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March 2013

Ethics inside and outside the counselling room

Is it necessary for a counsellor to behave ethically both inside and outside the counselling room?

As a counsellor and member of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), I am expected to follow the organisation’s guidelines and framework for good practice. Details can be found here

However is this enough? Is it ok for a counsellor to behave as he or she wishes in their private life?

A recent online debate considered whether it was sufficient for these ethics and morals to apply only in the counselling room, or whether a counsellor’s lifestyle also needed to reflect these styles of behaviour. Various views were expressed.

My thoughts

For me, it is important that I aspire to these values both inside and outside the counselling room (while recognising that we all show different faces to different people to some extent - yet can still be true to our core being).

That does not mean that I am perfect (far from it!) but I feel it’s important to aspire to the following:

o Respecting human rights and dignity

o Protecting the safety of clients

o Ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships

o Enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application

o Alleviating personal distress and suffering

o Fostering a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned

o Increasing personal effectiveness

o Enhancing the quality of relationships between people

o Appreciating the variety of human experience and culture

o Striving for the fair and adequate provision of counselling and psychotherapy services


A difficulty arises in that individual counsellors will interpret the above in different ways and that can’t easily be legislated for, but at least this is a guide by which to measure one’s morals and behaviours.

Other Blogs:

November 2015 - Are you a carer? Do you have caring responsibilities?

January 2015 - Christmas Pleasure Or Pain

December 2013 - How Important Is Your Mental Health?

May 2013 - Stress & Anxiety

Mary Saunders                                          07890 806501

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