BACP Ethical Framework  

Commitment to clients 

1. Put clients first by:
a. making clients our primary concern while we are working with them
b. providing an appropriate standard of service to our clients

2. Work to professional standards by:
a. working within our competence
b. keeping our skills and knowledge up to date
c. collaborating with colleagues to improve the quality of what is being offered to clients
d. ensuring that our wellbeing is sufficient to sustain the quality of the work
e. keeping accurate and appropriate records

3. Show respect by:
a. valuing each client as a unique person
b. protecting client confidentiality and privacy
c. agreeing with clients on how we will work together
d. working in partnership with clients

4. Build an appropriate relationship with clients by:
a. communicating clearly what clients have a right to expect from us
b. communicating any benefits, costs and commitments that clients may reasonably expect
c. respecting the boundaries between our work with clients and what lies outside that work
d. not exploiting or abusing clients
e. listening out for how clients experience our working together

5. Maintain integrity by:
a. being honest about the work
b. communicating our qualifications, experience and working methods accurately
c. working ethically and with careful consideration of how we fulfil our legal obligations

6. Demonstrate accountability and candour by:
a. being willing to discuss with clients openly and honestly any known risks involved in the work and how best to work towards our clients’ desired outcomes by communicating any benefits, costs and commitments that clients may reasonably expect
b. ensuring that clients are promptly informed about anything that has occurred which places the client at risk of harm or causes harm in our work together, whether or not clients are aware of it, and quickly taking action to limit or repair any harm as far as possible
c. reviewing our work with clients in supervision
d. monitoring how clients experience our work together and the effects of our work with them.


1. Our ethics are based on values, principles and personal moral qualities that underpin and inform the interpretation and application of Our commitment to clients and Good practice.


2. Values are a useful way of expressing general ethical commitments that underpin the purpose and goals of our actions.

3. Our fundamental values include a commitment to:

  • respecting human rights and dignity
  • alleviating symptoms of personal distress and suffering
  • enhancing people’s wellbeing and capabilities
  • improving the quality of relationships between people
  • increasing personal resilience and effectiveness
  • facilitating a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned within their personal and cultural context
  • appreciating the variety of human experience and culture
  • protecting the safety of clients
  • ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships
  • enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application
  • striving for the fair and adequate provision of services

4. Values inform principles. They become more precisely defined and action-orientated when expressed as a principle.


5. Principles direct attention to important ethical responsibilities. Our core principles are:

  • Being trustworthy: honouring the trust placed in the practitioner
  • Autonomy: respect for the client’s right to be self-governing
  • Beneficence: a commitment to promoting the client’s wellbeing
  • Non-maleficence: a commitment to avoiding harm to the client
  • Justice: the fair and impartial treatment of all clients and the provision of adequate services
  • Self-respect: fostering the practitioner’s self-knowledge, integrity and care for self

6. Ethical decisions that are strongly supported by one or more of these principles without any contradiction with the others may be regarded as well-founded.

7. However, practitioners may encounter circumstances in which it is impossible to reconcile all the applicable principles. This may require choosing which principles to prioritise. A decision or course of action does not necessarily become unethical merely because it is controversial or because other practitioners would have reached different conclusions in similar circumstances. A practitioner’s obligation is to consider all the relevant circumstances with as much care as possible and to be appropriately accountable for decisions made.

Personal moral qualities

8. Personal moral qualities are internalised values that shape how we relate to others and our environment. They represent a moral energy or drive that may operate unconsciously and unexamined. This moral energy or drive is ethically more beneficial when consciously examined from time to time and used to motivate our ethical development or shape how we work towards a good society.

9. ‘Personal moral qualities’ are a contemporary application of ‘virtues’ from moral philosophy.

10. The practitioner’s personal and relational moral qualities are of the utmost importance. Their perceived presence or absence will have a strong influence on how relationships with clients and colleagues develop and whether they are of sufficient quality and resilience to support the work.

11. High levels of compatibility between personal and professional moral qualities will usually enhance the integrity and resilience of any relationship.

12. Key personal qualities to which members and registrants are strongly encouraged to aspire include:

Candour: openness with clients about anything that places them at risk of harm or causes actual

Care: benevolent, responsible and competent attentiveness to someone’s needs, wellbeing
and personal agency

Courage: the capacity to act in spite of known fears, risks and uncertainty 

Diligence: the conscientious deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to achieve a
beneficial outcome

Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another person’s experience from that
person’s perspective

Fairness: impartial and principled in decisions and actions concerning others in ways that promote equality of opportunity and maximise the capability of the people concerned 

Humility: the ability to assess accurately and acknowledge one’s own strengths and weaknesses 

Identity: sense of self in relationship to others that forms the basis of responsibility, resilience and motivation 

Integrity: commitment to being moral in dealings with others, including personal straightforwardness, honesty and coherence 

Resilience: the capacity to work with the client’s concerns without being personally diminished 

Respect: showing appropriate esteem for people and their understanding of themselves 

Sincerity: a personal commitment to consistency between what is professed and what is done 

Wisdom: possession of sound judgement that informs practice