Finding your way

Reflective Mindful Enquiry

Karuna Ethical Code

KARUNA INSTITUTE ETHICAL PRINCIPLES AND CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR TRAINEE PSYCHOTHERAPISTS[1]

1. Best interests of clients

  1. 1.1  The trainee psychotherapist takes responsibility for respecting their client’s best interests when providing therapy.
  2. 1.2  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to treat their clients with respect.
  3. 1.3  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to abuse or exploit the relationship they have with their clients, current or past, for any purpose, including the trainee psychotherapist’s sexual, emotional or financial gain.
  4. 1.4  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to enter into a sexual relationship with a client.
  5. 1.5  Trainee Psychotherapists are required to carefully consider possible implications of entering into dual or multiple relationships and make every effort to avoid entering into relationships that risk confusing an existing relationship and may impact adversely on a client. For example, a dual or multiple relationship could be a social or commercial relationship between the trainee psychotherapist and client, or a supervisory relationship which runs alongside the therapeutic one. When dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, for example in small communities, trainee psychotherapists take responsibility to clarify and manage boundaries and confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship.
  6. 1.6  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to take into account the length of therapy and time lapsed since therapy and pay great attention to exercise reasonable care before entering into any personal or business relationships with former clients. Should the relationship prove to be detrimental to the former client, the trainee psychotherapist may be called to account to the charge of a misuse of their former position as the former client’s trainee psychotherapist. The trainee psychotherapist discusses any possibility of entering into any personal or professional relationship with past clients with both their supervisor and tutor. However, it is strong discouraged.
  7. 1.7  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to respect their client’s autonomy.
  8. 1.8  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to harm or collude in the harming of their client or a client of others.
  9. 1.9  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to know and understand their legal responsibilities concerning the rights of children and vulnerable adults and to take appropriate action should the trainee psychotherapist consider a child or vulnerable adult is at risk of harm.
  10. 1.10  The trainee psychotherapist recognises that their behaviour outside their professional life may have an effect on the relationship with their clients and takes responsibility for working with these potential negative or positive effects to the benefit of the client.

2. Diversity and Equality

  1. 2.1  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to actively consider issues of diversity and equalities as these affect all aspects of their work. The trainee psychotherapist accepts no one is immune from the experience of prejudice and acknowledges the need for a continuing process of self-enquiry and professional development.
  2. 2.2  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to allow prejudice about a client’s sex, age, colour, race, disability, sexuality, social, economic or immigration status, lifestyle, religious or cultural beliefs to adversely affect the way they relate to the client.
  3. 2.3  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to engage in any behaviour that is abusive or detrimental to any client or colleague based on the above factors.

3. Confidentiality

  1. 3.1  The trainee psychotherapist commits to respect, protect and preserve the confidentiality of their client. The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to notify their clients, when appropriate or on request that there are legal and ethical limits of that confidentiality and circumstances under which the trainee psychotherapist might disclose confidential information to a third party.
  2. 3.2  The trainee psychotherapist commits to protect sensitive and personally identifiable information obtained from the course of their work as a trainee psychotherapist.
  3. 3.3  Should the trainee psychotherapist be required by law to serve in judicial or administrative proceedings, they commit to getting clarification at the outset of the potential impacts this could have on their commitment of confidentiality to any client. In such a situation the trainee psychotherapist commits to maintaining this clarification as the situation proceeds and to seek legal and ethical advice as appropriate.
  4. 3.4  The trainee psychotherapist commits to safeguard the welfare and anonymity of clients when any form of publication of clinical material is being considered
  5. and to always obtain their client’s verifiable consent in any case where the welfare or anonymity of a client may be compromised. This includes situations where a client or former client might recognise themselves in case material despite the changing of names or actual circumstances.

4. Conduct

  1. 4.1  The trainee psychotherapist acknowledges that their professional and personal conduct may have both positive and negative effects on the way they are experienced by a client. The trainee psychotherapist undertakes, in a continuing process, to critically examine the impact these effects may have on the psychotherapeutic relationship with any client, placing a priority on preserving the client’s psychotherapeutic best interests.
  2. 4.2  The trainee psychotherapist agrees to inform the Karuna Institute if they are :

(a) Convicted of a criminal offence, receive a conditional discharge for an offence, or accept a police caution

(b) Disciplined by any professional body or membership organisation responsible for regulating or licensing a health or social-care profession; or

(c) Suspended or placed under a practice restriction by an employer or similar organisation because of concerns relating to practise of psychotherapy, competence or health.

3. 4.3Subject to the rules of confidentiality and other code of ethics adhered to by the trainee psychotherapist, the trainee psychotherapist commits to co- operating with any lawful investigation or inquiry relating to their capacity to appropriately carry out their psychotherapy practices. Good practise would indicate that the trainee psychotherapist should consult with the Director or Ethics Committee, or seek legal advice to any request for information by anyone involved in a legal case even where the client has given their consent.

4. 4.4  If the trainee psychotherapist is convicted of a criminal offence, receives a conditional discharge for an offence, or accepts a police caution the Karuna Institute will consider any implications their conviction, conditional discharge, or in exceptional cases police caution, may have for their professional practice. The Karuna Institute will consider and assess potential risk posed to clients or for public confidence in the register and may reject their application for membership or removal of name from its register on such grounds.

5. Professional knowledge, skills and experience

5.1 The trainee psychotherapist agrees to disclose their qualifications to clients and the Karuna Institute when requested and commits to not claiming or implying qualifications that they do not have.

2. 5.2  The trainee psychotherapist commits to ensure that the use of title such as “Doctor/DR” and post nominal initials after a name in all published materials are accurate; indicate whether it is a medical or academic qualification; and reasonably informs the public of their relevance to the practise of psychotherapy.

3. 5.3  The trainee psychotherapist commits to recognise the boundaries and limitations of their expertise and techniques and to take the necessary steps to maintain their ability to practice competently.

4. 5.4  If it becomes clear that a case is beyond a trainee psychotherapist’s scope of practice, the trainee psychotherapist commits to inform the client and where appropriate offer an alternative psychotherapist or other professional where requested.

5. 5.5  The trainee psychotherapist commits to adhering to the UKCP policies on standards of education, training and practise.

6. 5.6  The trainee psychotherapist commits to an on-going process of professional and personal enquiry and challenge, commonly referred to as “Continuing Professional Development”. The trainee psychotherapist commits adhering to the Continuing Professional Development policies held by UKCP and the relevant College of the UKCP.

7. 5.7  The trainee psychotherapist accept responsibility to ensure that they are competent and have sufficient supervisory arrangements and other necessary support to enable them to meet their psychotherapeutic obligations to any client. This includes the responsibility of ensuring the very careful consideration of how best to refer a client to another psychotherapist or professional should it become clear that this would be in the client’s best interest.

6. Communication

  1. 6.1  The trainee psychotherapist agrees to explain at the outset to a client: their terms, fees and conditions; and on request, clarify other related questions such as likely length of therapy, methods of practice to be utilised, referral or termination processes.
  2. 6.2  The trainee psychotherapist agrees to notify clients of any other codes of ethics and practise to which they subscribe, including the availability of the complaints procedure.

7. Obtaining consent

7.1 The trainee psychotherapist undertakes to explain to the client, to the extent applicable to their modality and the client’s capacity: the trainee psychotherapist’s clinical method(s) of working; and the client’s choice to participate in any therapeutic interventions suggested by the psychotherapist

including any commitments the trainee psychotherapist makes to the client and any commitments the trainee psychotherapist requires of the client.

2. 7.2  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to intentionally mislead a client concerning the type or nature of the psychotherapy practised.

3. 7.3  The trainee psychotherapist commits to clarify with clients the nature, purpose and conditions of any research in which the clients are to be involved and to ensure that informed and verifiable consent is given before commencement of the therapy and research.

8. Records

  1. 8.1  The trainee psychotherapist agrees to keep such records as are necessary to properly carry out the type of psychotherapy offered.
  2. 8.2  The trainee psychotherapist commits to store and dispose any personally identifiable records or data securely in order to protect the client’s confidentiality.

9. Physical or Mental Health

  1. 9.1  The trainee psychotherapist accepts an ongoing responsibility to ensure that they do not work with clients if they are not able to do so for physical or mental health reasons, or when impaired by the effects of drugs, alcohol or medication.
  2. 9.2  The trainee psychotherapist accepts a responsibility to take appropriate action should their ability to meet their obligations to their clients be compromised by their physical or mental health.
  3. 9.3  The trainee psychotherapist commits to carefully consider how, in the event of their sudden unavailability this can be most appropriately communicated to their clients. This will also include careful consideration of how a client might be informed of a trainee psychotherapist’s death or illness and, where appropriate, supported to deal with such a situation.

10. Professional Integrity

The trainee psychotherapist commits to report potential breaches of these Ethical Principles and Coe of Professional Conduct by themselves or by other trainees and accredited psychotherapists to the Karuna Institute.

11. Advertising

11.1 The trainee psychotherapist commits to ensuring that any advertising or promoting they undertake will not be misleading, false, unfair or exaggerated.

2. 11.2  The trainee psychotherapist commits to ensure that if they are involved in advertising or promoting any particular therapy, product or service, this is done in an accurate and responsible way.

3. 11.3  The trainee psychotherapist undertakes not to make or support unjustifiable statements relating to particular therapies or therapists or include testimonials from clients in any advertising material.

12. Indemnity Insurance

The trainee psychotherapist commits to ensuring that their professional work is adequately covered by appropriate indemnity insurance or by their employer’s indemnity arrangements.

13. Complaints

13.1 The trainee psychotherapist accepts the responsibility for maintaining reasonable awareness and a level of understanding regarding complaints procedures, relevant laws and statutory responsibilities that are applicable to their practise.

13.2 The trainee psychotherapist accepts a responsibility to act against colluding with practise harmful to clients including that carried out by other professionals and colleagues. This should include, where appropriate, activating procedures for addressing ethical concerns including formal complaints if necessary.


[1]             This document follows the UKCP Ethics Principles and Code of Professional Conduct with some amendments/Changes to respond to the Trainee nature of the practitioner and in line with the Karuna Institute Complaints Process