Code of Ethics
TAA (Singapore) CODE OF ETHICS
2. Ethical principles
2.1 TAA (Singapore) values and principles
2.2 TAA (Singapore) ethical responsibilities
2.3 Personal qualities
3. TAA (Singapore) guidance on best practice for TA practitioners
3.1 Providing a good standard of practice and care
3.2 Teaching and training
This document is based on the ethics framework of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). The Code of Ethics of the Transactional Analysis Association (Singapore) embraces the principles and procedures of the PACFA document. PACFA has a role in determining the principles and standards of ethical organisational conduct among psychotherapists and counsellors practising in their territory. Although individuals are often responsible for their own actions and behaviour, organisations also have a role in fostering ethical practices and conduct through their policies, structures, procedures, guidelines and regulation of their members.
In many instances, issues arise that can be viewed and/or challenged from both legal and ethical standpoints. TA practitioners are required to view these guidelines in light of relevant legislation, and to seek competent and qualified advice as to which provisions may prevail in any given instance.
Recognising that Transactional Analysis has four distinct professional streams – psychotherapy, counselling, organisational, and educational – TAA (Singapore)'s Code of Ethics seeks to promote the ethical values and principles relevant to the theory and practice relevant to each stream.
We recognise that through our certification process, TAA (Singapore) implicitly establishes an expectation by members of the public that TAA (Singapore) members acknowledge and adhere to the ethical premises and principles in this document. These considerations are important to ensure the wellbeing of clients and other individuals whose needs are served by TAA (Singapore) members. Adherence to these standards also serve to uphold the reputation of the community of TA practitioners in Singapore.
We therefore further recognise that should an individual member’s behaviour reflect a lack of integration of, or consistency with these principles, his/her certification, training contract and/or membership may be suspended (or revoked) by TAA (Singapore) until such time that the required adherence is adequately demonstrated.
2. Ethical principles
2.1 TAA (Singapore) values and principles
TAA (Singapore), through its structure, processes, leadership, and mechanisms, demonstrates a culture in which the following values and principles can thrive:
A.Honouring the trust placed in them by their members and protecting the integrity of that relationship;
B.Respecting the privacy of their members and preserving the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of their work;
C.Protection of the rights of, and promotion of the responsibilities of their members;
D.Competence and good governance;
E. TAA (Singapore) members acknowledge the dignity of all humanity regardless of physiological, psychological, sociological, or economic status.
F. TAA (Singapore) members shall, in their public statements, whether written or verbal, refrain from derogatory statements, inferences and/or innuendoes which disparage the standing, qualification or character of other members, bearing in mind their responsibility as representatives of TAA (Singapore) and of Transactional Analysis.
G. The ethical practice of Transactional Analysis involves entering into an informed and lawful contractual relationship with a client that the member of TAA (Singapore) and the client have the capacity, competence and intent to fulfil. When a client is unable or unwilling to function autonomously and responsibly within this contractual relationship, the member of TAA (Singapore) must resolve this relationship in such a way as to bring no harm to the client.
H. Members of TAA (Singapore) will operate and conduct services to clients with full responsibility to existing laws of the state and/or country in which they reside.
2.2 TAA (Singapore) ethical responsibilities
TAA (Singapore), through its structure, processes, leadership, and mechanisms, demonstrates a culture in which the following responsibilities are enacted:
2.2.1 Responsibilities to members
A. TAA (Singapore) takes all reasonable steps to avoid harm to their members and actively protects the integrity of their relationship with their members.
B. TAA (Singapore) sets and maintains professional structures and boundaries within the organisation.
C. TAA (Singapore), faced with situations which exceed the boundary of its competence, experience, or available resources, seeks qualified professional advice and/or assistance.
D. TAA (Singapore) ensures that an effective complaints mechanism exists to attend to complaints against its members. ‘Members’ are defined as those who were paid members at the time the breach occurred.
E. In the event of harm resulting from organisational management or processes, TAA (Singapore) takes responsibility for acknowledgment and reparation/restitution.
F. TAA (Singapore) ensures that its practising members have professional indemnity insurance as part of the process of protecting members from harm by providing parties an appropriate channel of restitution.
G. TAA (Singapore) promotes members’ autonomy by informing them with regard to their membership process and encourages members to make responsible decision for themselves.
H. TAA (Singapore) has transparent processes for the election and departure of office bearers. Office bearers should be appropriately qualified to hold the positions of leadership and management.
I. TAA (Singapore)’s practices and processes provide due attention to the social context of its members and their connections to other professionals.
J. TAA (Singapore) will support members in their work, including professional development, best practice, research and other benchmarking standards of practice.
A. TAA (Singapore) will not develop and maintain a culture which exploits its members and/or clients, past or present, in financial, sexual, emotional or other ways. Organisational processes including complaints mechanisms clearly reinforce that such practices are unacceptable.
B. TAA (Singapore) will not accept or offer payments for privileges, or engage in any financial transactions, which are unlawful or against the TAA (Singapore)’s regulations.
C. TAA (Singapore) will provide its best possible services to the client and will act in such a way as to cause no intentional or deliberate harm to any client.
D. Sexual relations between TAA (Singapore) members and their clients are prohibited. This is not restricted to sexual intercourse and includes any form of physical contact, whether initiated by the client or the TAA (Singapore) member, which has as its purpose some form of sexual gratification, or which may be reasonably construed as having that purpose.
A. TAA (Singapore) treats in confidence any personal information about its members and/or clients, whether obtained directly or indirectly. This applies to all verbal, written, recorded or computer-stored material pertaining to the professional and membership context. All records, whether in written or any other form, need to be protected with the strictest of confidence.
B. TAA (Singapore) protects members’ and clients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality.
C. Exceptional circumstances may arise which give TAA (Singapore) reasonable grounds for believing that the member and/or client may cause serious physical or other harm to others or themselves. In such circumstances, the breaking of confidentiality may be required, preferably with the member's/client’s permission, and after consultation with an appropriately qualified person(s).
D. Any breaking of confidentiality should be minimised both by restricting the information conveyed to that which is pertinent to the immediate situation and by limiting it to those persons who can provide the help required by the member.
E. Member/client confidentiality continues after the member's/client’s death unless there are overriding legal considerations.
F. Special care is required when using specific situations for reports and publication. The author must have the member's/client’s informed consent should there be any possibility of identification of the member/client.
G. Clients must not be observed by anyone other than their therapists without having given informed consent. This applies both to direct observation and to any form of audio or visual transmission or recording.
H. Members of TAA (Singapore) and their supervisors are responsible for protecting the client's rights of confidentiality in the supervisory context by ensuring that shared information is disguised appropriately.
A. Members of TAA (Singapore) should strive to develop in their clients’ awareness of, and functioning from a position of dignity, autonomy and personal responsibility.
B. Contracts involving the members/clients should be realistic and clear.
C. When a member/client is incapable of giving informed consent, TAA (Singapore) will obtain consent from a legally authorised person.
D. TAA (Singapore) will disclose any conflict of interest which may arise in relation to a member/client and will seek assistance to resolve the situation. Members of TAA (Singapore) will not enter into or maintain a professional contract where other activities or relationships between TAA (Singapore) members and clients might jeopardise professional contracts.
E. If members of TAA (Singapore) become aware that personal conflicts or medical problems might interfere with their ability to carry out a contractual relationship, they must either terminate the contract in a professionally responsible manner, or ensure that the client has all the information needed to make a decision about remaining in the contractual relationship.
F. The professional relationship between a member of TAA (Singapore) and a client is defined by the contract, and that professional relationship ends with the termination of the contract. However, certain professional responsibilities continue beyond the termination of the contract. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
-Maintenance of agreed upon confidentiality.
‐Avoidance of any exploitation of the former relationship.
‐Provision for any needed follow‐up care.
2.2.5 TAA (Singapore) responsibility for effectiveness and functioning
A. TAA (Singapore) has a responsibility to maintain its own effectiveness, and its ability to support and develop members in their professional work.
B.TAA (Singapore) monitors its own organisational functioning, and seeks help or suspends services when its resources are sufficiently depleted.
C. TAA (Singapore) regularly evaluates its organisational skills and performance, and provides accountability for organisational practice.
D. TAA (Singapore), through its office bearers, members and community contacts, has an obligation to keep abreast of the current legal, quality and compliance requirements in delivering and supporting professional services. TAA (Singapore) also has a role in leading excellence in training and development of members through reference to research and best practice and other benchmarking standards in service delivery.
E. Professional members of TAA (Singapore) will have regular suitable supervision and use such supervision to develop their skills, monitor performance and provide accountability for practice.
2.2.6 TAA (Singapore) responsibilities to the related professions
A. TAA (Singapore) does not conduct itself in ways which undermine public confidence in its operation, the services of its members or the profession as a whole. TAA (Singapore) does not undermine the work of other associations established to provide services to own members.
B. TAA (Singapore) is bound by the constitution and codified requirements enshrined in its membership.
C. TAA (Singapore) respects the right of members to belong to more than one professional association.
2.3 Personal qualities
TAA (Singapore) members’ personal qualities are of the utmost importance to clients. Many of the personal qualities considered important in the provision of services have an ethical or moral component and are therefore considered as virtues or good personal qualities. These qualities are conveyed through the TA practitioner’s theoretical approach and practice. It is inappropriate to prescribe that all TA practitioners possess these qualities, since it is fundamental that these personal qualities are deeply rooted in the person concerned and developed out of personal commitment rather than the requirement of an external authority. However, it is the case that moral qualities and virtues, and their enactment through particular behaviours, can also be taught and should be part of training programs in the field.
Personal qualities to which TA practitioners are strongly encouraged to aspire are evident in the enactment of the following behaviours/skills.
Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another person’s experience from that person’s perspective.
Sincerity: a personal commitment to consistency between what is professed and what is done.
Integrity: commitment to being moral in dealings with others, personal straightforwardness, honesty, and coherence.
Authenticity: the capacity to be true to self and relate truthfully to others.
Resilience: the capacity to work with the client’s concerns without being personally diminished.
Respect: showing appropriate esteem to others and their understanding of themselves.
Humility: the ability to assess accurately and acknowledge one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Competence: the effective deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to do what is required.
Fairness: the consistent application of appropriate criteria to inform decisions and actions.
Wisdom: possession of sound judgement that informs practice.
Courage: the capacity to act in spite of known fears, risks and uncertainty.
3. TAA (Singapore) guidance on best practice for TA practitioners
TAA (Singapore) is committed to sustaining and advancing best practice. This guidance on the essential elements of best practice has been written to take into account the changing circumstances in which TA practices are now being delivered, in particular: changes in the range of issues and levels of need presented by clients, the growth in levels of expertise available from TA practitioners with the expansion in the availability of training and consultative support/supervision, the accumulated experience of TAA (Singapore) and its TA practitioners.
The profession of Transactional Analysis has four distinct streams– psychotherapy, counselling, organisational and educational stream. The diversity of settings within which TA services and delivers has been carefully considered. These services may be provided by the independent TA practitioner working alone, one or more TA practitioners working to provide a service within an agency or large organisation, specialists working in multidisciplinary teams, and by specialist teams of TA practitioners. Most work is undertaken face-to-face but there are also a growing number of telephone and online services. Some TA practitioners are moving between these different settings and modes of delivery during the course of their work and are therefore required to consider what constitutes best practice in different settings. TA practitioners considering moving into alternative modes of delivery, such as online or email practice are advised to seek supervision and/or consultation about the implications. All TA practitioners encounter the challenge of responding to the diversity of their clients and finding ways of working effectively with them. This statement therefore responds to the complexity of delivering TA practitioner services in contemporary society by directing attention to essential issues that TA practitioners ought to consider and resolve in the specific circumstances of their work.
The crucial role TAA (Singapore) supervision and training has in developing and maintaining TA practitioners is emphasised within these ethical guidelines. How people formulate their theoretical paradigm and their own best practice will be highly influenced by their role models. How TAA (Singapore) and senior TA practitioners respond to competing imperatives to establish a rigorous training program that has credibility in the field while operating a viable business will continue to provide them all manner of ethical dilemmas.
3.1 Providing a good standard of practice and care
All clients are entitled to good standards of practice and care from their TA practitioners. Good standards of practice and care requires professional competence, good relationships with clients and colleagues, and commitment to and observance of professional ethics.
3.1.1 Good quality of practice and care
A. Good quality of practice and care requires competently delivered services that meet the client’s needs by TA practitioners who are appropriately supported and accountable.
B. TA practitioners should give careful consideration to the limitations of their training and experience and work within these limits, taking advantage of available professional support. If work with clients requires the provision of additional services operating in parallel with TA practice, such services must be brought to the client’s attention as part of duty of care, as their absence may constitute a failure in effective service.
C. Best practice involves clarifying and agreeing to the rights and responsibilities of both the TA practitioner and client at appropriate points in their working relationship.
D. Dual relationships arise when the TA practitioner has two or more kinds of relationship concurrently with a client, for example client and trainee, acquaintance and client, colleague and supervisee. The existence of a dual relationship with a client is seldom neutral and can have a powerful beneficial or detrimental impact that may not always be easily foreseeable. For these reasons TA practitioners are required to consider the implications of entering into dual relationships with clients, to avoid entering into relationships that are likely to be detrimental to clients. Where such a situation cannot be avoided it is advisable that therapists discuss the implications of this with their clients, and be readily accountable to clients and colleagues for any dual relationships that occur.
E. TA practitioners are required to keep appropriate records of their work with clients. Records include client notes, emails, and transcripts of text (SMS and other phone-based messages) communication. All records should be accurate, respectful of clients and colleagues and protected from unauthorised disclosure. TA practitioners should take into account their responsibilities and their clients’ rights under data protection legislation and any other legal requirements.
F. Clients are entitled to competently delivered services that are periodically reviewed by the TA practitioner. These reviews may be conducted, when appropriate, in consultation with clients, supervisors or other TA practitioners with relevant expertise.
3.1.2 Maintaining competent practice
A. All TA practitioners, trainers and supervisors are required to have regular and ongoing formal supervision/consultative support for their work in accordance with professional requirements.
B. Regularly monitoring and reviewing one’s work is essential to maintaining best practice. It is important to be open to, and conscientious in considering, feedback from colleagues, appraisals and assessments. Responding constructively to feedback helps to advance practice.
C. A commitment to best practice requires TA practitioners to keep up to date with the latest knowledge and respond to changing circumstances.
D. They should consider carefully their own need for continuing professional development and engage in appropriate educational activities in accordance with professional requirements.
E. TA practitioners should be aware of and understand any legal requirements concerning their work, including mandatory reporting requirements, and consider these conscientiously and be legally accountable for their practice.
3.1.3 Keeping trust
A. The practice of Transactional Analysis depends on gaining and honouring the trust of clients. Keeping trust requires:
- attentiveness to the quality of listening and respect offered to clients;
- culturally appropriate ways of communicating that are courteous and clear;
- respect for privacy and dignity; and
- careful attention to client consent and confidentiality.
B. Clients should be adequately informed about the nature of the services being offered. TA practitioners should obtain adequately informed consent from their clients and respect a client’s right to choose whether to continue or withdraw.
C. TA practitioners should ensure that services are normally delivered on the basis of the client’s explicit consent and mutually agreed contract. Overriding a client’s known wishes or consent is a serious matter that requires commensurate justification. TA practitioners should be prepared to be readily accountable to clients, colleagues and professional body if they override a client’s known wishes.
D. Situations in which clients pose a risk of causing serious harm to themselves or others are particularly challenging for the TA practitioner. These are situations in which the TA practitioner should be alert to the possibility of conflicting responsibilities between those concerning their client, other people who may be significantly affected, and society generally. Resolving conflicting responsibilities may require due consideration of the context in which the service is being provided. Consultation with a supervisor or experienced TA practitioner is strongly recommended, whenever this would not cause undue delay. In all cases, the aim should be to ensure for the client a good quality of care that is as respectful of the client’s capacity for self-determination and their trust as circumstances permit.
E. Working with young people requires specific training, ethical awareness and competence. The TA practitioner is required to consider and assess the balance between young people’s dependence on adults and carers and their progressive development towards acting independently. Working with children and young people requires careful consideration of issues concerning their capacity to give consent to receiving any service independently of someone with parental responsibilities and the management of confidences disclosed by clients.
F. Respecting client confidentiality is a fundamental requirement for keeping trust. The professional management of confidentiality concerns the protection of personally identifiable and sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure. Disclosure may be authorised by client consent or the law. Any disclosures should be undertaken in ways that best protect the client’s trust. TA practitioners should be willing to be accountable to their clients and to their profession for their management of confidentiality in general and particularly for any disclosures made without their client’s consent.
G. TA practitioners should normally be willing to respond to their client’s requests for information about the way that they are working and any assessment that they may have made. This professional requirement does not apply if it is considered that imparting this information would be detrimental to the client or inconsistent with the TA approach. An example of this may includerestrictions of information shared between parents and children. Clients may also have legal rights to information and this needs to be taken into account.
H. TA practitioners must not abuse their clients’ trust in order to gain emotional, financial or any other kind of personal advantage. TA practitioners should think carefully about, and exercise considerable caution before entering into personal or business relationships with former clients and should expect to be professionally accountable if the relationship becomes detrimental to the client or the standing of the profession.
I.Sexual relations with clients are prohibited both during contractual work and for a period of at least two years post treatment. Sexual relations include sexual intercourse and/or any other type of sexual activity or sexualised behaviour. TA practitioners do not engage in sexual relations with former clients even after a two‐year interval except in the most unusual circumstances. TA practitioners who engage in such activity after the two years following cessation or termination of treatment and of having no sexual contact with the former client bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation, in light of all relevant factors, including:
- the amount of time that has passed since treatment terminated;
- the nature, duration, and intensity of the treatment;
- the circumstances of termination;
- the client’s personal history;
- the client’s current mental status;
- the likelihood of adverse impact on the client;
- any statements or actions made by the practitioner during the course of treatment suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post-termination sexual or romantic relationship with the client.
J. TA practitioners should be aware of their personal values in relation to lifestyle, gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, beliefs or culture and be cognisant of the impact of these on the treatment process. If TA practitioners find themselves unavoidably and emotionally prejudiced towards a client they must refer the client on to another agency or TA practitioner.
K.TA practitioners should be clear about any commitment to be available to clients and colleagues and honour these commitments.
3.1.4 Fitness to practice
TA practitioners have a responsibility to monitor and maintain their fitness to practice at a level that enables them to provide an effective service. If their effectiveness becomes impaired for any reason, including health or personal circumstances, they should seek the advice of their supervisor, experienced colleagues or line manager and, if necessary, withdraw from practice until their fitness to practice returns. Suitable arrangements should be made for clients who are adversely affected.
3.1.5 In the case of complaints from clients
A. TA practitioners should respond promptly and appropriately to any complaint received from their clients. An appropriate response in agency‐based services would take account of any agency policy and procedures.
B. TA practitioners should endeavour to remedy any harm they may have caused to their clients and to prevent any further harm. An apology may be the appropriate response.
C. TA practitioners should discuss, with their supervisor or other experienced TA practitioner(s), the circumstances in which they may have harmed a client in order to ensure that the appropriate steps have been taken to mitigate any harm and to prevent any repetition.
D. TA practitioners are required to ensure that their work is adequately covered by insurance for professional indemnity and liability.
E. If TA practitioners consider that they have acted in accordance with best practice but their client is not satisfied, they may wish to use independent dispute resolution, for example: seeking a second professional opinion, mediation, or conciliation where this is both appropriate and practical.
F. Clients should be informed about the existence of the TAA (Singapore) Code of Ethics and any other applicable complaints or disciplinary procedures. If requested to do so, TA practitioners should inform their clients about how they may obtain further information concerning these procedures.
3.1.6 Responsibilities to all clients
A. TA practitioners have a responsibility to protect clients when they have good reason for believing that other practitioners are placing them at risk of harm.
B. They should raise their concerns with the practitioner concerned in the first instance, unless it is inappropriate to do so. If the matter cannot be resolved, they should review the grounds for their concern and the evidence available to them and, when appropriate, raise their concerns with the practitioner’s professional body.
C. If they are uncertain what to do, their concerns should be discussed with an experienced colleague, a supervisor, or raised with the appropriate body within TAA (Singapore) tasked with providing guidance and making decisions on ethical matters.
D. All members of TAA (Singapore) share a responsibility adhere to its professional conduct procedures whether as the person complained against or as the provider of relevant information.
3.2 Teaching and training
Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analysts (TSTAs) and Provisional Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analysts (PTSTAs) who provide training in the fields of TA are required to do so within the ethical guidelines of TAA (Singapore) and other relevant organisational guidelines appropriate to their training. It is acknowledged that training institutions have a responsibility to foster an ethical culture through the development of structures, processes, contracts and procedures with staff and students that meet current educational and management standards in the field.
A. All TA practitioners are encouraged to share their professional knowledge and practice in order to benefit their clients and the public.
B. PTSTA/TSTA practitioners who provide education and training should acquire the skills, attitudes and knowledge required to be competent teachers and facilitators of learning, and to undertake activities to maintain training competence.
C. Trainers shall ensure that the training programmes and the learning experiences offered are in accordance with the currently valid educational guidelines and those of other acknowledged associations.
D. Trainers and learning supervisors shall only offer courses and provide education, supervision or coaching in areas in which they have the requisite competence and experience.
E. It is acknowledged that dual relationships may be inevitable to some degree. However, the roles of trainer and TA practitioner are seen as completely distinct and should be separated in absolute terms. Trainers who have other dual relationships with students shall, as far as possible, reduce conflicting role interests. In principle, these roles shall be distributed among different professionals. Different roles shall be separated in space and time. If, for any reason, the objectivity and capacity of the trainer to professionally evaluate is restricted, this must be declared and a resolution sought that protects the trainee’s interests.
F. Trainers must not exploit trainees in financial, sexual, emotional, academic or any other ways.
G. PTSTA/TSTA practitioners are required to be fair, accurate and honest in their assessments of their students.
H. Prior consent is required from clients if they are to be observed, recorded or if their personally identifiable disclosures are to be used for training purposes.
TA practitioners should consult the relevant TAA (Singapore) professional standards documents in order to meet current practice responsibilities. This section of the Code of Ethics is designed to address issues that may arise in a professional supervisory relationship that involves hierarchy and therefore issues of power. It is acknowledged that qualified and experienced TA practitioners may seek peer supervision rather than a more hierarchical supervision arrangement. The role of individual or group supervisor is considered to be of crucial importance in developing, maintaining and leading the professions. TAA (Singapore) would see it as desirable that the role of supervisor be quite distinct from the role of line manager. Wherever dual relationships or responsibilities exist, these need to be transparently named and ethically managed.
A. There is a general obligation for all TA practitioners to receive supervision.
B. Supervision is considered a discrete professional activity within TA practice and thus it is required that supervisors complete specialist training in the development of supervision competencies.
C. Supervisors have a responsibility to maintain and enhance best practice by TA practitioners and to protect supervisees from poor practice. The evaluative aspects of supervision shall be contracted and transparent in any supervision arrangement.
D. Supervisors who advise their supervisees in more than one capacity shall, as far as possible, reduce conflicting role interests. In principle, these roles shall be distributed among different professionals. If this is not possible, supervisors shall inform their supervisee what expectations and what responsibilities go with each role. Different roles shall be separated in space and time. TA practitioners are responsible for clarifying who holds responsibility for the work with the supervisee.
E. Supervisors must not exploit supervisees in financial, sexual, emotional, academic or any other ways.
F. Supervisors shall have no sexual relationships with supervisees. They also avoid social contact with their supervisees if it could compromise the professional relationship. If, for any reason, the objectivity and capacity of the supervisor to professionally evaluate is restricted, the professional relationship must be terminated.
G. It is acknowledged that personal matters will arise during supervision regarding personal development or other advancements of their work. Supervisors shall not offer counselling or psychotherapy as substitute for or as a supplement to their work as supervisors.