I will consider the ethics relating to counselling in this assignment, also to explore the criteria provided and reflect on the significance of these criteria in relation to the importance of the BACP ethical framework. I will also aim to answer why it is important for me us as counsellor to abide by this ethical framework.
1.1.1 Work within an ethical framework for counselling
As BACP members, counsellors provide their counselling skills and experience to work with Clients in coming to terms with and handling their Issues and concerns. Counsellors are all required to be responsible in accordance with the Ethical Framework in ways appropriate to their positions and to communicate appropriately the basis of their ethical accountability and hopes of their clients. The BACP as a modern developing association encourages, different approaches to ethics in general. Ethics in counselling pays attention to variety, manages and supports counsellors in being responsive to variances in Client’s abilities, needs, issues, culture etc, taking into consideration different variations in situations and service specialisations by working closely with the three key ethical pillars:
• Personal moral qualities
At this juncture it is important to take note of the commitments above, which does not exclude or denigrate other ethical methods that exist. Considering different ways of ethics alongside each other is intended to show the limitations of relying too heavily on any single ethical approach. Ethical pillars are appropriate to carefully checking the rationale and reasoning for particular decisions and actions that counsellors take. “However, reliance on principles alone may detract from the importance of the counsellor’s personal qualities and their ethical significance in the counselling or therapeutic relationship. The provision of contextually sensitive and appropriate services is also a fundamental ethical concern. Variations in client needs and cultural diversity differences are often more easily understood and responded to in terms of values. Therefore, professional values are becoming an increasingly significant way of expressing ethical commitment” – (BACP, Ethical Framework).
1.1.5 Explain the issues relating to the duty of care with regard to the legislation on safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults
It is important for counsellors working with children, young people and adults at risk, to ensure that they are aware of the responsibilities placed on them, both by specific legislation and the common law duty of care. All counsellors working through agencies, organisations, charities etc with children, young people and adults at risk, have obligations under the common law ‘duty of care’. Organisations must ensure that the standard of care provided meets reasonable expectations, bearing in mind generally accepted good practice standards.
In fulfilling their duty of care, counselling organisations, agencies etc., need to take steps to safeguard and take responsibility for children and adults at risk of harm with whom they work. This therefore means acting in the client’s best interests; taking all reasonable steps to prevent any harm coming to them; ensuring that safeguarding policies and procedures are in place and compliant with relevant legislation and standards. Counsellors need to also respond appropriately and professionally, to allegations of potential abuse. Organisations should also have guideline procedures which include a “Code of behaviour” which shows what behaviour is expected from counsellors, wherever they are practicing.
There are a number of pieces of legislation relating to safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk which include: The Criminal Law Act 1967; The Mental Health Order 1986; The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989; The Children Order 1995; The Human Rights Act 1998; The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Order 2007; The Sexual Offences Order 2008.
1.2.1 Work within the ethical, legal and procedural framework in which a given agency operates.
The ethical, legal and procedural framework in which an agency operates, involves counsellors enquiring about and understanding supervision, liability insurance, training, equal opportunities, notes and record keeping, confidentiality etc. All counsellors usually have access to monthly clinical and managerial supervision. In these sessions they can reflect on their work and look at how ethically and effectively they are working. They can also bring issues they are experiencing with clients which they are concerned about and need help with. All counsellors will need to follow data protection guidelines such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which forms part of the data protection regime in the UK, together with the new Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). It is important that all notes taken by counsellors are kept under lock and key securely in filing cabinets. An initial assessment is given to all new clients and discussed at regular team meetings. The assessment is usually with an experienced, qualified counsellor or practice manager and records information such as personal details, availability, potential risks, aims, purpose, affordability, referred etc. Clients usually sign a consent form attached to the assessment information, to show their approval of the process of the intended counselling. There is normally a verbal contract made at the start of the process, both parties agreeing to work towards a potential, mutually ageeable ending.
2.1.1 Explore the role of the counsellor in different settings and services – e.g. funding, resources, policies, time-limited work, agency focus.
A significant amount of funding for Agencies that have a charitable status comes from fund raising. A fair amount will also come from donations from Clients and Churches, sponsors of one form or another. Agencies do not normally have enough funds to offer all of their counselling for free and are always appealing for people and organisations who are able to help those that are vulnerable in our community be they adults, children or young people who find themselves in desperate need of help. Commercial Agencies usually charge clients on an hourly basis, but will also rely on funds generated from partnerships, grants, tenders, invoiced work from local employers, workshops, training and so on. The resources that any agency will have usually extends to a combination of fully qualified counsellors to those in training. Most agencies will recruit once to twice a year, in order to keep their compliment of counsellors at a level that meets the client needs of the Agency. Agencies have experienced/qualified counsellors that undertake monthly supervisory sessions and also assessment meetings for new Clients. Most agencies work hand in hand with local colleges to offer placements to students studying counselling.
Agencies have a set of comprehensive policies and procedures following the guidelines of governing bodies such as the CPCAB and BACP. Any updates and changes to these policies etc are made on a regular basis, in order to keep all information held up to date. Agencies also abide by and follow the various laws that effect a counselling practice such as, the Human Rights Act, Drugs & Alcohol Abuse Act, Sex discrimination Act, Equal Opportunities Act, Children’s Act etc. Agencies will ordinarily work with Clients for as long as is needed for them, however for clients that need CBT therapy for example, these times might be limited due to the short-term nature of the therapy. There might also be occasions where Clients only want a certain time for counselling, so this will be accommodated in most cases by the Agency. Most agencies are focussed on the specialities or generalisms, that are offered by that Agency. So, this counselling can be for individuals, families or couples, providing therapies that could include, person centred, psychodynamic, CBT, humanistic etc.
2.2.1 Explain the nature and significance of the therapeutic relationship
Counsellors should have humility with their Clients, be on an equal basis in the relationship and be prepared to be a human being, who could also make mistakes and get things wrong and to be able to and prepared to acknowledge that. The therapeutic relationship is a working partnership where the counsellor and the client join and work together as a team on a shared journey. Psychologist Carl Rogers (1) defines a ‘helping therapeutic relationship’ as “a relationship in which at least one of the parties has the intent of promoting the growth, development, maturity, improved functioning and improved coping with life of the other.” He explains that the term – “helping relationship covers a wide range of relationships, so not only a relationship between a psychotherapist and a client but any kind or counsellor-client relationship”. An equal relationship between a counsellor and a Client was further developed by Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s. He is the founder of Person-Centred therapy, which is one of the most widely used humanistic models in mental health and psychotherapy in the UK and USA. In this approach, counsellors develop a comfortable, non-judgemental environment by showing congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard towards their Clients, while using a non-directive and non-prescriptive approach. Rogers (1) further explains that over the years of practice his original question: ‘How can I treat, cure, or change this person’ had transformed and progressed into: ‘How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth and change’. Clients need their counsellors to be honest and also for them to believe that counsellors are on their side and with them along the way. The origin of the idea that one should see the therapeutic relationship as a working Partnership, where a client and a counsellor are working together and where the counsellor is acting as a facilitator for change, while the client has the potential and where with all for change, comes from psychoanalytic practice, established by Freud. The idea of truly listening to clients, as well as our own “inner” world is really what counsellors strive to achieve. In terms of the therapeutic partnership, Jung (2) went one step further and advises counsellors “to abandon any attempt to apply ready-made solutions and to approach each case as unique. He also suggests that we should not assume that we ‘know’ better than the client. The essence of the therapeutic relationship is being fully present to another as a living being”.
3.3.1 Reflect on diversity issues which impact clients accessing counselling within agency
settings stairs, finance, waiting list times, language, culture, , what might help to access
counselling in agency.
Due to the varying nature and size of agencies providing counselling services, inevitably there
will be variances in the facilities that they provide. Some smaller charitable organisations may not have the facilities to accommodate clients with disabilities, for example those in wheel chairs might not be able to access the Agency on an upper floor, lack of lifts; narrow doorways, lack of ramps etc. Agencies may not have the language skills to accommodate those speaking different languages, so they would have to provide translation facilities for those needing this or refer these clients on appropriately. Clients with hearing issues may have to be accommodated by the Agency, by providing hearing loops for them to use. So, it would be interesting to see how many Clients with these issues are actually able to access agencies with these facilities, or do these Clients not bother and suffer in silence; which is certainly a concern. Agencies of all kinds are struggling to cope with the burgeoning need for counselling places and have long waiting lists to be assessed let alone receiving counselling. Some agencies are proactive and communicate with clients on their waiting lists by calling them to ascertain if they are alright, still interested in counselling and that they will be in touch as soon as an assessment slot becomes available. It is a concern if some agencies do not communicate with these clients, what happens to them, are they coping? Another could be the provision on counselling service for Clients from different cultural backgrounds. There are counselling service provision where there is a strong ethnic community, but what happens if a person from a different culture only has counselling services there for other cultures and not theirs. One would imagine that local hospitals and Doctor’s practices would have this information readily available.
4.1.3 Regularly review the working agreement with clients
It is important that that the working agreement between clients and counsellors are reviewed regularly, this is to enable the client in the first instance to see if any progress has been made concerning their initial highlighted issues and problems are concerned. It is just as important for the counsellor to establish how the Client is feeling, regarding counselling sessions to date and to see if they are of any value to the client. Also, for the counsellor to get the Client to be honest enough to say from their point of view how the relationship between them is developing or not as the case may be. Also, to emphasise and remind Clients that they are responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, actions and for their own personal growth as well the work involved. It is important to remember that Counsellors are there to help Clients help themselves to the best of their abilities.
The counsellor is then obliged to open-up and share how they see the relationship is developing or not, their concern possibly about the client’s time-keeping etc. Ensuring that the Client is happy that all the elements contained in the initial agreement between them are being met, such as confidentiality, timelines, payments etc. It is also important to change agreements with clients as the journey progresses, so it becomes an ever evolving and mutually agreeable one between counsellor and client