I’m pleased to have this opportunity to talk about the Ethical Framework and explain a little bit about its background. The 2016 version was such an innovation, that in response to a lot of consultation and feedback, that we wanted to very quickly check how it was working in practice and so as a result we undertook a fairly systematic research into its operation and in particular, there were particular voices that we wanted to hear and hear their experiences. There were trainers and trainees who we consulted, particularly those on accredited courses, for the members of BACP who we surveyed. There were clients, and we got most useful feedback there, by analysing what clients were raising as concerns with the ‘Ask Kathleen’ service and we also looked at what members were raising with us as ethical issues on a whole variety of sources, but any ethical issue that came to BACP we included in the analysis. And of course, one of the big changes we had to take on board was the introduction of GDPR and the new data protection environment, which has some significant impact on how we manage our client’s confidences and their records.
So, when we took all of that into account, we then went through the Framework and revised it. You’ll notice there are not many changes to the commitment section and the ethics section, but the major changes are to the good practice section, where in particular we introduced a number of new sections and these relate to breaks and endings with clients, which were largely driven by client experience. Confidentiality, which many people thought they would value more guidance on. Working with colleagues and in teams, which in particular the trainers said was an element which had been in previous versions, which trainees had found very helpful as they prepared to go on placement. And then also, we want to look at the trainee’s experience of courses, they had not had a voice or presence in the Ethical Framework and that introduced a whole new section. And in a way we were also setting a marker for the future because we view the Ethical Framework as a living document that needs to change as our work changes, as members’ issues change and as our clients’ experience of us changes.
Q1: How does BACP research new developments for the Ethical Framework?
Well we draw on a lot of different sources. So we conduct our own surveys, we analyse communications from members to BACP and anything that touches on the Ethical Framework and we analyse issues that clients raise with the ‘Ask Kathleen’ service. Also we look at the sorts of issues that come through the professional conduct procedures. The combination of all those things gives us a sense of how far the current version of the Ethical Framework is addressing everybody’s needs, clients and practitioners, and whether there are any major gaps. And, of course, there are sometimes major legal developments or major changes to society, or changes in patterns and how clients are raising issues and we can take those into account in a way which enables the Ethical Framework to be a living document.
Q2: How are clients’ experiences and opinions taken into account?
Well the major route for finding information about clients’ particular experiences of our members is through the ‘Ask Kathleen’ service where very often they will raise issues about, for example, how is their confidentiality managed? Any confusions they might have about a contract, which they have with a practitioner, sometimes about relationship issues with practitioners, and boundaries and how they are managed, and sometimes are they being treated fairly by practitioners? Also we will sometimes consult with organisations that have access to members and occasionally we will run our own focus groups. But it’s important, given that the Ethical Framework is significantly in part to help the quality of the services we give our clients and give them information as to what to expect from us, that we have the client’s voice.
Q3: How can I give feedback that will influence the next version of the Ethical Framework?
Right, it’s really important, because just as we want the client’s voice, we also really need the member’s voice and the best ways to do that are doing it in writing in some sort of way, either by sending a letter to BACP or more typically nowadays by sending an email or by post using the platforms that are available on the website to communicate with BACP. And then that not only will you get a response, but also we will log that in, but if you have particular suggestions we really want to hear them, so I hope you will get in touch with BACP and communicate with us.