What does ethical practice mean in therapy?

Mar 21, 2019Information

What does ethical practice mean in therapy?

If you are searching for a counsellor, hypnotherapist or another therapist they may claim that they work in an ethical way, but what does that really mean? Is it good to choose an ethical practitioner and how will an ethical practitioner work? This blog will provide you with information.


Ethics is about moral philosophy. Although ethics is often linked with the law of the land it’s more about what is right, wrong and good and bad. There are several different theories or branches of ethics (for example, Virtue, Deontological and Consequential ethics), but for people looking for a therapist, it’s just about seeking out good care.

It is also about standards that the profession wants all its practitioners to adhere to. This means that therapists who want to follow standards will join a professional body as these professional organisations will check training, require the practitioner to have insurance, supervision and keep themselves updated through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). But the key is their ethical codes and standards that their members must follow.

Consequently, it’s about the way an ethical therapist provides the service.

The Principles of Good Ethical Practice

The way an ethical practitioner works is based on principles of good ethical practice.
These principles can be written in many ways but include:

  • Respect for autonomy
  • Fidelity (Being faithful)
  • Responsibility and accountability
  • Integrity (Being honesty)
  • Justice
  • Respect for people’s rights
  • Beneficence (Benefiting the client)
  • Non-maleficence (Doing no harm)

So when a practitioner advertises that they are an ethical practitioner they are telling you that they behave in a respectful way and want to do good and help the person. They want you to know about their conduct. You will find that practitioners vary in the way they work, but that’s okay because different therapists have different training and experiences.

However ethical practitioners will be members of one or more Professional Bodies and will work to do the best that they can for clients so adhering to certain professional standards. Any member who does not adhere to the standards will expect an investigation and they could be removed from the professional register.

Every Professional Body has a slightly different way of approaching ethics, but they will have guidance for practitioners. For example, according to the National Hypnotherapy Society,

The ethical practice that a practitioner and client relationship will follow will include:

  • Practitioners approaching their work in the spirit of vocation
  • Honouring the subjectivity of the therapy experience
  • Honouring the client’s subjectivity, views, beliefs, ideas, goals
  • Respecting commonly understood boundaries
  • For practitioners to be able to undertake a rigorous self-examination on their work and practice

Choosing a Practitioner

So it is good to choose an ethical practitioner as you can check their credentials through their Professional Body. You will also know that they want to adhere to standards and that they keep themselves updated.

But choosing the right practitioner for you could also include getting recommendations and checking that the therapist feels right for you.

I’m an ethical practitioner registered with the Professional Hypnotherapy Network, the National Hypnotherapy Society, The General Hypnotherapy Register, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and the National Counselling Society.

Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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