Preamble

Wellspiration is committed to maintaining professionalism in Therapy. All Wellspiration Platform Users will familiarise themselves with the Code of Ethics and adhere to the elements and principles of this ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics is designed to provide appropriate guidelines, accountability and enforceable standards of conduct for all Therapists and Platform Users.

1. Introduction

1.1. The Website provides a platform for interactions between:

(a) Mental Health Practitioners such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, therapists and counsellors (the Practitioners); and

(b) Patients requiring mental health services (the Patients) making it easier for the Practitioners and the Patients to locate, communicate, arrange payment and deliver the health services in a fast and secure manner (the Services).

1.2. The Website is operated by Wellspiration Counselling Pty Ltd (the Company). Access to and use of the Website, or any of its associated products or Services, is provided by the Company.

Please read the Code of Ethics and Practice carefully. By using, browsing and/or reading the Website, this signifies that you have read, understood and agree to be bound by the Code of Ethics and Practice (the code). If you do not agree with the code, you must cease usage of the Website, or any of its products or services immediately.

(c) All Platform Users of Wellspiration Therapy website (Wellspiration Counselling Pty Ltd) commits to adhere to:

i. Wellspiration’s Code of Ethics and Practice

ii. Wellspiration’s Privacy Policy

iii. Wellspiration’s Terms & Conditions

(d) The Code of Ethics and Practice purpose is to provide a standard of professional conduct, adhered to by Wellspiration Platform Therapists. Platform Users, Alliance Partners and all associates. Compliance or non-compliance with the Code of Ethics and Practice may be admissible in some legal proceedings.

2. Definitions

(a) Platform Users means anyone that engages with Wellspiration Therapy website (Wellspiration Counselling Pty Ltd), including but not limited to Mental Health Practitioners (Therapists) and Patients

(b) Code refers to this Code of Ethics and Practice

(e) Legal Rights refer to those individuals’ rights protected under laws and statutes of the of the Commonwealth, State or Territory in which the Therapist provides therapy and/or counselling services.

(j) Moral Rights refer to the universal human rights as defined by the United Nations Universal declaration of Human Rights that may or may not be protected by existing Federal, State or Territory laws.

(k) Multiple Relationships occur when a Practitioner, when providing mental health service, also has been or is:

i. In a non-professional relationship (sexual or otherwise) with the same Patient

ii. In a different professional relationship with the same Patient

iii. In a non-professional relationship with an associated party

iv. A recipient of a service by the same Patient.

(l) Practice refers to any act or omission by a Mental Health Practitioners

i. That another may reasonably consider to be part of a therapy service

ii. Outside of that service that casts doubt upon their ability andcompetence to practice as therapists

iii. Outside of their practice of therapy which harms public trust in the discipline or the profession of therapy

iv. In their capacity as Platform Users of Wellspiration Therapy Platform

(m) A Professional Relationship means the relationship between a Mental Health Practitioner and Patient to whom they are delivering a therapy service.

3. Code of Ethics

(a) The therapeutic relationship constitutes the effective and appropriate use of Professional Therapist skills (psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, therapists and counsellors) that are for the benefit and safety of the Patient in their circumstances. Mental Health Practitioners using Wellspiration Platform will:

i. Offer a non-judgmental professional service, free from discrimination, honouring the individuality of the person (s) culture, organisation, community or patient.

ii. Establish the therapeutic relationship in order to maintain the integrity and empowerment of the person (s) organisation, individual /patient without offering advice.

iii. Be committed to ongoing personal and professional development as set out by their relevant peak professional industry body.

iv. Ensure patient (s) understanding of the purpose, process and boundaries of the therapeutic relationship.

v. Explain to patients the limits of duty of care.

vi. For the purpose of advocacy, receive written permission from the patient before divulging any information or contacting other parties.

vii. Endeavour to make suitable referral where competent service cannot be provided.

viii. Undertake regular supervision and debriefing to develop skills, monitor performance and sustain professional accountability.

ix. Not act as or practice legal counsel on behalf of or to a patient when practicing as Mental Health Practitioner or act as an agent for a patient

x. Not initiate, develop or pursue a relationship be it sexual or nonsexual with past or current patients, within 2 years of the last therapy session.

xi. Be responsible for your own updating and continued knowledge of theories, ethics and practices through journals, the association and other relevant bodies

4. Code of Practice

(a) This Code applies those values and ethical principles outlined above to more specific situations which may arise in the practice of Mental Health Services. Many clauses and/or sections of the Code are inter-related, and this should be kept in mind both when reading and applying the Code.

4.1 Issues of Responsibility

(a) Mental Health practitioners have both a duty of care and a responsibility not to mislead, misguide or misdirect Patients as to the Therapist’s level of competence, experience or qualifications. To do so is considered to be a most serious ethical breach as it increases the risk of harm to the patient and damages the credibility of the profession in the eyes of the general public.

(b) Mental Health Practitioners have a responsibility to keep all Patient records safe and secure.

(c) Mental Health Practitioners must take responsibility for clinical/therapeutic decisions in their work with patients.

(d) Mental Health Practitioners also have responsibilities to associated parties, i.e. any individual or organisation other than the patient/s with whom the therapist interacts in the course of rendering a therapy service, this is inclusive of but not limited to:

i. Patients’ relatives, friends, employees, employers, carers and guardians;

ii. other professionals or experts;

iii. representative from communities or organisations.

4.2 Responsibility to the Patient

(a) Patient Safety

i. Mental Health Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Patient (s) does not suffer physical, emotional or psychological harm during therapy sessions.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners must not exploit their patient(s) financially, sexually, emotionally, or in any other way. Suggesting or engaging in sexual activity with a patient is unethical.

iii. Mental Health Practitioners must provide privacy for therapy sessions. The sessions should not be overheard, recorded or observed by anyone other than the therapist without informed consent from the patient.

(b) Patient Self-determination

i. In therapy the balance of power is unequal and Mental Health Practitioners must take care not to abuse their power.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners do not normally act on behalf of their patients. If they do, it will only be in the implicit and strict written consent of their patient, or else in exceptional circumstances.

iii. Mental Health Practitioners do not normally give advice.

v. Mental Health Practitioners have a responsibility to establish with patients at the outset of therapy the existence of any other therapeutic or helping relationships in which the patient is involved and to consider whether therapy is appropriate. Mental Health Practitioners should gain the patient’s permission before conferring in any way with other professional workers.

(c) Breaks and Endings

i. Mental Health Practitioners work with patients to reach a recognised ending when patients have received the help they sought or when it is apparent that therapy is no longer helping or when the patient wishes to end dialogue or the path established ona matter/ subject.

ii. External circumstances may lead to endings for other reasons which are not therapeutic. Mental Health Practitioners must make arrangements for care to be taken of the immediate needs of the patient in the event of any sudden and unforeseen endings by the therapist or breaks to the therapeutic relationship.

iii. Mental Health Practitioners should take care to prepare their patients appropriately for any planned breaks from therapy. They should also take steps to ensure the wellbeing of their patients during such breaks.

(d) Responsibility to the Wider Community Law

i. Mental Health Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to be aware of current law as it applies to their therapy practice not only Federal Law but the particular laws of their State or Territory. This includes those legal rights that refer to patients’ rights protected under laws and statutes of the Commonwealth, State or Territory in which the Counsellor provides counselling services

4.3 Anti-Discriminatory Practice

(a) Patient Respect

i. Mental Health Practitioners work with patients in ways that affirm both the common humanity and the uniqueness of each individual. They must be sensitive to the cultural context and worldview of the patient, for instance whether the individual, family or the community is taken as central.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners are responsible for working in ways that respect and promote the patients ability to make decisions in the light of their own beliefs, values and context.

(b) Mental Health Practitioner Awareness

i. Mental Health Practitioners are responsible for ensuring that any problems with mutual comprehension due to language, cultural differences or for any other reason are addressed at an early stage. The use of an interpreter needs to be carefully considered at the outset of counselling.

ii.Mental Health Practitioners have a responsibility to consider and address their own prejudices, stereotyping attitudes and behaviour. They are to give particular consideration to ways in which these may be affecting the therapeutic relationship and influencing their responses.

4.4 Confidentiality

(a) Confidentiality is a means of providing the patient with safety and privacy and thus protects patient autonomy. For this reason, any limitation on the degree of confidentiality is likely to diminish the effectiveness therapy.

(c) The therapy contract will include any agreement about the level and limits of the confidentiality offered. This agreement can be reviewed and changed by negotiation between the therapist and patient. Agreements about confidentiality continue after the patient’s death unless there are overriding legal or ethical considerations. In cases where the patient’s safety is in jeopardy any confidentially agreements that may interfere with this safety are to be considered void.

(d) Mental Health Practitioners shall maintain as confidential and keep secure all information regarding the patients and any other data received from patients, and not disclose or use any information regarding a patient or any other data received from the company other than for the purposes of the terms or the provision of the relevant healthcare services (except, in the case of information regarding a Patient, with the consent of that Patient);

(e) Mental Health Practitioners should ensure that records of the patient’s identity are kept separately from any case notes.

(f) Arrangements must be made for the safe disposal of patient records, especially in the event of the therapist’s incapacity or death.

(g) Care must be taken to ensure that personally identifiable information is not transmitted through overlapping networks of confidential relationships

(h) While Mental Health Practitioners hold different views about grounds for breaking confidentiality, such as potential self-harm, suicide, and harm to others they must also consider those put forward in this Code, as they too should imbue their practice. These views should be communicated to both patients and significant others e.g. supervisor, agency, etc.

4.5 Exceptional Circumstances

(a) Exceptional circumstances may arise which give the therapist good grounds for believing that serious harm may occur to the patient or to other people. In such circumstance the patient’s consent to change in the agreement about confidentiality should be sought whenever possible unless there are also good grounds for believing the patient is no longer willing or able to take responsibility for their actions. Normally, the decision to break confidentiality should be discussed with the patient and should be made only after consultation with a qualified, relevant supervisor or if he/she is not available, an experienced therapist.

(b) Any disclosure of confidential information should be restricted to relevant information, conveyed only to appropriate people and for appropriate reasons likely to alleviate the exceptional circumstances.

4.6 Boundaries

(a) With Patients

i. Mental Health Practitioners are responsible for setting and monitoring boundaries throughout all therapy sessions and will make explicit to patients that therapy is a formal and contracted relationship and nothing else.

ii. The therapeutic relationship must not be concurrent with supervisory, training or other form of relationship (sexual or non-sexual).

(b) With Former Patients

i. Mental Health Practitioners must remain accountable for relationships with former patient’s and must exercise caution over entering into friendships, business relationships, training, supervising and other relationships. Any changes in relationships must be discussed in therapy supervision. The decision about any change(s) in relationships with former patients should take into account whether the issues and power dynamics presented during the therapeutic relationship have been resolved.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners are prohibited from sexual activity with all current and former patients for a minimum of two years from cessation of therapy.

4.7 Dual and Multiple Roles

Where possible, Mental Health Practitioners are to avoid dual or even multiple roles with patients. For example, slipping between the roles of teacher, coach and therapist, bartering services with patients and friends, offering payment breaks to patients (thus, becoming a creditor), providing therapy services to friends and family, engaging in a social (platonic) relationship with a patient, accepting gifts or going into business with patients.

Mental Health Practitioners may have patients that include their local banker, school teachers - where their children attend - and local restauranteurs, where they dine. Thus, Mental Health Practitioners are encouraged to discuss this within professional supervision for the impact of dual roles can be pervasive and difficult to recognise.

Dual relationships create boundary problems and ethical concerns. Playing a single role as a therapist can be difficult, and therapists will often have to wrestle the temptation to step into another role. While appropriate dual roles might be beneficial when managed thoughtfully, there is a risk of perceived exploitation.

4.8 Competence

(a) Mental Health Practitioners

i. Mental Health Practitioners must have achieved a level of competence before commencing therapy and must maintain continuing professional development as well as regular and ongoing supervision.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners must actively monitor their own competence through therapy supervision and be willing to consider any views expressed by their patients and by other practitioners.

iii. Mental Health Practitioners must have a zero-tolerance alcohol and illicit drug policy in their workplace and, for the therapist, up to eight hours before – and of course during– their working hours. Mental Health Practitioners are responsible for monitoring their functioning and will not counsel when their functioning is impaired by alcohol or drugs (be they illicit or licit). In situations of personal or emotional difficulty, excessive tiredness or illness, therapists will monitor the point at which they are no longer competent to practice and take action accordingly. Mental Health Practitioners should always err on the side of caution in such cases.

iv. Competence includes being able to recognise when it is appropriate to refer a patient elsewhere.

v. Mental Health Practitioners must recognise the need for continuing education in their chosen profession to maintain a professional level of awareness of current scientific and professional information and education in their particular fields of activity.

vi. Mental Health Practitioners should take steps to maintain and improve their level of competence though on-going professional development and to keep up to date with best practice.

vii. Mental Health Practitioners are responsible for ensuring that their relationships with patients are not unduly influenced by their own emotional needs.

viii. Mental Health Practitioners must have professional indemnity insurance and maintain adequate cover.

ix. When uncertain as to whether a particular situation or course of action may be in violation of the Code of Ethics and Practice, therapists must consult with their supervisor and/or other practitioners.

4.9 The Advisory - Therapy Environment

There are two environmental factors to be considered:

i. physical factors

ii. emotional factors

because of this,

(a) the therapy room should:

i. be well lit

ii. have minimal objects in background of screen projection

iii. provide for confidentiality while allowing the patient to feel safe.

(b) In terms of ethics, a failure to provide such an environment could be seen as leading to a breach of:

i. Mental Health Practitioners must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the patient does not suffer physical, emotional or psychological harm during Therapy sessions.

ii. Mental Health Practitioners are to be dressed professionally and conservatively always and should be positioned in such a way that it is not misleading or suggestive to a patient.

If you wish to notify us about anything relating to the Terms, please contact us at legal@wellspirationtherapy.com.