Therapy ethics: what to expect

Seeking help takes courage. Feeling safe is important to get the most out of psychotherapy. Our psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors sign up to rigorous ethical standards which help set the foundation for your relationship with them.


UKCP code of ethics and professional practice

UKCP therapists are highly trained with an outstanding depth of knowledge, skill, and practical experience. They’re also lifelong learners and are required to do extra training every year.

As well as this, UKCP therapists commit to our code of ethics. It provides boundaries for you and your psychotherapist which are important in building a professional trusting relationship.

Our members are committed to good practice, ethical conduct, learning and development. UKCP’s register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, who protect the public and help ensure that you can choose a practitioner to meet your needs with confidence.


What to expect when you work with a UKCP psychotherapist

A UKCP accredited therapists must adhere to our Code of Ethics and Professional Practice whether you see them online, in person or on the phone. By way of examples, you can expect:

  • Readily available information about fees, likely length of therapy, methods of practice to be used and their terms and conditions.
  • An explanation of how your confidentiality will be protected.
  • An explanation of how they will use and store any data they may hold about you.
  • A clear contract between you and the therapist, preferably a written one, outlining what to expect and what you have agreed.


How should my therapist behave?

Fundamentally, they should always behave in your best interests. You can expect them to:

  • Treat you with respect. You should not feel like they judge you because of your sex, age, colour, race, disability, gender identity, communication skills, sexuality, lifestyle, religious, cultural or political beliefs, social economic or immigration status.

Respect your autonomy. You shouldn’t be told what to do but can expect to be encouraged to make your own decisions and act on your own values.


What can I do if I have any concerns about a therapist’s conduct?

If it feels okay to do so, you could try talking to them. This might feel really difficult but would give the therapist you’re working with a chance to put things right.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the therapist about your concerns, you can contact us.

We believe that everyone can benefit from psychotherapy and want you to feel safe and confident seeking help. We will listen to you and take your complaint seriously.

When you make a complaint will be verifying that the therapist is a UKCP member. If they aren’t we will try and signpost you to other organisations who might be able to help you.

Currently anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist and not be required to register with an accredited body such as UKCP. If they aren’t registered with an accredited body then they will not be working within any ethical or complaints framework. UKCP accreditation is a hallmark of quality and trust.

Use our Find a therapist directory to find a psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor who  has signed up to our Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and practices under our Complaints and Conduct Process.

Concerned about a therapist? How to make a complaint

Anyone can raise a concern or make a complaint about a therapist on our register. Dealing with these concerns and complaints is a core element of our service to the public.

Find a therapist near you