Code of Ethics, Principles and Practice Guidelines

1 Introduction

The Living Institute Student Clinic Code of Ethics, Principles and Practice Guidelines has the following intent: to help interns (student clinicians) and staff practice the highest standards of integrity, impartiality, confidentiality and respect for the individual in their work and to inform the general public of the principles under which the Living Institute Student Clinic provides services; to create a framework of understanding within which clients and interns can safely work and grow; to establish basic standards of expected professional conduct; to maintain a continuing humanistic and transpersonal context within which  the clinic operates; to foster a context of mutuality in which there is a recognition of shared responsibility for decision making and action toward facilitating healing, growth and realization of potential.

      It is understood that the following guidelines cannot cover all specific areas of potential ethical and practice issues that may arise. A Clinical Ethics Committee will examine all cases regarding ethical questions on an individual basis.

      The Living Institute approach to ethical justice is aimed at being rehabilitative and restorative rather than retributive. Implications of this include the principle of the application of minimum sanctions necessary for public protection and the incorporation of dialogue and education in discipline procedures, as well as a concern for community well being.

      These Code of Ethics, Principles and Practice Guidelines will be amended to include relevant input from the Transitional Council of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists as their deliberations are made available.

2 Fundamental Values and Practice Guidelines

Living Institute Student Clinic respects the dignity, worth and uniqueness of all individuals. We are committed to the promotion and protection of basic human rights, the integrity of the individual and the promotion of human growth, development and welfare. We affirm the self-determination, personal power and self-responsibility of the client. We are concerned for the best interests of the clients and make every effort to protect the welfare of those who seek our services.

      The therapeutic relationship is founded upon trust and informed consent. The sensitivity of the client-therapist relationship requires that the therapist scrupulously avoid all forms of exploitation of clients and their families and limit the intrusion of self-interest.

      The Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff are committed to creating and maintaining proper clinical records in a confidential and secure manner.

      The Living Institute Student Clinic respects the privacy of the individual and preserves the confidentiality of any information acquired through professional practice or research. See Privacy and Confidentiality policy below.

      Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff do not practice, condone, facilitate or collude with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, mental or physical disability or any other preference or personal characteristic, condition or status.

3 Competence

Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff recognise the boundaries and limitations of their techniques and their own personal expertise. They only provide service and use techniques for which they are qualified by training and experience. They take whatever precautions are necessary to protect the welfare of their clients and refer them on to other professionals whenever appropriate.

      Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff recognise that they work in a developing and highly active field in which valuable new ideas are constantly emerging. They continually monitor their own knowledge and capabilities and have an ongoing commitment to continue to develop their personal competence.

      Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff recognise that personal problems, temporary or enduring physical or mental incapacity, and other conflicts may on occasion interfere with their professional effectiveness. In such circumstances they seek appropriate professional assistance, supervision, support or advice.

      Living Institute Student Clinic interns and staff are committed to an ongoing process of self reflection as part of ensuring their capacity to serve their clients fully and grow as clinicians.

4. Privacy and Confidentiality

All records in client files are confidential and are retained in secure files. Access to identifying information is limited to clinic staff, including the practitioner responsible for the assessment, and supervisors. As part of graduate training, case material may be discussed with other interns under supervision. However, material will be presented without identifying information.

      Information pertaining to counselling, psychotherapy or assessments, including written reports, may only be released to other parties with the informed consent of legally authorized persons (usually the persons who gave the initial permission for the assessment). There are exceptions to the confidentiality policy that are required by law. Clinicians must report to the appropriate authorities when there is suspicion of child abuse, when clients indicate that they may pose a significant danger to themselves or others, when clients or other persons report sexual abuse by a health care professional, or when the court issues a subpoena for record or testimony.

      Security measures for internet communications are defined in the Living Institute Student Clinic Internet Security Policy document. This recognizes the particular vulnerability of email communication to breach of privacy.10

      As part of the supervision of interns, sessions may be audiotaped or videotaped with client consent. Tapes may be viewed individually by the intern and supervisor, or by the students in class as part of group training and supervision for training with client consent. Strict confidentiality is maintained during class discussions as to any identifying information re client. All tapes are erased when supervision is complete, and no later than the termination of the assessment. Tapes do not become a permanent part of the clinic record.

5. Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures

A complaint procedure is in effect. If a client or practitioner feels the code of ethics has been breached they may bring this to the attention of to the Living Institute Clinical Ethics Committee (made up of one psychotherapy training program faculty, one intern and one external member) in writing. An investigator will interview the client and the practitioner in question and make a report to the Clinical Ethics Committee. Records may be reviewed and additional consultation may be required. All deliberations are confidential. A hearing in which all parties are present may be required. Clinical Ethics Committee findings will be communicated to the client and practitioner in writing. All proceedings will be carried out in a timely fashion.

      Disciplinary action may include one or more of, but are not limited to, the following: exoneration; facilitated dialogue to resolve misunderstanding; remedial educational requirements; a formal caution; suspension; expulsion.

      It is understood that these guidelines cannot cover all specific details of potential ethical and practice issues that may arise. The Clinical Ethics Committee and the Appeals Committee will examine all cases regarding ethical questions on an individual basis.

      Decisions of the Clinical Ethics Committee may be appealed to the Appeals Committee made up of one psychotherapy training program faculty, one intern and one external member, none of whom are members of the Clinical Ethics Committee.

      It is the responsibility of interns and staff to cooperate with the Clinical Ethics Committee and to keep matters before the Committee confidential. It is the responsibility of interns and staff to carry out decisions of the Clinical Ethics Committee. Failure to do so is an ethical violation and must be reported to the Clinical Ethics Committee.

      These complaints and disciplinary procedures are subject to amendment to bring them into line with the complaints and disciplinary procedures of the new College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists as they are established.