Code of Ethics and Conduct

Code of Ethics and Conduct2019-10-29T20:20:03+00:00



The code of Ethics and Conduct was revised by the Scientific Board of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Relations in 2018, following the requirements of the new European Data Protection Regulations GDPR 2016/679.


I. Introduction

According to its amended Articles of Association, the activities of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Relations include the provision of counseling and psychotherapy services, the training of mental health professionals in systemic counseling and psychotherapy, research projects, the promotion of scientific publications, and the continuing education of humanities, health and social science professionals, for applying systemic thinking in their practice. The present Code of Conduct is binding for both members and associates of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Relations, as well as trainees and students, and pertains to all of its aforementioned activities. All members, associates and trainees are additionally expected to abide by the codes of conduct governing any professional association, organisation or company they belong to.

II. Promoting the activities of the Laboratory and Advertising

The Laboratory is committed to providing factual and up to date information that accurately and fully represents its operation, training courses, services, members and staff. In particular, it must ensure the accuracy and completeness of information on the qualifications it offers, the licensing requirements and standards of the relevant professional bodies, trainees’ potential to obtain professional registered status under latest regulations, the titles and credentials of its staff and associates, and the outcomes and limitations of its counseling and psychotherapy services.

III. Professional accreditation

  1. All LSHR members, scientific associates and staff must present themselves with valid and accurate qualifications and credentials that truthfully represent their work, titles, affiliations and skill-base. The provision of any type of service, intervention, method or technique must be restricted to individuals who have been certified through appropriate training and experience.
  2. Trainees may employ the title of “Systemic psychotherapist” or “Family Therapist” only after completing the Systemic Psychotherapy Training Course and obtaining an official certificate from the Laboratory. However, it is upon registering with an established Systemic/Family Therapy Association that they gain full legal coverage to use the title, at least until the establishment of a national or European regulatory framework for the professional licensing and accreditation of psychotherapists.
  3. Members and associates of the Laboratory must be kept up to date with developments in their professional field of expertise and actively and continuously seek to further their knowledge and skills.
  4. Members and associates of the Laboratory undertake formal supervision at regular intervals. They are also required to seek help for personal matters, as these may adversely affect their work.

 IV. Privacy and Confidentiality

  1. All members, scientific associates and trainees must commit to respect, protect and preserve the privacy, anonymity and confidentiality of their clients and research participants. The disclosure of clients’ private data in the context of professional supervision must be limited to the most essential information and be subject to restrictions that ensure anonymity.
  2. Laboratory associates, faculty and staff refrain from discussing their clients and research participants with any person outside their professional circles. When clinical material is being published in any form or context, online, in person or in print, whether for a scientific conference, workshop, seminar or lecture, within and outside the Laboratory, complete anonymity must be safeguarded and all precautions taken to disguise the identity of their clients and research participants.
  3. Any digital or electronic recordings and observations of sessions through a one-way mirror must be carried out with the knowledge and explicit consent of the clients or research participants. Handling of written or audiovisual material (downloading, processing, archiving, storage) must conform to the requirements of the new European Data Protection Regulation GDPR 2016/679.
  4. Records containing information about clients and research participants must be stored and archived systematically and securely, and password protected wherever possible.
  5. Breach of confidentiality is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Such exceptions mostly involve well-founded concerns about the client’s or a third party’s safety. In these instances, disclosure should be restricted to appropriate individuals (e.g. parents or legal guardians) or judicial and administrative authorities (e.g. police and courts).
  6. Members, associates and trainees are not allowed to testify in court either in defence or against a client. They are permitted to appear as expert witnesses, provided they have been summoned by the court in the manner specified by the relevant legal guidelines.

V. Professional relations within the Laboratory

  1. The Laboratory is committed to fully respecting the academic and professional credentials of its members and associates. Salaries and wages must reflect their qualifications, titles, skills and experience. Fees received by the Laboratory also reflect the type of services offered and the qualifications, level of expertise and skill-base of the members and associates who provide them.
  2. Regarding research projects assigned by outside parties, the Laboratory retains the rights of distribution and publication and includes the names of the contributing authors, fully respecting their work and intellectual property.
  3. Laboratory members, associates and trainees must express to their seniors, clearly and explicitly, any reservations, concerns, objections or grievances, thus allowing for improvements in the running and the culture of the Laboratory. Public criticism and defamation should be avoided.
  4. Malign and inappropriate comments between colleagues and co-workers are to be avoided and not publicized. Acting in a respectful, professional and ethical manner is a fundamental principle of conduct.

VI. Professional relations with other professionals and specialists

Laboratory members, associates, and trainees come from different professional backgrounds in the field of mental health (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers), but share a common specialty, i.e. being systemic psychotherapists. Each must to commit to deliver services that they are competent and qualified to offer and respect the boundaries of their professional remits. When in the interest of the client, they should seek interdisciplinary partnerships or make appropriate referrals to other specialists, within and outside the Laboratory. In addition, if deemed beneficial to a client’s welfare, or when a client requests it, members should refer them to therapists of a different modality. Lastly, they must refrain from offering any service to clients who are seeing another therapist, irrespectively of their clinical approach. This does not include instances where the input and collaboration of LSHR associates has been requested by colleagues and outside bodies, and the inverse.

VII. Counselling and Psychotherapy Services

At the initial stage of a counselling or a psychotherapy intervention or service, clients must be fully and verifiably informed on the precise terms of the agreement. In particular, psychotherapists and counsellors are expected to explain to prospective clients, clearly and honestly, the following:

  1. The basic principles of family therapy and the systemic approach.
  2. The likely duration of the intervention and the possibility of renewing the contract with new objectives.
  3. Fee levels and precise terms of payment.
  4. The terms of the confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.
  5. That the client is free to choose their therapist and preferred method of systemic intervention (individual, family or group sessions).
  6. The designated process for terminating an intervention or service, expressing grievances or reservations and placing a complaint.
  7. Conditions for contacting the psychotherapist outside of pre-arranged sessions.
  8. That sexual relationships with fellow members of the same therapy group, while in therapy, are prohibited.

Therapists cannot provide services to members of their family and to people with whom, now or in the past, they have had a close social or professional relationship.

Trainees and therapists are morally bound to avoid having sexual relationships with, or behaving sexually towards clients.

Counsellors and therapists are not to obtain any financial, political, social, religious or other benefits as a result of an ongoing therapeutic relationship.

Laboratory therapists and trainees commit to terminating a counselling or psychotherapy relationship in an appropriate and carefully considered manner and at the earliest opportunity, if continuing the service risks breaching the Code of Conduct. If the counselling relationship is no longer deemed useful or productive, therapists are committed to arranging appropriate and carefully considered referrals to suitable specialists.

Information provided by a family member to the therapist during their participation in individual or group sessions will be treated as confidential unless otherwise agreed at the outset (e.g. in a couple therapy contract).

The above terms apply also to anyone observing counselling or psychotherapy sessions through a one-way mirror. Psychotherapists and counsellors must abide by the code of ethics of the professional associations, organisations or companies to which they belong.

VIII. Psychological Assessment & Diagnosis

The Laboratory offers diagnostic services by specialist psychologists and trains psychologists in conducting clinical assessments. Dissemination of tests and instruments among non-specialists, their reproduction or use for purposes other than psychological evaluation or research is not permitted. The administration of tests and dissemination of results to third parties must strictly adhere to the codes of ethical conduct of psychological associations in Greece and in the European Union.

IX. Systemic Psychotherapy Training Services and other educational activities

Before and during their training, trainees are informed of the program’s curriculum (on its content, duration and assessment requirements) and sign a statement of compliance with the Code of Conduct. They are informed in a timely manner of their responsibilities and obligations. The Laboratory is committed to providing training of the highest academic standards by qualified professionals with accredited training and experience, whose work is assessed by the Laboratory’s Academic Board and its President. All additional educational activities (workshops, seminars and others) are subject to the same rules and regulations.

X. Research activities

The Laboratory encourages and supports the research activities of its members, associates and trainees.

  1. Researchers undertake to inform participants, explicitly and in writing, of all uses of their data. They must obtain verifiable consent, from participants themselves if they are adults or from their guardians if they are minors. They must not only safeguard participants from any physical or emotional distress, but also establish a relationship of equality, trust and respect, ensuring that participation in the project is a positive and meaningful experience. Finally, participants have the right to be informed on the findings of the study in which they participated.
  2. Researchers commit to providing the scientific community with accurate and complete information on the process and methodology of the study. Publications must report relevant work that has been previously conducted in the field and researchers are aware of.
  3. Researchers are responsible for the accuracy and validity of data published in non-scientific journals and periodicals. In case of omissions or misrepresentations of data, they must request the publication of explicit retractions and corrections. The presentation of data and the dissemination of scientific knowledge to the general public (e.g. through the media) must safeguard the integrity and credibility of their profession and strictly abide by all clauses of the present Code of Ethics and Conduct.

XI. Publishing Activity

The activities of the Laboratory include the publication of original or translated works and the possibility of collaborating with third parties towards this end (organizations, publishing houses, etc.). The Laboratory complies fully with copyright laws and regulations.

 XII. Equal Opportunities Policy

The Laboratory is opposed to any form of discrimination and upholds a policy of equal opportunities. No discrimination is allowed in the selection of staff, trainees and associates, and in the provision of therapy services and training opportunities, on the grounds of origin, nationality, colour, sex, religion, and sexual orientation.

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