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Ethical principles of counselling

Being a professional counsellor in Australia involves adhering to six ethical principles. They are aimed at ensuring a counsellor does no harm and is professional and ethical in how they interact with their clients.

Trust: Honouring the trust placed in the practitioner
Trust is the cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship and is fundamental to understanding and resolving ethical challenges and dilemmas. Practitioners who are trustworthy act in accordance with the trust placed in them by clients. We respect clients’ choices and their privacy. We understand that confidentiality is an obligation that arises from the client’s trust and restrict any disclosure of confidential material revealed within the therapeutic process to furthering the purposes for which it was originally disclosed, unless there exists significant risk of harm or disclosure is required by law.

Autonomy: Respect for the client’s right to be self-governing
Clients have the right to make choices about their health and care bearing in mind the concept of “dignity of risk”. To support client autonomy, Practitioners provide accurate information about services so that clients can make informed decisions about their counselling or psychotherapy. We seek informed consent from clients and engage in contracting around the services to be provided. Clients have the right to decide whether they consent to confidential information being disclosed, except where serious risks or the law warrant exceptions. Practitioners inform clients of foreseeable conflicts of interest, or as soon as they become apparent. We do not manipulate clients against their will.

Beneficence: A commitment to promoting the client’s well-being
Beneficence requires Practitioners to act in the best interests of clients, based on professional assessment. We promote clients’ well-being by acting with care, compassion and competence. We work within the scope of our professional training and expertise and only provide services for which we are competent. Our practice is informed by feedback from clients and current research, and we maintain competence through continuing professional development. We engage in supervision and dialogue to support the reflection, self-awareness and self-care needed to offer quality services. If a client’s capacity for autonomy is diminished, acting in the client’s best interests becomes paramount.

Non-maleficence: A commitment to avoiding harm to the client
Non-Maleficence requires Practitioners to endeavour to not cause harm to others through our actions or omissions. This involves avoiding sexual, financial, emotional, or other forms of client exploitation, and avoiding incompetence or malpractice. Practitioners do not provide services when unfit to do so due to illness, personal circumstances, or intoxication. We mitigate any harm caused to clients, even when the harm is unavoidable or unintended. We challenge any malpractice by others and contribute to any investigation or adjudication concerning unethical practice.

Fairness: The fair and impartial treatment of all clients
Fairness involves being just and fair to all clients and respecting their human rights and dignity. Fairness involves being impartial in the provision of services for clients and the allocation of services between clients. We appreciate differences between people and are committed to equality of opportunity, and we avoid discrimination against people or groups on the basis of personal, social or cultural characteristics. We uphold laws aimed at ensuring equal and fair treatment of all.

Self-respect: Fostering the practitioner’s self-knowledge and care for self
Self-respect means Practitioners apply all the above principles to themselves. We ensure our practice is safe by not taking undue risks to ourselves. We seek personal therapy and other opportunities for personal development, as well as supervision and continuing professional development for support and development in our professional roles. We hold insurance to manage potential risks arising from practice. Self-respect encourages us to actively engage in life-enhancing activities.

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About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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