Code of Ethics and Practice

  1. Introduction
  • Purpose
  • The purpose of this Code of Ethics is to define general principles and to establish standards of professional conduct for Hallam Institute Accredited Psychotherapists (hereafter referred to as psychotherapists) in their psychoanalytic and psychodynamic work, and to inform and protect those members of the public who seek their services.
  • Before being accepted as an accredited member of the Institute, all psychotherapists are required to state that they will adhere to the Code of Ethics and Practice.
  • Aims and Values
    • Psychotherapists are expected to approach their work with the aim of promoting the well-being of their clients and with due recognition of the value and dignity of every human being.
    • Psychotherapists must consider and address their own prejudices and stereotypes and take steps to ensure that an anti-discriminatory approach is integral to their psychotherapy practice. They must work within the Institute’s Equal Opportunities Policy.
  1. Qualification
    • Psychotherapists are required to disclose their qualifications when requested and not claim or imply qualifications that they do not have.
    • Members should take all reasonable steps to ensure that their qualifications, training, capabilities and views are not misrepresented by others, and to correct such misrepresentations.
  1. Terms, Conditions and Methods of Practice
    • Psychotherapists are required to disclose their terms, conditions and methods of practice at the outset of psychotherapy. Psychotherapists shall endeavour to ensure that these terms, conditions and methods are maintained and where there are reasonable grounds for alterations to be made this must be clearly communicated to the client.
    • A clear statement must be given regarding any fees, the method of payment and liabilities for cancelled or broken appointments.
  • The giving of gifts or favours to the client must be avoided. The receipt of substantial gifts or favours from the client should not be accepted.
  1. Confidentiality
    • Psychotherapists are required to preserve confidentiality and to disclose the limits of confidentiality and circumstances under which it might be breached to specific third parties (see2). To this end they have a duty to clarify the limits of confidentiality within which they are operating so that such discussions with clients can take place.
    • The only circumstances where information may be passed on without a client’s consent are:

(i)       To comply with the requirements of the law.

(ii)      In exceptional circumstances where it is judged that the safety of the client or anyone threatened by the client’s behaviour warrants disclosure to an appropriate third party.

(iii)     Where the involvement of the Institute or similar body is needed, such as when a complaint has been made.

  • Where disclosure is necessary the client should normally be informed in advance and, if possible, permission obtained. Any disclosure of confidential information should be restricted to appropriate people and include only that which is clearly relevant and needs to be known. Psychotherapists must strive to achieve a balance between acting in the best interests of the client and the wider responsibility to the community.
  • Records and personal notes relating to clients should be kept confidential and destroyed when no longer relevant to therapy. Normally this would be not less than seven years (in accordance with UKCP Guidelines) following termination of treatment and psychotherapists may also have to comply with the regulatory requirements of the setting in which they practice. Arrangements must be made for the safe disposal of client records, especially in the event of the psychotherapist’s incapacity or death.
  • The presentation of client material for teaching and allied purposes should be made only to professionals operating under a similar code of confidentiality and must be done in such a way as to protect the identity of clients.
  • Members shall seek to ensure that these standards of confidentiality are also applied to those having secretarial or administrative roles in relation to their work and to all others who come into contact with their clients and/or information about them.
  1. Professional Relationship
    • Psychotherapists should consider the client’s best interest when making appropriate contact with the client’s GP, relevant psychiatric services or other relevant professionals. Other than in exceptional circumstances, appropriate contact must be with the client’s knowledge.
    • Psychotherapy supervision must be regular, consistent and appropriate to the psychotherapy being practised by the psychotherapist.
    • Members must be aware of the Institute’s procedures for dealing with complaints, grievances and related issues.
    • Members must take all reasonable steps to be aware of current law as it applies to their psychotherapy practice. This includes the particular legislation that applies to working with clients under eighteen.
  1. Relationship with Client
    • Psychotherapists are required to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries and to make these explicit with their clients. They must take into account any pre-existing or overlapping relationships, including other help clients are receiving, and act appropriately in relation to these.
    • Psychotherapists must ensure that they do not exploit their clients, current or past, in any way, financially, sexually or emotionally. This requirement applies equally after the termination of therapy and attention is drawn to the inappropriateness of therapists seeking to meet their own needs in relationship with current and former clients.
    • In settings where the nature of the work allows them to mix informally with clients the psychotherapist must ensure that such relationships remain professional.
  1. Research
    • Psychotherapists are required to 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 given before commencement.
  1. Publication
    • Psychotherapists are required to safeguard the welfare and anonymity of clients when any form of publication of clinical material is being considered and to obtain their consent whenever possible.
    • Case material for publication, or research using case material should only be submitted to recognised and reputable publications. The identity of clients must be protected in such writings and research and any substantial use of case material from a person should only be used with their permission. Publication should only be considered if the therapist is convinced that this will not be detrimental to the therapeutic process, ongoing or complete. These requirements also apply to material recorded by electronic means such as audio or video recording.
  1. Practitioner Competence
    • Psychotherapists are required to maintain their ability to perform competently and to take necessary steps to do so. Competence includes being able to recognise when it is appropriate to refer a client elsewhere. Psychotherapists should be aware of their own limitations.
    • Psychotherapists must maintain a commitment to continuing professional development in accordance with the Institute’s policy and requirements, as well as participating in regular and ongoing supervision.
    • Psychotherapists will monitor their functioning and should not practice when impaired by alcohol or other drugs. In situations of illness, personal, or emotional difficulty, psychotherapists, in consultation with their supervisor, for example, will monitor the point at which they are no longer competent to practice and take action accordingly.
    • Psychotherapists should have arrangements in place to ensure that the needs of their clients and supervisees are appropriately addressed in the event of their sudden incapacity or death.
  1. Indemnity Insurance
    Psychotherapists are required to ensure that their professional work is adequately covered by appropriate indemnity insurance.
  1. Detrimental Behaviour
    • Psychotherapists are required to refrain from any behaviour that may be detrimental to the profession, to colleagues or to trainees.
    • Psychotherapists should not knowingly accept into treatment a self-referred client currently in treatment with a colleague without that colleague’s knowledge.
    • When referring clients to colleagues, psychotherapists shall ensure that they act in the best interest of both client and practitioner. Other than in exceptional circumstances, it is not appropriate for a client to be referred without prior notice or consultation with the practitioner concerned.
    • Psychotherapists are required to take appropriate action with regard to the behaviour of a colleague that may be detrimental to the profession, to colleagues or to trainees. The first step will normally be to discuss the matter with the colleague concerned. Where it seems appropriate to share the concern in confidence the appropriate senior colleague of the Institute should be contacted in the first instance. Where there is significant evidence of a colleague’s unprofessional conduct there is a duty to inform the Institute’s Ethics Committee.
    • Psychotherapists must not make any client doubt a colleague’s knowledge or skills by making unnecessary or unsustainable comments about them.
    • Psychotherapists must be honest and objective when assessing the performance of those who they train and supervise. When providing references for colleagues comments must be honest and justifiable. All relevant information which is of significance to a colleague’s competence and conduct must be included.
    • Psychotherapists shall inform the executive in the event of conviction of a criminal offence; being the subject of a successful civil legal action in relation to professional activity; or being subject to sanctions by an organisation in the same or a related profession as a result of disciplinary proceedings.
  1. Advertising and the Media
    • Psychotherapists are required to distinguish carefully between self-descriptions, as in a list, and advertising in order to seek enquiries. They must limit any advertising to a statement of name, address, qualifications and type of therapy offered which must be descriptive and not evaluative and must not imply qualifications which they do not possess.
    • Psychotherapists’ use of the media should not bring the Institute or profession into disrepute. They will not speak to the media on behalf of the Institute without proper authority.