent with a supervisory, training or other form of relationship.
With Former Clients
The counsellor remains accountable for relationships with former clients and must exercise caution over entering into friendships, business relationships, training, supervising and other relationships. Any changes in relationships must be discussed in counselling supervision. The decision about any change in relationships with former clients should take into account whether the issues and power dynamics presented during the counselling relationship have been resolved.