Code of Ethics

Principles of professional ethics of a psychologist/psychotherapist.
Code of ethics has two main objectives:

  1. to define common values and principles and set standards of professional behaviour for psychologists/psychotherapists and training institutions
  2. inform and protect clients' interests

Psychologists/psychotherapists are responsible for following the principles stated in the Code and use the Code as a basis for their practice.

The code defines general professional standards and behavioral principles of specialists and future specialists towards the clients, colleagues, the society and psychotherapy. Therapy relations between the specialist and the client start at the moment of their first interaction, last during the whole process of therapy and remain after it is finished - as part of post-therapy stage. The code of psychotherapy ethics defines interaction between the client and the psychologist/psychotherapist for the whole time of the therapy and three hours after it is finished.

Psychotherapy contract.

The primary contract includes an agreement on longevity and frequency of the sessions, their price and means of payment, their time and location. Other issues are discussed along the way, for example, cancellation terms, payment for missed sessions etc. A client can't be in therapy without his consent. This rule also works for children, for whom an official agreement of parents or guardians is requested. However, usually a psychologists signs a separate contract with the child himself. Child's rights can't be broken by signing a contract only with his parents or guardians. Depending on kind and modality of the psychological help, terms of interaction between a client and a psychologist can be modified, but it is always necessary for a psychologist to stick to universal moral values.

In process of work with a client the following norms and standards must be followed:

  1. Professional competence. A psychologist/psychotherapist must provide only professional assistance and understand the limits of his competence. A psychologist/psychotherapist should aim all his effort towards enrichment of his knowledge and improve his professional skills. A specialist should not provide his services in case the state he is in might affect the process of therapy negatively.

  2. Respect of each person and no discrimination. A psychologist/psychotherapist must understand his own values and beliefs and never push them on his clients. Discrimination based on age, incapacity for work, nationality, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, social status or anything else goes against psychotherapy ethics.

  3. Informed consent. Therapy relations between a client and a psychologist/psychotherapist are based on trust and informed consent. During the first few meetings a client should be informed about special features of the method the psychologist/psychotherapist is going to use and about all other ways of help. In a very delicate way a psychologist/psychotherapist and a client should reach consensus in terms of timing, payment and other terms and conditions. If a client is a child then, taking his age into consideration, an extra agreement with his parents or guardians should be worked on.

  4. Confidentiality. Confidentiality of any information disclosed by a client during sessions is a client's basic right and an essential part of an effective therapy and research activities. A psychologist/psychotherapist must put all the effort towards not breaking his client's (including ex clients) right to confidentiality. A psychologist/psychotherapist has no right to discuss any information received from his client outside therapy, supervision or educational context. If a psychologist/psychotherapist uses case materials in his discussions with colleagues in educational, consultation or scientific purposes, all personal information should be heavily modified so that the person could not be recognised. If presenting the case in writing, a psychologist/psychotherapist should inform a client on the aims of the publication and a client should provide his consent, while being notified that it is possible to refuse.

  5. Honesty. Honesty is a base of therapy relations in psychotherapy. Having realised the complexity of human interaction and therapy relations, the psychologist/psychotherapist should communicate with clients, their families (if working with children or teenagers), students and colleagues honestly and quite openly.

  6. Prohibition on exploitation of a client. Due to the client being quite vulnerable in unequal relations with a psychologist/psychotherapist, the latter must never exploit him or his family in any way. A psychologist/psychotherapist should always avoid having dual relations with his client. Sexual relations between a psychologist/psychotherapist are considered a major violation of professional ethics.

  7. Scientific obligations. A psychologist/psychotherapist should assist development of scientific and practical knowledge and improvement of education level among students and colleagues. Any research should be conducted in accordance with principles of clinical and scientific research. While conducting a research one should be particularly careful with the use of clinical material. This is related to respecting of clients' rights to confidentiality and minimizing the harm for them.

  8. Keeping the professional community and the society in general from incompetence. A psychologist/psychotherapist should always assess his ability to perform his professional activity, ask for his colleagues' expert opinions in case of serious doubt and provide feedback on their state and ability to perform professional activity.

  9. Social responsibility. A psychologist/psychotherapist should always perform professional activity in accordance with the norms that are aimed to protect interests of a client and the society in general.
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