Code of Ethics

The Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

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Code of Conduct (2016)


The nature of the psychoanalytic psychotherapist’s / psychoanalyst’s relationship with his or her client is a uniquely intimate one, and requires a clear awareness on the part of the psychotherapist of the need to conduct himself or herself in a manner which is appropriate, professional and sensitive to the potential vulnerabilities of the patient. It is important that in his or her professional conduct, the psychotherapist should behave in a responsible and considerate manner, not only with clients, but also with trainees and supervisees, colleagues, other professionals and the public at large. Each psychoanalytic psychotherapist will naturally develop his or her own clinical technique, while remaining within the parameters of the established format of psychoanalytic method. A temporary lapse into poor technique is distinct from conscious, wilful neglect or the flouting of the standards of conduct with which the psychotherapist has a duty to be familiar. Such temporary lapses, in and of themselves, rarely constitute a breach of ethics. There are, however, certain fundamental standards of conduct which must be adhered to by all psychoanalytic psychotherapists.

The Ethical Attitude in Psychoanalytic Practice

While the Code of Conduct sets out appropriate professional behaviour, the ethical attitude refers to the attitude we bring to the consulting room, and influences how we work. It leads the psychotherapist to reflect on a difficult session, and guards against ‘going through the motions’, desiring only that the client attends and pays the fee. While the latter attitude may not involve a breach of the Code of Conduct, it may be considered unethical where it exists prior to and independent of transference influences. In order to maintain an ethical attitude, reflection, not only on the work itself but on how satisfied we currently feel by it, is advisable, in conjunction with regular supervision and good self-care practices as described in Item 3, (i) and (ii).


The aim of this document is to provide as clear a set of guidelines as possible for appropriate professional conduct for members of the IFPP, and in so doing to afford protection to the client, to the psychoanalytic psychotherapist and to the profession.

To whom is this Code of Conduct applicable?

This Code of Conduct is applicable to Full, Associate and Student members of the IFPP. Retired and Affiliate members are not required to abide by this Code, but are asked to acquaint themselves with it, and in particular to respect those items related to the profession of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Full, Associate and Student members must acquaint themselves with the Code of Conduct and behave at all times in their professional conduct in accordance with this Code. Full members are also bound by the Code of Conduct of the Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

Breaches of this Code of Conduct

Should a possible breach of the Code of Conduct be brought to the attention of the Executive Committee of the IFPP, such a potential breach will be investigated in accordance with the Complaints Procedure 2016 of the IFPP and may, if appropriate, be referred to the Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy for investigation according to the Psychoanalytic Section’s Complaints Procedure and Code of Conduct (2008). The Code of Conduct of the IFPP is compatible with the Code of Conduct of the Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, while at the same time incorporating any matters specifically relevant to and considered important by the IFPP.

Should an IFPP member, after appropriate investigation, be deemed to be in breach of this Code of Conduct, he or she will, commensurate with the breach, be admonished, suspended or have membership withdrawn. Any such sanctions, whether arising from an investigation by the IFPP or by the Psychoanalytic Section of the ICP, shall be implemented by the IFPP.

While any established breach of this Code of Conduct is potentially a very serious matter, in the case of admonishment or suspension, the aim of the IFPP is to support that member in preventing any future breach.

The role of the Ethics Committee of the IFPP

The role of the Ethics Committee of the IFPP is to advise the IFPP's Executive Committee and Complaints Committee, as well as advising IFPP members on ethical issues.