When we seek help from a professional there are certain expectations we have. We expect them to treat us courteously, with respect and to meet us at a predetermined time, date and location looking smart or wearing a uniform. I had an appointment recently with a service provider and although our meeting was scheduled in his diary for 2pm he kept me waiting 1 and a half hours beyond my appointment time. I felt unimportant and angry and no amount of complimentary tea or biscuits would erase those feelings of resentment and dis-trust.
As a student nurse and later as a qualified nurse, the wearing of a uniform was a great source of pride-particularly in the days when nurses were still able to wear their “buckle”. Putting that uniform on changed who I was and how I behaved-I became a “professional”, and as such had a certain level of responsibility to myself, my team members and my patients and their families. I took my professional responsibilities seriously, and for me this included arriving on shift in good time, keeping up to date with the latest developments in my specialism and communicating well with others.
As a counsellor, I may not wear a uniform, however I do consider the impact my clothing may have on others. I also have a professional duty to be on time (and to run my appointments to time) for my clients. My sense of professionalism remains in how I verbally present myself to others and in keeping abreast of the latest developments. When I was a nurse I belonged to a professional nursing body and we followed an ethical code of practice. Counselling is no different and I belong to an organisation called the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (the BACP). The BACP, like it’s members, is constantly reflecting on what it can improve upon and implementing changes based on that information, and from feedback from its members and the public.
As such the BACP, from July 1st, launches its new ethical framework which all BACP members will be expected to adhere to. Please access it here: http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethics/EFfCP.php It is about keeping clients safe, keeping practitiones safe and building the reputation and professionalism of the counselling and psychotherapy body. If you have concerns about any aspect of the counselling you receive, talk to your counsellor, take a look at the ethical code and/or speak to the BACP.