Working Paper of the EAP Working Group on Ethics
OF THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY
The present ethical guidelines were prepared by the standing advisory
Ethics-Group of the EAP 1993-1995 and are validated in this version since
In the practice of the therapeutic profession, all members of the EAP national associations, EAP member organisations, as well as EAP individual members, accept that the practice of psychotherapy requires responsibility in relation to their own persons, with their psychotherapeutic tasks as well as towards clients who have entrusted themselves to a professional psychotherapist and with whom they have thus entered a special relationship.
EAP member organisations are responsible for concerning themselves with ethical questions. This is applicable to trainers, members and trainees of these organisations.
The ethical guidelines of the national organisations serve:
-to protect the patients/clients from unethical applications of psychotherapy by all its psychotherapists and training members.
-to set standards for its members.
-as a foundation for the setting of complaints.
The following ethical guidelines are binding for all member organisations
of EAP as well as individual members. EAP member institutions are obliged
to have their own ethical guidelines that are compatible with those of
2. THE PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC PROFESSION
The psychotherapeutic profession is a separate scientific profession. It deals with the diagnosing and comrehensive, knowledgeable and planned treatment of psychosocially and/or psychosomatically derived behavioural disturbances or states of suffering by means of scientific and psychotherapeutic methods. The psychotherapeutic process is based upon the interaction between one or more patients/clients and one or more psychotherapists with the aim of facilitating changes and further development.
The psychotherapeutic profession is characterised by its commitment to the responsible accomplishment of the aforementioned aims.
Psychotherapists are required to use their expertise while taking into
account the individual´s dignity and esteem and for the patient´s/client´s
best interest. Psychotherapists must declare their professional standing
in connection with their professional training as appropriate.
3. PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE AND DEVELOPMENT
Psychotherapists are required to practice their profession in a competent and ethical manner. They are required to pay attention to research and development in the science field of psychotherapy. To achieve this, practitioners need on-going professional development.
Psychotherapists should limit their practice to those areas and treatment
methods in which it can be proven that they have gained sufficient and
certified knowledge and experience.
Psychotherapists as well as all support staff are bound by principles
of confidentiality regarding all information that has become known to them
during their psychotherapeutic involvement/practice. The same applies to
5. FRAME ISSUES
At the beginning of the psychotherapeutic treatment, psychotherapists are required to make the patient/client aware of their rights with special emphasis on the following:
- The psychotherapeutic method employed (if appropriate and adequate to the process of the psychotherapeutic treatment) and the conditions (including the cancellation policy).
- Extent and probable duration of the psychotherapeutic treatment.
-Financial terms of the treatment (approximate fee, insurance claims, payment for missed sessions, etc.)
The patient/client should be given the opportunity ti decide wehter they wish to enter psychotherapy and if so with whom.
Psychotherapists are required to act responsibly, especially given the
special nature of the psychotherapeutic relationship which is built on
trust and a certain amount of dependency; abuse and breach of trust is
defined as psychotherapits´ neglect of their professional responsibilities
in relation to the patient/client, in order to satisfy their own personal
interests, be they sexual, emotional, social or financial. Any form of
misuse is an offence against the professional psychotherapeutic guidelines.
The responsibility for this lies solely with the psychotherapists. Failure
of responsibility in dealing with the trust and dependency relationship
in psychotherapy is a serious error of treatment.
6. FACTUAL/OBJECTIVE AND TRUE INFORMATION
Information given to patients/clients must be factual/objective and
true. Any blatant or misleading advertising is impermissible. Examples
of this form of misleading and impermissible advertising could be. insupportable
healing promises or the quoting of many different types of psychotherapeutic
methods (psychotherapeutic training begun without completion) which give
the impression of a more comprehensive or broader psychotherapeutic training
than is the actual case.
7. PROFESSIONAL RELATIONS WITH COLLEAGUES
Psychotherapists, where necessary, are required to work interdisciplinarily
with representatives of other sciences for the well-being of the patient/client.
8. ETHICAL GUIDELINES FOR TRAINING
The aforementioned ethical guidelines are also to be applied to the
relationship between trainer and trainee as appropriate.
9. CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH SECTOR
As regards their social responsibility, psychotherapists are encouraged
to make a contribution to the maintenance and creation of living conditions
which will enhance, maintain and restore psychological health, and generally
further the maturity and development of people.
10. PSYCHOTHERAPY RESEARCH
In the interest of the scientific-theoretical development of psychotherapy
as well as psychotherapy outcome research, psychotherapists should participate
in appropriate research projects. Psychotherapeutic research as well as
publications are subject to the above ethical guidelines. the interests
of the patients/clients are paramount.
11. INFRINGEMENT OF ETHICAL GUIDELINES
Each member organisation must have appropriate complaint and appeal
12. DUTIES OF THE NATIONAL EAP ORGANISATIONS
National organisations must require their practitioners to abide by
codes of ethics that are compatible with EAP guidelines.