IPTA Code of Ethics & Practice
- 1.1. The purpose of this code is to establish and maintain standards for play therapists who are members of Irish Play Therapy Association and to inform and protect members of the public seeking and availing of their service.
- 1.2. All Full members are expected to adhere to the code of practice which aims to provide a framework for addressing ethical issues and to encourage the highest standard of practice.
- 2. The Nature of Play Therapy
- 2.1. Play therapy is the dynamic process between child / adolescent and play therapist, in which the child / adolescent explores, at his or her pace and with his or her own agenda, those issues past and current, conscious and unconscious, that may be impacting on the child’s / adolescent’s life in the present. The child’s / adolescent’s inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. Play therapy is child centred, in which play is viewed as the primary medium and speech may operate as the secondary medium.
- 2.2. Play therapy encompasses many approaches, but the foundation of all approaches are child / adolescent centred.
A. CODE OF ETHICS
- The core values of play therapy are integrity, respect and impartiality for their clients. It is a non-exploitive process. Whether employed privately or by an agency, play therapists should observe the same commitment to ethical practice.
- 1. Client Safety
- All reasonable and appropriate steps should be taken to ensure the child or adolescent’s safety during play therapy sessions.
- 2. Therapeutic Agreements
- 2.1. The outline of the work to be undertaken needs to be agreed with the primary care-givers and other professionals where appropriate who are involved in helping the child / adolescent.
- 2.2. Subsequent revisions of these terms should be agreed in advance of any change.
- 3. Competence
- Play therapists should take all reasonable steps to monitor and expand their own competence and to work within the limits of that competence. This includes having appropriate and ongoing and regular play therapy supervision / consultative support.
B. CODE OF PRACTICE
- 1. Issues of Responsibility
- Whereas the therapist – child / adolescent relationship is the primary ethical concern, the play therapist has a responsibility to maintain a reporting relationship with the child protection agencies where appropriate.
- 2. To the Child / Adolescent: Client Safety
- Play therapists should take all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure that the child / adolescent suffers no physical or emotional harm during play therapy.
3. Client Autonomy
- 3.1. Play therapists should recognise at all times within the therapy that the child / adolescent is an individual in his / her own right and has the capacity to facilitate their own healing and growth through the therapeutic process.
- 3.2. Play therapists must not exploit their clients financially, sexually, emotionally or in any other way. Engaging in sexual activity with a client is unethical.
- 3.3. Play therapists should ensure a private, safe environment where client are not observed by anyone other than their therapist. Session observation, video / audio taping may be undertaken only with the informed consent of the child / adolescent and their carer.
- 4. Pre-Play Therapy Information
- Any publicity information, whether written or oral, should reflect accurately the training, qualification and experience of the play therapist and the service on offer.
- 5. Therapeutic Contract
- 5.1. Play therapists are responsible for making clear the terms on which therapy is being offered, including availability, the degree of confidentiality, and their expectations of the commissioning agent regarding payment, cancelled appointments and any other significant matters.
- 5.2. It is important that there is consultation and full understanding of the therapeutic process and what this entails with the client and other relevant parties before the contract is agreed. This entails informing carers and agencies of their roles and responsibilities before the play therapy intervention begins.
- 5.3. Play therapists should record their sessions according to the regulations of the agency in which they work.
- 5.4. Play therapists should be aware that computer based records are subject to the Data Protection Act 1988 (Ireland).
- 6. Therapist Competence
6.1. Play therapists should monitor actively the limitations of their own competence through play therapy supervision / consultative support. Play therapists should practise within their own known limitations.
- 6.2. Play therapists should not practise when their functioning is impaired due to personal or emotional difficulties, illness, disability, alcohol, drugs or for any other reason which may negatively impact on the child / adolescent.
- 6.3. It is an indication of the competence of a play therapist when they recognise their inability to work with a child / adolescent and make an appropriate referral.
- 7. To Self as Therapist
- 7.1. Play therapists have a responsibility to themselves and their clients to maintain their own effectiveness, resilience and ability to enable clients. They are expected to monitor their own personal functioning, to seek appropriate help and withdraw from practising play therapy temporarily or permanently when their own personal resources are depleted sufficiently to require this.
- 7.2. Play therapists should have received adequate training before practising, and should maintain continuous professional development.
- 7.3. Play therapists are encouraged to consider their need for professional indemnity insurance and to take out such a policy when appropriate.
- 7.4. Play therapists should take all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure their own personal safety.
- 8. To other Play Therapists
- Play therapists should not conduct themselves in their professional practice in ways which undermine public confidence in either their role as a play therapist or in the work of other play therapists.
- 9. Play Therapy Supervision / Consultative Support
- 9.1. It is a breach of the ethical requirement for play therapists to practise without regular and ongoing play therapy supervision / consultative support.
- 9.2. Play therapy supervision / consultative support refers to a formal arrangement which enables play therapists to discuss their sessions regularly with one or more persons who have an understanding of play therapy. Its purpose is to monitor and ensure the efficacy of the relationship between the therapist and the child / adolescent.
- 9.3. Play therapists who have line managers owe them appropriate managerial accountability for their work. The therapy supervisor role should be independent of the line manager role. However, when the line manager is also the play therapy supervisor, the play therapist should have access to independent consultative support.
- 10. Confidentiality
- 10.1. Play therapists should take all reasonable steps to communicate to both child / adolescent and carer the extent of confidentiality they can offer to their clients. (See B 1.) This should be clarified before commencing therapy.
- 10.2. In reference to case studies or publications, it is important that the author either has the child’s / adolescent’s informed consent, or effectively disguises the child’s / adolescent’s identity.
C: SOCIAL MEDIA & NETWORKING
If you have a social media presence, keep it separate from your profession, keep it positive, and most importantly, keep it client free.
- Understand the basic concepts before you go online
- Respect boundaries: keep your personal life and professional life separate online
- Respect client privacy and confidentiality
- Use Social Media websites and Social Networking for your professional development
- Pause before you post
- Imagine your post ‘going viral’
- Use ‘Netiquette’ when you are online
- Regularly check your settings and accounts online
- Remove any links between you and inappropriate content online
- Report any inappropriate content