Ethical Review Procedure

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This procedure is effective from November 2002 until revised.

1 Introduction

1.1 No code of ethical principles can anticipate every possible approach to humanistic psychotherapy in a profession where research and development is constantly generating new ideas and procedures: nor should the tremendous possibilities inherent in human nature be artificially restrained by such a code.

1.2 The overriding intent of the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure is to provide a mechanism whereby UKAHPP Members and members of the public may be protected while flexibility and creativity in support of personal and professional development is facilitated.

1.3 The UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure enables UKAHPP Members and/or clients to obtain prior clarification as to whether a proposed course of action, or mode of conduct, would constitute an ethical violation. Where procedures or behaviours operate on the borderline of such violations, it is to help the UKAHPP Member and clients to work in an approved way within a framework of checks and balances under UKAHPP approval, perhaps monitored by a third party.

1.4 The UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure covers all Ethical Principles and Code of Practice considerations. It is most likely to be invoked to explore boundary issues between UKAHPP Member and client, but may be used to adjudicate many other issues and offer guidance and protection. Some possibilities are:

1.4.1 The desire to progress from a working relationship with a client, trainee or other person to a non-professional, friendly or intimate relationship.

1.4.2 A need or desire to attempt some other form of dual relationship in a therapeutic, work or training environment.

1.4.3 The desire to introduce experimental techniques into treatment.

1.4.4 A wish to advertise services in a new way.

1.4.5 A desire for guidance and protection should a UKAHPP Member be under pressure from an external body to behave in a potentially unethical way.

1.4.6 The emotional or physical impairment of a UKAHPP Member which may affect their ability to practise ethically or effectively.

1.5 It is recognised that a request to invoke the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure is indicative of the highest professional intent.

1.6 The administration of the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure follows protocols laid down by the UKAHPP Ethics Committee.

1.7 The Ethical Review Procedure can only be initiated prior to a proposed course of action, or immediately on realising that a potentially unethical course of action, or mode of practice, is being pursued by themselves, or by another Member of UKAHPP. Where it is the actions, or mode of practice, of another Member that is causing concern, the Member experiencing the concern should, in the first instance, attempt to resolve the issue informally and directly with the Member causing the concern. Should this not be possible, or not resolve the issue, then they should initiate an Ethical Review. An Ethical Review can only be initiated by a UKAHPP Member concerned about their own, or another UKAHPP Member's, actions or mode of practice. The procedure cannot be applied retrospectively.

1.8 Where UKAHPP Members realise they may have breached any of the UKAHPP Codes in the past they should inform the Ethics Officer, who will decide upon the appropriate course of action. Where another Member is believed to have breached the Codes in the past, the Member suspecting the breach should, in the first instance, attempt to resolve the issue informally and directly with the Member concerned. Should this not be possible, or not resolve the issue, then they should inform the Ethics Officer, who will decide upon the appropriate course of action.

2 The Ethical Review Procedure

2.1 Once a UKAHPP Member realises that a current or potential course of action, or mode of conduct, may not conform to the UKAHPP Code of Ethical Principles or UKAHPP Code of Practice, s/he immediately ceases from those actions, or mode of conduct, until the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure has been invoked and a resolution obtained. Failure to conform to this course of action may be taken as evidence of a conscious desire to breach the relevant Section(s) of the Code(s).

2.2 An Ethical Review can be requested by the following, upon contacting the Ethics Officer:

2.2.1 A Member of UKAHPP wishing to review or clarify a situation such as those listed in 1.4.

2.2.2 A Member of UKAHPP who considers that another Member's conduct, or mode of practice, justifies invoking this procedure.

2.3 The UKAHPP Ethics Officer requests a member of the UKAHPP Ethics Committee to explore the issue. The UKAHPP Ethics Committee member may discuss the issue with other Members of the UKAHPP Ethics Committee but is not bound to do so, especially if the point under discussion has been frequently raised in the past. It is understood that timeliness is important at this point. In contacting the UKAHPP Member, every effort is made to understand the Member's perspective, support them in their dilemma and reach a satisfactory solution as soon as possible. In the event that the review has been requested by a Member of UKAHPP with regard to a colleague's actions, or mode of practice, the UKAHPP Ethics Officer can request the Member whose actions, or mode of practice, are under review to attend a meeting with those conducting the Review.

2.3.1 The Ethics Officer informs the General Secretary of UKAHPP of the Review upon its completion, unless they are concerned that current or future clients may be at risk, in which case they immediately inform the General Secretary that the review is being conducted.

2.4 The UKAHPP Ethics Committee member ultimately makes a written response to the UKAHPP Member who has requested the review in the case of 2.2.1. If it has been requested by a UKAHPP Member in relation to another Member's actions, or mode of practice, as in 2.2.2, the Ethics Committee member ultimately makes a written response to both UKAHPP Members. A summary of the Ethical Review, written by the Committee Member responsible for conducting the Review, is distributed to the Ethics Committee Members and to the UKAHPP Board. One copy is retained on file by the Ethics Officer, thus forming a precedent archive.

2.5 In the event that the UKAHPP Ethics Committee member feels the issue is too important or difficult to be handled alone, s/he contacts the other Committee Members and reaches a consensus on how to handle the issue. This consensus is binding on all concerned.

3 Possible Ethical Review Responses

3.1 Whilst the range of actions that the UKAHPP Ethical Review Procedure might call for is extremely broad, possible responses to an enquiry might include the following:

3.1.1 A full UKAHPP Ethical Review Enquiry, similar in scope to the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure Enquiry, which all involved parties may be requested to attend.

3.1.2 A list of suggestions that the UKAHPP Member might conform to in order to help reduce the risk of a breach in ethics.

3.1.3 An outright statement that a proposed course of action, or mode of conduct, would be regarded as unethical if proceeded with unchanged.

3.2 Over time, the findings of Ethical Review are incorporated into the Code of Ethical Principles or Code of Practice, whichever is more appropriate.


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