The HGI Registration and Professional Standards Committee (RPSC)
Every professional association needs to ensure that its members follow a clear code of ethics and set of standards in relation to the work they do. These serve to provide practitioners with clear working guidelines and to assure clients of integrity of practice. Such associations also need to ensure that wherever clients are unhappy with the standard of service received they have recourse to a fair and independent procedure for assessing their complaint and where the complaint is upheld, all necessary action is taken to minimise the likelihood of a recurrence of the situation in question. The procedure adopted by the Human Givens Institute involves a committee of its members known as the HGI Registration and Professional Standards Committee (RPSC). This committee functions independently of the professional association of the HGI and its board of directors and acts in the interests of the public
The remit of the RPSC is to:
- Maintain a publicly accessible register of practitioners who meet the standards of training, professional practice and fitness to practise set by the HGI board and ensure that entry to the HGI register is based on these standards;
- Ensure that the standards of professional practice, conduct and ethics, professional supervision and continuing professional development set by the board of the HGI are met;
- Obtain and take account of the views of the public when reviewing the means of maintaining standards;
- Continue to identify, monitor and take steps to mitigate any and all of the risks presented to the public by virtue of the counselling and therapeutic process;
- Liaise with government, and other organisations when appropriate, in the public interest on regulatory issues, and ensure that standards and procedures reflect regulatory requirements, where necessary;
- Liaise with the HGI Board on matters relating to the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy and the Institute’s application to join the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Voluntary Accredited Register scheme;
- Consider complaints in line with the HGI complaints procedure;
- Investigate and decide on complaints and impose sanctions or remove practitioners from the HGI Professional Register, if necessary;
- Ensure that an independent appeals process is available;
- Offer advice on ethical questions and disseminate learning from complaints or questions referred to it;
- Seek advice from appropriate sources on particular issues where necessary;
- Promote the development and dissemination of the HG Ethical Framework;
- Liaise and communicate with the HGI Board.
Other matters falling within the RPSC’s remit are disputes between HGI members and queries or complaints from a variety of sources, including the public, other professional bodies, etc., concerning aspects of HG practice, policy, and so on. These are informed by developments in wider healthcare and public policy regarding patients, children and young people, duties of care, etc.
Constitution of the RPSC
RPSC members are appointed by the HGI Board and vacancies arising through the retirement or resignation of R&PSC members will be filled by individuals selected on the basis of relevant knowledge, expertise, experience and personal qualities. Membership turnover will be managed in such a way as to ensure continuity of expertise and experience.
The Committee consists of members of the HGI together with suitably qualified individuals, including a lay member. The PSA believes that the presence of lay members can contribute towards ensuring that complainants receive a fair hearing and that where corrective action is called for, it is appropriate.
At any one time the RPSC will consist of up to 10 individuals appointed for five years (renewable at the Board's discretion). A Chair and Deputy Chair are elected by the members to serve for three years, although these appointments are subject to review at annual meetings of the RPSC. The Chair’s duties include finalising the decisions of the RPSC and conveying them to the HGI Board.
At the present time the RPSC members are:
- Richard Cavaliero is a HG therapist in private practice who also works in rural community and arts organisations that serve a diverse range of disadvantaged populations.
- Dr Owen Davis (Peer Group Representative). Dr Davis is an HG therapist and educational psychologist. He is also a part-time tutor at University College London, teaching and supervising trainee educational psychologists, a role that includes monitoring ethical practice.
- Lucy Evans, HG Practitioner, retired Equality and Diversity consultant and former Small Business Advisor for the Welsh Government.
- Jo Ham, HG therapist specialising in schools work with children, young people and families; trainer and leader of Just What We Need courses for parents; former senior global marketing manager with leading educational publisher.
- Amanda Hargreaves, HG therapist in private practice. Amanda has also worked as a State Registered Nurse and Health Visitor.
- Sarah Jeffrey-Gray, former solicitor and HG therapist.
- Phil Sheardown (Lay Member), outdoor activity technical adviser, lifetime people student, natural philosopher, HG reader.
- Sue Saunders (Chair) has worked in the areas of Personal Development Training, Coaching and Psychotherapy for over 25 years and is now an HG Therapist and Supervisor working in Dublin Human Givens Centre.
- Ian Thomson (Deputy Chair), retired quality manager with responsibility for complaint handling, former visiting lecturer in Ethics for the HG MA at NTU and HG therapist.
The work of the RPSC
The work of the RPSC is carried out on a voluntary basis, with travel expenses being refunded by the HGI where appropriate.
The RPSC communicates to arrive at consensus – or, on rare occasions, a majority decision.
Between 2006 and August 2015, the HGI Registration and Professional Standards Committee (RPSC), and its predecessor, the Ethics and Complaints Committee (ECC), dealt with some 22 complaints from clients or their relatives together with three from other organisations/professionals. In addition, five complaints made by members of the HGI in relation to fellow members were dealt with. Total complaints received and dealt with in the period 2006-2015: 30. Of these:
- 6 complaints were upheld and appropriate remedial action taken;
- 14 complaints were not upheld, there being insufficient grounds to do so;
- 7 complaints were not followed through since the complainants did not pursue their concern, being content to bring the matter to the attention of the HGI only. Notes:
- The complainants were given the opportunity to pursue the complaints but not wish to do so;
- Where complainants provided the name of the therapist concerned, the matter was raised with them and a response required;
- 2 complaints were inapplicable to the HGI, both relating to therapists who were neither trained in the human givens approach nor registered with the HGI;
- 1 further complaint proved not possible to pursue since the therapist, who by the time of the complaint was no longer a member of the HGI, did not respond to the ECC’s letters.
Six concerns notified by members of the public, other organisations and HGI members were dealt with and resolved in the same period (2006-2015). Note: These included two ‘whistle-blowing’ notifications internal to the HGI, both of which were resolved satisfactorily.
In addition the RPSC dealt with numerous ethical queries raised by HGI members, providing information and guidance as required.
Where complaints, concerns and queries indicated a need for additional guidelines and information for Registrants, this was done, for example, strengthened data protection and confidentiality guidelines, enhanced case study guidelines, ethics code strengthened in relation to business practice, guidance and information issued regarding medication.
Complaint investigation process
On receipt of a complaint, responsibility for the investigation process will be allocated to two or three R&PSC members. On completion of the investigation, the members concerned will present their findings to the remaining members, including the lay the member, who will then decide on the matter. The lay member will not take part in the investigation process.
Reporting of RPSC activities
The R&PSC will produce an annual report that will detail all complaints and queries dealt with during the preceding year. This report will be presented to the HGI Board and will be available to members on request.
The above report will not identify those who have been the subject of complaints. However, if it has been necessary to bar an HGI member from practising, their details will remain on the HGI Register together with a clear statement outlining that they are considered unfit to practise. This will serve to alert members of the public/potential clients to the situation.
Annual Meeting of the RPSC
Wider issues such as constitutional matters, governance, regulation of counselling and psychotherapy, etc. are discussed at an annual meeting of the R&PSC.
Any member of the public or HGI member who is dissatisfied with a decision of the R&PSC is entitled to appeal to the HGI Board.
A concern with acting ethically has always been part of human givens teaching. Day 10 of every Part 2 diploma course and the related section of the training manual focus on ethical practice. Practitioners are encouraged to discuss ethical concerns with colleagues, at peer supervision groups and with their supervisor. They are also at liberty to consult the R&PSC.
For full details of the HGI Code of Ethics and Conduct please click here.
For an in-depth discussion of ethical issues, which includes a number of case examples, see the article 'Practising ethically' which appeared in the Human Givens Journal Volume 15, No.4 – 2008.
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