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Personal moral qualities
The practitionerís personal moral qualities are of the utmost importance to clients. Many of the personal qualities considered important in the provision of services have an ethical or moral component and are therefore considered as virtues or good personal qualities. It is inappropriate to prescribe that all practitioners possess these qualities, since it is fundamental that these personal qualities are deeply rooted in the person concerned and developed out of personal commitment rather than the requirement of an external authority. Personal qualities to which counsellors and psychotherapists are strongly encouraged to aspire include:
Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another personís experience from that personís perspective.
Sincerity: a personal commitment to consistency between what is professed and what is done.
Integrity: commitment to being moral in dealings with others, personal straightforwardness, honesty and coherence.
Resilience: the capacity to work with the clientís concerns without being personally diminished.
Respect: showing appropriate esteem to others and their understanding of themselves.
Humility: the ability to assess accurately and acknowledge oneís own strengths and weaknesses.
Competence: the effective deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to do what is required.
Fairness: the consistent application of appropriate criteria to inform decisions and actions.
Wisdom: possession of sound judgement that informs practice.
Courage: the capacity to act in spite of known fears, risks and uncertainty.
The challenge of working ethically means that practitioners will inevitably encounter situations where there are competing obligations. In such situations it is tempting to retreat from all ethical analysis in order to escape a sense of what may appear to be unresolvable ethical tension. These ethics are intended to be of assistance in such circumstances by directing attention to the variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration and to alternative ways of approaching ethics that may prove more useful. No statement of ethics can totally alleviate the difficulty of making professional judgements in circumstances that may be constantly changing and full of uncertainties. By accepting this statement of ethics, members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy are committing themselves to engaging with the challenge of striving to be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting courageously.