The code of ethics for members of The Polish Society for Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
(consolidated text: after the amendment of 17 April 2016)
When assessing the conduct of a psychodynamic psychotherapist, we distinguish between the professional code of conduct and the therapist’s private morality, and, allowing for the influence of subconscious processes on the actions of the latter, we accept that an internal conflict might arise. Accordingly, we assume that the therapist’s conscious statement of axiological neutrality cannot cover all their emotional reactions to the patient.
The psychodynamic therapist is diligent and honest in their work and shows respect for patients and colleagues. An elementary prerequisite for a fair and honest attitude is adequate theoretical and personal preparation that takes into account the influence of unconscious processes on the therapist’s actions. In their work the psychodynamic therapist is, first and foremost, focused on the patient’s good, the latter being understood in this context as a change in psychic functions and behavioural patterns that are considered disordered in the light of commonly accepted standards. The principle of the patient’s good shall continue to apply even after the psychotherapeutic relationship has terminated. In the course of treatment, the psychodynamic therapist shall not consciously impose their own values and ideas on the patient, and shall respect the latter’s right to hold their own distinct beliefs. The psychodynamic therapist shall not find an axiological basis for delivering treatments based on several distinct theories at the same time. Should the patient require psychotherapy derived from another paradigm, the therapist shall refer them to an appropriate professional.
Trust and confidentiality
The psychodynamic therapist shall respect the confidentiality of the psychotherapeutic process, which means that any information imparted by the patient, as well as their participation in the psychotherapeutic process as such, must be kept in strict confidence. The confidentiality clause may be waived upon request of the patient or (if possible) after notification of the patient in the event of danger to their life or the life/health of other persons. The psychotherapist needs to obtain the patient’s consent to preserve an electronic record of the session or to use it for training, conference, or certificate-related purposes. Any material obtained from the patient must be carefully safeguarded to ensure that the patient cannot be identified.
Supervision and professional development
The psychodynamic therapist shall submit to professional supervision of their work and cooperate with other professionals in order to minimise the risk of error and ensure the high quality of therapeutic processes under their care. They shall develop their professional skills, expand their knowledge, and cultivate their physical and psychological health. The psychotherapist shall not work when not capable of judging the situation in an appropriate manner. The supervisor shall ensure the transparency of the supervision process and avoid any situations that may disturb the relationship with the supervised psychotherapist.
Conflict of interests
When a conflict of interest arises between the patient and the institution that employs the therapist, the benefit and interest of the treated person shall take precedence. If this is not possible, the therapist shall suspend contacts with the institution or the patient until the conflict has been resolved. If the psychodynamic therapist performs different professional roles, they shall avoid mixing their other roles with that of a psychotherapist in their relations with the patient.
The psychotherapeutic process shall be preceded by an attempt to define the form and frame of therapeutic contact, i.e. the setting. The definitions shall address, in particular, the duration and frequency of individual sessions, methodology, venue and financial matters. The foundation of the psychodynamic therapy framework is the principle that the psychotherapeutic process can only take place through direct contact between the therapist and the patient. This excludes the use of electronic forms of communication. The therapeutic relationship is voluntary and the patient has the right to break it off/terminate treatment at any time. The psychodynamic therapist shall not take on the treatment of relatives and acquaintances. The psychodynamic therapist shall avoid all social relations with the patient that might limit the impartiality of the psychotherapeutic relationship or decrease the diligence and effectiveness of their work. The psychodynamic therapist shall abide by the principle that the psychotherapeutic process rules out any sexual relations with the patient. The principle applies both during the process of psychotherapy and following its termination. The psychodynamic therapist shall not use their relationship with the patient and the latter’s dependency for any purposes not directly related to therapy. The psychodynamic therapist may have contact with third parties, i.e. family members or friends, only with the patient’s prior consent. The principle does not apply to treating children, psychotics and hospitalised patients. Should the psychodynamic therapist terminate therapy for any reason, they should refer the patient to alternative treatment options.Public appearances and advertising
In their public appearances, the psychodynamic therapist shall impart true and accurate information based on current clinical and scientific knowledge and ethical standards. When advertising their services, the psychodynamic therapist can publish the following information: last name, academic degree, completed trainings, certificates, membership in psychotherapy organisations, address, phone number and updated prices. The psychodynamic therapist shall not make any false or misleading statements with regard to their qualifications, experience, services offered and achievements in psychotherapy. The psychodynamic therapist may correct false statements with regard to their work made by other persons.
In their role as a teacher, trainer and supervisor, the psychodynamic therapist shall attempt to impart their professional knowledge in an objective and reliable manner. The psychodynamic therapist shall not give psychotherapy training to individuals without appropriate qualifications. The psychodynamic therapist shall not have sexual relations with trainees. The psychodynamic therapist shall not exploit the dependent status of trainees in an emotional, financial or other manner with a view to securing their own interests. Advertisements for psychotherapy courses and training shall include a clear and accurate description of the knowledge and skills to be taught, with a special emphasis on prices, qualification criteria, and the skills and competences of the training team.
Rights of the psychotherapist
The therapist shall choose the method they consider as the most beneficial to the patient in light of the current psychodynamic diagnosis. The psychodynamic therapist has the right to establish the boundaries of the psychotherapeutic process, including the measures to be taken in the event of offensive or aggressive behaviour on the part of the patient. The psychodynamic therapist has the right to refuse treatment, if they judge themselves unable to conduct the psychotherapy properly, or if the demands of the patient are unrealistic or detrimental to them or their surroundings.
The psychodynamic therapist shall protect their good reputation, as well as the good reputation of their colleagues and the Society. Any statements about their colleagues should be based on true information and formulated with due respect. Criticism should be focused on facts and conducted with fairness and discernment. A distinction should be made between a conscious and intentional neglect or harm to the patient and a momentary lapse of attention or psychotherapeutic technique. When necessary, based on a fair assessment of the situation, the psychotherapist shall have the right to expect support from their colleagues and institutional representatives.
Any complaints concerning violations of the Code of Ethics committed by the members of the Polish Society for Psychodynamic Psychotherapy shall be reviewed and resolved (within the appropriate scope of competence) by: the Disciplinary Ombudsman, the Peer Tribunal, and the Board of the Polish Society for Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. The competences of the above-mentioned bodies and the rules of appeal have been detailed in the By-Laws of the Society.