Introduction

This code covers the Ellesmere Centre’s standards of ethics, practice and conduct which is expected of all staff, counsellors, therapists and trainees. The code must be followed whatever your position within the organisation whether you are a staff member, counsellor, therapist or trainee, meeting in person, in the community or online. There is an expectation that everyone working and practicing from the Ellesmere Centre will commit to the ethics of the code in striving for ethical practice and conduct even when this involves making difficult decisions.

The term ‘therapist’ is used throughout to represent all members of staff, counsellors, therapists or trainees. The term ‘client’ is used to describe any individual, couple, family or group who take part in psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic counselling or training.

Should there be concerns about a therapist’s practice they will be judged against the standards detailed in this code of practice under the complaints and conduct process.

This Code is to be read in conjunction with the UKCP Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (2019)

There are five key principles:

  1. Best interests of clients
  2. Communication and consent
  3. Records and confidentiality
  4. Professional knowledge, skills and experience
  5. Trust and confidence

Key Principles

1.    Best Interests of clients

Therapists must:

1.1                  Act in the client’s best interests at all times.

1.2                  Treat all clients with respect.

1.3                  Respect the clients’ autonomy.

1.4                  Not engage in sexual relationships or contact with clients.

1.5        Not exploit or abuse your relationship with your client (current or past) for any purpose, including the therapists’ sexual, emotional or financial gain.

1.6        Not harm or collude in the harming of your client or the clients of others.

1.7       Decline any gifts, money, favours or offers of hospitality that might be interpreted at exploitative.

1.8      Be aware of the imbalance of power between the therapist and client and avoid entering into dual or multiple relationships. Carefully consider the risk of confusing the existing relationship and any adverse risk to the client. This includes taking responsibility for managing boundaries within the community and protecting confidentiality. 

  1. The following relationships would be considered dual or multiple relationships which may confuse the therapeutic relationship:
  2. Social or commercial relationships between the client and therapist past or present.
  3. A supervisory relationship which runs alongside the therapeutic one.
  4. A training relationship between therapist and trainee.
  5. An examining relationship between examiner and therapist and examiner

1.9    Exercise caution when entering into a personal or business relationship with former clients taking into account the period of time since therapy ended. Should such a relationship be detrimental to the client, you may be called to answer an allegation of misuse of your position.

1.10    Take responsibility for critically examining the potential negative or positive effects of your behaviour both in the community and online which is outside of your professional role. 

1.10.

1 Recognise how this may affect your relationship with clients.

1.11    Undertake to actively consider issues of diversity and equality as these affect all aspects of their work, accepting the experience of prejudice and acknowledging the need for continued process of self inquiry and professional development.[i]

1.12    Not allow prejudice about a client’s gender, age, colour, race, disability, communication skills, sexuality, lifestyle, religious, cultural or political beliefs, social economic or immigration status negatively affect the way you relate to them. 

1.12.

1  Avoid behaviours which could be perceived as being abusive or detrimental to the client and or therapist both within and outside the Ellesmere Centre.

1.  Communication and Consent

Therapists must:

2.1     Explain and agree with the client, or prospective client, their terms, fees and conditions. This will include referral or termination of contract, expected length of therapy, venue and the therapeutic clinical methods which may be utilised during the course of therapy and the commitment required by the client to participate. Whilst written contracts between therapists and clients are by no means obligatory, to avoid conflict it is seen as good practice as this supports both the client and therapist.

2.2     Notify the client of any codes of ethics and practice which they subscribe, including the availability of the complaints procedure.

2.3     Not intentionally mislead a client concerning the type or nature of the psychotherapy practiced.

2.4     Clarify with clients the nature, purpose and conditions of any research in which the clients are to be involved and to ensure that informed and verifiable consent is provided before research begins.

2.5     Be clear and honest in communication about qualifications relevant to the field of practice.

2.6     Ensure that any advertising or promoting they undertake will not be misleading, false, unfair or exaggerated. 

2.7     Ensure that if they are involved in advertising or promoting any particular therapy, product or service, this is done in an accurate and responsible way. 

2.8     Not to make or support unjustifiable statements relating to particular therapies or therapists or include testimonials from clients in any advertising material.

2.9     Commit to careful consideration of how, in the event of their sudden unavailability this can be most appropriately communicated to their clients. 

2.9.1   This will also include careful consideration of how a client might be informed of a psychotherapist’s death or illness and, where appropriate, supported to deal with such a situation.

1.    Records and confidentiality

Therapists must:

3.1    Respect, protect and preserve client’s confidentiality, protecting sensitive and personal information obtained in the course of your work. 

3.1.

1     Confidentiality should only be breached with the following exceptions:

  • If the client consents to information being shared.
  • If the therapist believes that the client has the intention to harm themselves or others or if there are significant safeguarding issues relating to a child or adult.
  • If the client discloses certain illegal activities; specifically, terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking, the therapist is legally obliged to inform the police[i]
  • Discussions within clinical supervision.

3.2    Protect the welfare and anonymity of current and former clients when any form of publication of clinical material is used. Written consent should always be gained prior to any personal information being shared.

3.2.

  1. If sessions are recorded, written consent should be gained by the client in order to evidence that they understand what the recording will be used for, how it will be stored and for how long. Clients and therapists should also be alerted to the fact that security cannot be guaranteed if the session is online.

3.3    Only make notes which are appropriate to the therapeutic method utilised and in the client’s best interests. All such notes and records should be kept securely following the Ellesmere Centre’s Data Protection Procedures and in consideration of GDPR guidance[ii]

3.4     Gain clarification at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship should the therapist be required by law to serve in judicial or administrative proceedings. The potential impact on the therapeutic relationship should be considered and verifiable consent gained in any situation where confidentiality may be compromised. 

1.  Professional knowledge, skills and experience

Therapists must:

4.1    Disclose their qualifications to clients and the Ellesmere Centre and the UKCP when requested and commit to not claiming or implying qualifications that they do not have. 

4.2    Ensure that the use of titles such as “Doctor/Dr” and post nominal initials after a name in all published material is accurate; indicate whether it is a medical or academic qualification; and reasonably inform the public of their relevance to the practice of psychotherapy. 

4.3    Recognise the boundaries and limitations of their expertise and techniques and to take the necessary steps to maintain their ability to practice competently.

4.3.

1   If it becomes clear that a case is beyond a therapist’s scope of practice, the psychotherapist commits to inform the client and where appropriate offer an alternative psychotherapist or other professional where requested. 

4.4    Adhere to the Ellesmere Centre and UKCP policies on standards of education, training and practice. 

4.5    Engage in an on-going process of professional and personal enquiry and challenge, commonly referred to as “Continuing Professional Development” and adhere to the Continuing Professional Development policies held by the Ellesmere Centre and UKCP.

4.6    Ensure that they are competent practitioners and have sufficient supervisory arrangements and other necessary support to enable them to meet their psychotherapeutic obligations to any client.

4.6.1   This includes the responsibility of ensuring the very careful consideration of how best to refer a client to another psychotherapist or professional should it become clear that this would be in the client’s best interest.

4.7    The therapist commits to report potential breaches of this Ethical Policy by themselves or by other therapists to the Ellesmere Centre Ethics Committee via email or in writing[i]

4.7.

1   Should the complaint be regarding a member of the ethics committee then the email can be sent in confidence to one of the other members. All complaints will be heard by the ethics committee in confidence and without prejudice and will be responded to within the agreement set out in the separate complaints procedure[i].

4.8     Ensure that their professional work is adequately covered by appropriate indemnity insurance or by their employer’s indemnity arrangements.

4.9     Maintain reasonable awareness and a level of understanding regarding complaints procedures, relevant laws and statutory responsibilities that are applicable to their practice. 

4.10    Act against colluding with practice harmful to clients including that carried out by other professionals and colleagues. 

4.10.

1  This should include, where appropriate, activating procedures for addressing ethical concerns including formal complaints if necessary.

4.11    Ensure that they do not work with clients if they are not able to do so for physical or mental health reasons, or when safeguarding concerns have been raised about their conduct or potential conduct; for example should the therapist’s practice or personal behaviour be in question in relation to any ethical issue either within the process of a complaints procedure or through concerns raised by the police, adult or children’s Social Care.

4.12   Take appropriate action should their ability to meet their obligations to their clients be compromised by their physical or mental health. 

4.13   Take appropriate action if they are convicted of a criminal offence, receives a conditional discharge for an offence, or accepts a police caution. The Ellesmere Centre in collaboration with UKCP, where applicable will consider any implications their conviction, conditional discharge, or in exceptional cases police caution, may have for their professional practice. 

4.13.

1 The Ellesmere Centre in conjunction with UKCP, where necessary will consider and assess potential risk posed to clients or for public confidence in the register and may reject their application for registration or removal of name from its register on such grounds.

About this Policy

This Ethics Policy was written in conjunction with the UKCP Ethical Principles and Code of Professional Conduct. Which can be accessed at: https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/UKCP-Ethical-Principles-and-Code-of-Professional-Conduct.pdf

If you are a member of the public who wishes to register a concern or complaint about the Ellesmere Centre, an ECPT Qualified Practitioner or an ECPT Trainee Practitioner please see the Ellesmere Centre’s complaints procedure which can be accessed at https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/complaints-procedure/

If you are unsure how to proceed you may contact our administration office at admin@ellesmerecentre.co.uk or call 01482 702571 for further guidance.

The Equality and Diversity Policy can be accessed from https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/ecpt-diversity-and-equalities/

[1] Please seek legal advice should you be concerned about your legal position regarding managing confidentiality

[1]Data Protection guidance can be found in the ECPT GDPR Procedures and ECPT GDPR Guidance for Practitioners via admin@ellesmerecentre.co.uk . GDPR guidance for therapists can be also accessed at https://ico.org.uk

[1] The Ethics committee members contact details can be accessed from https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/ethics-committee-terms-of-reference/

[1] The Complaints Procedure can be accessed from https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/complaints-procedure/

Reviewed June 2020 (to be reviewed annually)