New UKCP Code of Ethics

By Victoria Thackstone, Litigation Executive, Professional and Therapy Abuse

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (“UKCP”) is one of the main voluntary psychotherapy membership organisations. 

On 01 October 2019 the UKCP’s new Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (“Code”) will come into force, replacing the one which has existed since September 2009. Both the existing and the new Codes can be found here.

From our consideration of the 2019 Code, it appears that the UKCP has attempted to simplify the Code without removing the main points which are designed to promote good practice and to protect the service users.

Interestingly, in the 2009 Code paragraph 1.4 reads “The psychotherapist undertakes not to enter into a sexual relationship with a Client”, whereas in the proposed 2019 Code (paragraph 4) this has been extended to read that the practitioner must “not have sexual contact or sexual relationship with Clients” which we read as now properly encompassing behaviour which falls short of an actual physical sexual relationship, such as physical contact and engaging in sexualised communications.

The UKCP has now made it clear within paragraph 7 of the 2019 Code that the practitioner should “decline any gifts, favours, money or hospitality that might be interpreted as exploitative”.

Paragraph 6.1 of the 2009 Code deals with the practitioner’s need to explain terms, fees and conditions to the Client or the prospective Client at the outset, as well as clarifying other questions the Client may ask such as likely lengthy of therapy, methods of practice to be utilised, referral or termination process. Paragraph 6.2 expanded on this by setting out the practitioner’s agreement to notify Clients of any other Codes which they subscribe to including the available complaints procedures.

Whilst the 2019 Code does not appear to have a requirement that the practitioner notifies the Client of the other Codes they subscribe to, paragraph 14 now sets out that the practitioner should have information available to clarify the other questions the Client may ask, to include complaints processes and how to make a complaint.

The manner in which the practitioner should explain to the Client the clinical methods of working and the Client’s choice to participate in any therapeutic intervention suggestions by the practitioner (paragraph 7.1 of the 2009 Code) has been elaborated on in the 2019 Code to express that the practitioner should “help Clients to understand the nature of any proposed therapy and its implications, what to expect, the risks involved and what is and is not being offered, and the relevant alternative options”.

Although this new Code will not come into practice until 1 October 2019 it will hopefully make it easier for Clients to identify what conduct levels their Psychotherapist should be maintaining.

We specialise in legal issues relating to abuse and negligent treatment by healthcare professionals, whether it be in in the private or NHS sector.

We have pursued many claims against a wide range of mental health and psychological therapy professionals, such as counsellors, psychotherapists, community psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, and mental health social workers, and also against other healthcare professionals such as GPs, GUM health advisors, gynaecologists, breast surgeons, acupuncturists and osteopaths. 

We have worked with people from all walks of life and dealt with every gender combination of Client and practitioner.

The consequence of abusive and negligent counselling and therapy is often devastating for the Client and has long-term implications and we recognise that it can be daunting to talk to yet another “professional” about what has happened.

Do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 0129085 if you have suffered abuse by a counsellor, psychotherapist or other healthcare professional.