1. Scope of the Code of Practice
1.1 This Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with the Code of Ethics.
1.2 Except for any sections of the Code which are designated as applying
only to specific groups, this Code applies to all of the following groups:
o Trustees of IFT – including Members and co-opted Trustees
o Members of IFT
o IFT tutors
o IFT supervisors
o IFT employees
o IFT clinical associates
o IFT as an organisation
In the Code, the term “Therapists” will be deemed to cover all Tutors, Supervisors, Clinical Associates, IFT employees and IFT Members who work in a professional capacity as therapists or are under training for that role. This will include, but is not limited to, situations in which they are engaged to work for, or on behalf of, IFT.
2. Purpose of the Code of Practice
2.1 The purpose of the Code is to make clear the standards of conduct and behaviour required by the members of the groups listed in Section 1.2.
2.2 Adherence to the Code of Practice is fundamental to the standards of
professional conduct expected of the members of all these groups and in their relationship with IFT. Failure to follow any of the requirements of the Code may result in disciplinary action being taken by IFT or, in the event that the person is not an employee of IFT, action under the Complaints Policy and Procedure.
3.1 In all work, the well-being of clients should be paramount.
3.2 IFT employees, members, tutors, supervisors and clinical associates will,
at all times, conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in their dealings with colleagues, clients of IFT or in their capacity as IFT members.
3.3 Nothing should be done to bring the discipline and profession of family
and systemic psychotherapy or IFT itself into disrepute.
3.4 Therapists will maintain appropriate professional care of the client
during the therapy relationship and in all interactions with the client.
4. Anti-discriminatory Practice
4.1 Racist and other discriminatory and stereotyped comments should never
be made and should always be challenged if they do occur.
4.2 Wherever possible, requests for therapists of a particular gender or
ethnicity should be met. However, if a client from the dominant culture refuses to see a therapist from a black or ethnic minority background on the basis of their colour or ethnicity, it should be explained that this is contrary to IFT’s policy and is unacceptable.
4.3 Attitudes, assumptions and prejudices can be identified by the language
used and interventions offered. The therapist must take care to monitor his or her language.
4.4 Therapists must be aware of their own prejudices and stereotyping and
consider ways in which this might influence the therapeutic relationship.
5. Confidentiality and consent
5.1 The personal, legal and practical limits of confidentiality need to be
discussed and clarified with the client at the beginning of therapy. As part of the formal contract – the ‘formal consent form’ which is agreed and signed by all parties during the first therapy session – the client should be informed of any circumstances in which there could be potential breaches in confidentiality. The obligation to maintain confidentiality remains a permanent requirement and continues after the therapy has ended.
5.2 Issues of informed consent, and who has the right to give it, are complex
in the treatment of whole families. Age is only one factor in whether an individual has the right to give or withhold consent on their own behalf or that of others. Therapists must consider all relevant factors carefully and be able to justify their actions.
5.3 All transactions with a family are confidential unless there is an over-
riding imperative, such as serious risk to a family member, especially if that person is a child or other vulnerable person.
5.4 The family or individual should normally be informed of an intention to
disclose any confidential information, unless doing so would endanger someone.
5.5 Efforts must be made to obtain agreement to maintain liaison and close
co-operation with other professional agencies in situations where this is appropriate. Such agreement should be recorded on file.
5.6 Any report for an outside agency should be prepared with the prior
permission of the client. Whenever possible, this should be available to
clients and discussed with them.
5.7 If a client is known to any member of the therapeutic team or there is a
close connection, this should be made clear, and it would be usual for that person to withdraw from the team when that client was being seen or discussed.
5.8 Permission must always be obtained from clients before audio or
dvd recordings are made. This must be confirmed at the end of the
session in writing. The uses made of the dvds must be fully explained.
The consent forms must be signed by all clients over the age of 16 and attention should be given to issues of informed consent from those younger than 16. It should be made clear that recording can be stopped by the client at any point and that the wiping of videotapes can be requested at any point.
5.9 Permission from clients to keep and use recordings must have limited duration
(maximum of five years). Unless further permission has been granted, dvds should then be erased.
5.10 Clients have the right to see any dvd of their own therapy, but not any that include other family members, unless specific consent of all those present has been given. Viewing should take place only at IFT and in the presence of a clinical staff member.
5.11 If dvds are to be used as a central part of the therapy, this may include taking them off the premises. This should always be discussed and agreed in advance with the Director of Advanced Clinical training, and can only occur with written permission of the clients.
5.12 All recorded material and clinical files are the property of IFT and must be stored securely. Unless otherwise agreed, this will be the IFT Files Room.
5.13 In particular, IFT’s Data Protection Polices 2018 explain people’s obligations and responsibilities and all those working with, or for, IFT should familiarise themselves with the relevant Policy.
6. Confidentiality in training
6.1 Confidentiality and anonymity must be ensured in presenting cases for training and audit, or in using material in research or for publication.
7.1 All clients should be given a full explanation of what to expect when they take up an appointment and have a clear explanation of how the sessions will be conducted.
7.2 In any clinical context, therapists are responsible for clarifying in advance the terms on which their services are being offered, including any financial obligation, foreseeable costs or liabilities which the client will incur.
7.3 Records of appointments and case notes should be kept and clients should be made aware of this. At the client’s request, information should be given about access to these records, their availability to other people and the storage arrangements.
7.4 Therapists must ensure that clients understand in advance about the
therapist’s qualifications, supervision arrangements, and method of
therapy, fees, methods of payment, and details about arrangements for ending therapy, and any liabilities for cancellation of appointments under various circumstances.
7.5 The financial contract must be made clear and agreed before the first
session begins. The giving of personal favours or gifts to a value in excess
of £10 to any one person, on either side, must be avoided.
8. Boundaries in professional practice
8.1 The professional relationship must not be used to further personal,
religious, political or other non-professional interests.
8.2 Conflicts of interest should be avoided. Wherever they arise, this should be discussed both in the therapy and in supervision. If there is any lack of clarity or uncertainty as regards a possible conflict of interest, the matter should be referred to the Chair of Trustees for a decision.
8.3 Sexual intimacy with clients is forbidden. It is always unethical and,
in some circumstances, a criminal offence.
8.4 Sexual intimacy with former clients is prohibited for two years
following the termination of therapy.
8.5 Therapists should exercise caution before considering any business relationship with former clients and should expect to be professionally accountable if the relationship becomes detrimental to the client or the standing of the profession.
9. Professional competence
9.1 Clients must not be misled into believing that individuals have qualifications, membership of organisation or experience which they do not posses.
9.2 Therapists should practise only within the parameters of their competence and cease to practice if their competence is judged as inadequate by IFT or is impaired for some reason.
Where appropriate, the services of other professionals may be made available to the client or, at least, advice be given to the client about where to find more appropriate advice and help.
9.3 Therapists must actively monitor their own competence through supervision, consultation, continuous professional development (CPD), reading and seminars.
9.4 Therapists should take into account the importance of self-reflexivity in training and practice. This includes taking responsibility to address any current limitations – such as factors in their personal background, experience or situation – which might influence their work with clients.
9.5 Therapists must make satisfactory arrangements to ensure that they and their work are covered by adequate indemnity insurance.
9.6 If therapists work with children and vulnerable adults they should make the necessary arrangements to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check at least every three years.
9.7 Therapists must monitor their functioning and must, in no circumstances,
work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
9.8 Any complaint upheld against a member should be declared immediately to IFT, as should any conviction of a notifiable / relevant criminal offence, or successful civil proceedings, in the context of delivering therapeutic services.
10. Research and Training
10.1 All research which is planned to be done by clinical associates of IFT, or
using the name of IFT, or using clients or staff of IFT, should be submitted to the Research Ethics Committee and permission obtained in advance of any work being undertaken.
10.2 The distinction between research and therapy should be explained.
Advance, informed consent should be gained from any potential research participant before their participation begins.
10.3 Steps should be taken to ensure that the therapeutic process and
therapist–client relationship are not adversely affected by any research
10.4 The research methods should comply with the standards of good practice
in therapy. In the event of any lack of clarity or uncertainty, reference should be made to the Research Ethics Committee and their approval obtained.
10.5 Those involved in research should be mindful of the purposes to which
the results of the research could be used and the informed consent of participants in the research must be obtained before research is published or used in teaching. The ‘Use of research consent form’ must be signed by all the relevant parties.
11.1 Nothing should be done to bring the reputation of psychotherapy or the
Institute of Family Therapy into disrepute.
11.2 When part of a therapeutic team, therapists must be aware of their
continued ethical responsibilities both to clients and colleagues.
11.3 If there is any concern that a colleague’s conduct is unprofessional or that
their competence is impaired, appropriate action should be taken. This will normally require either reporting the circumstances to the IFT Director or initiating the relevant Complaints Policy Procedure.
Any formal complaint will be addressed in accordance with the Complaints Policy and Procedure, a copy is available on the IFT website or from the IFT Administration Office.
No one should be discouraged from making a complaint. Whistle-blowing is covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
12. Breaches of the Code of Practice
12.1 Whilst it is hoped that contravention of the Code of Practice will be rare, in
the event that a member of one of the groups listed in Section 1.2, above, is deemed to have contravened any element of the Code, action may be taken by IFT in accordance with the Membership Regulations and Complaints Policy and Procedure, as appropriate, or, in the case of an IFT employee, the Conduct and Capability Procedure.
Ratified by Council September 2013