Ethics and values

What we believe

The ISPC believes that counselling contributes to the well being of individuals and society.

The ISPC believes that counselling is a valued profession.

The ISPC believes that Counsellors should receive professional recognition for the benefit of their personal development and ultimately to the benefit of their clients.

The ISPC believes that professional recognition should be through fair and independent assessment and not tied to training offered by any particular organisation.

The ISPC will keep these values above pecuniary interests.

Codes of Ethics


The ISPC recognises the importance of having a code of ethics and practice that all members and prospective members must agree and adhere to. The purpose of the code is primarily to protect the interests of clients and Counsellors (members) and secondly to protect the reputation of the society.

The ISPC acknowledges and respects that some prospective members may already be guided by codes or standards of other counselling organisations. Accordingly, we have drawn up a code of ethics and practice that we believe all Counsellors and those employing counselling skills would be able to agree to. By agreeing to this code of ethics and practice Counsellors will be accepting that they have a duty to clients, to other Counsellors and to those employing counselling skills within the counselling profession.

By agreeing to this code of ethics and practice, Counsellors will not be prohibited from following the code of ethics and practice that they had followed previously. In the unlikely event that there should be a conflict of interest between the code of ethics and practice that the Counsellor adheres to and the code of principle of the ISPC, the Counsellor should take up the matter with the Society to try to resolve the issue(s). We believe that this is the fairest way to allow for flexibility and at the same time offer protection to the public, clients and Counsellors alike.

One of the conditions of joining the Society will be that the prospective member must sign an agreement to be bound by the code of ethics and practice and they must state which, if any, codes of practice they already adhere to.

The code of ethics and practice is designed to enable the Counsellor and client to maintain a professional relationship. This relationship must be safe for both parties.

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Our Policies







The counselling relationship is for the benefit of the client. The emotional well being of the client will be the paramount concern of the Counsellor.

The Counsellor must ensure that they do not abuse the client's vulnerable situation. The term abuse includes the following: sexual, emotional, psychological, intellectual and physical.

Note on rule 2: Sexual abuse is possible where a Counsellor and client may feel attracted to one another. Where such feelings are present the Counsellor should take these issues to supervision making every effort to protect the clients identity. Emotional, psychological and intellectual abuse sometimes takes place where a power struggle builds up in the counselling relationship. Counsellors would be aware of these possibilities. Physical abuse is more obvious and is the less likely. However, this too has been reported to happen in the counselling room in some circumstances. Counsellors should take any abuse issues that they have or that may arise in counselling to supervision. These issues should also be discussed in counselling with the client at appropriate times.

The number of counselling sessions will be kept to the minimum required to meet the Client's requirements.

Note on rule 3: Where a Counsellor deliberately prolongs the counselling relationship this is one example of financial abuse. It is the responsibility of the Counsellor to agree a fee with the client at the start of counselling that the client can afford. If the Counsellor is unable to lower the fee to suit a particular client, the Counsellor should consider options for referral.

The Counsellor must ensure that total confidentiality is maintained subject only to the following exceptions:


a) Disclosures with the express permission of the client.

b) Disclosures which lead the Counsellor to believe that serious harm may befall a third party.

c) Disclosures that would leave the Counsellor liable to civil or criminal court procedure if not disclosed.

Members will have their qualifications and experience checked by the Society before their membership is awarded.

However, it is the responsibility of the member to maintain their level of competency by training and/or study and practice.

Counsellors will be subject to the ISPC complaints procedure.

International Society of Professional Counsellors

Counselling training

We encourage all students and accredited members to keep up to date with their training. If you're in need of further information please contact us and we'll endeavour to help.

Become a member

If you're looking to enhance your counselling framework and ethics please join the ISPC. We want to provide the same level of service that you would provide to your clients.

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