If you are building a business or private practice, do you have an ethical code or standard for yourself? Do you have clear client guidelines, that tell them what to expect from a session, a few paragraphs about your training, and experience? Do you have a clear policy about missed appointments and cancellation?
Policies such as those mentioned and a code of ethics could be very helpful in defining what and who you are for your clients. They are written statements that say, I have thought about these issues, and am being proactive in preventing problems for you and for myself.
On a larger scale, if you belong to an organization, is there an ethical comittee that is proactive in reviewing ethical issues that are up, revise the by-laws and codes regularly to see if they still fit, perhaps look at other organizational ethics codes and issues, and see how we could be better prepared to prevent incidents from occurring? Does your organization possible have a column on ethical practice would be helpful to the members? Do you know how to resolve ethical issues? How to deal with a peer that is acting unethically or find support for a situation you are uncomfortable with? Knowing the process for resolution makes me feel safe and protected. It gives the practitioner and the client a safe container to explore and expand the work we do.
Maybe you do not even want to look at these issues. You may say "I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole". Perhaps, you say " sounds like someone wants control" and you think none of this is needed. Having served as an ethics committee chair for a National organization, considered many local and regional issues, I know this is an important part of any business.
As a leader, I take responsibility for acting ethically, and understanding the importance of educating others about this important aspect of our work. I want to be held accountable by my peers. I know I have blind spots in my actions. I cannot help but act from patterns from the past, as many of us do. I do not want to do things "because they have allways been done that way" You are my mirror not just in ethical action, but in communication, success, emotion expression.....I cannot be fully me without you.
Independence is a value that runs high in my life today. I have fought hard and long for it. I value it so much, at one point in my life, I created a wall around me, so much so that interdependence was forgotten. My views and even my body had hardened around ideas that were no longer useful. I had isolated myself, and then realized I missed being in community.
The search for community let me to understand the term interdependence. Interdependence is a concept that the indiginious peoples all over the world knew and operated from. Their very lives depended on this concept. Every thought and action was done with interdependence in mind. Here are a few: we are all related; consider the seven generations before, and the seven after when making a decision; take only what you need, leave the rest to regenerate; share resources and no one will go without. These principles fostered self responsibility, empowerment and community.
Without this knowledge and understanding, accountability becomes a question. I may have my own perception of what is ethical action, and create my individual world around this knowledge. When we belong to a community or organization however, I must have a different understanding, a common mind with the rest of the community members. I must operate from a different set of standards, ethics, and values.
It is true, I am drawn to this particular community because of the values I see being expressed. But what are the values? Does everyone hold them equally the same?
How can we hold ourselves and each other accountable without threatening this idea of independence? Perhaps it is with educating everyone about the concept of interdependence? Would that be enough to move away from legal systems that imprison innocent persons, or empower each member of an organization to act ethically? Would that be enough to suggest self responsibility, and do we trust that everyone is capable of it? Personally, I can let go more easily when I know the proper process is in place to deal with issues, and we have done our best to educate our members, our peers.
I have taken a leadership role in many different organizations locally and globally, as a board member and executive committee member. I have gained some understanding of the complexities of these issues. It is enough to say, there are many questions, and many without easy answers. I do not know each person in my community. I have to help create the by-laws, and a system that I think will work best for right now. I am one of the ones responsible for creating the safety net of protection for all of us, and be open to changing it as needed. No one else will do this for me. I am a leader. If you have your own business or practice, you are a leader. Welcome and enjoy!
We are all related. Judy