Ethics in addiction psychotherapy
There were three positions in the history of Western ethics: individualism, perfectionism and rationalism. Individualism bases ethics on the desires of the individual. Perfectionism assesses whether the individual’s desires are good or bad, referring to the ideal of a perfect man, who is usually based on some idea of human nature. Rationalism is the most characteristic and contemporary Western position. He maintains that reason is the only proper moral guide, defining it as an instrument that allows people to think in terms of universal rules.
The rationalist position is the most difficult to define. Restricts ethics to a small number of situations where the universal rule applies. This view defines reason as a tool to evaluate it. He is the most important because he perceives universal rules, and only through the concept of such rules can people understand why individual desires should not guide their behavior. For example, suppose you want to treat someone bad just because you are a homosexual or another religionist. Reason will force me or should force me to ask the question: would I like to make this desire a universal rule? For example, would I accept such a bad treatment if it was targeted at me? Assuming that I would reject the universality of such a rule, I know that I should not do that
and thus reject my desire. According to rationalism, it is reason that discovers rules that are universally applicable and are intended to guide the moral behavior of man.1
The above considerations relate to the western ethics of interpersonal relations. Each culture, within its society, and within them different professional groups, due to their individuality, are guided by their own ethical codes. This is how ethical codes of craftsmen, scientists, doctors, psychologists, educators etc. were created. They are different in different societies because the problems and situations most often faced by persons performing a given profession are determined by their specificity. In the modern world, with its diversity and deepening disproportion in the development of individual areas, it is difficult to imagine the possibility of using a universal ethical code. However, one should not forget that universal ethical principles should be at the root of every specific code of a given professional group. The fundamental principle of the metaphysics of morality, according to Immanuel Kant, suggests that “proceed as if the principle you are following has the power of your will to become universal law.”
Recently, there is a new professional group in Poland – addiction psychotherapists. The first exams have already taken place and certificates have been awarded confirming the knowledge and skills required for addiction psychotherapists to work with addicts and their family members. What ethical principles should a Polish addiction psychotherapist follow? Does the code of ethics of the American addiction therapist take into account the specificity of our culture and our country? Does the code of ethics of a Polish psychologist take into account the specificity of problems faced by a Polish addiction psychotherapist? My answer is: not fully (discussion of differences is not the subject of this article). I believe that there is a need to develop a native code of ethics for an addiction psychotherapist. I will try to simplify the ethical principles which nowadays an addiction psychotherapist could follow in UK – addiction recovery guides
Rule 1. Customer welfare
An addiction psychotherapist is guided by the good of the client or group with whom he works. When he works with a client who comes into conflict with his employer, he defines the limits of loyalty and responsibility towards each of the parties to the conflict. In the event of a conflict between a client and a therapeutic team, he is primarily guided by the well-being of the client. He decides to discontinue therapy when it is clear that the client has stopped using it. In the event of referral to another specialist, he is guided by the good of the client until it is taken over by a specialist or the contract is terminated by mutual agreement. If the client does not agree to the transition, he considers the negative effects that his continuation of further treatment may cause. He makes every effort to secure the appropriate standard of rooms for clinical work, so that he and his clients have a sense of security and intimacy in therapy. He does not enter into a therapeutic relationship with his family members (close or distant), friends or other people whose good may suffer in this type of relationship. All clients are treated without discriminating against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or economic situation. He provides therapeutic services including advice, diagnosis or treatment only in the context of the therapeutic relationship with the client, never during public appearances, in newspapers, on the radio or television.
Principle 2. Confidentiality
The addiction psychotherapist respects the confidentiality of information obtained during the therapy. They may not be transferred to other persons or institutions except in specific cases: when there is an immediate threat to the health or life of other persons or societies, but only to authorities authorized to receive them at the written request of the court other specialists, if the discussion will be helpful in further client therapy. Reports and other reports should not contain information that would identify individual customers. The therapist is responsible for informing the client about the confidentiality principle in force in the facility.
Principle 3. Competence
It concerns maintaining high quality of therapeutic services provided. The addiction psychotherapist constantly improves his professional qualifications. Obtained licenses and professional certificates should be easily accessible to the client, e.g. placed in a visible place so that the client can be sure that he / she uses the services of a qualified specialist. Is obliged to counteract the practices of incompetent persons. If possible, he attempts to correct the situation, if not – he reports it to the Professional Ethics Committee. He knows his limitations and does not use techniques at work that could reduce the quality of his services. If he is not able to provide the client with appropriate assistance, he directs him to another specialist.
In clinical work he is aware that the effectiveness of therapy depends to a large extent on maintaining proper interpersonal relations with the client. In the event of emotional injury to the client, he refrains from intervening. In difficult situations, he uses the supervision of a supervisor.
Principle 4. Responsibility towards the customer
It is based on understanding and respecting the needs of other people and compliance with the standards of therapeutic services provided. This is a particularly important principle, because because of the occupation, the addiction psychotherapist often enters the private areas of clients’ lives.
Principle 5. Responsibility towards the employer
The addiction psychotherapist cares for the good name of the institution that employs or associates with it. Materials prepared by him within the working hours are the property of the facility. These materials can be intended for internal use or outdoor use. In the latter case, next to his name, he gives the name of the institution. It is unacceptable to receive double pay within the applicable working hours.
Rule 6. Relationship with other professionals
The addiction psychotherapist works to integrate the professional environment. I do not offer my services to clients in therapy with other specialists. The exception is when another specialist agrees. Working in several facilities manages his time and strength in such a way that the welfare of clients and therapeutic teams is not affected.
Rule 7. Public speaking
Modesty, scientific caution, honesty in presenting facts and knowledge of the limitations of presented knowledge characterizes public appearances of an addiction psychotherapist. When presenting the techniques of working with the client, he makes sure that they can only be used by properly trained people. By appearing in advertising programs, he does not encourage the purchase of advertised products.
Rule 8. Advertising of therapeutic services
The addiction psychotherapist tends towards professional rather than commercial standards in the preparation of advertising for his services. For this purpose, it uses brochures or leaflets in which it describes the type of services offered, without assessing them. Brochures or leaflets can be sent to other specialists, to schools, offices, private or state companies, government agencies and other organizations. The use of statements such as “confirmation from satisfied customers” in brochures is unacceptable. Advertisements containing information that the addiction psychotherapist demonstrates unique skills or has unique devices that are inaccessible to other specialists can be placed only if there are scientific studies confirming the effectiveness of these facts.
Rule 9. Participation in advertising
An addiction psychotherapist involved in the promotion of books or other products for sale is responsible for conducting the campaign in a professional manner. He doesn’t use professional press for advertising. Having shares from the sale of alcohol-related products, he takes into account the possibility of conflict between their promotion and professional responsibility.
Rule 10. Fee for therapeutic services
The price list of services should go hand in hand with the standard of services offered by the psychotherapist. By offering the client a type of therapy, the psychotherapist is also guided by his financial capabilities. He does not charge a fee or other evidence of gratitude to the agencies to which he sends clients.