Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Professionalism and ethics

Hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and counselling are unregulated professions in Ireland and in many other countries too. Mainstream practitioners like doctors, pharmacists and dentists are regulated by the state. Their professional qualifications, codes of ethics and continuing fitness to practice are constantly under scrutiny by a regulatory body. As this process does not yet apply to the world of therapy and counselling, how sure can you be that the therapist you are considering using is both competent and professional?

Anyone can cover their website with glowing testimonials from past clients, whether real or imagined. Anyone can claim to be the "leading" therapist in their area or field. As guidelines, these are meaningless. If you are concerned (and you should be) about your potential therapist's ethics, training and professionalism the best thing to do is look a little bit below the surface. What is their background? What training have they received? How experienced are they? Most importantly perhaps, what professional bodies do they belong too? Professional memberships give a better clue into the true worth of the therapist.

Have a look at the professional body's web site and check:

  • Is it just a list of therapists' names or is there an actual organisation behind it? If all you have to do to join is to fill in an online form it is completely meaningless.
  • What qualifications are needed to become a member?
  • What is its code of ethics? Download it and read it.
  • Does it have a policy for members working with children?
  • Is there a complaints procedure?
  • What is the policy on continued education?
  • What is the policy on supervision? Supervision is of VITAL importance to therapists, counsellors and those working any psychological issues, ensuring their continued fitness to practice and providing essential protection to members of the public.
In the absence of statutory regulation, the best and safest option is to look for a therapist who is a member of a body which is providing its own internal regulation in the areas mentioned above, and preferably is co-operating with other organisations in working towards a framework of eventual statutory regulation.

Most important of all, before undertaking therapy, speak to the therapist! Booking online without making at least verbal contact by telephone is a leap in the dark. You need to be sure you are comfortable working with the person before you start. Anyone thinking of embarking on a course of psychotherapy should seek a free introductory consultation and find out exactly what is involved, how long it is likely to take, and what the costs are likely to be.

My own background and memberships can be found on my website. If you want to talk to me, just call 021 487 6072 to find out more about how therapy can help you.

021 487 6072