From ethics to ethos: An expanded agenda for counsellor training and development

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Jim Schirmer, MCouns, Associate Lecturer, University of Queensland



The publication of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia’s ([PACFA], 2017) Code of Ethics contains several features that are frequently absent from similar professional codes. Most notably, PACFA’s Code extends its professional requirements beyond the regular ethical standards for compliance and towards an articulation of the profession’s ethos through its commitment to clients, personal qualities of its members, and its acknowledgement of the complexity of practice. This theoretical paper explores the significance of the concept of ethos that has been articulated within PACFA’s Code, and considers how this concept might expand the research and practice agenda of educators and supervisors of counsellors and psychotherapists. The paper takes the position that the framework of virtue ethics provides a useful augmentation to the existing models of ethics, and uses this framework to explore models for professional identity development and personal character development in therapists.


Keywords: counselling ethics, counsellor education, virtue ethics


Address for correspondence:
Jim Schirmer