Question Zoe Social Sciences

Counselling: ethical practice and non-discrimination

Using three diverse examples of either discrimination or unethical practice, how does a counsellor in the United Kingdom ensure good practice and non-discrimination.

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Answer Expert #10521

Discriminatory practice occurs when individuals from certain groups are treated in a different and often disadvantageous way because of the ‘unequal distribution of power, rights and resources’ (Lago & Smith, 2010, p.1). There are many people and groups who are discriminated against in the UK, including three diverse groups: those who belong to ethnic minority groups, those with different sexual orientations and people who are disabled (Lago & Smith, 2010).

There are a number of professional organisations in the United Kingdom that aim to prevent discrimination from occurring in a counselling context. The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP, 2013) recommend ethical standards and codes of professional conduct for counsellors. Such recommendations aim to protect vulnerable people who are seeking help, for example, individuals for whom English may not be their first language, from being the victims of dishonest individuals who claim to be bona fide therapists. Ethical behaviour and being accountable for counselling practices are therefore requirements to be a member of the professional organisations that monitor counselling and psychotherapy. Non-discriminatory practices are also ensured by the requirement that all counsellors have regular supervision, monitoring and support through appraisals and assessment, and that counsellors reflect and act on feedback from colleagues and clients. In order to ensure good practice and non-discrimination, the Division of Counselling Psychology (2005) state in their professional practice guidelines that counsellors should demonstrate high standards of anti-discriminatory practice that reflects different groups in contemporary society. This is further supported by BACP (2013), who suggest that the majority of counsellors should possess personal characteristics, such as integrity, moral understanding and sincerity, that contribute to an awareness about what constitutes non-discriminatory behaviour.


British Association of Psychotherapy & Counselling (2013). Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Leicestershire: BAPC.

Lago, C. & Smith, B. (2010). Anti-Discriminatory Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage Publications

The Division of Counselling Psychology (2005). Professional Practice Guidelines. Leicestershire: British Psychological Society