The Ethics Committee (EC) works on written questions and complaints, so that it has time to discuss and understand what is asked. This allows members to consider an issue in a calm atmosphere, without being under pressure from interactive passions. In some cases the committee may need to meet the persons who are involved in a case.
All information that is sent to the Ethics Committee is treated as confidential. Some of the information may have to be discussed with all parties involved, and in some cases with the EABP Board.
The information received is not communicated to other persons or institutions unless legal procedures require. In each situation the EC uses its judgement and knowledge of the context to decide how this information is used with the other parties and the EABP Board. In these cases the complainant is informed that information has been exchanged.
The procedures described in the following pages allow the reader to:
- Know how to proceed when he/she wants to present a complaint to the EC concerning the behaviour of a therapist, supervisor, trainer, school, professional association or a colleague
- Be informed of what procedures the EC follows once it has received an inquiry or complaint.
4.2 Opening a procedure
The Ethics Committee will process any inquiry or complaint if the complainant follows and accepts the following procedure:
· As EABP is an international organisation, the EC only can consider enquiries or complaints if they are in writing, signed by the complainant him/herself and in English.
Concerning persons involved:
· The EC is an EABP Committee and can only deal with complaints against EABP members.
· The issue in question may not date back longer than seven years.
· The complainant must be personally directly involved with the person(s)
· Although the EC cannot make a case based on third party complaints, it welcomes information and questions on ethical issues from EABP colleagues. The Ethics Committee informs the complainant if and how it can proceed with the question/information.
Concerning content of the matter:
· The EC needs to know the specifics of the complainant’s question/complaint (with documents if available) and if the EABP member involved has been informed about the step that is being made, and if not, why not.
· The EC needs to know if any resolutions have been attempted, and if so, in what form and with what outcome.
· Some questions/complaints fall outside of the remit of the Ethics Committee and cannot be processed further. The complainant is informed if this is the case, and of the reasons for this.
After having received and discussed all the relevant material, the Ethics Committee informs the complainant if their enquiry/complaint is related to a transgression of the EABP Code of Ethics and if so, it moves on to the information-gathering phase.
4.3 Information Gathering Phase
Having decided to proceed, the EC’s next step is to inform the person(s) or institution concerned of the complaint (if this has not already been done) and asks for his/her/their point of view
· The EC may, in some cases, send some of the information it has received to both parties, in order to gather more specific information on some points. Given the complexity of transferential dynamics the EC has to deal with in ethical cases, it is up to the EC to decide what information is passed on to the other party.
· If a mediator is required to gather necessary information, the parties involved share the costs. If there is a disagreement between the parties about the sharing of any costs of the mediation process, this disagreement is dealt with as part of the mediation.
· If the mediation fails, the EC decides if the complaint can be processed further by the Ethics Committee or not and informs the parties about the decision and the reasons behind it.
4.4 Evaluation Phase
Once the EC has gathered sufficient information, it discusses and evaluates the situation and informs all parties concerned of its conclusions, and on what grounds it bases these conclusions, referring to the relevant points in the EABP Ethical Guidelines.
These conclusions are the basis for the actions and sanctions required, described in the following section:
4.5 Required actions and sanctions
Conclusions and requirements of the EC are binding for the parties involved, except recommendations for suspension or exclusion of an EABP member, which must be ratified by the EABP Board.
Ethical requirements and sanctions are applied to repair both the evaluation capacity of the transgressor and the association’s trust in the transgressor. They should be considered in terms of the following question:
· What must change in him or her in order to become a trustworthy colleague and therapist in the EC’s eyes?
This implies that the EC has an educational function in order to help colleagues become clearer on ethical issues.
If the EC does not believe that he or she can behave in a trustworthy fashion according to the ethical code of EABP, it will no longer be able to share a professional trusting relationship with the transgressing individual or institution.
The goal of these professional requirements and sanctions is to help re-establish professional ethical functioning wherever this is considered possible and to maintain high ethical standards of behaviour in the EABP.
Towards re-establishing professional trust:
This starts with an evaluation of professional ethics, in which the motives, knowledge, feelings and actions of the transgressing person(s) before, during and after the transgression are evaluated to determine why the breach has occurred.
On this basis a number of professional sanctions may be imposed on the transgressor:
· A reprimand will be given in case of transgressions of lesser severity, accompanied by clarification of the ethical issues involved.
· Mediation process: The body psychotherapist is required to process the issue with the injured person(s) in the presence of a mutually acceptable mediator. This procedure may or may not involve separate meetings between the mediator and transgressing member. The transgressing member will not be paid for the time spent in this process and may be required to pay partial or total fee for the mediation.
· Requirements of supervision, education or personal therapy on the problem issue, ending with a statement from the transgressor on the nature and completion of this process and present understanding, countersigned by his therapist or supervisor. The chosen therapist, supervisor or mediator must be approved by the EC. The transgressor may or may not be suspended from his membership until the processing has finished. Subsequent transgression(s) of the same nature are dealt with in a progressively severe fashion.
· The EC may demand that the therapist, trainer or supervisor stops working with a client, in a case where an ethically or professionally problematic relationship between individuals has lead to an ethical complaint, even if the client wishes to continue the professional relationship. This also applies when there is a problematic relationship between an association and a person.
· The Ethics Committee recommends suspension of a member when the offence is considered serious enough to exclude the member from the Association, but is considered redeemable with the passage of time and effort.
· Exclusion is the recommendation of the Ethics Committee on offences described in the examples of the Ethical Guidelines when they are wilful or premeditated. Attempts at camouflaging transgressions or refusal to comply with EABP sanctions are also grounds for immediate exclusion. The Ethics Committee may recommend exclusion at its discretion, on such matters. In the event where the General Assembly accepts an appeal against an Ethics Committee decision or votes against an Ethics Committee proposal to exclude a member (see 4.2 (c and d) and 6.7 of Articles of Association), the General Assembly appoints a legally or professionally qualified person as arbiter from outside the Association to review the case. Their decision is binding on the parties and on the Ethics Committee.
In its deliberations, the Ethics Committee functions as follows:
· EC advice and arbitration are generally carried out by a minimum of three EC members, none of whom is directly or secondarily involved in the issue under consideration. EC members involved in the issue may not give opinions to the arbitrators.
· Four of the five EC members must be in agreement for any disciplinary decision to be valid.
· Advice or arbitrational decisions are reached by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, the chairperson is included in deliberations ending in a simple majority vote.
When a party involved is not satisfied with the treatment of the case, he / she may complain to the Board of EABP.