Code of Ethics


1.1 The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to define the general principles and to establish standards of conduct, to inform and protect the public, especially those who use the services of the Institute of Family Therapy and its members. This is developed further in the Code of Practice


2.1 In all work the wellbeing of clients should be paramount
2.2 When faced with an ethical dilemma the course of action which maximises good and does the least harm should be taken. Particular weight should be attached to the rights of those who have the least power
2.3 Therapists must not exploit clients in any way
2.4 Therapists have responsibilities to uphold the reputation of the Institute of Family Therapy and not to act in any way that could bring IFT into disrepute or pose a significant risk to its reputation

Anti-discriminatory practice

3.1 All colleagues, clients, clinical associates and visitors to the Institute of Family Therapy should be treated with courtesy and respect and suffer no discrimination on the grounds of race, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, age or other characteristics


4.1 Therapists are required to preserve confidentiality and to disclose the limits of that confidentiality and circumstances in which it could be broken
4.2 The obligation to maintain confidentiality continues after the therapeutic relationship has ended
4.3 Therapists should consider the best interests of clients when making contact with outside professionals and usually work in collaboration with clients, informing them of their actions
4.4 Therapists whose profession includes the responsibility to take statutory action (either under the Mental Health Act or Child Protection legislation) should inform the family of this situation


5.1 Therapists are required to disclose on request their terms and conditions and methods of practice before beginning therapy. Therapists must take into account the effects of any overlapping or pre-existing relationships
5.2 Arrangements for ending therapy, any liability for cancellation of appointments under various circumstances should be made clear at the outset
5.3 Any revisions to a contract for work should be agreed in advance of those changes
5.4 The financial contract must be clear and the giving of favours or substantial gifts on either side must be avoided


6.1 Therapists are required to maintain appropriate boundaries with their clients, both during and after therapy.
6.2 The effects of any pre-existing relationship or overlapping relationships should be actively considered


7.1 Therapists should be open about their qualifications and not claim expertise they do not possess.
7.2 Therapists should be aware of their own personal and professional limitations and give appropriate advice to clients about where to seek alternative help
7.3 Therapists are required to maintain their ability to perform competently and to take steps to do so, including through continuous professional development
7.4 Therapists are required to make appropriate arrangements for the supervision and/or consultation of their own practice
7.5 Therapists are required to ensure that their professional work is adequately covered by appropriate indemnity insurance
7.6 Therapists are required to take appropriate action with regard to potentially detrimental behaviour of colleagues or evidence of poor practice


8.1 Therapists are required to clarify with clients the nature, purposes and conditions of any research in which clients are involved and to ensure that informed consent has been attained and the requirements to submit to a Research Ethics Committee have been met
8.2 Therapists should clarify the distinction between therapy and research and take steps to ensure that the therapeutic process is not adversely affected in any way
8.3 Therapists are required to safeguard the welfare and anonymity of clients when any form of publication of clinical material is being considered and to obtain their consent whenever possible


9.1 Nothing should be done to bring the discipline and profession of family and systemic psychotherapy or the Institute of Family Therapy into disrepute
9.2 Contravention of the Code of Ethics and Code of Practice may lead to disciplinary procedures under the IFT Membership regulations.
9.3 IFT as an organization and its members should restrict advertising to a description of the services they provide.

The IFT Code of Ethics should be read in conjunction with the IFT Code of Practise.