Code of Ethics









1. INTRODUCTION: (Back to top)

The purpose of this Code is to establish and maintain standards of professional practice for Intimacy Counselling. It is intended to protect members of the public seeking their services. Intimacy Counselling staff, accept their responsibilities to clients, colleagues, the Association, agencies and the wider Community.

Intimacy Counselling staff work to understand and be informed about the meanings and implications of the Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand law for their work.

Counselling involves the formation of professional relationships based on ethical values and principles. Counsellors seek to assist clients to increase their understanding of themselves and their relationships with others, to develop more resourceful ways of living, and to bring about positive change in their lives. Counselling includes relationships formed with individuals, couples, families, groups, communities and organisations.



Intimacy Counselling and its staff have a series of core values that they embrace as essential to their work.

These include;

a. respect for every individual

b. preservation of human dignity

c. ethical caring

d. personal integrity

e. working as a partnership

f. social justice



The following principles are expressions of these core values in action. They form the foundation for ethical practice.

Intimacy Counsellors shall:

3.1. Act with care and respect for individual and cultural differences and the diversity of human experience.

3.2. Avoid doing harm in all their professional work.

3.3. Actively support the principles embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi.

3.4. Respect the confidences with which they are entrusted.

3.5. Promote the safety and well-being of individuals, families, communities, whanau, hapu and iwi.

3.6. Seek to increase the range of choices and opportunities for clients.

3.7. Be honest and trustworthy in all their professional relationships.

3.8. Practice within the scope of their competence.

3.9. Treat colleagues and other professionals with respect.



4.1. Safety

(a) Intimacy counsellors shall take all reasonable steps to protect clients from harm.

(b) Intimacy counsellors shall, in their professional practice, take responsible action to challenge violence and abuse of power.

(c) Intimacy counsellors shall take all reasonable steps to protect themselves from actual or potential danger.

(d) Intimacy counsellors shall warn third parties and appropriate authorities in the event of an imminent threat of serious harm to that third party from the client.

4.2. Respecting Diversity and Promoting Social Justice

(a) Counsellors shall take account of their own cultural identity and biases, and seek to limit any harmful impact of these in their work with clients, and should work towards bi-cultural competence.

(c) Counsellors shall learn about and take account of the diverse cultural contexts and practices of the clients with whom they work, and shall be committed to the equitable provision of counselling services to all individuals and social groups.

(d) Counsellors shall avoid discriminating against clients on the basis of their race, colour, disability, ethnic group, culture, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, religious or political beliefs or on any other basis.

(e) Counsellors shall work with clients in ways that are meaningful in the context of, and respectful towards, the clients’ cultural communities.

(f) Counsellors shall support their clients to challenge the injustices they experience.

(g) Counsellors shall promote social justice through advocacy and empowerment.

4.3. Appropriateness / Suitability of Counsellor

Counsellors shall determine, in consultation with the client, whether they are appropriate to provide the counselling. Where necessary and feasible, counsellors shall refer clients to other counsellors who would be more appropriate by reason of their skills, gender or culture or for any other reason indicated by the clients’ needs.

4.4. Clear Contracts

The terms on which counselling is provided shall be clear and reasonable. Contracts negotiated between counsellors and clients may include matters to do with availability, fees, cancelled appointments, the degree of confidentiality offered, handling of documentation, complaint procedures and other significant matters. Counsellors shall establish with clients the aims or purposes of counselling and renegotiate them as necessary.

4.5. Informed Consent

(a) Counsellors shall provide services to clients in the context of free and informed consent. Informed implies understanding and free consent implies a lack of pressure. Counsellors shall respect clients’ rights to refuse or withdraw consent at any time.

(b) Counsellors shall use clear and understandable language to discuss with clients the purposes, risks, limits and costs of the counselling.

(c) Counsellors shall take all reasonable steps to safeguard the interests and rights of clients with limited or diminished capacity to give informed consent. Where relevant, this needs to be done in partnership with caregivers.

(d) Counsellors should respect the rights of children: to receive age appropriate information and to give consent on their own behalf, commensurate with their capacity to do so.

(e) Counsellors shall inform clients, where relevant, of the availability of government funding for counselling services.

4.6. Fees

(a) Counsellors shall clarify fees and methods of payments with clients at the beginning of a counselling relationship, ensuring that fees are reasonable and commensurate with the service provided.

(b) Counsellors should be cautious about accepting goods or services from clients in lieu of payment. Counsellors who do accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services are responsible for demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or to the professional relationship.

4.7. Documentation of Counselling

“Documentation” in this code refers to all material about the client or about the counselling, recorded in any form (electronic, audio, visual and text. Documentation includes material collected for the purposes of: enhancing counseling practice; and meeting the requirements of research, accountability, appraisal, audit and evaluation.

(a) Counsellors shall maintain records in sufficient detail to track the sequence and nature of professional services provided. Such records shall be maintained in a manner consistent with ethical practice taking into account statutory, regulatory, agency or institutional requirements.

(b) Counsellors shall obtain informed consent from clients when writing reports for third parties.

(c) Counsellors shall keep records and notes secure. They shall create, maintain, transfer and arrange to destroy them in a manner compliant with the requirements of the confidentiality sections of this code.

(d) Counsellors shall inform clients of their right to access their documentation, to know how this information is being kept and to know who has access to it.

(e) Counsellors shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that documentation remains retrievable as long as is professionally prudent, or as is required by law.

(f) Counsellors are encouraged to ensure policies are in place for the safe and confidential storage and eventual destruction of client notes, in the event of the counsellor ceasing to practice, leaving the employing agency, or the counselor dying.

4.8. Respectful Language

Counsellors shall use appropriate and respectful language in all communications, verbal and written, to and about clients.

4.9. Maintaining Competent Practice

(a) Counsellors shall maintain their competence through regular supervision, undertake appropriate professional development activities, and work within the limits of their knowledge, training and experience.

4.10. Fitness to Practice

Intimacy Counselling staff, together with their supervisors, shall monitor and maintain their fitness to practice at a level that enables them to provide an effective service, and shall withdraw from part or all of their counselling practice while their emotional, mental or physical health is significantly impaired.

4.11. Multiple Relationships

(a) Counsellors assume full responsibility for setting and monitoring the boundaries between a counselling relationship with a client and any other kind of relationship with that client and for making such boundaries as clear as possible to the client.

(b) Counsellors should consult with their supervisor(s) when dual or multiple relationships arise.

(c) When dealing with more than one party, counsellors should be even handed when responding to the needs, concerns and interests of each party.

(d) When counsellors agree to provide counseling to two or more persons who have a relationship, counsellors shall clarify which person or persons are clients and the nature of the relationship the counsellors will have with each person.

(e) Counsellors should declare any previous acquaintance with a client or any other circumstances that may prejudice the counselling.

(f) If conflicting roles with clients emerge during counseling, counsellors must clarify, adjust or withdraw from these roles by an appropriate process.

4.13. Sexual and Other Inappropriate Relationships with Clients

(a) Intimacy Counselling staff shall not engage in sexual or romantic activity with their clients.

(b) Intimacy Counselling staff shall not exploit the potential for intimacy made possible in the counselling relationship, even after the counselling has ended.

(c) Intimacy Counselling staff shall not sexually harass their clients.

(d) Intimacy Counselling staff shall not provide counselling to persons with whom they have had a sexual or romantic relationship.

4.14. Referrals

Intimacy Counselling staff shall refer clients on when other specialised knowledge is needed, or when the counselling is not being useful. They will only make referrals and disclose information to colleagues/other services with the clients permission. Intimacy Counselling staff should be able to verify the competence and integrity of persons to whom clients are referred, and neither ask or accepted money for referrals.

4.15. Interruption of Services

Intimacy Counselling staff should make reasonable efforts to plan for alternative care in the event that counselling services are interrupted by a significant change in circumstances, such as the counselor becoming unavailable, sickness, bereavement, assisting others, and dying.

4.16. Ending Counselling

Intimacy Counselling staff shall work with clients to end counseling. They will stop working with clients when they have received the help they sought, or when it is apparent that counselling is no longer helpful.


5. CONFIDENTIALITY (Back to top)


5.1. Extent of Confidentiality

(a) Counsellors shall treat all communication between counsellor and client as confidential and privileged information, unless the client gives consent to particular information being disclosed.

(b) Counsellors may discuss, in supervision, information received in counselling as part of the normal management of confidentiality.

(c) Counsellors should take all reasonable steps to communicate clearly the extent and limits of the confidentiality they offer clients.

Any agreement between the counsellor and client about confidentiality may be reviewed and changed by joint negotiation.

(d) Counsellors shall protect clients’ identities when information gained from counselling relationships is used for purposes such as counsellor training, research or audit.

(e) Counsellors shall respect confidences about the clients of colleagues.

(f) Counsellors should establish procedures to ensure the ongoing management of client confidentiality in the event of the counsellor’s death.

5.2. Exceptions to Confidentiality:

(a) Counsellors shall only make exceptions to confidentiality in order to reduce risk.

(b) When counsellors need to pass on confidential information, they should provide only the minimum of information necessary and only then to those people to whom it is absolutely necessary.

(c) Exceptions to confidentiality occur when:

• There is serious danger in the immediate or foreseeable future to the client or others,

• The client’s competence to make a decision is impaired,

• Legal requirements demand that confidential material be revealed,

• Responding to a complaint about counseling practice.

(d) Wherever possible, the decision to make an exception to confidentiality is made:

• After seeking the client’s co-operation, unless doing so would further compromise the safety of the client or others,

• After consultation with a supervisor.

5.3. Confidentiality and the Law

(a) Counsellors are encouraged to seek legal advice about their rights and obligations under the law, when the counsellor’s work with clients involves contact with the legal system.

(b) When issued with a search warrant or subpoena to give evidence in Court, or other legal processes, counsellors should pursue the status of privileged communication, in accordance with the client’s wishes, until all legal avenues have been exhausted.




6.1. Responsibility to Colleagues

(a) Counsellors should treat colleagues with respect, fairness and honesty.

(b) Counsellors shall not solicit clients away from other counsellors.

(c) Counsellors shall avoid establishing a professional relationship with clients of other counsellors without appropriate communication with the counsellor or agency concerned.

6.2. Responsibility to the Profession

(a) Counsellors shall uphold and foster the values, integrity and ethics of the profession.

(b) Counsellors should participate in the activities of the profession.

(c) Counsellors are encouraged to devote a proportion of their professional activity to services for which there is little or no financial return.

(d) Counsellors shall represent honestly and accurately their membership status, qualifications, training and competencies.

6.3. Collaboration with Counseling Colleagues and Other


(a) Counsellors should endeavour to achieve good working relationships and communication with other professionals in order to enhance services to clients.

(b) Counsellors should be respectful and mindful of confidentiality in all communications with other professionals about clients.

(c) Counsellors should negotiate to work collaboratively with other professionals working with the same client.

(d) Counsellors working in a team with other professionals should seek respect for counselling ethics from the team.




7.1. Counsellors and the Law

(a) Intimacy Counselling staff shall work within the laws of New Zealand.

(b) Intimacy Counselling staff shall notify the appropriate services when they are convicted of a serious offence (being either any offence under the Crimes Act or an offence under any other statute that carries a potential sentence of six months imprisonment or more).

7.2. Relationship with Employers and Third Party Funders

(a) Counsellors should adhere to and uphold the ethics of the profession and should avoid compromising them in the face of institutional requirements.

(b) Counsellors shall be honest and trustworthy in dealings with employers and third party funders.

(c) Counsellors shall endeavour to build healthy working relationships and systems of communication with employers and third party funders in order to enhance services to clients.

(d) Counsellors are encouraged to contribute to policy development and seek to maintain and improve the quality of service in their work setting.

(e) Counsellors should promote equal employment opportunity policies in their work settings.

8.Professional Supervision

The purpose of professional supervision is for counsellors to reflect on and develop effective and ethical practice. It also has a monitoring purpose with regard to counsellors’ work. Supervision includes personal support, mentoring professional identity development and reflection upon the relationships between persons, theories, practices, work contexts and cultural perspectives.

Professional supervision is a partnership. It is a contractual, collaborative and confidential process, based upon informed consent. Professional supervision may take a number of forms, including individual or group supervision and may involve telephone, email and letters. It may be live or may be based on personal recall, notes, videotapes, audiotapes, transcripts or client’s creative works.

8.1. Professional Supervision Arrangements

(a) The frequency of supervision shall be in relation to workload and relative to the experience of the counsellor. The recommended guideline is that while working full-time, the counsellor averages one hour of supervision per fortnight.

(b) Counsellors should seek supervision from a person who is not in a position of authority over them.

(c) Counsellors should seek cultural consultation to support their work with persons who have different cultural backgrounds from their own.

(d) Counsellors and supervisors shall be jointly responsible for establishing a supervision contract, which should be regularly reviewed and time-limited.

9.2. Responsibilities in Professional Supervision

(a) Counsellors shall be responsible for:

• Selecting and taking to supervision relevant aspects of their work and their personal functioning.

(b) Supervisors shall be responsible for:

• Assisting counsellors to explore and address their professional practice,

• Helping counsellors to monitor their competence, safety and fitness to practice._ disclosing concerns about the counselor’s work to the counsellor, before taking further action.

• Maintaining the boundaries between supervision and other relationships the supervisor may have with the counsellor.

(c) Counsellors and supervisors are jointly responsible for:

• Distinguishing between supervision relationships and other professional or personal relationships.

• Identifying when the counsellor needs to seek counselling for personal concerns.

9.3. Competence in Professional Supervision

(a) Supervisors should actively participate in professional education in supervision.

(b) Supervisors should participate in ongoing professional development.

(c) Supervisors should obtain supervision for their work as supervisors.

(d) Supervisors should take into account limitations to their competence and suggest consultations and referrals when appropriate.

10. Speaking, Writing and Research

Research is defined here as any activity in which counselling practice is written about, spoken about in public, or recorded for purposes other than to benefit the client. It includes the writing of assignments about counselling by students in counsellor training programmes, the recording of counseling interviews for demonstration purposes, the use of case studies in articles and books, institutional data collection, and any planned research studies into counselling practice or client concerns.

10.1. Value of Research

(a) Counsellors should promote and facilitate evaluation and research in order to inform and develop counselling practice.

(b) Counsellors should limit the demands of any research exercise to what can be justified in terms of benefit to individuals or the community.

10.2. Informed Consent

(a) Counsellors shall provide research participants with sufficient information about the purpose and nature of the research to enable informed consent to be freely given. This information shall include the right to withdraw.

(b) Counsellors shall obtain consent from research participants for how personal information will be used. This consent will be obtained without inducement or coercion.

10.3. Confidentiality

Counsellors shall protect the privacy and respect the confidences of research participants.

10.4. Conflict of Interest

When research purposes may conflict with counseling purposes, counsellors should ensure that the counselling relationship is given priority.

10.5. Respect for Diversity

Counsellors should carefully design, carry out and write up research in a way that promotes cultural sensitivity and respect for difference. The will avoid contributing to the marginalization or objectification of any people.

10.6. Institutional Requirements

Counsellors should familiarise themselves with and adhere to institutional requirements governing research work they undertake. This includes seeking prior ethical approval where relevant.

10.7. Acknowledgment

Counsellors should give due credit through joint authorship, acknowledgement, footnotes or other appropriate means to those who have contributed significantly to any research publication.

10.8. Reporting

Counsellors should report research results fairly and accurately.

 12. Counselling and Electronic Communication

This section refers to any counselling practices that occur when clients and counsellors are in separate or remote locations and utilise electronic means to communicate, such as email, fax, telephone, voicemail, video conferences, web messages and instant messages.

a. Intimacy Counselling will provide information to clients about the limitations and risks of online counselling.

b. Intimacy Counselling will take reasonable precautions to ensure the privacy of clients. However, as electronic communication comes with risks Intimacy Counselling will inform clients of these risks and the limitations of Intimacy Counselling.

c. All clients have the right to preserve their anonymity through electronic communication.

d. Intimacy Counselling will disclose their identity, professional memberships, qualifications, training, and countries they have worked in.

e. Intimacy Counselling staff will take reasonable steps to ensure clients are not under 16 years old.

f. When engaging in online counseling, Intimacy Counselling will establish agreements with clients on online availability, response times, alternative contact methods, the complaints process and legal obligations.

13. Mediation

13.1. Prior Knowledge

In mediation, Intimacy Counselling staff shall disclose any prior interest or relationship that might affect partiality.

13.2. Impartiality

Intimacy counselling management should conduct mediation in a fair, impartial and even-handed manner. They respect and uphold the right of all clients to make their own decisions.


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