Disclaimer: Please note the codes in our collection might not necessarily be the most recent versions. Please contact the individual organizations or their websites to verify if a more recent or updated code of ethics is available. CSEP does not hold copyright on any of the codes of ethics in our collection. Any permission to use the codes must be sought from the individual organizations directly.
This statement, Ethics for Counselling and Psychotherapy, unifies and replaces all the earlier codes for counsellors, trainers and supervisors. It is intended to guide the practice of counselling and psychotherapy by all members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and inform the practice of closely related roles that are delivered in association with counselling and psychotherapy or as part of the infrastructure to deliver these services. Being ethically mindful and willing to be accountable for the ethical basis of practice are essential requirements of membership of this Association.
In this statement the term ‘practitioner’ is used generically to refer to anyone with responsibility for the provision of counselling or psychotherapy-related services. ‘Practitioner’ includes anyone undertaking the role(s) of counsellor, psychotherapist, trainers and educators for these roles, providers of coaching and mentoring in association with counselling and psychotherapy, supervisors, and practitioner researchers. Members of this Association who are providers of services using counselling skills, embedded counsellors, managers and researchers of therapeutic services, are required to be accountable in accordance with the Ethical Framework in ways appropriate to their role and to communicate appropriately the basis of their ethical accountability and expectations. The term ‘client’ is used as a generic term to refer to the recipient of any of these services. The client may be an individual, couple, family, group, organisation or other specifiable social unit. Alternative names may be substituted for ‘practitioner’ and ‘client’ in the practice setting, according to custom and context.
This statement marks an important development in approach to ethics within the Association. One of the characteristics of contemporary society is the coexistence of different approaches to ethics. This statement reflects this ethical diversity and supports practitioners being responsive to differences in client abilities, needs and culture and taking account of variations between settings and service specialisations by considering:
This selection of ways of expressing ethical commitments does not seek to invalidate other approaches. The presentation of different ways of approaching ethics alongside each other in this statement is intended to draw attention to the limitations of relying too heavily on any single ethical approach. Ethical principles are well suited to examining the justification for particular decisions and actions. However, reliance on principles alone may detract from the importance of the practitioner’s personal qualities and their ethical significance in the counselling or therapeutic relationship. The provision of contextually sensitive and appropriate services is also a fundamental ethical concern. Variations in client needs and cultural diversity differences are often more easily understood and responded to in terms of values. Therefore, professional values are becoming an increasingly significant way of expressing ethical commitment.
The fundamental values of counselling and psychotherapy include a commitment to:
Values inform principles. They represent an important way of expressing a general ethical commitment that becomes more precisely defined and action-orientated when expressed as a principle.
Principles direct attention to important ethical responsibilities. Each principle is described below and is followed by examples of good practice that have been developed in response to that principle.
Ethical decisions that are strongly supported by one or more of these principles without any contradiction from others may be regarded as reasonably well founded. However, practitioners will encounter circumstances in which it is impossible to reconcile all the applicable principles and choosing between principles may be required. A decision or course of action does not necessarily become unethical merely because it is contentious or other practitioners would have reached different conclusions in similar circumstances. A practitioner’s obligation is to consider all the relevant circumstances with as much care as is reasonably possible and to be appropriately accountable for decisions made.
Being trustworthy: honouring the trust placed in the practitioner (also referred to as fidelity)
Being trustworthy is regarded as fundamental to understanding and resolving ethical issues. Practitioners who adopt this principle: act in accordance with the trust placed in them; strive to ensure that clients’ expectations are ones that have reasonable prospects of being met; honour their agreements and promises; regard confidentiality as an obligation arising from the client’s trust; restrict any disclosure of confidential information about clients to furthering the purposes for which it was originally disclosed.
Autonomy: respect for the client’s right to be self-governing
This principle emphasises the importance of developing a client’s ability to be self-directing within therapy and all aspects of life. Practitioners who respect their clients’ autonomy: ensure accuracy in any advertising or information given in advance of services offered; seek freely given and adequately informed consent; emphasise the value of voluntary participation in the services being offered; engage in explicit contracting in advance of any commitment by the client; protect privacy; protect confidentiality; normally make any disclosures of confidential information conditional on the consent of the person concerned; and inform the client in advance of foreseeable conflicts of interest or as soon as possible after such conflicts become apparent. The principle of autonomy opposes the manipulation of clients against their will, even for beneficial social ends.
Beneficence: a commitment to promoting the client’s well-being
The principle of beneficence means acting in the best interests of the client based on professional assessment. It directs attention to working strictly within one’s limits of competence and providing services on the basis of adequate training or experience. Ensuring that the client’s best interests are achieved requires systematic monitoring of practice and outcomes by the best available means. It is considered important that research and systematic reflection inform practice. There is an obligation to use regular and on-going supervision to enhance the quality of the services provided and to commit to updating practice by continuing professional development. An obligation to act in the best interests of a client may become paramount when working with clients whose capacity for autonomy is diminished because of immaturity, lack of understanding, extreme distress, serious disturbance or other significant personal constraints.
Non-maleficence: a commitment to avoiding harm to the client
Non-maleficence involves: avoiding sexual, financial, emotional or any other form of client exploitation; avoiding incompetence or malpractice; not providing services when unfit to do so due to illness, personal circumstances or intoxication. The practitioner has an ethical responsibility to strive to mitigate any harm caused to a client even when the harm is unavoidable or unintended. Holding appropriate insurance may assist in restitution. Practitioners have personal and professional responsibility to challenge, where appropriate, the incompetence or malpractice of others; and to contribute to any investigation and/or adjudication concerning professional practice which falls below that of a reasonably competent practitioner and/or risks bringing discredit upon the profession.
Justice: the fair and impartial treatment of all clients and the provision of adequate services
The principle of justice requires being just and fair to all clients and respecting their human rights and dignity. It directs attention to considering conscientiously any legal requirements and obligations, and remaining alert to potential conflicts between legal and ethical obligations. Justice in the distribution of services requires the ability to determine impartially the provision of services for clients and the allocation of services between clients. A commitment to fairness requires the ability to appreciate differences between people and to be committed to equality of opportunity, and avoiding discrimination against people or groups contrary to their legitimate personal or social characteristics. Practitioners have a duty to strive to ensure a fair provision of counselling and psychotherapy services, accessible and appropriate to the needs of potential clients.
The challenge of working ethically means that practitioners will inevitably encounter situations where there are competing obligations. In such situations it is tempting to retreat from all ethical analysis in order to escape a sense of what may appear to be unresolvable ethical tension. These ethics are intended to be of assistance in such circumstances by directing attention to the variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration and to alternative ways of approaching ethics that may prove more useful. No statement of ethics can totally alleviate the difficulty of making professional judgements in circumstances that may be constantly changing and full of uncertainties. By accepting this statement of ethics, members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy are committing themselves to engaging with the challenge of striving to be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting courageously.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is committed to sustaining and advancing good practice. This guidance on the essential elements of good practice has been written to take into account the changing circumstances in which counselling and psychotherapy are now being delivered, in particular:
Variations in client needs and the diversity of settings within which counselling and psychotherapy services are delivered have also been carefully considered. Clients vary in their requirements in order to communicate effectively and to gain access to services. Ethically aware services strive to meet these needs and to avoid excluding someone from receiving a service or lowering the quality of that service solely on the grounds of a client’s learning difficulty or physical disability. Services may be provided by the independent practitioner working alone, one or more practitioners working to provide a service within an agency or large organisation, specialists working in multidisciplinary teams, and by specialist teams of counsellors and psychotherapists. Most work is undertaken face to face but there are also a growing number of telephone and online services. Some practitioners are moving between these different settings and modes of delivery during the course of their work and are therefore required to consider what constitutes good practice in different settings. All practitioners encounter the challenge of responding to the diversity of their clients and finding ways of working effectively with them. This statement therefore responds to the complexity of delivering counselling and psychotherapy services in contemporary society by directing attention to significant issues that practitioners ought to consider and resolve in the specific circumstances of their work.
The terms ‘practitioner’ and ‘client’ are used in the same way as defined in Ethics for counselling and psychotherapy (see page 2). Practitioners’ behaviour may vary from these guidelines provided the variation is ethically justifiable; the client is supportive of the variation; it is demonstrably to the benefit of the client; and that practitioners are willing to be appropriately accountable to people affected, and this Association for their practice and the reputation of therapy in general.
All clients are entitled to good standards of practice and care from their practitioners in counselling and psychotherapy. Good standards of practice and care require professional competence; good relationships with clients and colleagues; and commitment to being ethically mindful through observance of professional ethics.
Good quality of care
It is the responsibility of all Members and Complainants to ensure that they fully understand the Professional Conduct Procedure and the associated protocols. This procedure forms an essential part of BACP’s commitment to the protection of the public. Members are required to inform any client who indicates that they have a complaint or grievance about the existence of this procedure and any other applicable complaints or disciplinary procedures. If requested to do so, practitioners should inform their clients about how they may obtain further information concerning these procedures. Further information may be obtained by contacting the Professional Conduct Department at BACP directly; alternatively, all documentation is available on the BACP website at www.bacp.co.uk.
The aim of the Professional Conduct Procedure is to provide complainants with an open and transparent route of remedy where complaints are made against members of this Association. In processing such complaints, the Association aims to protect members of the public, the name and reputation of BACP and the professions referred to within the Ethical Framework.
1.2 Bringing a complaint
A complaint can be brought by either:
a) a member of the public who has sought or received a service provided by a member of the Association; or
b) a current member of the Association who may bring complaints for services sought or received directly from another member; or who has witnessed poor practice delivered by another member; or on behalf of another where their written permission has been obtained and where that person is unable to bring the complaint on their own behalf (explanation is required in writing as to the nature of the inability); or
c) a legal guardian or other appropriately authorised adult on behalf of a minor and/or an adult lacking legal capacity for services sought or received; or
d) a third party who can demonstrate sufficient interest and who has been directly affected by the actions of the practitioner, subject to the protocol on third party complaints.
1.3 Complaints against non-members
The Association cannot deal with complaints against individuals or organisations that were not members of the Association at the time of the alleged misconduct and/or are not current members of the Association.
1.4 Complaints against members
A complaint made against a member and brought within the timescale detailed below, may cover the entirety of the professional relationship in so far as the member concerned was a member of the Association at the time of the alleged professional misconduct.
A complaint must be submitted either:
a) within three years of the ending of the professional relationship; or
b) within three years of the date when the Complainant reasonably became aware of the alleged professional misconduct. The Complainant must provide a written explanation as to when/how they became aware and this will be considered by the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel which will decide if the explanation given is good and/or sufficient; or
c) within a reasonable time of the alleged professional misconduct.
The Association will not consider any complaints where the substantive matters have previously been considered by the Association under these procedures, unless there is overwhelming and compelling new evidence which suggests that the case should be reconsidered.
All records will be kept for a period of seven years. The Association reserves the right to reconsider complaints previously submitted when similar/other complaints subsequently arise that give good reason to suggest that the practitioner’s continuing membership should be considered under Article 4.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.
Where the outcome of a complaint has resulted in withdrawal of membership of the Association, all records will be kept unless and/or until such time as the person concerned has successfully re-applied for membership of the Association. Such records will be considered in any re-application for membership of the Association.
The administration of the Professional Conduct Procedure will follow the protocols laid down and as amended from time to time by the Association. These will be administered by the Head of Professional Conduct.
There is benefit in furthering the charitable aims of the Association by carrying out audits and/or research into complaints. The data from complaints will be processed for the purposes of research and statistical analysis. Where this work is carried out, either by BACP or a third party, under strict protocols of confidentiality, the confidentiality of the parties concerned will be respected and any published research and/or analysis will not contain any personally identifiable information.
The Association is not responsible for travel or any other expenses incurred either by the Complainant or the Member Complained Against or any support person/representative in connection with any stage of the complaint. The Association cannot order one party in a complaint to pay another party’s costs.
However, where a witness is called by the Chair of the Panel, BACP will reimburse reasonable travel expenses upon the production of valid receipts and completion of an expense claim form.
1.9 Dual accountability
The Association may decide to hear a complaint against a member when another organisation is involved in a similar process arising out of the same substantive matters. Where information is received for consideration under the Professional Conduct Procedure and where it is known that the member concerned is also a member of another professional body, the Association reserves the right to formally notify any other organisation of the issues being considered.
Before submitting a complaint to BACP, the Complainant is expected to attempt to resolve the issue with the individual or organisational Member Complained Against and details of any attempt at resolution should be included with the complaint. If local resolution is not possible/feasible or is considered inappropriate in the particular circumstances of the case, the Complainant will be required to provide a written explanation as to why this is the case.
1.11 Complaints and findings
The Association reserves the right to notify other professional bodies and/or agencies about complaints and to distribute any findings upheld against a member, where it considers it right and just to do so in all circumstances.
2.1 The complaint
The complaint must satisfy the following conditions:
a) The Complainant must provide a detailed account of the practice giving rise to the complaint, together with details of dates when the event(s) occurred. Reference may be made to the standards of practice outlined in the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and/or the relevant Codes of Ethics and Practice in force at the time, together with all supporting evidence as appropriate. Reference may also be made to the Ethical guidelines for researching counselling and psychotherapy, as appropriate.
b) The individual or organisational Member Complained Against is named and is a current member of the Association and was a member of the Association at the time the alleged breach occurred.
c) It is in writing, dated, signed and received by the Head of Professional Conduct.
A complaint not satisfying the above conditions will not be accepted or processed under these procedures.
The Member Complained Against will be notified that a complaint has been received, given a copy of that complaint and details of the procedure to be followed. The Member Complained Against is not required to respond at this stage, but will be given an opportunity at a later stage if the complaint is accepted under the formal Professional Conduct Procedure (as set out in section 3).
2.3 Receipt of a complaint
The complaint will be submitted to a Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel, whereupon the Panel will decide:
a) whether to accept the complaint to be dealt with at a Professional Conduct Hearing, refer it back for further information/clarification or reject it. The Panel has discretion to interview the Complainant and/or Member Complained Against if deemed appropriate;
b) if further information/clarification is requested, upon receipt of same, the complaint will be re-submitted to the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel which will decide whether to accept it or reject it;
c) once the complaint is accepted, the Complainant and Member Complained Against will be formally notified of this decision in writing. The Head of Professional Conduct will then start the formal Professional Conduct Procedure (as set out in section 3);
d) if the complaint is not accepted by the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel, the Complainant and Member Complained Against will be formally notified of this decision in writing.
2.4 Appeal following decision of the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel
The Complainant may appeal against the decision of the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel. An appeal must be received by the Head of Professional Conduct within 14 days of notification of the Panel’s decision. The Complainant can appeal on the following grounds:
a) the decision was made against the weight of evidence;
b) there is new evidence that was not available at the time of the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel (subject to the conditions laid down in the relevant protocol).
The intention to appeal must be accompanied by the evidence to support the submission.
The ground(s) of appeal, together with the original submissions and any new evidence considered by the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel, will be considered by an independent Appeal Assessor. The Appeal Assessor’s decision will be final.
3.1 Acceptance of complaint
The Complainant and Member Complained Against will be notified in writing that the complaint will proceed to a Professional Conduct Hearing.
3.2 Responding to a formal complaint
The Member Complained Against will be notified of the acceptance of the complaint and will have 28 days to respond to it, having previously been supplied with a copy of the complaint. The Member Complained Against will also be furnished with any further information submitted by the Complainant and considered by the Pre-Hearing Assessment Panel. Any response to the complaint must be forwarded to the Head of Professional Conduct.
All evidence submitted for the purpose of the Professional Conduct Hearing, by either the Complainant or the Member Complained Against, shall be available to the parties involved in the complaint. The Head of Professional Conduct will distribute to the parties copies of all submissions made.
It is the duty of the parties taking part in the Professional Conduct Procedure to comply with the implementation of the Professional Conduct Procedure. Such persons shall comply with the relevant protocols as laid down by the Association. Any failure to comply may result in the termination of the Professional Conduct Procedure or withdrawal of membership under Article 4.6 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
3.5 Lapsed membership
Failure to renew membership by a Member Complained Against during the course of a complaint will not normally terminate the Professional Conduct Procedure.
A member’s resignation from membership of the Association will not normally terminate nor invalidate the processing and/or hearing of a complaint by the Association.
Professional Conduct Hearings will be held at a neutral venue within the vicinity of the Association’s headquarters, other than in exceptional circumstances.
4.2 Professional Conduct Panel
The Head of Professional Conduct will appoint an independently constituted panel of not less than three persons, including lay representation, to hear the complaint.
4.3 Declaration of interest
Members of the Professional Conduct Panel have a duty to declare any interest which may be considered by the Head of Professional Conduct to affect their impartiality, or likely to be thought so to do.
The purpose of the Professional Conduct Hearing is for the Professional Conduct Panel to examine all the written and oral evidence presented by both parties and decide whether the complaint is proved or not. If proved, the Panel will decide whether or not any sanction should be imposed.
4.5 Presence of a representative/support person
When appearing at the Professional Conduct Hearing, the Complainant and Member Complained Against may each be accompanied by a representative who may support and/or speak on behalf of the party concerned. Such details of a representative/support person must be received by the Head of Professional Conduct not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Professional Conduct Hearing.
4.6 Additional evidence
Written evidence and/or submissions and witness statements must be submitted in advance by the Complainant and the Member Complained Against. Such papers must be received by the Head of Professional Conduct not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Professional Conduct Hearing. Such papers will be circulated to the Professional Conduct Panel, the Complainant and the Member Complained Against, within a reasonable period prior to the Hearing. The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel may take advice on these papers and/or procedural matters from the Head of Professional Conduct or such relevant person as may be deemed appropriate.
4.7 New evidence
The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel will determine whether or not new evidence will be accepted on the day of the Hearing. The decision will be based on the conditions laid down in the relevant protocol. The Chair of the Professional Conduct Panel may take advice on such matters from the Head of Professional Conduct.
4.8 Attendance by witnesses
A witness can only be called if the witness has supplied a written statement contained within the parties’ submissions to BACP. Parties wishing to call witnesses must notify the Head of Professional Conduct of the names and details of such witnesses not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Hearing. The Chair of the Panel will only permit the attendance of a witness if the Panel considers their written statement requires further clarification. The Professional Conduct Panel, Complainant and Member Complained Against may call witnesses to attend the Hearing. The Chair of the Panel has discretion to refuse attendance by a witness if it is reasonably believed that such attendance is not relevant and/or will not add any weight to the issue(s) being considered. Witnesses may be questioned by the Panel and by either party connected with the case.
4.9 Failure to attend the Professional Conduct Hearing
Where a Complainant or Member Complained Against fails or refuses to attend a Professional Conduct Hearing, the Head of Professional Conduct has the power to decide to either:
4.10 Notification of findings
The decision of the Professional Conduct Panel will be notified in writing to the parties within 28 days of the Professional Conduct Hearing.
The entirety of the decision of the Professional Conduct Panel, together with the details of any sanction, will be published on the Association’s website and in its journal.
5.1 The Professional Conduct Panel, having regard to the findings, may impose one or more of the sanctions detailed in the relevant protocol.
The Head of Professional Conduct will appoint an independently constituted Sanction Panel which will consist of not less than three people, usually two members of the Association and one lay member, to consider any evidence of compliance.
5.2 Lifting of sanction
The Sanction Panel will decide if the requirements of the sanction have been fulfilled and thus, whether the sanction should be lifted.
The Member Complained Against will be notified in writing of any decision made. Where a sanction has been successfully complied with and, thus, lifted, a Sanction Compliance Notice will be published on the Association’s website and in its journal.
5.3 Failure or refusal to comply with sanction
Failure or refusal to comply with a sanction may result in membership of the Association being withdrawn immediately. The Chair of the Association will notify the Member Complained Against of any such decision in writing. In such circumstances, a Withdrawal of Membership Notice will be published on the Association’s website and in its journal.
6.1 The Member Complained Against may appeal on the ground(s) detailed in paragraph 6.5. An appeal against the decision of the Professional Conduct Panel must be submitted in writing by the deadline given (see paragraph 6.6), be accompanied by any supporting documentation and submitted to the Head of Professional Conduct.
6.2 The ground(s) for appeal will be considered by an independent Appeal Assessor who will decide whether the appeal should be accepted to go forward to an Appeal Hearing or not.
6.3 If leave to appeal is accepted under paragraph 6.2, a notice to that effect shall be given to the Head of Professional Conduct and the case will proceed to an Appeal Hearing, where the appeal will be considered by an independent Appeal Panel, as set out in Section 7. The Appellant and the Complainant will be notified of this decision and given details of the procedure to be followed.
6.4 If there is insufficient evidence to satisfy any of the ground(s) for appeal, the leave to appeal will be rejected. The Appellant and the Complainant will be notified in writing of this decision which will be final.
6.5 An appeal will be considered on any of the following ground(s):
a) the facts were found against the weight of evidence;
b) the sanction is disproportionate to the findings and decision of the Professional Conduct Panel and is unjust in all the circumstances;
c) there is evidence to suggest that a procedural impropriety may have had a material affect on the findings and decision of the Professional Conduct Panel;
d) there is new evidence which was not available at the time of the Professional Conduct Hearing, subject to the conditions laid down in the relevant protocol.
6.6 Timescale for appeal
An appeal must be in writing, and must specify which ground(s) it is submitted under and be accompanied by any supporting documentation and served upon the Head of Professional Conduct within 28 days of notification of the findings and decision and/or sanction of the Professional Conduct Panel.
Appeal hearings will be held at a neutral venue within the vicinity of the Association’s headquarters, other than in exceptional circumstances.
7.2 Appeal Panel
The Head of Professional Conduct will appoint an independently constituted panel of not less than three persons, including lay representation, to decide the appeal.
7.3 Declaration of interest
Members of an appeal panel have a duty to declare any interest which may be considered by the Head of Professional Conduct to affect their impartiality, or likely to be thought so to do.
The purpose of an appeal hearing is for an appeal panel to examine all the written and oral evidence presented by both parties to decide whether the appeal is upheld or not.
7.5 Format of the Appeal Hearing
The Appeal Hearing will be by way of a review of the Professional Conduct Panel’s decision in light of the evidence put before it. The Appeal Panel will then consider the appeal documentation in its entirety, together with any verbal submissions and mitigating factors before reaching its decision.
7.6 Presence of a representative/support person
When appearing at the Appeal Hearing, both parties may be accompanied by a representative who may support and/or speak on behalf of the party concerned. Such details of a representative/support person must be received by the Head of Professional Conduct not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Appeal Hearing.
7.7 Additional evidence
Written evidence and/or submissions and witness statements must be submitted in advance by the Appellant and the Complainant. Such papers must be received by the Head of Professional Conduct not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Appeal Hearing. Such papers will be circulated to the Appeal Panel, the Appellant and the Complainant, within a reasonable period prior to the Hearing. The Chair of the Appeal Panel may take advice on these papers and/or procedural matters from the Head of Professional Conduct, or such relevant person as may be deemed appropriate.
7.8 New evidence
The Chair of the Appeal Panel will determine whether or not new evidence will be accepted on the day of the Appeal Hearing. The decision will be based on the conditions laid down in the relevant protocol. The Chair of the Appeal Panel may take advice on such matters from the Head of Professional Conduct.
7.9 Attendance by witnesses
A witness can only be called if the witness has supplied a written statement contained within the parties’ submissions to BACP. Parties wishing to call witnesses must notify the Head of Professional Conduct of the names and details of such witnesses not less than 28 days prior to the date fixed for the Hearing. The Chair of the Appeal Panel will only permit the attendance of a witness if the Panel considers that their written statement requires further clarification. The Appeal Panel, Appellant and Complainant may call witnesses to attend the Hearing. The Chair of the Appeal Panel has discretion to refuse attendance by a witness if it is reasonably believed that such attendance is not relevant and/or will not add any weight to the issue(s) being considered. Witnesses may be questioned by the Panel and by either party connected with the case.
7.10 Failure to attend the Appeal Hearing
Where an Appellant fails or refuses to attend an Appeal Hearing, the Head of Professional Conduct has the power to decide to either:
7.11 Notification of decision
The decision of the Appeal Panel will be notified to the parties in writing within 28 days of the Appeal Hearing.
Where an Appeal has not been successful, in whole or in part, the decision of the Appeal Panel, including details of any sanction, incorporating any amendment(s) made by the Appeal Panel, will be published on the Association’s website and in its journal.
If the decision is that the Appellant’s membership of the Association should be withdrawn, the Head of Professional Conduct will communicate this decision to the Chair of the Association who, in turn, will formally notify the Appellant in writing and implement the Panel’s decision. This decision will be final.
8.1 Where a complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the decision of the Professional Conduct and/or Appeal Panel, together with details of any sanction, will be published on the Association’s website and in its journal in such detail as deemed appropriate to the findings.
8.2 The withdrawal of membership under the Professional Conduct Procedure will be published on the Association’s website, in its journal and elsewhere as it considers appropriate and just to do so, and in the interests of public protection.
8.3 Under these procedures, any notification that the Association is entitled to publish on its website and in its journal may be published elsewhere by the Association at its discretion and in the interests of public protection.
This Professional Conduct Procedure 2010 will apply to all complaints received by the Association from 1 February 2010.
The Professional Conduct Panel is responsible for determining whether the ground(s) of the complaint are upheld or not, according to the standards of civil law. If upheld, the Panel has to consider its decision and make a finding under one or more of the following heads of complaint. The decision about the head must ultimately rest upon consideration of all the circumstances in the case. The information that follows is intended to inform the choice between the three heads of complaint available to the Panel. These are:
A finding of professional misconduct signifies that the practitioner has contravened the ethical and behavioural standards that should reasonably be expected of a member of this profession. Misconduct is defined as acting in contravention of the written and unwritten guidance of the profession.
A finding of serious professional misconduct is appropriate if the misconduct is of sufficient seriousness to merit a period of suspension of rights of membership and/or the withdrawal of membership of the Association.
A finding of professional malpractice signifies that the service(s) for which the practitioner is responsible have fallen below the standards that would reasonably be expected of a practitioner exercising reasonable care and skill. Examples of malpractice include, but are not restricted to:
A finding of serious professional malpractice is appropriate if the malpractice is of sufficient seriousness to merit a period of suspension of rights of membership and/or the withdrawal of membership of the Association.
Bringing the Profession into Disrepute
A finding of bringing the profession into disrepute signifies that the practitioner has acted in such an infamous or disgraceful way that the public’s trust in the profession might reasonably be undermined, or might reasonably be undermined if they were accurately informed about all the circumstances of the case.
A finding under this head must amount to ‘disgraceful conduct in a professional respect’. This involves consideration of three elements:
Conduct that is regarded as ‘disgraceful’ need not amount to moral turpitude or be restricted to acts of serious immorality.
The conduct must have had some connection with a professional role in order to be considered as falling ‘in a professional respect’. It ought not to be concerned with matters that can reasonably be viewed as solely personal and private.
Conduct ‘in a professional respect’ is not confined to the pursuit of the profession in question.
What is not considered to be disgraceful to an ordinary person may be considered to be disgraceful to a professional person.
A finding of bringing the profession into disrepute will result in withdrawal of membership.
Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy