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Ethics and Conduct Policy

Last updated: May 2021


Those applying for graduate or professional membership of HGI, or renewing their membership, are signifying their agreement with the Institute's policy statement below when they sign their application:

“Every member of the Institute shall at all times so order his or her conduct to uphold the dignity and reputation of the Human Givens Institute and to safeguard the public interest in matters of safety and health and otherwise. He/she shall exercise his/her professional skill and judgement to the best of their ability and discharge their professional responsibilities with integrity.”

The organising ideas of the Human Givens approach provide powerful insights into human nature that may be applied to all areas of human life. They are not static, and we seek to continuously improve the ideas, and find better ways of explaining and applying them. In essence:

We aim to continuously improve our understanding of what people need in order to thrive, and to apply, develop and spread this knowledge within all areas of human activity, for the benefit of everyone. We will work to remove, or overcome, obstacles to human well-being in all that we do. Human Givens practitioners whose actions are compatible with this mission will, almost certainly, be acting ethically.

The Human Givens Institute seeks at all times to maintain the highest possible standards of professionalism, to protect the public, promote quality care and uphold public confidence. It therefore pledges to set high ethical standards, and to promote the ethical behaviour, attitudes and judgements of its practitioners by:

  • always acting in the best interests of clients using its members’ services
  • promoting and delivering high standards of training, education and practice
  • applying rigorous standards to itself and its registrants
  • assisting our practitioners with ethical decision making
  • providing clear, open and accessible information to the public
  • acting swiftly to protect the public when necessary.

All practitioners who are members of the Human Givens Institute are required to follow this Ethics Code, and to focus upon high-quality ethical decision making.

This should include appropriate flexibility for a wide variety of methods and approaches as the circumstances dictate, but always within this framework. It is not acceptable for practitioners to advertise themselves as working from the Human Givens, and then to deliver therapy (or other supportive practices) substantially on the basis of training they may have had in other approaches such as person-centred, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, etc.

In this policy the term ‘practitioner’ means any registered member of the Human Givens Institute, student or trainee practitioner.

In this policy the term ‘client’ refers to any person or persons with whom a practitioner interacts on a professional basis. A client may be an individual (for example a patient, a student, a research practitioner, or fellow practitioner), a couple, a family, an educational institution, or another organisation, including a court.

Practitioners are very likely to be required to make decisions in difficult, changing and unclear situations. The Human Givens Institute expects that the policy will be used to form a basis for consideration of ethical questions, with the principles in this policy being taken into account in the process of making decisions, together with the needs of the client and the individual circumstances of the case. However, no policy can replace the need for practitioners to use their professional and ethical judgement.

In making decisions on what constitutes ethical practice, practitioners will need to consider the application of technical competence and the use of their professional skill and judgement. They should also be mindful of the importance of fostering and maintaining good professional relationships with clients, colleagues and others as a primary element of good practice.

Ethics is related to the control of power. Clearly, not all clients are powerless but many are disadvantaged by lack of knowledge and certainty compared to the practitioner whose judgement they require. This policy attempts to encapsulate the wisdom and experience of the human givens approach to support its practitioners in their professional activities, reassure the public that it is worthy of their trust and to clarify the expectations of all.

Our Code of Ethics is based on the need to help people to flourish, and therefore also on the principle ‘first, do no harm’. This implies not just a passive avoidance of harm to clients and members of the public, but also an active striving to mitigate any harm caused to clients, even when the harm is unavoidable or unintended. This responsibility should extend far enough to encompass challenging the incompetence or malpractice of others, contributing to any investigation of professional practice that falls below the standards of competence set out in the Code, and taking pains to ensure that one’s practice (or that of colleagues) does not bring HGI, or the profession of counselling and therapy generally, into disrepute.

Whilst members are, of course, free to debate the philosophical basis of the ethical stance outlined in Section C, they are expected to comply with the HGI Code of Conduct (Section A) and Standards of Competence (Section B) at all times.

Anyone who wishes may make use of the Complaints Procedure, although our aim is to eliminate any need for them to do so by fostering and maintaining excellence in our practice.

In the event of a complaint arising, mediation should be practised wherever possible. This can often resolve problems without the need to resort to a formal process.

The following policy details the ways in which the practice of therapy from the ‘human givens’ perspective fulfils this commitment. It comprises four sections:

Section A – Code of conduct for practitioners
Section B – Competence, including training & supervision requirements
Section C – Ethical foundations of the human givens organising idea


  1. Online Therapy Guidelines
  2. Whistleblower Policy
  3. Concerns Policy
  4. Resolving ethical dilemmas, disputes and other problems
  5. Indicative Sanctions Guidance
  6. HGI Professional Registration Policy
  7. Guidelines for HGI Registration Panel
  8. HGI Appeal Panel Guidelines
  9. EOC appeals procedure (Procedure for notifying and dealing with appeals against decisions of the HGI Registration Panel)
  10. EOC appeals form (Appeals against decisions of the HGI Registration Panel to reject applications to join the HGI Register of qualified therapists)
  11. Urgent Protection Policy

Further information

For anyone who would like more information about ethics, the following articles, which first appeared in Human Givens journal, are highly recommended.

The limits of tolerance: ethics and human nature
Ivan Tyrrell suggests a refreshingly straightforward approach to the difficulties of arriving at ethical decisions
Volume 9, No. 2; Summer 2002    Read article >>

Knowledge beyond words: confusion, counselling and ethics
Tim Bond answers Ivan Tyrrell's questions about BACP's new ethical framework for good practice in counselling
Volume 9, No. 1; Spring 2002    Read article >>

Practising ethically
The HGI Ethics and Complaints Committee considers some of the ethical challenges that human givens practitioners may face. Ian Thomson sets the scene.
Volume 15, No. 4; Winter 2008    Read article >>

Aspects of good practice.
Ian Thomson takes a look at a selection of ethical issues of relevance to human givens practitioners.
Volume 23, No.1; 2016   Read article >>

Inside our ethics committee.
Learning points from cases presented for adjudication or advice.
Volume 24, No.1; 2017  Read article >>

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