The Personal Relevance of Ethics from a Trainee Counsellor


Putting myself within the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in



This is an adjunct to my previous post on ‘The Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling.’

I have been asked to put myself into the BACP ethical framework and to describe what it means for me. This raised a number of strong thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t realised were present. In my initial learning journal on this topic, I was very objective and fact-based, but being asked to expand on what the framework means for me has evoked the subjectivity that such an important topic warrants. By this, I mean that in order to fully grasp the value of following an ethical framework, there needs to be some emotion involved rather than just merely following some ‘rules’ that are laid out for counsellors.

For me, working within an ethical framework is fundamental if a trusting relationship is to be formed between client and counsellor. I can relate this to my own recent experience of unethical practice. A few weeks ago I went to a workshop related to a topic that was very personal to me, as part of my personal and professional development. Due to personal experience, I found it really difficult and for the purpose of self-care I had to leave when we had a break. Through contact with the tutor, however, some one-to-one training was arranged.

I came away from this training feeling ‘abused’ for a number of reasons, including a lack of clear boundaries, no role distinction, a power imbalance, and a lack of regard for my well-being. I felt that she knew something very personal about me and hadn’t ‘held’ it or respected it, but instead focused on her own needs – from requesting more money than was agreed, going over schedule, and self-disclosing to a degree that left me counselling her.

If it wasn’t for there being an ethical framework within the counselling arena, I would have no way of validating the negative feelings this encounter evoked in me. In turn, I would not have been equipped to be congruent by writing to this individual to highlight my concerns about her unethical practice. In this sense, an ethical framework not only protects the client, but it also empowers them – to take action if they are wronged by someone who should be adhering to the framework.

On another level, as a counsellor, I feel supported by the ethical framework in that it gives me a minimum set of standards to adhere to in my efforts to offer a safe and trusting environment to my clients. Without such a framework, I would feel less confident in what the minimum standard should be, which might not be productive to focusing on the client’s needs within the process.

Kent Counselling Practice Trust


Categories: Counselling, Personal/Professional Development, Psychology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Thanks for that Nicola. A thought provoking entry.

  2. Over the years, I have left two groups because of my own ethical boundaries were crossed by the counselor. Both times, I realized what was happening and was able to take care of my own needs by leaving. I am glad that you were able to take care of yourself and voice what happened, Nicola.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Patricia. You are right – while these situations shouldn’t happen, to now be in a position to take care of ourselves by recognising and respecting our own boundaries can be healing.

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