Lesson 3 - Ethics
This material is worded and directed towards students intending to become
professional caregivers, counsellors, therapists etc.
We invite you to express yourself openly in the relevant forums as everybody will learn from the feed back and supervision.
If you do not feel it is right for you to speak of a problem, speak of the problem you have with expressing the problem.
There is one commitment that is mandatory for a professional counsellor, that we already now want you to acknowledge the importance of, and promise to keep:
Never disclose what you learn about your fellow students private matters
on or off-line.
It is unethical and it can be very hurtful.
Go for it!
I want it all I want it now
(Refrain in recent television-ad in Australia)
In our society ethics is not always appreciated, we brand many a codex of behaviour as old fashioned and not good for our psychological health.
Many experts are following this trend, rather than a spiritual guidance.
When we go for something, do we in fact know the consequences, and if we knew, would we still go ahead?
The question is complex if we don’t do something because we are told not to, but not because we in our own integrity understands or agree, we might act as we are expected to, but in our subconscious another energy will be brewing, maybe one day causing us to act unwise.
Yet, if we do what we want, how much suffering will it take before we act from wisdom rather than ego - Which is better?
Counselling and ethics
There are some sensible- guidelines for how to behave professionally, to comply with legal aspects, and to behave conductive for the client’s well-being
The Australian Holistic Healers Association’s Code of Ethics
is a good comprehensive guide into this:
To treat as confidential all information of clients.
Practitioner should never offer a diagnosis or a prognosis, this is the role of a medical doctor or suitably qualified primary contact practitioner.
To ensure that clients realise that any recommendations or advice offered is for their consideration only, and that clients should feel in no way compelled to act upon them.
To use healing methods or techniques that are gentle, natural and that will do no harm to the client.
To ensure that clients are advised to seek medical opinion whenever any of the red light symptoms appear.
To encourage clients to seek out a medical practitioner who most closely meets their personal needs, and to seek the advice and help of their doctor whenever appropriate.
To present oneself in a professional manner reflected in standards of dress, cleanliness, speech etc.
Maintain a high level of professional competence seeking always to improve one’s standard of skills.
Serve those in need irrespective of nationality, sex, age, marital status, race, culture, creed, political views or social standing.
Respect the rights and dignity of the individual.
Not to discredit the association by words or actions.
Not to puncture the skin, unless appropriately qualified.
To be sympathetic to clients’ needs, expressing a genuine concern and sensitive care.
To encourage clients to take greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
To ensure that the role of the practitioner is to facilitate the health, healing and well being of the individual through an eclectic use of healing methods andinformation and resources, for the purpose of treating the whole person body, mind, emotions and spirit.
To ensure that advertisements clearly state one’s qualifications (eg) Holistic healer, Holistic health practitioner (not medical doctor) and not make claims to be able to cure diseases. Appropriate wording (eg may also assist in the treatment of…)
The practitioner does not enter into any contracts or pre-conditions of treatment.
We will add the following basic rules:
We have no rights inside somebody else’s psyche
We can work deeply into someone’s issues if we are invited to do so, if we are not invited, it usually is doing no good to do it anyway
As professionals we must train ourselves in being able to watch our motifs for interfering, is it pain or is it compassion?
A lot of problems come from well meaning friends and professionals giving advice, without being asked for it.
This advice is all to often biased by the personal hurts and projections from the advice giver’s own life and it is given at a time where the person in the receiving end are not ready to filter the useful from the not-so-useful.
Often friends and professionals give advice because they the friends and professionals- cannot stand to watch the situation as it is, the advice is literally (but mostly unconsciously) meant to solve the friend’s or professionals problem.
Refer a client on, rather than work in an area you know you are not competent in.
Do not have your friends as clients,
Or clients as personal friends!
If you have a couple in therapy, and want also to see both individually, know that this is usually not recommendable, since it is very difficult not to be biased.
Never disclose data about a client unless with client’s consent and in any case in an unrecognisable form.
Points to be aware of during counselling:
The way you create space and comfort around you for the client, and your ability to practice boundaries.
Your ability to listen
Your ability to use and endure silence
Your ability to speak a client-appropriate language, while demonstrating empathy, compassion and respect for the client.
Your ability to avoid being drawn in to the moods, issues, power games, and subjective reality of your client.
Your ability to stay aware of own and client’s body and body language - and use the information-.
Your ability to shift between a supporting and a confronting approach (and ability to afterwards argue why you did it)
Your ability to operate on different levels of intensity depending on what is appropriate.
Your ability to close a session professionally.
Only integrity and ethics can be safe walking sticks
Unconscious evolution end with man and conscious evolution (revolution) begins. But conscious evolution does not necessarily begin in any particular man.
It begins only if you choose it to begin. But if you do not choose it - as most people do not - you will be in a very tense condition.
And present day humanity is like this: No where to go nothing to be achieved. Nothing can be achieved now without conscious effort. You cannot go back to a state of unconsciousness. The door has closed, the bridge has been broken.
The conscious choice to evolve is a great adventure, the only adventure there is for a human being. The path is arduous; it is bound to be so. Errors are bound to be there, failures, because nothing is certain. This situation creates tension in the mind. You do not know where you are, you do not know where you are going. Your identity is lost.
OSHO: The Psychology of the Esoteric p. 4
Respect for our uniqueness is
beautifully expressed by Fritz Pearls in his
I am I
And you are you
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations.
And you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
I is I
And you is you.
If we happen to meet it is fine
If not there is nothing to do about it
The Gestalt prayer is a precise and provoking statement of how radical we need to be if we mean to honour another person.
If we look closer whatever way we communicate regardless if we yell and scream, sob, talk very civil or are silent do we meet?
Sometimes we may, but if not there is nothing we can do about it
Other than being centred, So that we can invite another meeting some other time.
You are not objective,
The situation is not objective.
Your attitudes, your atmosphere
The client’s attitudes and atmosphere
How your atmospheres harmonise
On conscious levels and on unconscious levels
All that adds or subtracts
To your clarity and ability to go deep
As professionals we must develop
Who are we to tell that our solution is the right one?
Of the clients right to choose "wrong"
To acknowledge projections, also our own.
If we go beyond the logical regulations of what to do and what not to do, life is easier if we can trust that people stop on red signal, and move on green signal, then the basic rules of ethics become very diverse and very difficult to distinguish from custom.
Why professional ethics
It is obvious that we have to work within what is legally accepted;
If we treat sensitive issues only by following our own customary rules, we can hurt people badly, and get in a lot of trouble ourselves, if we for example overstep what the client or the peers of the client accept.
Sadly many professionals transgress even simple rules often, as can be seen in the reports from for example Australian Psychological Association’s ethical Committee.
But there is one more level
Individual and universal ethics
Ethics could be seen as an attempt to emulate what is the most harmonious way of existence, not only in terms of traffic lights, But even more so in terms of attaining inner states of being like worthiness, meaningfulness and joy. The Sanskrit term for this is Dharma which we will cover at some depth later
Paramahansa Yogananda defines dharma this way:
Eternal principles of righteousness that uphold all creation; man’s inherent duty is to live in harmony with these principles
Here from Paramahansa Yogananda: Man’s Eternal Quest, glossary
If we can learn the writing spread forth in the Cosmos, in the stars, in their ordering and motions, we shall find that from Cosmos everywhere there speaks what permeates our hearts with truth, love and what piety which carries forward the evolution of humanity from epoch to epoch.
Rudolph Steiner: Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies, p. 186.
Examples on Right living or Dharma:
From the New Testament:
Judge Ye Not that Ye be not Judged
(NT, Matthews 7:1)
One of Buddha’s most famous sayings about dharma is
The four noble truths:
What are these four noble truths? The Noble truth of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the cause of suffering, the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Truth of the Path which leads to the cessation of suffering
Here from The Wisdom of Buddhism
Edited by Christmas Humphreys p. 56
Instructions- for- life
A message from the Dalai Lama A tongue-in-cheek modern dharma-teaching.
Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three R’s
Respect for self
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone each day.
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the earth.
Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.