I do believe there is an advantage in simplifyling our ethics document but this simplification should focus on streamlining it rather than making into a vague exhortation to follow best practice. The whole problem is that standards of good practice are not documented. Otherwise we could sum up our ethics in two words: “Behave well”. We all know from RT training that plans need to be specific and I believe that such clarity is a primary purpose of an ethics document.
Our approach to counselling is radically different from others and I believe our code of ethics should indicate this and offer guidance and support to our members who use RT. For example we believe in a friendly relationship with clients and in using self-evaluation. In a grievance situation it would probably be compatible with CT for the complaint to be taken up with the offending party before relaying the matter to WGI.
So, what do I want from our ethics policy? I want it to give clear answers about different situations partially as clear guidance to our members and partially as clear parameters if we as WGI are asked to deal with a grievance or complaint. Here is a selection of fictionalised examples. How well would our ethics policy give guidance to members and to anyone dealing with a reported ethical problem? Should our ethics cover all these scenarios?
Ann’s business card states that she is a “Reality Therapist”.
Bert is a faculty member who was reported by his trainees for arriving at a course in an intoxicated state.
Charlie has been reported for becoming sexually involved with a trainee but he claims she needed such affection to counter-balance the bad experiences of her life.
Dennis has been deemed by WGI to be in serious breach of our ethical guidelines but he says that WGI cannot do anything about this and to stop annoying him.
Elaine offers her counselling clients a free Tarot card reading included in the price. One client writes to WGI claiming this is unprofessional.
Fred is a faculty member who issued two course ceritificates to individuals who did not in fact attend the course.
Georgina’s trainees claim that the Basic course she offered in CT/RT had at least 20% of unrelated content.
Harry has sent in an anonymous complaint about a WGI member with claims of sexual abuse.
Ivan and his fellow students have written to WGI claiming that their instructor is not competent.
Joan writes to say that the RT counsellor she attends sometimes invites her to the cafe next door for a snack and wonders if the counsellor is being too familiar!
Kevin boasts to you that he always takes cash for his counselling sessions as it “lessens the tax burden”.
Leanne claims her Practicum Supervisor is constantly critical of the group. For example, when one trainee asked her to explain self-evaluation again, the supervisor said “No, you should have been listening the first time”.
Martin believes that his supervisor regularly tells two members of her current supervision group that they are not yet ready for the advanced course and then charges them extra for additional sessions.
Noeleen writes to WGI for advice. Her local professional ethics as a clinical psychologist require her to report all clients with suicidal intentions to her local psychiatry team where they are invariably hospitalised and medicated.
Oliver has reported his RT counsellor for prohibiting him from seeing any other counsellor without permission. The counsellor claims this is standard practice and Oliver believes he can see whomsoever he wishes.
WGI finds out by chance that Patricia offers training as “authentic Reality Therapy”. She did qualify as faculty some years ago but has not been a member of WGI for at least ten years.