Update from Council

Dunn, M., 2005. Update from Council. Reformulation, Spring, p.3.


New Council Members

I would like to introduce myself as the new Chair of ACAT. I have previously served on Council, including occupying the roles of Chair of Exam Board and Chair of Ethics Appeal Panel. I am a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, with interests in Jungian Psychology, eco-spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology. I have published articles on the psychology and spirituality of our relationship with the natural world. While in Hull I developed a CAT-based model of Community-based Contextual Reformulation, and have published about this with Glenys Parry. I now live in the New Forest, and I am a free-lance consultant with a small private practice. I am also pleased to introduce other new members to council including Hermione Bridges, Valerie Crowley, Annalee Curran, Jason Hepple, Hilary Brown (trainee representative) and Sue Brown (trainee representative).

Update on the Code of Ethics

ACAT members will be aware that there has been concern about the working of the Code of Ethics for the past two years. For those who were not present as the 2004 AGM, this article aims to put you in the picture about the way the matter has been resolved.

Many members took time and care to respond to a hastily designed survey, for which Council is very grateful. It proved a valuable exercise on a number of different levels, but primarily in clarifying the mandate from the membership in relation to the Code of Ethics. I will also summarise here some of the other conclusions of the Survey.

2004 AGM and the Code of Ethics

Patrick Gibbs, who is a barrister and the Chair of the ACAT Ethics Panel, presented his report to the AGM. He noted that there have been no complaints in the last year. In referring to the survey results he said that 120 replies were received (another 30 have come in since the AGM) and that members are almost evenly divided between those who would like the wording of the Code of Ethics changed and those who would not. It is therefore clear that the wording will remain as it is.

Many who returned their surveys wrote with feeling, and at length, that they wanted to hold firm to the principle that the therapeutic relationship should never be compromised at the risk of collusion or exploitation. However, they added that we should retain the flexibility to judge each situation within its full complexity, just as, in the role of therapist we are called upon to act as containers for the full range of difficult human issues. It is striking that our Code of Ethics allows us to do both of these things – hold to a non-negotiable principle, while also asking the Ethics Panel to apply the principle in particular circumstances and use their judgement. We live with holding the paradox, just as we do in the rest of our lives.

Survey Responses

In addition to the question of the wording of the Code of Ethics, the following is a summary of issues raised:

  • Some people anonymously mentioned situations in which they are uncomfortable about an ethical issue, but feel unable (for a number of reasons) to bring it to the attention of ACAT, or make any kind of complaint – formal or informal.
  • Some members identified ethics as a training need.
  • Those who were trained some time ago either did not know where to find their copy of the Code, or felt that it was something they had not had occasion to think about for a long time.

ACAT Council wishes to express its thanks for the time and precision with which many people responded to this very important issue. The issues raised will certainly be addressed within the CPD programme, the Training Committee, and by Council.

The survey itself showed that we have a committed, and professionally sophisticated, membership who are keen to be involved in this organisation and its development. We hope that there will be further opportunities to do so in the future.

Mary Dunn

Full Reference

Dunn, M., 2005. Update from Council. Reformulation, Spring, p.3.

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