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The Human Givens Institute Ethics and
Complaints Comittee (ECC)


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Introduction:
Every professional association needs to ensure that its members follow a clear code of ethics and a 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 Ethics and Complaints Committee (ECC).

The remit of the ECC is to:

consider complaints in line with the HGI complaints procedure;
  offer advice on ethical questions and disseminate learning from complaints or questions referred to it;
  advise where necessary on aspects of the HGI's own working and organisation — its governance;
  seek advice from appropriate sources on particular issues where necessary;
  promote the development and dissemination of the HG Ethical Framework;
  advise the HGI Board on matters relating to the regulation of counselling and psychotherapy*;
  report to the HGI Board.

*If/when the ‘assured voluntary registration’ of counsellors and psychotherapists (as proposed in Government Command Paper 8008, Enabling Excellence, Autonomy and Accountability for Healthcare Workers, Social Workers and Social Care Workers, Department of Health, February 2011) comes about, organisations applying for registration of their membership will need to demonstrate to the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) or Health Professions Council (HPC), or equivalent future body, that they have in place arrangements to protect the interests of clients and ensure that clients have access to a fair and robust complaints procedure. The HGI is in a position to evidence that its procedures and processes meet the above criteria and will take all reasonable steps to ensure that they meet any further requirements.

Other matters falling within the ECC’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 ECC
ECC members are appointed by the HGI Board to which they report and are accountable. Appointments are made on the basis of relevant knowledge, expertise, experience and personal qualities.

When vacancies arise through the retirement or resignation of members, these will be notified via the HGI Forum and the HGI Newsletter so as to allow interested individuals to apply to serve on the Committee. Applications will be made in writing to the HGI Board and appointments will be at the Board’s discretion. Membership turnover will be managed in such a way as to ensure continuity of expertise and experience.

The Committee currently consists solely of members of the HGI. It is the intention of the HGI to recruit two members of the public to the ECC. The CHRE strongly believes that the presence of such 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 ECC will consist of between five and seven 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 ECC. The Chair’s duties include finalising the decisions of the ECC and conveying them to the HGI Board.

At the present time the ECC members are:

Susan Cheshire (Chair), retired teacher of Philosophy and Critical Thinking, former visiting lecturer in Ethics for the HG MA at NTU, and HG therapist;
Sarah Jeffrey-Gray, practising solicitor and HG therapist.
Julian Penton, former community development practitioner and manager, now HG therapist and Human Givens College tutor;
Richard Rowland, retired superintendent of police and HG therapist;
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 ECC
The work of the ECC is carried out on a voluntary basis, with travel expenses being refunded by the HGI where appropriate.

The ECC communicates by means of a combination of e-mail discussions and telephone conferences to arrive at consensus – or, on rare occasions, a majority decision.

Since 2006, the ECC has dealt with some 25 complaints of differing types, together with a number of ethical queries raised by HGI members. Adjudication of complaints may involve offering support to those involved, whether by suggesting remedial action, further learning, or onward referral of clients.

Complaint investigation process
On receipt of a complaint, responsibility for the investigation process will be allocated to two ECC members. On completion of the investigation, the members concerned will present their findings to the remaining members, including the lay members, who will then decide on the matter. Lay members will not take part in the investigation process.

Reporting of ECC activities
The ECC will produce an annual report that will detail all complaints dealt with during the preceding year. This report will be presented to the HGI Board and posted on the HGI Forum.

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 ECC
Wider issues such as constitutional matters, governance, regulation of counselling and psychotherapy, etc are discussed at an annual face-to-face meeting of the ECC.

Appeals Process
Any member of the public or HGI member who is dissatisfied with a decision of the ECC is entitled to appeal to the HGI Board.

Finally
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 ECC.

Further Information

For full details of the HGI Ethics and Professional Conduct Policy and Complaints Procedure 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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