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Ethics and Complaints Procedures for Psychoanalytic Organisations: Some Thoughts About Principles

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This paper offers a contribution to the development of a model for ethical and disciplinary codes applicable to psychoanalytic work, arguing that because this work involves unconscious processes, associated ethical codes and complaints procedures must take them into account. Seeking the best way to enable best practice within any particular organisation appears to be replaced by a fear of litigation that results in rules that disable management from the control of bad practice by overemphasising staff employment rights. While these employment codes make it almost impossible to identify and dismiss malign attacks by patients on individual professionals, they also interfere with a proper enquiry into the factors that precipitated the complaint. The paper describes an approach, based upon the psychoanalytic model of the function of the mind as it can be reproduced within organisations, which both protects patients from inappropriate and abusive behaviour, by their therapists, and protects therapists from patients, whose pathology leads them to make devastating attacks on therapists' careers. “Informed consent”, if treated as if a static state, can become an unhelpful concept that gets in the way of thinking about an ethical code. Consent by the patient to the process of psychoanalytic therapy is itself the object of analytic work, and therefore is a process, not a static or fixed position.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2015

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  • Couple and Family Psychoanalysis Journal is a new international journal sponsored by the Bristish Society of Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors, the Professional Association of the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and aims to promote the theory and practice of working with couple and family relationships from a psychoanalytic perspective. It seeks to provide a forum for disseminating current ideas and research and for developing clinical practice.
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