Ethical Principles of Play, Creative Arts and Filial
Principles direct attention to important ethical
responsibilities. Each principle is described below and is followed by examples
of good practice that have been developed in response to that principle.
Ethical decisions that are strongly supported by one or more
of these principles without any contradiction from others may be regarded as
reasonably well founded. However, practitioners will encounter circumstances in
which it is impossible to reconcile all the applicable principles and choosing
between principles may be required. A decision or course of action does not
necessarily become unethical merely because it is contentious or other
practitioners would have reached different conclusions in similar
The challenge of working ethically means that practitioners
will inevitably encounter situations where there are competing obligations. In
such situations it is tempting to retreat from all ethical analysis in order to
escape a sense of what may appear to be unresolvable ethical tension. The
framework is intended to be of assistance in such circumstances by directing attention
to the variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration
and to alternative ways of approaching ethics that may prove more useful.
No statement of ethics can totally alleviate the difficulty
of making professional judgements in circumstances that may be constantly
changing and full of uncertainties. By accepting the ethical framework, members
of PTUK are committing themselves to engaging with the challenge of striving to
be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting
Honouring the trust placed in the practitioner.
Being trustworthy is regarded as fundamental to
understanding and resolving ethical issues. Practitioners who adopt this
principle: act in accordance with the trust placed in them; regard
confidentiality as an obligation arising from the client's trust; restrict any
disclosure of confidential information about clients to furthering the purposes
for which it was originally disclosed.
Respect for the client’s right to be
This principle emphasises the importance of recognising at
all times that a child/young person is an individual in their own right who has
the capacity to enable their own healing and development through the
therapeutic process. Although the use of therapy may be prescribed or requested
by an adult responsible for the child's well being the practitioner must regard
the interests of the child as being paramount.
The principle of autonomy opposes the manipulation of
clients against their will, even for beneficial social ends.
Practitioners who respect their clients' autonomy: ensure
accuracy in any advertising or information given in advance of services
offered; seek freely given and adequately informed consent from the child or,
when the child is not competent to give valid consent from the person legally
responsible for the child; engage in explicit contracting in advance of any
commitment by the client; protect privacy; protect confidentiality; normally
make any disclosures of confidential information conditional on the consent of
the client/carer concerned; and inform the client and their carer(s) or those
persons legally responsible for the child in advance of foreseeable conflicts
of interest or as soon as possible after such conflicts become apparent.
A commitment to promoting the client's well
The principle of beneficence means acting in the best
interests of the client based on professional assessment. It directs attention
to working strictly within one's limits of competence and providing services on
the basis of adequate training or experience.
Ensuring that the client's best interests are achieved
requires systematic monitoring of practice and outcomes by the best available
means. It is considered important that research and systematic reflection inform
An obligation to act in the best interests of a client may
become paramount when working with clients whose capacity for autonomy is
diminished because of immaturity, lack of understanding, extreme distress,
serious disturbance or other significant personal constraints.
There is an obligation to use regular and on-going supervision to enhance the quality of the services provided and to commit to updating practice by continuing professional development.
A commitment to avoiding harm to the client.
Non-maleficence involves: avoiding sexual, financial,
emotional or any other form of client exploitation; avoiding incompetence or
malpractice; not providing services when unfit to do so due to illness,
personal circumstances or intoxication.
The practitioner has an ethical responsibility to strive to
mitigate any harm caused to a client even when the harm is unavoidable or
unintended. Holding appropriate insurance may assist in restitution.
Practitioners have a personal responsibility to challenge,
where appropriate, the incompetence or malpractice of others; and to contribute
to any investigation and/or adjudication concerning professional practice which
falls below that of a reasonably competent practitioner and/or risks bringing
discredit upon the profession.
The fair and impartial treatment of all clients and
the provision of adequate services.
The principle of justice requires being just and fair to all
clients and respecting their human rights and dignity. It directs attention to
considering conscientiously any legal requirements and obligations, and
remaining alert to potential conflicts between legal and ethical obligations.
Justice in the distribution of services requires the ability
to determine impartially the provision of services for clients and the
allocation of services between clients. A commitment to fairness requires the
ability to appreciate differences between people and to be committed to
equality of opportunity, and avoiding discrimination against people or groups
contrary to their legitimate personal or social characteristics. Practitioners
have a duty to strive to ensure a fair provision of therapeutic services,
accessible and appropriate to the needs of potential clients.
Fostering the practitioner's self-knowledge
and care for self.
The principle of self-respect means that the practitioner
appropriately applies all the above principles as entitlements for self. This
includes seeking counselling or therapy and other opportunities for personal
development as required.
There is an ethical responsibility to use supervision for
appropriate personal and professional support and development, and to seek
training and other opportunities for continuing professional development.
Guarding against financial liabilities arising from work undertaken usually
requires obtaining appropriate insurance. The principle of self respect
encourages active engagement in life-enhancing activities and relationships
that are independent of relationships in therapeutic work.
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