Following are each of the principles of professional ethics printed separately, along with an annotation especially applicable to hypnotherapy.
These principles are intended to aid hypnotists individually and collectively in maintaining a high level of ethical conduct. They are not laws but standards by which a hypnotist may determine the propriety of his or her conduct in relationship with clients, with colleagues, with members of allied professions, and with the public.
- The principal objective of the hypnotism profession is to render service to humanity with full respect for the dignity of man. Hypnotists should merit the confidence of clients, rendering to each a full measure of services and devotion.
- The client may place his/her trust in his/her hypnotist, knowing that the hypnotist’s ethics and professional responsibilities preclude him/her from gratifying his/her own needs by exploiting the client. This becomes particularly important because of the essentially private, highly personal and sometimes intensely emotional nature of the relationship established with the hypnotist.
- The requirement that the professional member “conduct himself with propriety in his profession and in all the actions of his life” is especially important in the case of the hypnotherapists because the patient/client tends to model his/her behavior after that of his/her hypnotherapist by identification. Further, the necessary intensity of the hypnotherapeutic relationship may tend to activate sexual and other needs and fantasies on the part of both client and hypnotherapist. Sexual activity with a client is unethical and automatic grounds for disciplinary action by the Board.
- The professional member should diligently guard against exploiting information furnished by the client and should not use the unique position of influence afforded him/her by the hypnotic situation to influence the clients in any way not directly relevant to the client’s expressed goals.
- Professional members generally agree that the hypnotist-client relationship is such an indispensable factor in effective service to the client that preservation of optimal conditions for development of a sound working relationship between a hypnotist and his/her client should take precedence over all other considerations.
Professional members should strive continually to improve their knowledge and skill regarding hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and should make available to their clients and colleagues the benefits of their professional attainments.
- Professional members are responsible for their own continuing education and should be mindful of the fact that there must be a lifetime of learning.
The professional member should safeguard the public and itself against professional members deficient in moral character or professional competence. Professional members should observe all laws, uphold the dignity and honor of the profession and accept its self-imposed disciplines. They should expose, without hesitation, illegal or unethical conduct of fellow members of the profession.
- It would seem self-evident that a professional member who is a law-breaker might be ethically unsuited to practice his/her profession. When such illegal activities bear directly upon his/her practice, this would obviously be the case. However, in other instances, illegal activities such as those concerning the right to protest social injustices, traffic violations, etc., might not bear on either the image of the professional member or the ability of the professional member or the ability of the specific professional member to treat his/her patient ethically and well. While no committee or board could offer prior assurance that any illegal activity would not be considered unethical, it is conceivable that an individual could violate a law without being guilty of professionally unethical behavior. Professional members lose no rights on entry into the profession of hypnotism.
A professional member may choose whom he will serve. In any emergency, however, he should render service to the best of his ability. Having undertaken a professional relationship with the client, he may not neglect him; and unless he has been discharged he may discontinue his services only after giving adequate notice.
- What constitutes unethical advertising, in an attempt to solicit clients, varies in different parts of the country. Local guidance should be sought from other members of the Arizona Society of Professional Hypnosis. Questions that should be asked include: to whom are materials distributed, when and what is distributed, the form in which it is distributed, and whether the content is appropriate to meet professional standards.
A professional member should not dispose of his services under terms of conditions which tend to interfere with or impair the free and complete exercise of his professional judgment and skill or tend to cause a deterioration of the quality of service, etc.
- The ethical question is whether or not the professional member is free of unnecessary non-professional interference. The ultimate issue is his/her freedom to offer good quality service. In relationship between professional members and other professionals, the professional member should not delegate to the professional or, in fact, to any non-professional any matter requiring the exercise of professional judgment.
- When the professional member assumes a collaborative or supervisory role with another consultant, he/she must expend sufficient time to assure that proper service is given. It is contrary to the interests of the client and to client service if he/she allows himself /herself to be used as a figurehead.
- In the practice of his/her specialty, the professional member may consult, associate, collaborate or integrate his/her work with that of many professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, alcoholism counselors, marriage counselors, public health nurses, etc. Furthermore, the nature of modern hypnotism practice extends his/her contracts to such people as teachers, juvenile and adult probation officers, attorneys, welfare or rehabilitation to any of these practitioners, the professional member should ensure that the allied professional or paraprofessional with whom he/she is dealing is a recognized member of his/her own discipline and is competent to carry out the therapeutic task required. The professional member should have the same attitude toward members of the other professional hypnotists and hypnotherapists to whom he/she refers patients/clients. Whenever he/she has reason to doubt the training, skill or ethical qualifications of the allied professional, the professional member should not refer cases to him/her.
In his/her practice of hypnotism a professional member should limit the source of his/her professional income to hypnotism services actually rendered by him/her, or under his/her supervision, to his/her clients. His/her fee should be commensurate with the services rendered and the client’s ability to pay. He/she should neither pay nor receive a commission for referral of client. Books, tapes, or other educational aids may be supplied by the professional member, provided it is in the best interest of the client.
- The professional member may also receive income from administration, teaching, research, education and consultation.
- Professional members’ services, like all professional services, are dispensed in the context of a contractual arrangement between the client and the professional member. The provisions of the contractual arrangement, which are binding on the professional member as well as on the client, should be explicitly established.
- It is ethical for the professional member to make a charge for a missed appointment when this falls within the terms of the specific contractual agreement with the client. A professional member should seek consultation upon request; in doubtful or difficult situations or whenever it appears that the quality of the service may be enhanced thereby.
- The professional member should agree to the request of a client for consultation or to such requests from the family of a minor client. The professional member may suggest possible consultants, but the client or family should be given free choice of the consultant. If the professional member disapproves of the professional qualifications of the consultant or if there is a difference of opinion that the professional member cannot resolve he/she may, after suitable notice withdraw.
A professional member may not reveal the confidences entrusted to him/her in the course of professional service, or the deficiencies he/she may observe in the character of clients, unless he/she is required to do so by law or unless it becomes necessary in order to protect the welfare of the individual or of the community.
- The professional member’s records, including even the identification of a person as a client, must be protected with extreme care. Confidentiality is essential to hypnotherapy. This is based in part on the special nature of hypnotherapy, as well as on the traditional ethical relationship between the professional member and client. Growing concern regarding the civil rights of clients and the possible adverse effects of computerization, duplication equipment and data banks makes the dissemination of confidential information an increasing hazard. Because of the sensitive and private nature of the information with which the professional member sometimes deals, he/she must be circumspect in the information that he/she chooses to disclose to others about a client. The welfare of the client must be the ultimate continuing consideration.
- A professional member may release confidential information only with the authorization of the client or under proper legal compulsion. The continuing duty of the professional member to protect the client includes fully apprising him/her of the connotations of waiving the privilege of privacy. This may become an issue when the client is being investigated by a government agency, is applying for a position, or is involved in legal action. The same principles apply to the release of information concerning the client to medical departments of government agencies, business organizations, labor unions, and insurance companies. Information gained in confidence about clients seen in student counseling services should not be released without the student’s explicit permission.
- Practice example and other materials used in teaching and writing must be adequately disguised in order to preserve the anonymity of the individuals involved.
- The ethical responsibility of maintaining confidentiality holds equally for the consultations in which the client may not have been present and in which the consulted was not a professional. In such instances, the professional member should alert the consultee to his/her duty of confidentiality.
- Ethically the professional member may disclose only that information which is immediately relevant to a given situation. He/she should avoid offering speculation as fact. Sensitive information such as an individual’s sexual orientation or fantasy material is generally unnecessary.
- Careful judgment must be exercised by the professional member in order to include, when appropriate, the parents or guardian in the services to a minor. At the same time the professional member must assure the minor proper confidentiality.
- When the professional member is ordered by the court to reveal the confidences entrusted to him/her by clients he/she may comply or he/she may ethically hold the right to dissent within the framework of the law. When the professional member is in doubt, the right of the client to confidentiality and, by extension, to unimpaired service, should be given priority. The professional member should reserve the right to raise the question of adequate need for disclosure. In the event that the necessity for legal disclosure is demonstrated by the court, the professional member may request the right to disclosure of only that information which is relevant to the legal question at hand.
- With regard for the person’s dignity and privacy and with truly informed consent, it is ethical to present a client to a scientific gathering, if the confidentiality of the presentation is understood and accepted by the audience.
The honored ideas of the hypnotism profession imply that the responsibilities of the professional member extend not only to the individual, but also to the society where these responsibilities deserve his/her interest and participation in activities which have the purpose of improving both the health and well-being of the individual and the community.
- Professional members should foster the cooperation of those legitimately concerned with the medical, psychological, social, and legal applications of hypnotism and hypnotherapy. Professional members are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government. A professional member should clarify whether he/she speaks as an individual or as a representative of an organization. Furthermore, professional members should avoid cloaking their public statements with the authority of the profession (e.g., “Hypnotists know that…”).
- Professional members may interpret and share with the public their expertise in the various hypnotic issues that may affect responsiveness to suggestion. Professional members should always be mindful of their separate roles as dedicated citizens and as experts in hypnotism.