Previously, we recognised that enterprise and therapy can seem as unlikely a match as a square hole and a round peg. 

We considered the overlap between the two professional frames and the missing pieces needed for a good fit to be possible. In Section one we focused this examination on the personal attributes, skills and attitudes needed for each professional frame. 

In this section, we'll review the ethical tensions that can arise when we try to work across the domains of therapy and entrepreneurism. We'll refer to the BACP Ethical Framework and try to identify if there are any gaps in the framework for therapists working as entrepreneurs.

This short section will refer to the ethical issues interwoven into previous sections. It's not intended to provide an exhaustive list of possible ethical tensions but to offer a starting point and an orientation for thinking about and resolving them. 

Ethical tensions

Here Beverley describes how overriding tension between therapy and entrepreneurism is the tension between our clients’ inner and outer worlds.

Download the transcript for Ethical tensions (Word file)

The decision-making process

Here we explore the decision-making processes of deciding to work with a particular group.

Read the following passage and consider the questions.

  • which part of the BACP Ethical Framework is being illustrated here?
  • how do you think the BACP Ethical Framework applies to this decision?
  • there are many aspects of the Framework which could have influenced the decision taken in this extract. The principle of “Non-maleficence: a commitment to avoiding harm to the client” is certainly one that stands out. Are there any ethical issues here that are not covered by the BACP Ethical Framework?

Consider the BACP Ethical Framework

The BACP Ethical Framework does not cover attitudes to resourcing in any detail that applies to social action projects. Here are some examples, included in this module, of attitudes to resourcing social action projects and to research.

What do you think about the ethical positioning of these statements?: 

  1. “Formal research is very costly. It can also be experienced by communities as a form of extractivism - a kind of data mining activity (Phipps, 2013:19)”  
  2. “The feasibility study cost money (which could have been used for delivering a service). It was time-consuming (it delayed our ability to start offering a service to people who were already distressed), and it told us what we already knew.”
  3. “We created an intervention which is delivered pro bono and remotely. Because all this work can be done with remote platforms there are no unnecessary travel or accommodation expenses, which can cause problems for the host countries and the environment.” 

Ethical considerations

Here is a case example and possible solution to help you explore the ethical considerations in relation to the Social Response Cycle.

Questions to consider

Consider the following questions in relation to the case study, examining the scenario from an ethical perspective.

You may wish to pause the video between questions to think about your response.


In this section, you’ve considered how ethical principles of decision-making relate to social action projects. You’ve reviewed some of the content of this section and previous sections and assessed the way in which ethical principles have been enacted in the planning and delivery of the projects. You’ve reviewed how the BACP Ethical Framework is relevant for therapeutically framed social action projects and whether there are pieces missing from the Ethical Framework, the inclusion of which, would make it a better fit for this context. You’ve considered whether a specific ethical framework for therapeutically framed social entrepreneurism might be necessary. 

In the next section, you'll have an opportunity to apply the Social Response Cycle to your own project idea.

Continue the resource...