Code of Practice


Version number :



IFT Leadership Team



Next Review Date:

November 2023

Approval body:

Board of Trustees

Ratified by:

Board of Trustees

Date ratified:


Implementation Date:





Page No

1.0 Introduction


2.0  Responsibilities

4. Re-registration following a period out of registration 


5. Exceptions 


3.0  Anti-discriminatory practice


4.0 Confidentiality and Consent


5.0 Contracts


6.0  Boundaries 


7.0 Competence


8.0 Research/training


9.0 Reputation



Code of Practise 


  • Introduction 


1.1 Unless specified this Code of Practice applies to all employees, sessional staff, members and clinical associates of the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT) and adherence to it is part of the condition of membership or employment. This code also applies to therapists and others using the building for teaching, workshops, conferences and private therapy. It should be read in conjunction with the IFT Code of Ethics 

1.2 All clients are entitled to good standards of practice and care which require professional competence; good relationships with clients and colleagues; and a commitment to and observance of professional ethics 


  • Responsibilities


2.1 In all work the wellbeing of clients should be paramount 

2.2 Therapists and IFT staff, IFT sessional staff, IFT members and clinical associates must maintain appropriate professional care of the client during the therapy relationship and in all interactions with the client. 

2.3 Nothing should be done to bring the discipline and profession of family and systemic psychotherapy or the Institute of Family Therapy into disrepute 

2.4 Contravention of this code of practice may lead to disciplinary procedures 

2.5 When faced with an ethical dilemma the course of action which maximizes good and does the least harm should be taken. Particular weight should be attached to the rights of those who have least power 


  • Anti-Discriminatory Practise 


3.1 All colleagues, clients and visitors to the Institute should be treated with courtesy and respect, receive the same high level of service and suffer no discrimination on the grounds of race, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, age or other characteristics  

3.2 Racist and other discriminatory and stereotyped comments should never be made and should always be challenged if they do occur  

3.3 Wherever possible requests for therapists of a particular gender or ethnicity should be met. However, if a client from the dominant culture refuses to see a therapist from a black or ethnic minority background on the basis of their colour or ethnicity it should be explained that this is against IFT’s policy 

3.4 Therapists must be aware of their own prejudices and stereotyping and consider ways in which this might influence the therapeutic relationship 

3.5 Attitudes, assumptions and prejudices can be identified by the language used and interventions offered. The therapist must take care to monitor his or her language 


  • Confidentiality and Consent 


4.1 The personal, legal and practical limits of confidentiality need to be discussed and clarified with the client at the beginning of therapy. In making a contract the client should be informed of any circumstances in which there could be potential breaches in confidentiality. The obligation to maintain confidentiality remains after therapy has ended 

4.2 Issues of informed consent and who has the right to give it is complex in the treatment of whole families. Age is only one factor in whether an individual has the right to give or withhold consent on their own behalf or that of others. Therapists must consider all relevant factors carefully and be able to justify their actions 

4.3 All transactions with a family are confidential unless there is an over riding imperative such as serious risk to a family member especially if that person is a child or other vulnerable person 

4.4 The family or individual should normally be informed of an intention to disclose any confidential information unless doing so would endanger someone 

4.5 Efforts must be made to obtain agreement to maintain liaison and close co-operation with other professional agencies in situations where this is appropriate. Such agreement should be recoded on file 

4.6 Any report for an outside agency should be prepared with the prior permission of the client. Whenever possible this should be available to clients and discussed with them 

4.7 If a client is known to any member of the therapeutic team or there is a close connection, this should be made clear and it would be usual for that person to withdraw from the team when that client was being seen or discussed 

4.8 Permission must always be obtained from clients before audio or video tape recordings are made. This must be confirmed at the end of the session in writing. The uses made of the video tape must be fully explained. The consent forms must be signed by all clients over the age of 16 and attention should be given to issues of informed consent from those younger than 16. It should be made clear that recording can be stopped by the client at any point and that the wiping of videotapes can be requested at any point 

4.9 Permission from clients to keep and use tapes must have limited duration (maximum of five years). Unless further permission has been granted tapes should then be erased 

4.10 Clients have the right to see any videotape of their own therapy but not of other family members if they were not present at the meeting unless specific consent of those present has been given. Viewing should only take place at the Institute and in the presence of a clinical staff member 

4.11 If videotapes are to be used as a central part of the therapy, this may include taking them off the premises. This should always be discussed with the Director 

4.12 All recorded material and clinical files are the property of the Institute of Family Therapy and must be stored securely 


Confidentiality in Training 


4.13 Confidentiality and anonymity must be ensured in presenting cases for training and audit, using material in research and for publication 


  • Contracts 


5.1 All clients should be given a full explanation of what to expect when they take up an appointment and have clear explanation of how the sessions will be conducted 

5.2 In any clinical context, therapists are responsible for clarifying the terms on which their services are being offered in advance of the client incurring any financial obligation, foreseeable costs or liabilities 

5.3 Records of appointments and case notes should be kept and clients should be made aware of this. At the client’s request information should be given about access to these records, their availability to other people and the storage arrangements 

5.4 Therapists must ensure that clients understand in advance about the therapist’s qualifications, supervision arrangements, and method of therapy, fees, methods of payment, and details about arrangements for ending therapy, and any liabilities for cancellation of appointments under various circumstances.  

5.5 The financial contract must be made clear and the giving of favours or substantial gifts on either side must be avoided 


  • Boundaries 


6.1 The professional relationship must not be used to further personal, religious, political or other non-professional interests 

6.2 Conflicts of interest should be avoided where possible. Wherever they arise this should be discussed both in the therapy and in supervision. 

6.3 Sexual intimacy with clients is forbidden. It is always unethical and in some circumstances is a criminal offence. 

6.4 Sexual intimacy with former clients is prohibited for two years following the termination of therapy. 

6.5 Therapists should exercise caution before considering any business relationship with former clients and should expect to be professionally accountable if the relationship becomes detrimental to the client or the standing of the profession. 


  • Competence  


7.1 Clients must not be misled into believing that individuals have qualifications and experience that they do not posses. 

7.2 Therapists should only practice within the parameters of their competence and cease to practice if their competence is judged as inadequate or is impaired for some reason. Where appropriate the services of other professionals should be made available or at  least, advice given about where to find more appropriate advice and help 

7.3 Therapists must actively monitor their own competence through supervision, consultation, continuous professional development, reading and seminars 

7.4 Therapists should take into account the importance of self-reflexivity in training and practice. This includes taking responsibility to address any current limitations such as factors in personal background that might influence the work with clients. 

7.5 Satisfactory arrangements must be made to ensure that they and their work are covered by adequate indemnity insurance 

7.6 If therapists work with children and vulnerable adults they should make the necessary arrangements to have a Criminal Records Bureau check at least every three years. 

7.7 Therapists must monitor their functioning and will not work when their functioning is impaired by alcohol or drugs 

7.8 Any complaint upheld against a member should be declared to IFT as should any conviction of a notifiable / relevant criminal offence, or successful civil proceedings, in the context of delivering therapeutic services 


  • Research/Training 


8.1 All research done by clinical associates of IFT or using the name of the Institute of Family Therapy or clients and staff at the Institute of Family Therapy should be submitted to the Research Ethics Committee 

8.2 The informed consent should be gained from anyone to be involved in research and the distinction between research and therapy should be explained 

8.3 Steps should be taken to ensure that the therapeutic process and therapist–client relationship are not adversely affected by any research involvement. 

8.4 The research methods should comply with the standards of good practice in therapy 

8.5 Those involved in research should be mindful of the purposes to which the results of the research could be used. 


  • Reputation 


9.1 Nothing should be done to bring the reputation of psychotherapy or the Institute of Family Therapy into disrepute. 

9.2 When part of a therapeutic team, therapists must be aware of continued ethical responsibilities both to clients and colleagues 

9.3 If there is any concern that a colleague’s conduct is unprofessional or that their competence is impaired, appropriate action should be taken, which might include initiating the relevant complaint and disciplinary procedure 

9.4 Contravention of the Codes of Ethics and Practice may result in disciplinary action 

9.5 No one should be discouraged from making a complaint 

9.6 The Complaint’s Policy and procedure should be followed at all times and be readily available 

9.7 Contravention of this Code of Practice may result in disciplinary action being taken against a member under the Membership regulations.