Ethics in Therapy

Every institution or profession works with a set of rules and guidelines meant to protect the interests of the parties involved.

In psychology, there are such rules that exist and when breeched can cause more harm than good.

In this post, we shall outline some of the ethical considerations for therapy and benefits of knowing what to look out for.

1. Informed consent

This is the most important step at the beginning of therapy. It helps to set the ground for what is to come. This step involves informing the client what therapy is all about, that is;the therapeutic relationship, confidentiality and it’s limits, the duration of therapy and termination, the charges and the client giving their consent to the process.

•Therapeutic relationship

Therapy is a relationship between the client and therapist meant to provide a safe space for the client as they work through their issues. The relationship is governed by clear boundaries.

• Confidentiality

Confidentiality is the act of keeping the information shared by the client private. This information cannot be shared with friends or family as a way to safeguard the client’s safety and dignity.

There are however limits to this confidentiality. Under this circumstances, confidentiality will be breached;


1. In the event that a client is a danger to themselves or to others.

2. In case of a court order involving the client

3. If there is a minor involved and they are in harm’s way

4. Therapists are required to go through supervision and as such they may be required to share/debrief on some of the cases they have handled. However, personal details of the client (e.g. name) may not be revealed.

• Duration of therapy

Therapy covers a certain amount of time depending on the client’s needs. This can be short term(6- 14 weeks) or long term (16+ weeks). It can go to as long as 2-3 years or even longer.

•Termination

Therapy is a time bound relationship. That means that at one point, therapy will have to come to an end. This is necessary for the client to be aware of , and discuss in therapy as the termination day approaches.

• Charges

There may be a fee incurred when one gets into therapy. The charge is not standard, so that may vary from therapist to therapist. It is important that this comes up during this session so the client is aware and prepare themselves adequately.

The therapist may share their qualifications and answer any other questions that the client may have with regards to the therapeutic process.

Outlining the benefits and risks of therapy and informing the client of other alternatives to therapy.

After this is understood, the client may go ahead and give consent (can be verbal or written depending on how the practice or institution runs)

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