CREATING A UNIFIED CODE OF ETHICS FOR HEALERS

SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL TRADITIONAL HEALERS ASSOCIATION

PURPOSES:

• Develop a consensus of ethics and standards that will help to bring greater unity to the healing profession in South Africa;
• Raise standards internally within healing modalities and individual healing practices; and
• Enhance the professional standing of healing in the world at large.

 

Developing a common Code of Ethics for all healers is an ongoing and evolving process. SANTHA has identified and articulated areas of common ground that can serve as a foundation for further dialogue and exploration among and between individual healers and organisations involved with healing. Those healers and healing organisations wishing to respond and contribute their perspective are invited to reply directly to board@santha.co.za. SANTHA operates within a consensus framework and seeks to honor the wisdom and perspectives of all healers and healing traditions.

 

DEFINITION OF TERMS

As the SANTHA reviewed the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of various organisations it became clear that the terms “ethics” and “standards for practice” were interpreted differently by various individuals and organisations. Some organisations included “ethics” as part of their “standards for practice,” other organisations treated them as two separate entities, and others used the terms interchangeably.

For the purpose of this review and discussion the following definitions will be used:

Code of Ethics for Healers: A code of conduct that identifies principles and ways of being and behaving that are in harmony and congruent with the mission and purpose of healing and based upon moral precepts and professional behavior inherent to healing.

Standards of Practice for Healers: A group of statements describing the expected level of care by a healer. Standards of practice describe behaviors and minimal levels of performance that are intended to guide daily practice. Most healing professions have their own standards of practice that are specific to their modality and profession.

 

HONORING DIVERSITY AND INDIGENOUS HEALING

From the above definitions it is apparent that the code of ethics and standards of practice will vary between different healing modalities and cultures. Just as there are many perspectives on the mission and purpose of healing, likewise there will be many perspectives on what constitutes appropriate conduct and behavior for different healing modalities in various social contexts and cultures.

For instance, in indigenous healing practices it is not useful or desirable to establish a code of ethics or standards of practice as these are already understood and enforced in the unwritten, oral tradition passed down through the teachings of the wise elders and sangomas. The tribes and healers have their own internal means of discipline, including ostracism, ’bad press’ through word of mouth, and criticism by elders, sometimes in a ceremonial context. In addition, indigenous healing is considered to be a branch of indigenous spirituality or religion and must be protected as an individual freedom, not subject to outside regulation.

Indigenous healing that is guided and regulated within tribal structure and viewed as a spiritual process rather than a profession has no need for an external code of ethics. Standards of practice are not applicable nor useful to indigenous healing practiced in this milieu.

However, it would be appropriate for western shamanism and western sangoma’s as taught in various healing schools to include a code of ethics for its practitioners – who are not bound by indigenous tribal traditions and guidelines.

There are general principles, however, shared by both indigenous healers and healers involved in mainstream culture that are useful to identify and articulate for the purpose of unifying and strengthening the voice of healing in this world. Identifying the ethical concepts and standards that can be shared by all healers will help bring unity to the healing professions and make each a more potent and powerful force for the manifestation of healing energies in this world.

 

ESTABLISHING COMMON GROUND

CODE OF ETHICS FOR HEALERS

I. The Healer’s Purpose:

A. The healing professions have for their objective serving humanity for its greatest good.

B. Healers honor all peoples and all paths as sacred or may view their own path as the only path. The South African National Traditional Healers Association is open to considering all codes of ethics.

 

II. Commitment to Patient

A. Wholeness and Healing:

1. Healers are committed to assisting the patient in reclaiming wholeness at any or all levels of being, such as body, emotions, mind, relationships (with other people and the environment) and spirit
2. Healers render service to humanity with full respect for the dignity, autonomy and sensitivity of fellow beings.
3. Healers view all of existence as sacred and interconnected and provide services with reverence and respect for all. Healing relationships occur within all of existence and may include people, animals, plants and the environment, locally, globally and cosmically.

B. Equality and Acceptance:

1. Healers render care to beings regardless of race, sex, cultural, national or ethnic origins, or political persuasions.
2. Healers and patients are equal partners in the process of healing.

C. Respect and Unconditional Regard:
1. Healers respect the beliefs, values, customs, choices and coping mechanisms of the individual.
2. Healers offer care from an infinite field of love and compassion.

 

III. Qualifications of Healer

A. Initial Training:

1. Healers provide services commensurate with their training and perform only those services for which they are qualified.
2. Healers observe all laws, and uphold the dignity and honor of their profession.

B. Professional and Personal Development:

1. Healers avail themselves of opportunities for continuing professional education and training to maintain and enhance their competence.
2. Healers work with others in their field and the healing professions in general to maintain and monitor high professional standards of care.
3. Healers acknowledge that patients may bring lessons to the healer
4. Healers recognise that their presence and way of being are as important to the healing process as the modality that they practice, so it is important for healers to engage in ongoing personal development.

C. Self-Care and Self-Healing:

1. Healers identify and integrate self-care strategies to enhance their own physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual well-being.
2. Healers consciously cultivate awareness and understanding about the deeper meaning, purpose, inner strengths, and connections with self, others, nature, and God/Life Force/Absolute/Transcendent.
3. Healers model healthy behavior and engage in practices that nurture self-wholeness and well-being, teaching by example.
4. Healers recognise that every person has healing capacities that can be enhanced and supported through self-care practices.

D. Validation

1. Healers acknowledge the sources of their teachings as either traditional, derived through personal intuition or based upon research.

 

IV Professional Behavior

A. Guiding Principles:

1. Healers embrace the following principals in their professional behavior: reverence, respect, trust, honesty, integrity, equality, competence, generosity, courage, humility and confidentiality.
2. Healers maintain a compassionate regard for the patient by demonstrating a way of being that is courteous, tactful, sensitive, accepting, empathetic and non-judgmental.

B. Communication and Confidentiality:

1. Healers maintain clear and honest communication with their patients and keep all information, whether medical or personal, strictly confidential. A healer may not reveal the confidences entrusted in the course of the professional relationship, or the peculiarities he or she may observe in the character of patients, unless required to do so by law or to prevent harm to patients or other persons.
2. Healers cooperate with other healing professionals, including physicians, nurses, other complementary/ alternative therapists, psychologists, counselors, scientists and religious personnel and other professional caregivers in the exploration and provision of healing modalities.

C. Availability and Accessibility:

1. Healers shall make known their availability and accessibility to patients in need of their professional services.
2. Having undertaken care of the patient, healers may not neglect the patient.
3. Should healers become unavailable, they should make appropriate referrals to other therapists
4. Healers may discontinue services only after adequate notice.

D. Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries and Parameters of Practice:

1. Healers maintain appropriate boundaries for self and patient and do not enter into inappropriate relationships with patients or take physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or financial advantage of patients.
2. Healers do not make medical diagnoses or prescribe medications without appropriate training and licensure.
3. Healers do not recommend nutritional supplements without appropriate knowledge.
4. Healers associated with the development or promotion of products should disclose any vested interest and ensure that such products are presented in a factual and professional way.

E. Relationships with Colleagues:

1. Healers must know the limits of their professional competence.
2. Healers know that a patient’s health and safety may depend on receiving appropriate services from members of other professional disciplines. Healers are responsible for maintaining knowledge of, and appropriately utilising the expertise of such professionals on the patient’s behalf.
3. In referring patients to allied professionals, healers ensure that those to whom they refer patients are recognised members of their own disciplines and are competent to carry out the professional services required.
4. If Healers’ services are sought by individuals who are already receiving similar services from another professional, consideration for the patients’ welfare shall be paramount. It requires healers to proceed with great caution, carefully considering both the existing professional relationship and the spiritual/therapeutic issues involved.

 

V Conduct in a Professional Session

A. Creating a Healing Environment:

1. Healers provide a safe, welcoming, supportive and comfortable environment that is conducive to healing.
2. Healers maintain a clean practice environment and professional personal appearance.
3. Healers display certification, training and educational certificates and diplomas in public view.
4. Healers honor the privacy of their patients and do not allow others in the treatment room without consent.

B. Disclosing Professional Information and Practices:

1. Healers provide patients with information regarding their healing philosophy and modality or modalities and what to expect during a healing session.
2. Healers inform the patient of possible outcomes and side effects .
3. Healers share with patients prior to their sessions logistical considerations such as: length of session, punctuality and lateness policy, cancellation policy, and fees.

C. Recording, Securing and Releasing Records:

1. Healers record accurate patient records.
2. Healers store records in a secure and safe place.
3. All information contained in the patients’ record is confidential.
3. Healers share information with other parties only with the written consent of the patient, in accordance with guidelines and regulations of their professional organisation.

D. Patient Education:

1. Healers understand that a person’s ability to retain information is limited and therefore provide written information about the session.
2. Healers provide patients with appropriate educational materials that will aid in the process of self-care for patients after the healing session. Educational materials might include but are not limited to: written instructions regarding specific practices or exercises to enhance well-being; dietary suggestions; visualisation or meditative practices; breathing exercises; affirmations; suggestions for journaling and other educational guides specific to individual healing practices.

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