Counsellors basic values are integrity, impartiality and respect.

All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure the client's safety during counselling sessions. Counselling is a non-exploitative activity. Counsellors must take the same degree of care to work ethically whatever the setting or the financial basis of the counselling contract.

Counsellors must consider and address their own prejudices and stereotyping and ensure that an anti-discriminatory approach is integral to their counselling practice.

Counsellors offer the highest possible levels of confidentiality in order to respect the client's privacy and create the trust necessary for counselling.

The terms and conditions on which counselling is offered shall be made clear to clients before counselling begins. Subsequent revision of these terms should be agreed in advance of any changes.

Counsellors must establish and maintain appropriate boundaries around the counselling relationships. Counsellors must take into account the effects of any overlapping or pre-existing relationships.

Counsellors shall take all reasonable steps to monitor and develop their own competence and to work within the limits of that competence. Counsellors must have appropriate, regular and ongoing counselling supervision


This code applies these values and ethical principles outlined above to more specific situations that may arise in the practice of counselling. The sections and clauses are arranged in the order of the ethics section and under the same headings. No clause or section should be read in isolation with the rest of the Code.

B.1.1 The counsellor-client relationship is the foremost ethical concern. However, counselling does not exist in social isolation. Counsellors may need to consider other sources of ethical responsibility. The headings in this section are intended to draw attention to some of these.

B.1.2 Counsellors take responsibility for counselling decisions in their work with clients.

Client Safety

B.1.3.1 Counsellors must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client suffers no harm during counselling sessions.

B.1.3.2 Counsellors must not exploit their client financially, sexually, emotionally, or in any other way. Suggesting or engaging in sexual activity with a client is unethical.

B.1.3.3 Counsellors must provide privacy for counselling sessions. The sessions should not be overheard, recorded or observed by anyone other than the counsellor without informed consent from the client. Normally any recording would be discussed as part of the contract. Care must be taken that sessions are not interrupted.

Client Self-determination

B.1.3.4 In counselling the balance of power is unequal and counsellors must take care not to abuse their power.

B.1.3.5 Counsellors do not normally act on behalf of their clients. If they do, it will be only at the express request of the client, or else in exceptional circumstances.

B.1.3.6 Counsellors do not normally give advice.

B.1.3.7 Counsellors have a responsibility to establish with clients, at the outset of counselling, the existence of any other therapeutic or helping relationships in which the client is involved and to consider whether counselling is appropriate. Counsellors should gain the client's permission before conferring in any way with other professional workers.

Breaks and Endings

B.1.3.8 Counsellors work with clients to reach a recognised ending when clients have received the help they sought or when it is apparent that counselling is no longer helping or when clients wish to end.

B.1.3.9 External circumstances may lead to endings for other reasons that are not counselling related.
Counsellors must make arrangements for care to be taken of the immediate needs of clients in the event of any sudden and unforeseen endings by the counsellor or breaks to the counselling relationship.

B.1.3.10 Counsellors should take care to prepare their clients appropriately for any planned breaks from counselling. They should take any necessary steps to ensure the well-being of their clients during such breaks.

B.1.4.1 Counsellors must not conduct themselves in their counselling-related activities in ways that undermine public confidence either in their role as a counsellor or in the work of other counsellors.

B.1.4.2 A counsellor who suspects misconduct by another counsellor, which cannot be resolved or remedied after discussion with the counsellor concerned, should implement the Complaints Procedure, doing so without breaches of confidentiality agreed with the client.

B.1.5.1 Counsellors are accountable for their services to colleagues, employers and funding bodies as appropriate. At the same time they must respect the privacy, needs and autonomy of the client as well as the contract of confidentiality agreed with the client.

B.1.5.2 No-one should be led to believe that a service is being offered by the counsellor that is not in fact being offered as this may deprive the client of the offer of such a service from elsewhere.

B.1.5.3 Counsellors must play a demonstrable part in exploring and resolving conflicts of interest between themselves and their employers or agencies, especially where this affects the ethical delivery of counselling to clients.

B.1.6.1 Counsellors must take all reasonable steps to be aware of current law and scope of practice as it applies to their counselling practice.