Ethics, Confidentiality & Professional Practice
The word 'Ethics' comes from the Greek word Ethos which means character and is concerned with exploring the concepts of right and wrong .
The word ‘Confidentiality' comes from the Latin word 'confidenti' which is a set of rules or a promise that limits access to certain types of information
In the UK ( and in some other parts of the world )
Counsellors and Psychotherapists are expected to join a professional body who oversees good practice and offer a complaints procedure.
This gives the general public confidence in using therapists who are members of an ethical body allthough at the time of writing there is no regulation of Counselling and Psychotherapy in the United Kingdom.
There are a number of ethical bodies that issue codes of practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy in the UK these are.
- British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
- College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)
- Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)
- Addiction Professionals (formerly known as SMMGP and FDAP)
- Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)
- United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
- The National Counselling Society (NCS)
- UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP)
This list is not exhaustive, and it is possible for a Counsellor/ Psychotherapist to be a member of more than one organisation.
Sometimes conflicts arise when working under two ethical codes of practice, for instance in the UK the General Medical Counsel the ethical body for doctors, state that “You should inform the police quickly whenever a person arrives with a gunshot wound or an injury from an attack with a knife, blade or other sharp instrument”
A counsellor working under the BACP code of ethics has no such constraint.
If a counsellor finds themselves working under two conflicting guidelines, the solution is to make a contract with the client which covers all the necessary exceptions to confidentiality.
At that point a client can make an informed decision if they wish to proceed with therapy.