Code of Ethics
1.1. This Code of Ethics (‘Code’) sets out the ethical and conduct standards of the British Association of Therapists (‘the Association’).
1.2. Unless the context otherwise requires, references to ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ and similar are to the Association; references to ‘you’, ‘your’ and similar are to you, the member of the Association.
1.3. By entering into this Code, you agree that you will abide by its provisions and endeavour to follow the guidance contained herein while undertaking your professional practice and, where relevant, in your activities and dealings outside professional practice.
1.4. The Association is a multi-disciplinary professional association for the therapeutic professions and allied professions, and as such we cannot and will not set out prescriptive standards, protocols or outcomes for specific areas of clinical practice, nor do we prescribe therapeutic methodologies or styles to our members.
1.5. However every member is expected to be familiar with and follow the framework of general professional standards contained in this Code.
2. Purposes of this Code
The purposes of this Code are:-
2.1. to communicate clearly the ethical and conduct standards of the Association to our members;
2.2. to provide a reference point for general ethical guidance for members in the conduct of a professional therapeutic practice.
3. For the public
3.1. Having been established to promote the highest standards in the therapeutic profession and allied professions, the Association affirms its strong commitment to promoting awareness among its members of the ethical duties and responsibilities of a therapeutic professional, both to patients and wider society.
3.2. Should you have a complaint, critical comment, dispute or other unresolved issue of significance with a therapist who you believe is a member of the Association, we urge you to contact us.
3.3. We offer the public assistance with:
3.3.1. understanding this Code and the standards we set for our members;
3.3.2. identifying the relevant statutory disciplinary body for the purposes of a formal complaint in relation to a specific member;
3.3.3. assisting the public with such complaints;
3.3.4. assisting the public with our own complaints procedures.
3.4. If you are the client or patient of one of our members, you will be treated fairly by us and the Association’s complaints procedures will be properly explained to you.
3.5. If a complaint to the Association about a member is upheld, details of the complaint and the outcome (such as any sanctions or suspension) will be published on the Association website for a period of up to two (2) years or, in exceptional cases, for longer at the reasonable discretion of the Association. The client or patient will not be identified in this disciplinary notice.
4. Fundamental Principles
The fundamental ethical principles of the practitioner-client relationship are that the practitioner shall:
4.1. approach one’s work in the spirit of a vocation with a commitment to professionalism;
4.2. honour the subjectivity of the therapy experience, and the client’s views, beliefs, ideas, goals, while also seeking the best appropriate outcomes, and where necessary and appropriate, challenging the client’s perspective;
4.3. respect commonly understood boundaries of interpersonal interaction;
4.4. in appropriate cases, be willing to undertake a self-interrogation of one’s own motivations and perspectives as they are brought to therapeutic interaction and adjust one’s professional style and engagement appropriately;
4.5. be willing and able to undertake a rigorous self-examination on their work and practice;
4.6. at all times comply with the local and specialist duties, obligations, demands, and requirements of the professional body applicable to your branch of the therapeutic profession, of which you will remain a member in good standing;
4.7. to retain (as a minimum) all relevant and necessary memberships, accreditations and qualifications for lawful practice in your branch of the therapeutic profession.
5. Delivery of Service
All members undertake to:
5.1. provide service to clients solely in those areas in which they are competent to do so and for which they carry relevant professional indemnity insurance;
5.2. recognise the limits of one’s practice and if lacking training and experience be ready and willing to refer the client to an experienced therapist;
5.2. have a fully developed, professional awareness of diversity and specifically not permit considerations of religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, politics or social standing to adversely influence client treatment;
5.3. at all times prioritise and respect the best interests of their clients and refer the client to another therapist where:-
5.3.1. there is a conflict of interest (or the appearance of a conflict is likely to arise);
5.3.2. where your values and beliefs are in conflict, or are likely to create the appearance of conflict, with those of your client;
5.4. disclose full details of all relevant memberships, training, experience, qualifications and appropriate avenues of complaint to clients upon request (or prior to engagement where this is required by your professional body) and be willing to provide satisfactory evidence of such to the client on reasonable request;
5.5. notwithstanding the requirements in paragraph 5.4 above, provide adequate information to clients in advance of any treatment: your fees and any charging structure; the precise terms of payment and any charges which might be imposed for arrears, non-attendance and cancelled appointments; and, the standards you will apply to protect the personal data and confidentiality of your clients;
5.6. use clear and transparent contracts which do not contain unfair terms nor restrict the statutory rights of clients unfairly.
5.6. present all services and products in an unambiguous manner (to include any limitations and realistic outcomes of treatment) and ensure that the client retains complete control over the decision to purchase such services or products;
5.7. comply with (among other codes and statutory enactments) the Code of Advertising Practice, CAP Code, ASA Good Practice guidance, and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, where relevant to their advertising and promotion.
5.8. Have in place easy to understand procedures for resolving client complaints.
6. Professional-Client Interactions & Welfare
6.1. All members undertake to:
6.1.1. work in ways that will promote client autonomy and well-being and that maintain respect for the client;
6.1.2. remain aware of their own limitations and wherever appropriate, be prepared to refer a client to another practitioner (including, without limitation, a registered medical practitioner, where necessary) who might be expected to offer suitable treatment;
6.1.3. ensure that wherever a client is seeking assistance for the relief of physical symptoms, that unless having already done so, the client be advised to contact a registered medical practitioner. As practitioner and member you should not attempt to diagnose physical symptoms unless you have undergone relevant medical training in diagnostics and you are able to lawfully hold yourself out as such.
6.1.4. ensure that workplace and all facilities offered will be in every respect suitable and appropriate for the service provided;
6.1.5. take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the client and any person who may be accompanying them;
6.1.6. uphold the reasonable expectations of a position of trust and confidence and:
220.127.116.11. not at any time cross the commonly understood professional boundaries appropriate to the therapist-client relationship, nor exploit the client emotionally, sexually, financially or in any other way whatsoever. Should any relationship (i.e. other than the professional relationship between therapist and client) develop between either therapist and client or members of their respective immediate families, the therapist must immediately cease to accept fees, terminate the professional relationship in an appropriate manner and refer the client to another suitable therapist at the very earliest opportunity;
18.104.22.168. not touch the client in any way that may be open to misinterpretation. Before using touch as a component of the therapy, both an explanation should be given and permission received;
22.214.171.124. not allow inappropriate ‘dual relationships’ to arise, as defined and explained in paragraph 6.2 below;
126.96.36.199. not accept any inappropriate gifts, gratuities or favours from a client;
6.1.7. never protract treatment unnecessarily and to terminate treatment at the earliest moment consistent with the good care of the client.
6.2. For the purposes of this Code, a ‘dual relationship’ (as referred to in sub-paragraph 188.8.131.52 above) is when the practitioner has two or more kinds of relationship concurrently with a client, for example: client and trainee, friend and client, colleague and supervisee, and so on. Practitioners are required to consider the implications of entering into dual relationships with clients, to avoid entering into such relationships where they are inappropriate in that are likely to be detrimental to clients;
7. Use of Technology
7.1. Any therapist using equipment must ensure that all health and safety protocols are adhered to when using such equipment and that the equipment has been properly tested and all instructions understood. The therapist’s insurance should include cover for any insurable risks arising from the use of equipment.
7.2. Any use of equipment should be clearly explained to the client and it should be made clear to the client that the client can refuse use of the equipment.
7.3. Equipment should only be used where there is considered to be a clear therapeutic benefit to the client which could not be achieved without the use of equipment. No health or curative claims should be made for the use of any equipment which should always be seen merely as an adjunct to the therapeutic process.
7.4. No therapist should use equipment that he is not qualified or otherwise permitted to use.
8. Confidentiality, Maintenance of Records and Recording of Sessions
8.1. All members undertake to:
8.1.1. maintain and protect the confidentiality of their clients, always provided that such confidentiality is neither inconsistent with the therapist’s own safety or the safety of the client, the client’s family members or other members of the public nor in contravention of any legal requirement;
8.1.2. ensure that client notes and records are kept secure and confidential and that the use of computer records remains within the terms of the Data Protection Act. Manual records should be locked away when not in use and those held on computer should be password coded;
8.1.3. recognise that the maintenance of case notes should include personal details, history, diagnosis, a programme of sessions, session progress notes and a copy of the written contract or retainer between yourself and the client;
8.1.4. obtain written permission from the client or the client’s parent (or legal guardian) before recording (with electronic device) client sessions, discussing “undisguised cases” (defined and explained in paragraph 8.2 below) with any person whatsoever, or publishing cases (whether disguised or not) via any medium;
8.1.5. advise the client that disguised cases may sometimes be utilised for the purposes of either their own supervision or the supervision and/or training of other therapists and refrain from using such material should the client indicate a preference that it should not be used for these purposes;
8.1.6. (unless the client has not given permission for the release of medical records) share information necessary for the continuing treatment of clients by other healthcare professionals.
8.2. “Undisguised” means cases in which material has not been sufficiently altered in order to assureanonymity to all relevant parties.
8.3. With particular reference to the use of CCTV or similar equipment, all clients must be fully informed when such equipment is in operation and written permission must be obtained prior to the commencement of any client session.
9. General Conduct
All members undertake to:
9.1. conduct themselves at all times in accord with their professional status and in such a way that does not undermine public confidence their own profession nor bring their profession into disrepute.
9.2. never publicly criticise, malign or professionally obstruct another member of the profession, unless there is an issue of public protection or the interests of a client, in which case the relevant concern should be expressed via an impartial, properly constituted complaints procedure in which the respondent professional has the right of reply.
9.3. deal courteously with all other professionals with whom one has dealings and understand and respect the boundaries of their professional remits and responsibilities
10. Relationship with the Association
All members undertake to:
10.1. notify the Association, in writing, of any change in practise name, contact address, telephone number or e-mail address, at the member’s earliest convenience;
10.2. inform the Association, in writing, of any alteration in circumstance which would affect either their position or ability as practitioners;
10.3. inform the Association, in writing, of:
10.3.1. any complaint made against them;
10.3.2. any disciplinary action taken against them by any professional body;
10.3.3. any criminal allegation for which they have been arrested or charged;
10.3.4. any criminal convictions or cautions;
and you will ensure that the Association is updated as the progress of any ongoing case against you;
10.4. make available without hindrance or unreasonable delay all relevant information requested as a result of an investigation into any matter relevant to your practice or your compliance with this Code of Ethics initiated by the Association., .
11. Advertising, Display of Credentials and Use of Specific Titles
All members undertake to:
11.1. ensure that all advertising, no matter in what form or medium it is placed, represents a truthful, honest and accurate picture of themselves, their skill-base, capacity, qualifications and facilities and that any claims for the successful outcome of treatments (in whatever format) shall be based upon verifiable, fully documented evidence;
11.2. ensure that all advertising, promotional and marketing activity shall comply with the codes and statutory enactments mentioned in paragraph 5.7 above and to make available all such material to the Association on request;
11.3. display only valid and up-to-date qualifications and certificates issued in respect of relevant training courses and events or certificates of registration, validation or accreditation as issued or awarded by relevant professional bodies;
11.4. make no claim that they hold specific qualifications unless such claim can be fully substantiated and if using the title “Dr” or referred to in that way (whether orally or in writing), explain its provenance taking due care to ensure that no client is misled by the title to assume that it is a medical qualification if this is not the case.
12. Treatment of Minors and Those Classified as Persons with Special Needs or Vulnerabilities
12.1. All members undertake to obtain the written consent of a parent,legal guardian, attorney (acting under a power of attorney) or registered medical practitioner, as the case may be before conducting treatment with clients who are either under the age of majority or are classified as persons with special needs or vulnerabilities.
12.2. It is further advisable that a therapist practicing in such circumstances should hold a current Enhanced with list checks certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (‘DBS certificate’) and where the therapist undertakes regular work with such clients and patients, the DBS certificate should be renewed a minimum of once every twelve (12) months.
13. Supervision and Continuing Professional Development
Members are expected to maintain or improve their level of skills and professional competence in an appropriate manner commensurate with whichever branch of the therapeutic and allied professions they practice in. This could include:
13.1. meetings with a colleague (or colleagues) to discuss, in confidence, ongoing cases and issues arisingand to work through and resolve any personal matters that might affect their own position or ability as practising therapists. Such arrangements can take a variety of forms, the most usual of which are either personal one-to-one supervision or participation within a peer support group;
13.2. undertaking continuing training and continuous professional development, either formally, by attendance at relevant courses, workshops and seminars or informally, by relevant reading and Internet research;
13.3. the utilisation of appropriate audit tools, e.g. client feedback forms, care aims forms etc.;
13.4. maintaining an awareness of research and developments in one’s professional field and any specialism you serve;
13.5. undertaking suitable personal growth and development, including seeking counselling where appropriate.
14. Research Ethics
The researcher should:
14.1. accept that all participation by research subjects must be on a completely voluntary basis and that no “pressure” of any type should be exerted in order to secure participation;
14.2. ensure that proper consent has been obtained prior to the commencement of any research project, including any additional forms of consent required or expected under common ethical standards in respect ofminors or persons with special needs. In longitudinal research, consent may need to be obtained at repeated intervals.
14.3. understand that initial consent does not negate a participant’s right to withdraw at any stage of the research and further, that this must be made clear to the participant at the outset;
14.4. maintain complete openness and honesty with regard to both the purpose and nature of the research being conducted;
14.5. consider any potential adverse consequences to the research subject as a result of any intended research project;
14.6. accept that if, during research, a participant exhibits or presents with a condition they seem unaware of, then the researcher has a duty to inform the subject that they believe their continued participation may jeopardise their future well-being;
14.7. provide, where relevant, for the ongoing care of participants with regard to any adverse effects that might arise as a consequence of and within a reasonable time period after, their involvement within any research project;
14.8. understand and act upon the principle that the privacy and psychological well-being of the individual subject is always more important than the research itself.
15. Provision of training by Members
Members undertake to:
15.1. ensure that any training they offer meets commonly accepted standards;
15.2. clearly communicate whether the training on offer is designed to be at practitioner level or whether it is insufficient to qualify a student to practice;
15.3. accurately present in marketing, advertising and promotions any validations or approvals given to training courses;
15.4. refrain from advertising any approval or organizational membership as pending until such membership is actually granted;
15.5. deliver course materials only under the specific written license of copyright holders and other third party owners of intellectual property rights, at all times refraining from all forms of plagiarism, unattributable referencing, unauthorized copying and unauthorized duplication of materials;
15.6. not participate directly or indirectly in the delivery of any training which does not meet all the above requirements and stipulations;
15.7. to ensure, when appropriate, that these requirements and stipulations are communicated to staff, contractors and suppliers.
16. Titular designations
16.1. Members agree that the use of professional and academic titles such as Dr., Professor, Reverend, and so on, must reflect qualifications and attainments of the member and must have been conferred by body or institution empowered to do so.
16.2. In so far as the Association is concern with the use such titles, it is in relation to the observance and performance of ethical practice standards in the therapeutic and allied professions.
16.3. The Association draws to the attention of members the following three scenarios which, in the view of the Association, would raise questions as to the ethical conduct of a member and his or her compliance with this Code:
16.3.1. Medical Misdirection
The client or members of the public, or both, are led to believe, whether by commission or omission, intentional or otherwise, that the therapist is a registered medical practitioner when they are not. A client in such circumstances risks accepting diagnosis and prognosis from the therapist as though it carried the weight of a medical practitioner.
16.3.2. Misdirection By Relevance
The client, or members of the public, or both, are led to believe, whether by commission or omission, intentional or otherwise, that the therapist’s title is relevant to the practice of their therapy, when it is not. For example, although the therapist makes plain he or she is not a registered medical practitioner, his or her doctorate is, in fact, in a subject totally unrelated to therapy.
16.3.3. Misdirection By Quality
The client, or members of the public, or both, are led to believe, whether by commission or omission, intentional or otherwise, that the therapist’s title fulfills the requirements of the UK therapeutic profession., when it does not. For example, the doctorate has been awarded as an honorary title, on the basis of life experience, or from a foreign institution whose standards are far short of those of an equivalent UK institution.
17. Advertising rules: therapists not medically licensed
17.1. Advertisements, marketing and promotional materials must either:-
17.1.1. contain the phrases “not a medical doctor” or “doctorate in [subject area] – non-medical”; or,
17.1.2. the description of the member’s qualification:-
184.108.40.206. should be such that a reasonable member of the public would likely conclude that the relevant qualifications are not medical and the member is not a registered medical practitioner; and,
220.127.116.11. if space allows, must contain an explanatory phrase or description of the title, e.g. “doctorate in psychodynamic psychology from the University of London”.
17.2. For the guidance of members, the Association would expect that:-
17.2.1. promotional channels requiring short or summary descriptions such as business cards, small leaflets, smaller advertisements in Yellow Pages and other business directories, classified ads and so on, will normally fall within 17.1.1 above; and,
17.2.2. promotional channels requiring detailed information about member services, such as websites, bigger sized leaflets, pamphlets, larger advertisements in Yellow Pages and other business directories, newspaper and magazine advertisements and so on, will normally fall within 17.2.2 above.
17.3. Consultations: Unless it is obvious, clients must be informed orally at all initial consultations that the therapist is not a medical doctor. Every effort must be made to ensure that the client is not confused about this issue.