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A Vision For Change

Ethics & Complaints


Practitioners honour and promote the fundamental human rights, dignity and worth of clients. They respect clients' rights to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination and autonomy, consistent with the practitioner's other professional obligations and with the law.

More specifically, practitioners shall:

  • 1.1 Respect
    • 1.1.1.Have sensible regard for clients' beliefs and values.
    • 1.1.2.Not discriminate on grounds such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, race, ethnicity, age, national origin, party politics, social standing or class.
    • 1.1.3.Convey sensible respect for prevailing community mores, social customs and cultural expectations.
    • 1.1.4.Work in ways which promote clients' personal autonomy.
  • 1.2.Privacy
    • 1.2.1.Ensure that the physical setting for the work is appropriate.
    • 1.2.2.Treat in confidence personal information about clients, whether obtained directly or indirectly or by inference. Such information includes name, address, biographical details, and any descriptions of the client's life and circumstances which might make the client identifiable by others.
    • 1.2.3.Ensure that information which may lead to the identification of clients is not transmitted through overlapping networks of confidential relationships.
    • 1.2.4.Break confidentiality only where required by law, or where there are grounds for believing that clients will cause physical harm to themselves or others. Where feasible, practitioners shall endeavour to obtain the client's consent, and consult their supervisor or an experienced colleague, in advance of any such disclosure. However, in emergencies, practitioners shall make their own judgement as to what action is best.
    • 1.2.5.Minimize any breach of confidentiality by conveying only that information which is necessary, and only to relevant persons.
    • 1.2.6.In supervision and consultation with colleagues, reveal only that information about clients which is relevant for those purposes.
    • 1.2.8.Store, handle, transfer and dispose of all records (including written, electronic, audio and video) securely and in a way that safeguards the client's right to privacy.
  • 1.3.Informed Consent and Freedom of Consent
    • 1.3.1.Ensure that the client consents to participate at all stages and respect clients' right to discontinue at any time.
    • 1.3.2.Provide reasonable opportunity during the course of the relationship for review of the terms on which the service is being offered.
    • 1.3.3.Not normally act on behalf of their clients. If they do, they shall ensure that the client consents in advance to any proposed action.
    • 1.3.4.Where the client is concurrently engaged in another professional helping relationship, obtain the client's permission before conferring with the other professional.
    • 1.3.5.Obtain the client's consent before making audio or video recordings of sessions.
    • 1.3.6.Obtain the client's consent to attendance at sessions by third parties.
    • 1.3.7.When publishing research or case studies concerning clients or supervisees, ensure that identities are carefully disguised and obtain appropriate consent.


Practitioners strive to ensure and maintain high standards of competence in their work. They recognize the boundaries of their competence and the limitations of their expertise. They provide only those services and use only those techniques for which they are qualified by training and experience. It is an indication of competence that they recognize when they are unable to offer a professional service.

More specifically, practitioners shall:

  • 2.1.Ethical Awareness
    • 2.1.1.Accept the obligation to study and understand the provisions of this Code of Ethics and Practice
  • 2.2.Limits of Competence
    • 2.2.1.Offer or carry out only those professional activities for which they have established their competence to practice.
    • 2.2.2.Recognize the boundaries of their competence, and take care not to exceed these.
    • 2.2.3.Refrain offering a service when their functioning is impaired due to personal or emotional difficulties, illness, disability, alcohol, drugs or any other cause.
  • 2.3.Continuing Professional Development
    • 2.3.1.Monitor and develop their professional competence

Practitioners are aware of their professional responsibilities, and at all times take positive action to fulfill these responsibilities.

More specifically, practitioners shall:

  • 3.1.General Responsibility
    • 3.1.1.Review and evaluate the effectiveness of their professional activities.
    • 3.1.2.Behave in professional activities in such a way as not to undermine public confidence in the profession.
    • 3.1.3.Exercise appropriate respect towards colleagues.
  • 3.2.Avoidance of Harm
    • 3.2.1.Set and monitor appropriate boundaries during the practitioner/client relationship, and make these explicit to the client.
    • 3.2.2.Take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client suffers neither physical nor psychological harm during the practitioner/client relationship.

  • 3.3.Continuity of Care
    • 3.3.1.Refer clients to other appropriately qualified practitioners or other professionals when it is appropriate to do so.
    • 3.3.2.When referring a client, maintain support and responsibility for caring until contact has commenced with the person to whom referral was made.
    • 3.3.3.Give reasonable notice, and make reasonably certain that discontinuation will cause no harm to the client, before discontinuing services.
    • 3.3.4.Contribute where appropriate to the co-ordination of client services in order to avoid duplication or working at cross purposes. To facilitate this process, practitioners shall maintain adequate records and communicate with other service providers
  • 3.4.Resolving Dilemmas
    • 3.4.1.Use a systematic procedure for making ethical decisions and resolving ethical dilemmas (see Appendix A for the recommended procedure).
    • 3.4.2.Take an active role in resolving conflicts of interest between themselves and third parties (for example, colleagues, employers, employing agencies) where there are implications for the client.

Practitioners seek to promote integrity in the practice of their profession. They recognize their professional limitations and ensure that they receive appropriate support and supervision from colleagues. In their professional activities they are honest, fair and respectful of others. They clarify for relevant parties the roles which they are performing, and attempt to function appropriately in accordance with these roles.

More specifically, practitioners shall:

  • 4.1.Recognition of Professional Limitations
    • 4.1.1.Engage in self-care activities which help to avoid conditions (for example, burnout, addictions) which could result in impaired judgment and interfere with their ability to benefit their clients.
    • 4.1.2.Monitor their own personal functioning and seek help when their personal resources are sufficiently depleted to require such action.
    • 4.1.3.Obtain professional supervision regularly in proportion to the amount of their work with clients.
    • 4.1.4.Where appropriate, seek consultative support from colleagues
  • 4.2.Honesty and Accuracy
    • 4.2.1.Ensure that they and others accurately represent their education, training, experience, membership status within the Association, and the effectiveness of the services which they offer, in all spoken, written or printed communications.
    • 4.2.2.Make a clear contract with the client which includes issues such as availability, fees, and cancelled appointments. They shall ensure that the contract is agreed before work commences. Any subsequent revisions of the contract shall be agreed with the client before they take effect.
    • 4.2.3.When advertising, avoid misrepresentation or exaggeration about services offered
  • 4.3.Conflict of Interests and Exploitation
    • 4.3.1.Be acutely aware of the power dynamics of the practitioner/client relationship and shall not exploit clients in any way, either during the relationship or after its conclusion.
    • 4.3.2.Be acutely aware of the problematic nature of dual relationships (for example, with trainees, business associates, employees or clients), and recognize that it is not always possible to avoid them (e.g. when offering services in a small community, or engaging in training). Where it is possible, practitioners shall avoid such relationships; where it is not, they shall take appropriate steps to safeguard the interests of those involved.
    • 4.3.3.Where possible, avoid conflicts of interest that may affect their relationship with the client, and where it is not possible, shall make these conflicts of interest explicit to the client.
    • 4.3.4.Offer the same standard of service whether the work is paid or voluntary.
    • 4.3.5.Seek supervision and/or consultative support on all issues relating to conflict of interests.


Complaints initiated under this code of Ethics are dealt with by an IAPPC Complaints Commissioner appointed by the Board. The procedure to be followed by the Complaints Commissioner shall in all cases be strictly in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The Complaints Commissioner is empowered at his/her own discretion to refer a complaint against a practitioner to another professional body where that body is deemed more appropriate having regard to the psychotherapeutic modality within which the practitioner is working.


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