Code of Ethics and Practice
The following information needs to be carefully read and understood before any commencement of any sessions begin. It is very important to be aware of your rights, the boundaries both the client and the therapist have and the code of ethics that all therapist must abide by.
CODE OF CONDUCT – All clients in therapy must be respectful of the therapists time. All clients are required to commit to the therapy and put in 100% effort in maintaining a respectful space for healing. The practitioner must provide health services in a safe and ethical manner, a health practitioner must maintain the necessary competence in his or her field of practice, a health practitioner must not provide services that he or she is not qualified to provide. A health practitioner must maintain accurate, legible and contemporaneous clinical records for each client consultation. The counselling relationship must not be concurrent with a supervisory, training or other form of relationship (sexual or non-sexual).
DISCRIMINATION – Offer a non-judgmental professional service, free from discrimination, honouring the individuality of the client. Counsellors work with clients in ways that affirm both the common humanity and the uniqueness of each individual. They must be sensitive to the cultural context and worldview of the client, for instance whether the individual, family or the community is taken as central.
DUTY OF CARE – The principle of duty of care is that you have an obligation to avoid acts or omissions, which could be reasonably foreseen to injure of harm other people. This means that you must anticipate risks for your clients and take care to prevent them coming to harm. Any signs of crisis must be addressed and harm to themselves, others or property must always be reported to the authorities. And harm to a child or the elderly must be reported to the authorities.
HUMAN RIGHTS – The fundamental values of counselling and psychotherapy include a commitment to:
• Respecting human rights and dignity
• Protecting the safety of clients
• Ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships
• Enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application
• Alleviating personal distress and suffering
• Fostering a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned
• Increasing personal effectiveness
• Enhancing the quality of relationships between people
• Appreciating the variety of human experience and culture
• Striving for the fair and adequate provision of counselling and psychotherapy services.
MANDATORY REPORTING – Mandatory reporters in NSW should use the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) if they have concerns that a child or young person is at risk of being neglected or physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The MRG supports mandatory reporters to: determine whether a report to the Child Protection Helpline is needed for concerns about possible abuse or neglect of a child (including unborn) or young person. Identify alternative ways to support vulnerable children, young people and their families where a mandatory reporter’s response is better served outside the statutory child protection system. It is recommended that mandatory reporters complete the MRG on each occasion they have risk concerns, regardless of their level of experience or expertise. Each circumstance is different and every child and young person is unique.
CONFIDENTIALITY – Confidentiality is a means of providing the client with safety and privacy and thus protects client autonomy. For this reason any limitation on the degree of confidentiality is likely to diminish the effectiveness of counselling. The counselling contract will include any agreement about the level and limits of the confidentiality offered. This agreement can be reviewed and changed by negotiation between the counsellor and the client. Agreements about confidentiality continue after the client’s death unless there are overriding legal or ethical considerations. In cases where the client’s safety is in jeopardy any confidentially agreements that may interfere with this safety are to be considered void. Confidentiality extends to client records which must be kept securely, maintained as hard copy or by digital processes.
RECORD MANAGEMENT – Practitioners establish and maintain a record-keeping system that ensures confidentiality. Records are kept in a manner that is safe and secure, with properly limited access, and from which timely retrieval is possible. Practitioners are responsible for the content of their records. Records are organised in a manner that facilitates their use by the practitioner and other authorised persons. Practitioners ensure that records are legible and are completed in a timely manner.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES – Counsellors must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client does not suffer physical, emotional or psychological harm during counselling sessions. Counsellors must not exploit their clients financially, sexually, emotionally, or in any other way. Suggesting or engaging in sexual activity with a client is unethical. Counsellors must provide privacy for counselling sessions. The sessions should not be overheard, recorded or observed by anyone other than the counsellor without informed consent from the client. Normally any recording would be discussed as part of the contract. Care must be taken that sessions are not interrupted.
BOUNDARIES – Boundary violations can be harmful to the client and the therapeutic relationship. Examples of boundary violations include providing more time for one patient than for others; meeting clients in any location other than a professional office; seeing a patient for free or allowing gifts to be exchanged; physical contact of any kind. Other types of boundaries include physical, emotional and intellectual. In addition, personal boundaries that some clients may have can include rigid, porous and healthy boundaries. Rigid boundaries are described as being detached and unlikely to ask for help. They can seem anti-social and not have a lot of friends, especially close friends. Porous boundaries of clients appear as overly friendly, finding it hard to say no, over-sharing information about them, fearing rejection and seeking approval from others. Healthy boundaries in clients means the counsellor offers an appropriate amount of information, feels comfortable with their own decisions, and doesn’t compromise his or her own values.
WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY – It is always ensured that the well being of all staff, practitioners and clients are safe from any harm from unhygienic environments, violence, neglect or discrimination. Workplace health and safety (WHS) policies need to be in place for anyone supporting people affected by sexual, domestic or family violence.