UKATA Dual Relationships Policy – 2020

UKATA Dual Relationships Policy

Introduction

This document sets out the policy of UKATA with regard to Dual Relationships. It specifies the dual relationships that are disallowed in UKATA Counselling & Psychotherapy training and practice.

Purpose

This document adds to the statements made in the UKATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice regarding dual relationships. It gives further context by outlining some of the ethical, professional and educational considerations. It also aligns the UKATA position on Dual Relationships with that of the Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy College (HIPC) of UKCP. It is recognized that in the other fields of Transactional Analysis, there may be other considerations. However, it is hoped that this document can serve as guidance to those in non-counselling/psychotherapy fields, where dual relationships may also be encountered.

Terminology

For the purposes of this Policy, the term “Dual Relationship” denotes a situation where a trainer, therapist, supervisor or trainee has a relationship with someone that includes more than one role. This is something that can happen in a profession which requires us to have several different contracts in order to fulfil our obligations.

There may be some examples of Dual Relationship which may not be clinically problematic, but may require careful management – for example, being supervisor to someone and renting a room to them at the same time – or being in a training group with someone and working on a committee together. UKATA members are encouraged to be aware of these potential overlaps from an ethical & professional point of view, and when they arise, to manage them according to our principles.

There are some Dual Relationships that are obviously problematic for ethical and professional reasons, and UKATA members are expected not to enter into these relationships which are specified later in this document.

Context – Ethical Code of UKATA

There are several aspects of the UKATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice which can be seen to apply to the issue of Dual Relationships.

Open Communication

This first principle of TA ethics requires us to be clear and open in our dealings with clients and colleagues. It is vital that we uphold the values of openness and transparency in all of the different relationships that are created in training and practice as a psychotherapist. This helps to safeguard against potential abuses of power.

The Contractual Method

This principle of TA ethics requires that we are explicit as to the nature of our relationships and their purpose. Each party should have Adult-engaged understanding of their role. This helps to uphold the humanistic principles of individual responsibility, personal autonomy, and freedom to choose. Again, it helps to prevent abuses of power through ulterior transactions.

“Do No Harm”

This principle of TA ethics calls upon us as trainers, trainees, supervisors, and psychotherapists, to seek to embody and model the intention of ‘non-harm’. It is recognized that the personal moral qualities of TA practitioners, listed and described in the UKATA Code, will also be required in maintaining healthy professional relationships – and avoiding unhelpful Dual Relationships. In particular, the qualities of Integrity, Respect, Humility and Fairness.

Context – HIPC Policy on Dual Relationships

The Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy College (HIPC) of UKCP is responsible for setting the standards of training that lead to UKCP membership as a HIPC registrant. HIPC sets out in their Policy Statement that some Dual Relationships should be disallowed. They describe several considerations, including (but not limited to):

  • The integrity of the therapeutic relationship, if a person’s therapist is also their trainer
  • The need to honour both the ‘client needs’ of a person as well as their ‘trainee needs’ or ‘supervisee needs’
  • The requirement for growth and challenge in therapy (which is supported by safe holding and contractual confidentiality) can be seen as different from the growth & challenge expected in a more structured trainer – trainee/student relationship.

UKATA members are expected to avoid engaging in the following Dual Relationships:

Therapist AND trainer to one person

Therapist AND supervisor to one person

Therapist AND examiner to one person

And at the final stages of training – Trainer AND examiner to one person

It is recognized that in the history of Transactional Analysis in the UK, especially in its early growth, there were several such dual relationships that could not be avoided. Whilst we obviously have all benefitted from the commitment and legacy of these early TA practitioners, we are now living and working in a very different environment. Ethical standards and the prevention of abuse are paramount in modern psychotherapy. Advances in technology and the growth of the TA community have widened the options for trainees and clients, to a point where the Dual Relationships listed above cannot really be justified unless there are some truly exceptional circumstances.

Taking into account several aspects of the UKATA Ethical Code, as well as the information and policy guidance HIPC/UKCP have provided, UKATA expects that its members do not engage in the Dual Relationships listed above…..

  • To prevent an undermining of the power & autonomy of clients who may also be TA trainees
  • To provide a clear boundary around the client-therapist relationship, and help provide safe conditions for the complex work that may arise
  • To protect the therapeutic relationship from unnecessary pressure, demand or influence
  • To protect the integrity of these distinct relationships – therapist-client, supervisor-supervisee, trainer/trainee, and examiner-examinee
  • To encourage authenticity and appropriate challenge in each domain of training, supervision and personal therapy
  • To protect justice, fairness and objectivity in the training process, as well as the integrity of the examinations process
  • To protect trainers from using their power inappropriately.

And thereby promote the highest ethical and professional standards in psychotherapy training and practice.

Notes

1. If it is felt that truly exceptional circumstances warrant the creation or continuance of one of the above Dual Relationships, then UKATA members should contact the Ethics & Professional Practice Committee with details and supporting arguments. In such a situation, UKATA would need to refer the matter to HIPC, who may consider it on a case-by-case basis.

2. If a TA practitioner is considering embarking on a new contract with someone they have previously worked with (for example, a client who is embarking on personal therapy with a person who has been their trainer), it is expected that a substantial time should have passed since the end of the previous work. This time-gap should be evident to both parties, so that each can begin the new contract congruently. The time-gap should also be broadly in proportion to the amount of time taken in the previous working relationship.

June 2020 UKATA Ethics and Professional Practice Committee.