Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Section B

Standards of Competence

Updated: April 2024

B.1  An effective practitioner should:

  1. Have up-to-date knowledge about the spectrum of mental health disorders;
  2. Be able to quickly and effectively support with anxiety (fear-related) problems including trauma (or post-traumatic stress disorder), phobias, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behaviour (OCD);
  3. Understand depression and how to lift people out of it;
  4. Be prepared to give advice if needed or asked for;
  5. Avoid using jargon or ‘psychobabble’;
  6. Do not dwell unduly on the client’s past;
  7. Be supportive when difficult feelings emerge, but not encourage clients to remain in an emotionally aroused state;
  8. Know how to assist individuals to develop social skills, so that their needs for affection, friendship, pleasure, intimacy, connection to the wider community, etc. can be better fulfilled;
  9. Know how to help people to draw on their own resources;
  10. Induce and teach deep relaxation (to unlock clients’ attention from whatever strong emotions may have become focussed upon);
  11. Be aware of the importance of the ‘observing self’, or state of being aware of awareness itself, when there is the potential to look in many directions and choose to focus attention in a variety of ways;
  12. Help people to think about their problems in a new and more empowering way;
  13. Set tasks to be done between sessions where the goals of therapy require this;
  14. Learn how to recognise nominalisations and avoid being emotionally influenced by them;
  15. Always encourage clients to be specific and to make concrete their beliefs and feelings so that there is something real to work with;
  16. Look for patterns in what the client brings to therapy, in addition to content;
  17. Increase the client’s self-confidence and independence, and wherever possible, make sure that they feel better after every consultation.
  18. Work within the limits of their experience and training, remaining aware, in particular, of the limits of their knowledge about medical matters and referring on to an apropriate medical or other professional any client who presents with physical or severe psychological conditions they are not qualified to help with;
  19. Have respect for clients and their autonomy. Be sensitive, courteous and straightforward in communicating with them;
  20. Beware of conflicts of interest arising between clients, particularly in couple therapy, where they may have to choose between clients if they break up during therapy. Think whether it would be best to stop seeing either party and advise that each gets another therapist. If a conflict of interest arises, notify those concerned in writing;
  21. Do not undertake one to one therapy with more than one person from a close family group at the same time as working with another person from the same family group. This is because it is important to work from an individual client’s unique model of reality. It is not possible to work thus when also holding information about them of which they may be unaware. To do so places on a therapist unreasonable and difficult to manage pressures of compartmentalising information that will likely impede effective therapy. 

    Exceptions to this general rule would be:

    • Couples work – where the work is contracted with a couple and any individual sessions with either individual in the relationship are mutually agreed as necessary within the context of the couple therapy. However, if it becomes clear during such a one-to-one session that extensive work is required outside of the couple therapy then a different therapist should be sought to undertake that additional one-to-one work.
    • Family therapy – as above.
    • A partner/family member of a client attending a one-to-one session either with the client or independently to understand how best the partner/family member can support the individual engaged in the therapy. This should occur only with the client’s consent.
    • In cases of serious mental illness – where establishing a route of communication between the therapist and a key support individual in the life of the client is strongly advisable. This should occur only with the client’s consent.

    Consider carefully, when agreeing to see a second individual from a family group after having concluded work with a first, whether a conflict of interests would occur if:

    • The first individual were to request further support at a later time – a not uncommon occurrence.
    • The issues being dealt with in therapy with the second person related very closely to the first individual with whom therapy took place.
  22. Remain vigilant about the possible consequences of multiple relationships, i.e. when the therapist has more than one relationship with the client, e.g. client and friend, supervisor and trainee;
  23. Consider the implications of therapeutic interventions on other people in the client’s life: friends, family and colleagues;
  24. Take as few sessions as possible and develop sensitivity about when to refer on and when to end therapy. Practitioners should not continue with therapy if no benefit is being gained by the client;
  25. Remember that in therapy, clients are highly suggestible and so avoid the labelling that can reinforce the pathology of their problem. Furthermore, care should be taken not to inadvertently create illusory memories about events in the past;
  26. Seek good relationships with their fellow practitioners and other health-care professionals, co-operating with them where appropriate;
  27. Be accountable to the client and to the Human Givens Institute for the quality of their practice.

B.2  Training, governance and the conditions for maintaining good practice:

  1. Practitioners should seek professional training that teaches knowledge of the common mental health conditions and the methods and skills that give the best outcomes for relieving such conditions;
  2. Because knowledge in these fields continues to expand as further research and insights reach the public domain, the professional training sought by practitioners needs to take account of such advances wherever they are relevant to therapeutic endeavour;
  3. Assessment of trainee therapists should include a thorough testing of relevant knowledge and the assessment of audio-visual recordings of their work with clients, so demonstrating, as far as is practicable, that minimum standards of competence have been achieved and demonstrated;
  4. Practitioners should not promote themselves as fully-qualified HG practitioners unless and until they are registered with the HGI. Those designated ‘Trainee’ HG practitioners must make their status clear to clients, i.e. that they are not yet fully qualified, although working towards qualification. See also Section A14 on Standards of responsibility in business practice, above.
  5. Continued professional registration should be subject to the minimum standards for professional development and supervision as required by the HGI. Practitioners are expected to make arrangements for the professional supervision of their work with clients in accordance with the Institute’s supervision policy. This is to ensure that sufficiently high standards of professional practice are developed and maintained. The specific requirements of individual therapists will depend on level of experience and competence.
  6. Records of outcomes of work with clients should be retained for no less than seven years and, where necessary and appropriate, used as a tool for self evaluation, professional supervision and, where appropriate, certain complaints about practitioners by clients.
  7. Practitioners should ensure that their professional training is continuously updated and refined, so that core therapeutic skills continue to be polished and, wherever necessary, updated. Records of such continuing professional development should be kept and submitted in due form to the HGI.
  8. The HGI is committed to the principles of openness and honesty and its registrants are expected to uphold these requirements. HGI registrants must be open and honest when something goes wrong, or has the potential to cause, harm or distress. This means that the registrant must: tell the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family) when something has gone wrong, apologise to the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family), offer an appropriate remedy or support to put matters right (if possible) and explain fully to the person (or, where appropriate, their advocate, carer or family) the short and long-term effects of what has happened. Registrants must be open and honest with their colleagues and take part in reviews and investigations when requested, raising concerns where appropriate. Registrants must not stop someone from raising concerns. See: Duty of Candour. Anyone with a concern about the behaviour, technical competence or business practice of HGI registrants may make use of the complaints procedure if the issue cannot be resolved by the use of informal channels for providing feedback. See here: Note: In such circumstances, HGI members should make use of the HGI whistleblower policy at
  9. The Human Givens Institute shall have the power to remove any name from its register of members if they are deemed to be unsafe to practice, as determined by due procedure. We will ensure that all reasonably practicable steps are taken to restrict their future practice: we will publish their removal on our website and in any other public listing of practitioners; and we will refer them to the Disclosure and Barring Service and other relevant authorities as appropriate. We will also recognise decisions by statutory regulators or other accredited register holders if they refer to HGI members.


Continue to:  Section C - Ethical Foundations


Latest News:

SCoPEd - latest update

The six SCoPEd partners have published their latest update on the important work currently underway with regards to the SCoPEd framework implementation, governance and impact assessment.

Date posted: 14/02/2024