Code of Practice and Ethical Principles


The UKAHPP Code of Practice and Ethical Principles sets out standards of practice for registrants on the UKAHPP Register of Humanistic Psychotherapists and Psychotherapeutic Counsellors, in the advancement of best practice and public protection.

Non-registered members whose practice has not been endorsed by the UKAHPP may choose to observe the code on a voluntary basis. However, they are not permitted to use the UKAHPP name and logo to promote services to the public and are required to state on in any marketing literature that their practice does not fall under the auspices of UKAHPP and is not covered by the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

This code embodies four fundamental ethical principles which all UKAHPP registrants should hold and draw on to inform the ethical foundation of their practice and behaviour.


  1. The Principle of Autonomy and Self Determination

1.1 This principle is concerned with respecting a client’s ability as a free, rational and competent adult to exercise choice and make decisions in regards to:

  • Life choices
  • What is done to their body
  • Ascribing meaning to life experiences

1.2 An individual’s choices are respected even if it may appear that these choices are not necessarily in their best interest.

1.3 An individual’s affairs and personal views are accepted without imposition – let people choose for themselves, unless we know their interests better than they can.

1.4 An individual’s explicit and implicit endeavours to make sense of their world and experience are honoured and accepted.

1.5 Effort is made to empower an individual to be autonomous particularly when their capacity to make informed rational choice is thwarted or impeded in some way.

  1. The Principle of Beneficence

2.1 This principle is concerned with acting in the best interest of an individual’s welfare, advancing their well-being through acts of goodness and benevolence.

2.2 An individual’s well-being is of paramount importance. The wishes of a competent adult cannot be overridden or subordinated by another person’s benevolence.

2.3 Each individual is unique and what is of benefit for one person may not be so for another. Each person’s situation and their attitude towards it is unique and should be accepted on an individual basis.

  1. The Principle of Non-Maleficence

3.1 This principle is concerned with an individual not being harmed by the actions of others.

3.2 Under no circumstances should a person be harmed deliberately nor should the risk of harm to an individual s be deliberately increased.

3.3 When harm cannot be avoided there is an obligation to attempt to minimise the effects and risks of harm to individuals.

3.4 Whenever possible distress and suffering of others is minimised.

  1. The Principle of Justice

4.1 This principle is concerned with treating individuals with respect and acknowledging that all persons have the same entitlement to fundamental human rights.

4.2 The principle of Justice treats individuals as equals and with impartiality and fairness whilst fully accepting their uniqueness and difference from one another.   It also seeks to promote fairness and justice for those experiencing injustice and disadvantage.

4.3 Basic human rights include amongst others: freedom of expression and the right of privacy and family life and protection from: discrimination, harassment and victimisation characterised by things such as:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Religious belief
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Social class


  1.  General Principles

1.1 All UKAHPP registrants are committed to the ethical principles described above and draw on them to inform all aspects of their practice.

1.2 The UKAHPP Code of Practice applies to all UKAHPP registrants. It outlines the minimum standards of practice and behaviour the general public can expect from a registrant practicing under the auspices of UKAHPP.

1.3. The UKAHPP Code of Conduct cannot cover all eventualities and there will be times when a registrant will be required to make a professional judgment when faced with an ethical dilemma. In such instances a registrant’s decision making process will be informed by the ethical principles outlined above.

1.4 However, these principles may at times be seen or interpreted to be in conflict with one another   For example, respecting the wishes of someone to follow a course of action which could result in harm (autonomy) against the obligation to attempt to minimise harm (non-maleficence). A registrant should always consider these principles in accordance with a client’s wishes and unique circumstances.

1.5 Ideally, a registrant’s decision making process will be facilitated through consultation and supervision but sometimes decisions have to be made in the moment. Registrants will always be able demonstrate and record a clear and ethically founded process in their decision making.

  1. Responsibility

2.1 UKAHPP Registrants are responsible for representing themselves and any associated organisations accurately. They must give a clear statement of purpose and description of the service they provide together with details of their registration, memberships, training, qualifications and experience.

2.2 UKAHPP Registrants take responsibility for the nature, quality and safety of the services they offer to clients and make every effort to ensure that their services are appropriate to the needs of their clients They are responsible for ensuring that they are able to maintain the highest standards of professional practice in the best interest of their clients.

2.3 They accept responsibility for the consequences of their professional conduct and for ensuring that their clients are informed at the onset of therapy that they have access to the means of holding them to account for the quality and safety of their service, through the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

2.4 They should always conduct themselves in a manner that maintains the integrity of their practice and of the UKAHPP and are always respectful, courteous and honest towards colleagues and of other professions and modalities.

2.5 UKAHPP Registrants are responsible for ensuring that they are in receipt of regular supervision appropriate to their training and field of practice and for monitoring and updating their knowledge and competence in accordance with UKAHPP’s Continual Professional Development Policy.

2.6 UKAHPP Registrants are responsible for recognising the limitations of their competence and do not offerservices or employ techniques in which they are not qualified.

2.7 They monitor their own potential for having prejudiced responses to others and attend to any identified deficiencies through supervision, training and personal therapy as necessary.

2.8 Registrants are responsible for recognising when their own psychological and emotional well being might potentially interfere with their professional effectiveness. In such circumstances they seek appropriate professional assistance, supervision, support, therapy or advice. They are responsible for recognising and accepting when it is appropriate to refrain from practice.

2.9 UKAHPP Registrants do not misrepresent their membership, registration and accreditation status to the public. Registrants do not use such status, qualifications in the form of initials before or after their name, to create an impression that may be confusing or misleading to members of the public. Such representation should be economic and expressed in accordance with published requirements and guidelines.

  1. Confidentiality

3.1 All UKAHPP Registrants are committed to protecting sensitive and personally identifiable information about clients obtained in the course of therapy and will establish a Confidentiality Agreement with clients at the onset of therapy, as means of safeguarding client privacy.

3.2 Such an agreement will include the limits of confidentiality, the taking of notes and the storage of documents, which will be held and disposed of in accordance with data protection requirements.

3.3 Client information will not be disclosed to a third party without the client’s or their legal guardian’s expressed consent preferably in writing.

3.4 UKAHPP Registrants will only make contact with third parties such as friends or relatives of the client with the express knowledge of the client. Any unanticipated communication with third parties is reported to the client, together with the content of the communication, as soon as possible after it has taken place.

3.5 Care must be taken to ensure that personally identifiable information is not transmitted through overlapping networks of confidential relationships. For this reason, it is good practice to avoid identifying specific clients during supervision and other consultations, unless there are sound reasons for doing so.

3.6 Registrants will not make use of social media, the internet or any other means to seek information about clients, without good cause or consent. Registrants should also exercise caution with the use of technology such as smartphones and computers to ensure client information is not inadvertently shared with others or become accessible to others.

3.7 Remote Therapy Practice Requirements

The UKAHPP has provision within its registration, accreditation, re-accreditation, and continuing professional development requirements for remote therapy formats of online audio/ visual platforms (e.g. Skype, Zoom) and telephone as supplementary to face to face work.   This means that Registrants’ core training must have been based on inter-personal face-to-face work with clients.   Asynchronous text based contact (email/SMS) is not endorsed by UKAHPP and is not eligible to be counted as practice hours. UKAHPP Registrants are sufficiently well trained and experienced to adapt to remote modes of working without the need for further therapeutic qualification but Registrants must ensure that they have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the technical issues and legalities and potential relational adjustments needed for safe remote practice.   CPD learning would be appropriate for this to which the UKAHPP provides access.It is the responsibility of the Registrant to ensure that they are aware of UKAHPP policy for remote working and also to ensure that their remote service can be offered safely and securely, is covered by their insurer and is GDPR compliant.

3.8 UKAHPP Registrants are committed to safeguarding the welfare and anonymity of clients.   When client-related information is to be used in written or spoken form in a public forum, the UKAHPP Registrant obtainsthe client’s verifiable consent for its use and adequately disguises all identifying information.

3.9 A Registrant may be required by law to take part in judicial or administrative proceedings relating to a client. In such circumstances their commitment to client confidentiality may be compromised, for example, if maintaining confidentiality could leave them vulnerable to legal proceeding against them. In such a situation the Registrant must clarify the situation both for themselves and their client and seek legal and ethical advice as appropriate.

3.10 A UKAHPP Registrant undertakes not to make or support inaccurate or unjustifiable statements relating to clients, colleagues or an organisation.

3.11 A Registrant may disclose client information to a third party without consent if the client discloses information about a threat to their health and safety or the health and safety of others. Where such risk or potential risk is identified, UKAHPP Registrant will attempt to seek the consent of the client before breaking confidentiality.

3.12 UKAHPP members will therefore reach a decision that is based on balancing the risk that would result from either maintaining or breaking confidentiality rather than a desire simply to protect the therapeutic relationship or to follow their client’s wishes. The Registrant’s reasoning for their decision should be placed on record.

3.13 The protection of clients and others from potential harm is paramount. Registrants will always prioritise safety of the client and any other third parties who may be at risk of harm. In circumstances when this can only be achieved by breaking confidentiality, then such an action becomes an ethical requirement even though it may undermine the therapeutic relationship.

3.14 If Registrants become aware of a possible ethical violation by another practitioner they must take action to address the concern.

3.14.1 Where the information about the practitioner causing concern includes an element of risk, then the matter must be treated with urgency.

3.14.2 When information identifying risk is received by a registrant as a third party, action to contain the risk must be considered as a priority and would generally be expected to override confidentiality obligations.

3.14.3 They may first informally attempt to resolve the issue by bringing the behaviour to the attention of the practitioner. Such informal corrective efforts are made with sensitivity to any rights to confidentiality involved.

3.14.4 If the concern cannot be resolved and there is, or possibly is, an ethical violation and if the practitioner causing concern is a UKAHPP Registrant, the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure will be invoked.  If the Registrant causing concern is not registered with UKAHPP their registering body should be informed.

3.14 Registrants are strongly advised to undertake Safeguarding training.

  1. Conduct and Professional Standards

4.1 UKAHPP Registrants fully inform consumers as to the purpose and nature of the service they offer.Contracts with clients are explicit as regards fees, payment, holidays, cancellation of sessionsand possible duration of therapy.

4.2 UKAHPP Registrants ensure that their professional work is adequately covered by appropriate indemnity insurance.

4.3 The UKAHPP Registrant’s physical work environment is appropriate to the services offered and conducive to the safety and privacy of the clients and therapist.

Care is taken to ensure that the client has adequate preparation and understanding about how the end of therapy may impact on them.

4.4 UKAHPP Registrants are required to make provision with their employer, place of work or through a ‘therapeutic executor’ to inform clients of sudden prolonged absence through death or illness. Such arrangements should be sensitive to the impact such information. Such an arrangement should include provision for support and alternative therapy.

4.5 UKAHPP Registrants clarify the nature, purpose and conditions of any research with participants and obtains informed and verifiable consent before embarking on a research programme, which in turn will be conducted in accordance with recognised research protocols.

4.6 UKAHPP Registrants undertake not to abuse or exploit current and past clients for sexual, emotional or financial gain and will not enter into a sexual relationship with a client.Sexual contact with clients or former clients is unethical.

4.7 UKAHPP registrants are subject to a Duty of Candour.  This means an obligation to be open and honest with clients when something happens in their psychotherapy or counselling which causes, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress. It is a requirement that aims to promote public trust and confidence in the profession by requiring registrants to be honest and trustworthy when things go wrong. It is important to attempt to alleviate any distress caused and take whatever reparative steps are possible in the circumstances. This may include:

  • Offering a meeting to explain what has happened.
  • Apologising.(an apology is not an admission of negligence)
  • Stating what steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence
  • Whilst not subject to statutory regulation, UKAHPP registrants, are expected to follow practice which is compliant with statutory requirements in relation to Duty of Candour

4.8 When a registrant has continuing contact of any kind with a client outside of the therapeutic relationship, a dual relationship is created is created between them.   Registrants are expected to avoid dual relationships with clients as they have the potential to influence or impair the therapeutic relationship and associated professional judgments and increase the risk of exploitation or confusion in the existing relationship.

4.9 In circumstances where dual/multiple relationships may be unavoidable, for example, in small communities, Registrants are responsible for clarifying and managing boundaries with the client, for protecting client confidentiality and for reviewing such arrangements at regular intervals. UKAHPP Registrants demonstrate their professional commitment to the welfare of their clients by addressing the matter in supervision.

4.10 Registrants accept that, in essence, the responsibilities assumed in working with clients continue after the ending of the relationshipand therefore non-professional relationships with former clients are avoided whenever possible.  In circumstances where this may be unavoidable and/or coincidental, Registrants are expected to carefully consider important aspects of the former relationship, suchas the duration and nature of the work, exercisereasonable care and to address the matter in supervision.

4.11 When a potential relationship with a former client is one of choice, practitioners are expected to carefully examine their own motives and address the matter in supervision. Practitioners are advised that should a relationship with a former client prove to be detrimental to the former client, they may be called to account.

4.12 Potential conflicts of interest that might arise are made clear to all parties concerned.

4.13 When ethical conflicts that appear irreconcilable arise between UKAHPP Registrants and any employing organisations, or in any client situation, the UKAHPP Registrant will address their concerns in supervision.

4.14 UKAHPP Registrants will inform the UKAHPP General Secretary if:

4.14.1 any complaint is in progress or has been upheld against them in another professional organisation, or in connection with their professional work or in respect of any professional organisation with which they are directly involved, or –

4.14.2 They are convicted of any criminal offence, in which case information will be held in confidence by the UKAHPP unless it has a direct bearing on a practitioner’s professional viability, or –

4.14.3 Successful civil proceedings are brought against them in connection with their work as practitioners. The UKAHPP Board decides whether such findings make it appropriate to review a registrant’s registration and accreditation status.

  1. Children and Young People

5.1 UKAHPP registrants who work with children and young people will have an adequate knowledge of the law relating to children and their human rights. This should include an understanding of how capacity to consent is assessed legally.

5.2 They will consider and evaluate a child or young person’s capacity to give informed consent or whether consent is needed from those who hold parental responsibility for them and seek legal or supervisory advice if capacity is in doubt.

5.3 They will ensure that working with children is included in their insurance policy

  1. Professional Relationships

6.1 Professional relationships will be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect in pursuit of good working relationships and communications that enhance services to clients.

6.2 UKAHPP Registrants are aware of the different areas of expertise in related professions and will draw on this knowledge

6.3 UKAHPP Registrant neither gives or receives remuneration or other reward for referring clients for professional services.

6.4 Registrants will not undermine any colleague’s relationship with clients by making inaccurate or derogatory comments

  1. Respect – Equality Diversity Inclusion and Discrimination

7.1 UKAHPP is committed to equality and the acceptance of all forms of difference among people.

7.2 Registrants undertake to develop their ability to offer a service that is equally respectful, accessible and beneficial to all people regardless of mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, race, colour, gender, age, class, religion, national origin, marital status, political or cultural beliefs, or any other preference, personal characteristic, condition or status.

7.3 UKAHPP Registrants actively seek to develop their understanding of issues of diversity and equalities through their training and continuing professional development these affect all aspects of their work. As no one is immune from unconsciously holding prejudicial attitudes, Registrants acknowledge the need for this continuing process of self-enquiry and professional development.

7.4 UKAHPP registrants do not practice, condone, facilitate or collude with any form of discrimination and undertake not to engage in any behaviour that is abusive or detrimental to any client or colleague based on discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes. They will challenge colleagues who appear to be acting in prejudicial and discriminatory way.

Version Control:

Version Status Description Date
2 Approved Revision 19 September 2018
1.2 Approved Amendments pending full review 2 December 2017
1.1 Approved  Revision 2 April 2011