Ethics Policy.

* To view 'The Human Givens Institute Ethics Policy' click a section number (above), or just scroll forward -

Section 2 : The Needs of Clients.

2.1 The lawful needs of clients are the foundation of ethical practice. Clients need to define the changes needed in their experience and capacities that will enable them to meet their needs more effectively. The efforts of therapists are guided by this founding consideration;

2.2 A fundamental principle underlying good practice is that therapists do not confuse their own needs with those of clients. The human givens approach therefore emphasises the relationship of trust between therapist or counsellor and patient, in which the focus should be on the patient's needs and resources, not on the desires, any selfish personal aims or ideological beliefs of the therapist;

2.3 In addition to this, therapists need to take account of the fact that human beings are social creatures, and that our lives take much of their meaning from interaction with other people. It follows that therapists will take account of the social networks within which they and the patient are operating and within which their needs must be met in a balanced way.

2.4 Starting from the human givens inclines us to avoid rules for good practice based on patients ‘rights'. We arrive in the world with needs to be met and the resources to meet them, but not rights. Rights are not 'givens' but are arrived at by negotiation between people and enshrined in laws;

2.5 Clients require therapeutic services based on best available psychological, physiological and neuro-physiological scientific knowledge relating to healthy human functioning and the rapid relief of distress. Specifically, practitioners should understand the basic emotional and physical needs common to every human being and implications of these for emotionally healthy, well adjusted living;

2.6 For them to recover from whatever is troubling them, clients need the practitioners from whom they seek help to have a sound psychological and physiological understanding of all the common mental health conditions – namely stress and depression, fear and anxiety, anger, trauma and addictions. Practitioners should be able wherever possible to offer immediate help to relieve the symptoms associated with these disorders and discuss ways of maintaining change. Such understanding and skills should be based on up to date scientific knowledge relating to these conditions;

2.7 Clients need practitioners to be clear and straightforward in their verbal and, where necessary, written communication. They should therefore avoid vague, ambiguous or vacuous concepts and assertions: communications should be free of “psychobabble”;

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Section 3 : The Basis for Good Practice — Needs of Therapists.

3.2 A necessary condition for being a good therapist is the need for ‘spare capacity', i.e. sufficient time and extra energy to devote to clients. Therapists need this in order to see clearly what is going on with their patients, to understand them and influence events in a positive direction, wherever possible;

3.3 If the therapist is too pleased, too anxious or too depressed themselves, they have no possibility of developing the capacity to do therapy well. Excessive emotion of any kind is exhausting and uses up the energy needed to be held in reserve in order to observe objectively. If a therapist's emotional life is too strong, they are not in control and therefore unable to work effectively with clients. So doing therapy should not use up everything the therapist has got, nor should there be so many draining demands that they have insufficient resources for doing good therapy.

3.4 Therapists should aim to enjoy doing something else with ease and confidence as a way to develop spare capacity. As people develop competence and confidence in a sport, craft, skill or hobby they take for granted that they can do it well, but do not become vain about achievements. This sense of inner confidence nurtures spare capacity for doing therapy.

3.5 Therapists should continually examine their motives and update their skills.

3.6 Therapists should be conscious of their own beliefs and the effects these may have in the context of their work with patients. This will include taking into account any differences between their own cultural background, gender, race, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc and those of the patient.

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Section 4 : The Basis for Good Practice — Essential Knowledge and Skills.

An effective counsellor or therapist should -

4.1 Have up-to-date knowledge about the spectrum of mental health disorders.

4.2 Help immediately with anxiety (fear-related) problems including trauma (or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), phobias, panic attacks and obsessional behaviour (OCD).

4.3 Understand depression and how to lift people out of it.

4.4 Be prepared to give advice if needed or asked for.

4.5 Avoid using jargon or ‘psychobabble'.

4.6 Do not dwell unduly on the patient's past.

4.7 Be supportive when difficult feelings emerge, but not encourage clients to remain in an emotionally aroused state.

4.8 Know how to assist individuals to develop social skills, so that their needs for affection, friendship, pleasure, intimacy, connection to the wider community, etc. can be better fulfilled.

4.9 Know how to help people to draw on their own resources.

4.10 Induce and teach deep relaxation (to unlock patients' attention from whatever strong emotions may have become focussed upon).

4.11 Be aware of the importance of the 'observing self', or state of being aware of awareness itself, when there is the potential to look in many directions and choose to focus attention in a variety of ways (see Appendix 1).

4.12 Help people to think about their problems in a new and more empowering way.

4.13 Set tasks to be done between sessions where the goals of therapy require this.

4.14 Learn how to recognise normalizations and avoid being emotionally influenced by them.

4.15 Always encourage patients to be specific and to make concrete their beliefs and feelings so that there is something real to work with

4.16 Look for patterns in what the patient brings to therapy, in addition to content.

4.17 Increase the client's self-confidence and independence, and make sure that they feel better after every consultation.

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Section 5 : The Basis for Good Practice — Working Ethically.

Therapists should -

5.1 Work within the limits of their experience and training, remaining aware, in particular, of the limits of their knowledge about medical matters.

5.2 Negotiate clear and ethical contracts with patients and always operate on the basis of informed consent. This should be explicit consent on the part of the patient. Working with young people requires careful consideration of the extent to which they can give consent independently of a parent or legal guardian. If patients are to be recorded or observed, or their personal experiences are to be used for research or training purposes, their consent must be clearly sought and explicitly gained.

5.3 Be straightforward and accountable about the financial transactions involved in therapy, for example, by avoiding any possible confusion or false expectations about therapy being a “course of treatment” by not accepting payment in advance.

5.4 Have respect for patients and their autonomy. Be sensitive, courteous and straightforward in communicating with them.

5.5 Keep records of all treatments. Records should contain sufficient detail, including a description of the patient's presenting situation, their expectations of therapy, the treatment provided and the outcome.

5.6 Respect and maintain patient confidentiality at all times, ensuring that case notes and records for each patient are kept in a secure place, and remaining cognizant of their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, other legal requirements and the right of patients to see their records should they so wish.

5.9 Take out and maintain comprehensive professional liability insurance. Have the highest level of Criminal Records Bureau disclosure possible.

5.8 Beware of conflicts of interest arising between patients, particularly in couple therapy, where they may have to choose between patients if they break up during therapy. Think whether it would be best to stop seeing either party and advise that each gets another therapist. If a conflict of interest arises, notify those concerned in writing.

5.9 Remain vigilant about the possible consequences of multiple relationships, i.e. when the therapist has more than one relationship with the patient, e.g. client and friend, supervisor and trainee.

5.10 Consider the implications of therapeutic interventions on other people in the patient's life: friends, family and colleagues.

5.11 Take as few sessions as possible and develop sensitivity about when to refer on and when to end therapy.

5.12 Remember that in therapy, patients are highly suggestible and so avoid the labelling that can reinforce the pathology of their problem. Furthermore, care should be taken not to inadvertently create illusory memories about events in the past.

5.13 If the need arises, advise the patient that you are obliged to inform the appropriate authority should they divulge to you any illegal or potentially harmful act.

5.14 Seek good relationships with their fellow practitioners and other health-care professionals, co-operating with them where appropriate.

5.15 Be accountable to the patient and to the Human Givens Institute for the quality of their practice.

Therapists should never -

5.16 Make any kind of sexual advance towards, or sleep with, a patient.

5.17 Steal money or time from a patient, either directly or indirectly; for example, by keeping the individual in treatment for longer than is necessary.

5.18 Barter treatment, because it creates a confusion of roles. Do not accept upfront payment for a ‘series' of treatments, either at discounted rates or for full price.

5.19 Impose their own world-view on their client, e.g. by implanting ideas of an ideological, religious or behavioural nature that fall outside the consciously agreed therapeutic goals. This includes, by definition, ideas about childhood sexual abuse, implanted by the therapist, to be recovered' later by the client.

5.20 Abuse, manipulate, or otherwise indulge in any kind of cult behaviour or practices which bind client or patient to the therapist.

5.21 Take advantage in any other way of the inevitable power invested in the role of ‘therapist'.

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Section 6 : Training, Governance and The Conditions for Maintaining Good Practice.

6.1 Practitioners should seek professional training that teaches knowledge of the common mental health conditions and the methods and skills that give the best outcomes for relieving such conditions;

6.2 Because knowledge in these fields continues to expand as further research and insights reach the public domain, so will the professional training sought by practitioners need to take account of such advances wherever they are relevant to therapeutic endeavour;

6.3 Assessment of trainee therapists should include a thorough testing of relevant knowledge and the assessment of audio-visual recordings of their work with clients, so demonstrating, as far as is practicable, that minimum standards of competence have been achieved and demonstrated;

6.4 Practitioners should seek registration with professional associations whose objectives include the commitment to effectiveness in relieving mental distress and based on proper knowledge about the basis of healthy human functioning;

6.4 Therapists should publicly promote themselves as competent only when they have successfully completed all stages of professional training and successfully registered with the HGI or a suitable professional association;

6.5. Continued professional registration should be subject to the minimum standards for professional development and supervision required by the HGI or a suitable professional association.

6.6 Practitioners should seek and record feedback from clients at each therapy session in order to assess the outcomes and therefore the effectiveness of therapy as it progresses;

6.7 Records of outcomes of work with clients should be retained for no less than five years and, where necessary and appropriate, used as a tool for self evaluation, professional supervision and, where appropriate, certain complaints about practitioners by clients;

6.8 The Human Givens Institute shall have the power to remove any name from its register of members for professional misconduct, as determined by due procedure.

6.9 Practitioners are expected to make arrangements for the professional supervision of their work with clients by a suitably accredited person. This is to ensure that sufficiently high standards of professional practice are developed and maintained. The specific requirements of individual therapists will depend on levels of experience and competence.

6.10 Supervisors of therapists should complete an accredited course of learning that tests their ability to provide the oversight and consultation required by practitioners;

6.11 Practitioners should ensure that their professional training is continuously updated and refined, so that core therapeutic skills continue to be polished and, wherever necessary, updated. Records of such continuing professional development should be kept and submitted in due form to the relevant professional associations;

6.12 Wherever competency to practice as a Human Givens therapist is in doubt and cannot be resolved by the use of informal channels for providing feedback, a complaints procedure is provided below. An upheld complaint against a therapist will be kept on file for two years.

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