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Protecting Yourself from Abuse

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 9 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Abuse Counselling Client Protection

All counsellors and psychotherapists follow an ethical code of practice. This outlines the strict guidelines that professionals must adhere to at all times, the maintenance of confidentiality and the ethical principles that provide a foundation to the client-counsellor relationship. Without this guideline the confidential relationship built between a client and counsellor may make either individual feel vulnerable and potentially open to abuse.

Personal Values

Counsellors must respect a client’s dignity, and value the individual and their personal concerns and difficulties, regardless of the client’s background. Maintaining confidentiality, integrity and principles are all part of a counsellor’s many duties and increases the amount of responsibilities he/she must take charge, and control, of. On top of this a counsellor must continually maintain a responsible attitude towards certain safety issues.

Counsellor Protection

In order to perform their job professionally, and to the best of their ability, a counsellor must be physically and mentally fit and capable. Whilst counsellors are responsible for the wellbeing of their clients, they are also in charge of managing their own stress levels and mental health. Counsellors will be professionally trained to handle a client’s display of emotion, anger and vulnerability, but must also be able to confidently protect themselves from any threatening behaviour.

Counsellors must protect themselves by limiting self-disclosure. Although it is necessary, and essential, to build rapport with a client in order to gain trust, a counsellor must not allow their own personal issues to become known. Maintaining that life away from the counselling environment remains totally private is important. Sharing personal information, feelings or thoughts with a client will not only breach the counsellor’s code of ethics, but will also place the counsellor in a vulnerable position.

Client Safety

Providing a safe, supportive and confidential environment where a client can comfortably disclose is a basic requirement of a counselling relationship. Within this environment clients may express feelings, thoughts and emotions that will make them feel understandably vulnerable. When emotions run high there is often a shift in controlled behaviour, which can result in an outburst of anger.

The Importance of the Code of Ethics

A counsellor or psychotherapist must remain alert to the issues raised by the Code of Ethics and must adhere to the strict guidelines. The code protects the client, and the counsellor, by upholding a need for confidentiality and responsible behaviour throughout the client-counsellor relationship. The Code encourages good practice and provides rules that govern personal safety and acceptable behaviour. Without these guidelines it is more difficult, and complicated, for a counsellor to build an impartial relationship with their clients.

All qualified counsellors, psychotherapists and other therapeutic professionals will belong to an Association that is responsible for upholding the Code of Ethics. By joining this association all members agree to adhere to the rules, and are responsible for maintaining ethical standards. To ensure rules are maintained there is a Complaints Committee, within every association, which responds to any complaints. Complaints can be made against a counsellor’s behaviour or any other professional activity, which may be deemed to be inappropriate.

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