Extract from the Ethical Framework

21. We will respect our clients’ privacy and dignity.

22. We will respect our clients as people by providing services that:

a. endeavour to demonstrate equality, value diversity and ensure inclusion for all clients
b. avoid unfairly discriminating against clients or colleagues
c. accept we are all vulnerable to prejudice and recognise the importance of self-inquiry, personal feedback and professional development
d. work with issues of identity in open-minded ways that respect the client’s autonomy and be sensitive to whether this is viewed as individual or relational autonomy
e. challenge assumptions that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other and will not attempt to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity or seek to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity
f. make adjustments to overcome barriers to accessibility, so far as is reasonably possible, for clients of any ability wishing to engage with a service
g. recognise when our knowledge of key aspects of our client’s background, identity or lifestyle is inadequate and take steps to inform ourselves from other sources where available and appropriate, rather than expecting the client to teach us
h. are open-minded with clients who appear similar to ourselves or possess familiar characteristics so that we do not suppress or neglect what is distinctive in their lives.

23. We will take the law concerning equality, diversity and inclusion into careful consideration and strive for a higher standard than the legal minimum.

24. We will challenge colleagues or others involved in delivering related services whose views appear to be unfairly discriminatory and take action to protect clients, if necessary – see 11.

25. We will do all that we reasonably can to ensure that our clients are participating on a voluntary basis. Hesitant clients or clients who feel under pressure from other people or agencies to work with us will have their reservations acknowledged and taken into account in how services are offered.

26. We will work with our clients on the basis of their informed consent and agreement. We recognise that exceptional situations may arise where we may need to prioritise the safety of the client or others over our client’s wishes and confidentiality – see 10.

27. Careful consideration will be given to working with children and young people that:

a. takes account of their capacity to give informed consent, considering whether it is appropriate to seek the consent of others who have parental responsibility for the young person, and their best interests
b. demonstrates knowledge and skills about ways of working that are appropriate to the young person’s development and how relationships are formed
c. demonstrates a sound knowledge of the law relevant to working with children and young people and their human rights
d. is informed about the current culture and customs that affect parenting/care giving and how children and young people interact with each other and other significant people in their lives.

28. We will give careful consideration to obtaining and respecting the consent of vulnerable adult clients, wherever they have the capacity to give consent, or involving anyone who provides care for these clients when appropriate.

29. Our work with clients will be based on professional partnerships with them that aim to increase their wellbeing, capability and/or performance.


What is the difference between individual and relational autonomy?

There's a significant difference between the terms which relates directly to the diversity of human experience and cultures.

  • Individual autonomy is a familiar concept in a modern Western culture. It’s a notion of the 'boundaried self', where we conceive of ourselves firstly as individuals.
  • Relational autonomy There are times however when people are living with dependants, either children or older relatives, where their sense of family and relatedness, is stronger than the sense of being an individual.

Also, sometimes people live in contexts or cultures where the first point of understanding themselves is not of themselves as an individual, but as a member of a family, or possibly of an extended family, or a clan.

We need to remember that much of the theory that underpins our work comes from a culture of individualism. How we translate this, and our work, for people who have a different set of identity systems is really important. It's all part of how we demonstrate respect for our clients.

Can a practitioner refuse to work with a specific category of people because of their own personal values and beliefs?

Refusing to work with somebody because of our own personal values, beliefs or prejudices is unacceptable under the Ethical Framework. It might also be illegal if it discriminates against one of the protected categories under the Equality Act. The Ethical Framework extends the notion of respect beyond what is protected by law and expects practitioners to set aside their personal prejudices.

However, there are other aspects to this. If someone really has restricted or antagonistic life experience, it also raises questions of competence and whether they should be working outside their capability. We will have to see how this works in practice and make appropriate adjustments.

What are the differences in working with children and young people between this Ethical Framework and the previous version?

The two frameworks have much in common, particularly in regards to how consent is managed with younger people. However, there are significant differences relating to issues around safeguarding. Legislation and ideas about taking the initiative in order to provide safety and protect children and young people from abuse or neglect have all developed since the earlier ethical framework was published. There has also been development in relation to the prevention of terrorism through the Prevent programme. Safeguarding is mentioned in the Ethical Framework but further supplementary guidance is provided within the Good Practice in Action resources.

How do you define ‘vulnerable adult’?

There's no fixed definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ but there are common elements:

  • someone who is an adult and over 18
  • someone who is unable to take care of themselves without assistance or who may be vulnerable to abuse or neglect unless assistance is provided

You'll need to check agency policy or legislation relating to the particular context you're working in to be sure whether someone fulfils the definition of ‘vulnerable adult’. See the glossary or good practice resources for more information.

Good Practice in Action resources

Search for Good Practice in Action resources on:

Children and young people

Equality and diversity