Counselling Hypnotherapists form a relatively new and unique group of professional helpers within the broader spectrum of human service professionals. Counselling Hypnotherapy, like acupuncture, massage therapy and homeopathy, is gaining recognition as a valid form of complementary therapy.
Counselling Hypnotherapists fall within the definition of a professional group due to their education, specialized knowledge and skill sets that allow them to provide a unique service.
It is expected that as members of a professional group that they perform their services as outlined by their professional association and are responsible for self-regulating, assessing and improving their profession. In addition Counseling Hypnotherapists, like other professionals, use a Code of Ethics to guide them through ethical issues and dilemmas.
In May 1999, the Canadian Guidance and Counseling Association approved a new Code of Ethics having six major sections:
- professional responsibility
- counselling relationships
- consulting and private practice
- evaluation and assessment – Not included
- research and publication – Not included
- counsellor education, training and supervision
To work more effectively with other professional associations and to foster interdisciplinary understanding, IACH uses similar section headings, although the actual content differs with a more direct emphasis on Hypnotherapy.
IACH is an international Association, and therefore standard ethical practices from around the world were considered in the production of this document.
IACH members are expected to know and to follow the IACH Code of Ethics. The IACH Ethics Committee is responsible for addressing ethics violations and providing guidance and clarification to members.
Ethics Committee – Role and Responsibilities
The Committee’s role is to protect the dignity, rights, safety and well being of those individuals who procure the professional services of an IACH member. To do this, the Committee is responsible for educating the IACH membership in all matters related to ethical conduct, periodically reviewing the IACH Code of Ethics, receiving and processing questions about the IACH Code of Ethics and providing resolution on ethical breaches by IACH members.
Ethics Committee – Structure
The IACH Ethics Committee shall consist of a minimum of three members in good standing, one of which will be the IACH President. The director of the Ethics Committee shall be duly elected and will be responsible for all Committee activities. The third Committee member shall also be duly elected and will take the place of the director should he/she be unable to fulfill a term. In this event, a member of IACH will be designated, by the President, to fill the third seat on the Committee.
All decisions made by the Ethics Committee will be made by a full, three-person, Committee. Further, all decisions made this way will be reported to the membership via the director’s report in the IACH newsletter. The report will be submitted by the Committee director and will contain all activities for the period from the last report to the current. Confidentiality shall be maintained in these reports.
The Ethics Committee shall meet monthly via web forum and/or phone and shall convene between monthly meetings as needed and at the discretion of the director or the President.
Procedures for Submitting Complaints
All IACH Ethics Committee correspondence, records and activities are considered confidential. The Committee will not take any action on anonymous complaints.
Ethics Complaint Process
- Complete the Submit and Ethics Complaint form and send to ………………..
- The Ethics Committee will review the complaint and contact the person if more
information is required. They will also e-mail you a Release of Information form and a
request for any further information required. You will have 30 days to submit this information.
- The counsellor in question will be advised that a complaint has been received.
They will be recieve a copy of the original complaint and questions from the Ethics
Committee. The counsellor will have 30 days to submit the requested information.
- All parties will receive a copy of the original complaint and the subsequent
responses to follow up questions posed by the Ethics Committee. The Ethics
Committee will review the complaint using the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
as a framework. They will determine if there has been any infractions and reference the
guidelines in the IACH Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
- Once the Ethics committee is satisfied, IACH will have enough information to
make a decision. The Committee will decide on any penalties and actions to be taken
and make that recommendation to the President and Vice-President. At this point the
President will proceed to address the recommendations from the Ethics Committee.
- A letter of decision will be sent to the Counsellor and the complainant from the
President on official letterhead.
One way to think of a Code of Ethics is to use the metaphor of a lighthouse. A lighthouse doesn’t draw you to it. A lighthouse warns of danger. It keeps you and your passengers (clients) safe from possible harm.
Ethics grows out of values. Ethics are actions that we take to reflect the principles we value. A Code of Ethics is a visible reflection of group values that focuses on behaviours and is responsive to day to day conditions.
There are four distinct phases in the development of a Code of Ethics.
Clarification of group values
- Define the group
- Are constant
- Are internally derived
- Are concerned with virtue
- Are general
- Are stated morally
- Are judged good or bad
- Set priorities
Formulation of Ethics
- Translate values into actions
- Can change with a change in the information
- Are determined by situations
- Are concerned with justice
- Are highly specific
- Are stated behaviorally
- Are judged present or absent
- Set boundaries for appropriate behaviour
Training shall be incorporated into the membership process via the newsletter and on-line forums. This may include discussions and explanations of specific ethics and the group value it represents. The process allows for questions and opposing views and can include sample ethical dilemmas designed to teach and test for understanding.
Training in ethics needs to be ongoing and forms one component of professional development. The IACH Ethics Committee shall develop a casebook for and with the membership.
Kitchner (1986) presented five moral principles or values thought to be imperative to ethical decision making.
- Autonomy – an individuals right and freedoms of choice and action
- Non-maleficence – not willfully harming others
- Beneficence – focusing on and contributing to the welfare of the client
- Fidelity – honouring commitments
- Justice – fair treatment to include treating equals equally and unequals unequally
Based on these principles and input from members, IACH subscribes to the following values set forth as a set of beliefs we hold to be good, moral and socially responsive.
- We believe in the intrinsic worth of all people.
- We believe that all persons should have choices regarding types of therapies and healing modalities used by them and on their behalf.
- We believe that self-determination is a fundamental right.
- We believe that diversity and belonging are essential to a healthy society.
- We believe in the value of life-long learning.
- We believe that respect for self and others is an inherent right and responsibility.
Ethical Decision-Making Process
Ethical codes are meant to educate members of the profession, provide accountability and improve the practice of ethical decision-making.
There are many different models that can assist Counseling Hypnotherapists, and others in the helping professions, resolve ethical dilemmas. The following is the IACH Ethical Decision-making process:
Review the IACH code of ethics and other related codes.
Review counselling casebook’s from your own region.
Speak with colleagues and mentors.
Know and understand the legal implications and responsibilities.
If possible, take no action until you have had time to process and consult.
Ethical Decision-Making Model
Identify that a problem is beginning or that one excess exists.
Gather as much information as possible.
Apply the IACH Code of Ethics and any pertinent local legislation.
Decide which values and ethics are involved.
Consider possible courses of action.
For each possible course list, benefits, risks and probable outcomes.
Consult with colleagues if possible or the IACH Ethics Committee if necessary.
Choose a course of action.
Evaluate and review the outcome.
IACH Code of Ethics
A. Professional Responsibility
A1. General Responsibility
IACH members adhere to a high standard of professional competence and ethical behaviour.
IACH members seek out opportunities for continuing education.
IACH members recognize the need for self-care.
A2. Professional Competence
IACH members limit their services to areas of professional competence based on their education and professional experience.
IACH members adhere to requirements for provincial, state or national credentials.
IACH members consult and refer to other professionals when the needs of the client are beyond the member’s level of competence.
A3. Respect for Rights
IACH members are respectful of the legal, civic, and moral rights of others.
IACH members conduct their practice in a way that safeguards the dignity and rights of their clients.
A4. Professional Qualifications
IACH members present, claim or imply only professional qualifications which they possess.
A5. Responsibility to Other Professionals
a) IACH members understand that ethical behaviour is an expectation of themselves and other professionals.
A6. Unethical Practice by Others
a) IACH members are obliged to take appropriate action when they become aware of possible unethical behaviour by another member.
a) IACH members do not engage in or condone any form of harassment.
A8. Respect for Diversity
a) IACH members respect and endeavour to understand the differences and diversity of their clients.
A9. Scope of Ethical Responsibilities
a) This code of Ethics applies to all forms of contact that a member may have while representing themselves as a Counseling Hypnotherapist. This includes teaching, public presentations or demonstrations and all forms of communications media.
A10. Only members who are at Resident level or above can charge a fee for their counselling services.
a) Only members who are at Resident level or above can charge a fee for their counselling services.
B. Counselling Relationships
a) IACH members acknowledge that it is their responsibility to maintain the integrity of the counselling relationship.
a) Information that results from a counselling relationship and the nature of the relationship itself is to be kept confidential with the following exceptions:
(i) When a child may be in danger.
(ii) When there is evidence of a clear and imminent danger to the client or other(s).
(iii) When disclosure is required by law.
B3. Duty to Warn
a) If a member becomes aware of a client’s intention to harm, they are obliged to inform the threatened person of the threat.
B4. Client’s Rights of Informed Consent
a) IACH members are responsible for informing and ensuring that clients understand and consent to all facets of the Counseling Hypnotherapy process. This includes techniques, potential risks and benefits, limitations, fees, record keeping and limits to confidentiality.
a) IACH members will only provide services to children who are able to provide informed consent or with the consent of their legal guardian.
B6. Persons with Diminished Capacity
a) IACH members will only provide services to those able to provide informed consent.
a) IACH members maintain records consistent with legal, regulatory, agency or institutional requirements that apply to them.
b) IACH member’s records provide adequate details to follow the sequence, nature and scope of their service.
c) All records, in any form, are to be kept confidential except when:
(i) The client provides written consent for the sharing of records.
(2) When required by law.
d) IACH members understand that the client has the right to access their records.
B8. Dual and Conflicting Relationships
a) IACH members avoid dual relationships with clients.
b) When a dual relationship can not be avoided, IACH members take appropriate action(s) to ensure no exploitation occurs.
B9. Consulting and Referral
a) IACH members may consult with other professionals regarding a client, however, the identity of the client may only be revealed with the consent of the client.
B10. Relationships with Former Clients
a) IACH members are to ensure that if a relationship, of any kind, occurs after termination of the counselling relationship that any and all issues and relational dynamics that were present during the counselling relationship have been fully resolved and terminated.
b) IACH members need to be aware that they are responsible for these relationships and must exercise caution. Consultation is advised.
B11. Sexual Relationships
a) IACH members are to avoid any type of sexual relationship and or contact with a current client.
b) Sexual relationships with former clients are to be avoided for a period of 1 year. Consultation is strongly advised.
B12. Working with Family and/or Other Related Groups
a) When an IACH member provides services to family or related groups, it is the members’ responsibility to clarify their role and relationship with each individual. If a conflict arises, the IACH member must re-clarify, adjust or withdraw services appropriately.
B13. Group Work
a) An IACH member may only undertake group work if it is within the scope of their training and experience.
b) The IACH member is responsible for the physical and emotional safety of all individuals in the group and, therefore should screen potential group members.
B14. Multiple Helpers
a) If an IACH member discovers that a client is seeing another counsellor or related professional, the IACH member should discuss the relationship with the client.
b) It may be helpful to, with the client’s consent, inform and discuss the issues with the other helper.
c) If the client is found to be seeing a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist for a related issue, the IACH member must discuss this with the client and obtain consent to share with the other helper of the scope of treatments being received.
B15. Computer Use
a) The use of computer technology in the practice of counselling hypnotherapy does not lessen the IACH member’s obligations to the client or to adherence to the Code of Ethics.
a) When an IACH member makes a referral for any reason, it is their responsibility to ensure the appropriateness of the referral.
a) The counselling relationship is ideally terminated in consultation with the client. However there are many reasons to terminate such a relationship and in all cases, it is the IACH members’ responsibility to facilitate as much closure as is feasible, depending on the circumstances of the termination.
C. Counselling Hypnotherapist Education, Training and Supervision
D1. General Responsibility
a) IACH members who teach counselling hypnotherapy or supervise counselling hypnotherapy students adhere to IACH ethics and standards of practice.
D2. Professional Competence
a) IACH members limit their teaching and supervision within the boundaries of their own education and experience.
D3. Orientation to the IACH Code of Ethics
a) IACH members who teach or supervise are responsible for making their students and supervisees aware of the IACH Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
D4. Clarity in Roles and Responsibilities
a) IACH members who take on the role of supervising counselling hypnotherapy students are responsible for advising those students of their respective roles and obligations.
D5. Welfare of Clients
a) IACH members who supervise students take action to ensure the safety and welfare of the clients during the student’s period of practice.
a) IACH members, when in a teaching or supervisory role, will establish and maintain clear and appropriate professional boundaries with students.
D7. Necessity to Inform
a) IACH members in a teaching or supervisory role are responsible for informing their students or supervisees of any circumstances that could result in a breach of confidentiality.
D8. Facilitating Professional Development and Self-Awareness
a) IACH members who teach, train or supervise work actively to facilitate a student’s self-efficacy, self-development and self-awareness.
D9. Personal Professional Development
a) IACH members who are in teaching or supervisory roles are responsible for the safety and welfare of their students. Professional experiences that require self-disclosure or emotional engagement must be managed in a way that is consistent with the level of care a client would expect. This includes gaining informed consent and respecting confidentiality.