Ethical Standards Review Process and Definitions
for Unity Center Facilitators and Leaders
What happens when a concern is received?
Is my concern of an ethical nature? How do I know? We all navigate challenges and disagreements differently, not every concern that gives us a challenge is of an ethical nature as described in Unity Center’s Code of Ethics. Ethics and values we hold dear remind the heart about how we function together in community relationships. Ethical policy and accountability are necessary functions for organizations and professional communities. It’s about accountability to the highest standard for each other.
Ethical concerns should be directed to the Unity Board who will assign an Ethics Review Coordinator. It is a good idea to review the policy and what areas are covered as it relates to each potential concern. Not all challenges we experience in communities and with individuals are of an ethical nature. A review of Unity Center of Des Moines Code of Ethics and Unity Center’s Ethical Standards for Review Process and Definitions should be done before submitting a complaint.
Ethical Standards Review Procedure
If it is determined that an issue is of an ethical nature and it is covered by the Unity Center Code of Ethics policy, a signed release of information form from the individual expressing the concern.
When signed release is received, the assigned Review Coordinator sends a letter of notification to the reviewee (the person(s) or group that is being reviewed) indicating:
- Review has been initiated
- The nature of the concern–including a copy of the statement of concern
- The original written complaint from the complainant
- Calls reviewee within 48 hours after notification has been sent
- The complaint is assessed by the Ethics Review team
Decisions of review can include:
- Ethics violation has occurred and a Plan of Action is created to address the behavior/s that created an ethical violation
- Individual or Group Suspension from Unity Center and/or Cancellation of Contracts with Unity Center
Ethical Standards Definitions
1. Ethical Responsibilities to Persons
Unity Center facilitators and leaders understand persons to be any clients, patients, counselees, members of a faith/spiritual/cultural community, family members, staff, or students to whom they provide spiritual care. Unity Center facilitators and leaders uphold the following standards of professional ethics:
a. Speak and act in ways that honor the dignity and value of every individual.
b. Represent their competencies, education, training, and experience relevant to their practice in an accurate manner and provide services only within the boundaries of their certification or credentials. No professional identification, degrees, certification, or credentialing should be used that is false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive. Specialized services, techniques, or interventions should only be represented and engaged in if the spiritual care professional or provider has the appropriate education, training, or supervised experience.
c. Respect and promote the rights of persons to self-determination and assist them in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Unity Center facilitators and leaders promote the best interest of the person and foster strength, integrity, and healing. Unity Center facilitators and leaders have a duty to at times limit a person’s right to selfdetermination when, in their professional judgement, the person’s actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others, for example when a person has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.
d. Demonstrate respect for the spiritual, religious, existential, and cultural values of those they serve and do not impose their own personal values and beliefs on those served. Proselytizing is strictly prohibited by any spiritual care professional or provider.
e. Understand culture and its function in human behavior, community, and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures. Unity Center facilitators and leaders should have a knowledge base of cultural competence particularly that of persons they serve, and are able to demonstrate sensitivity to that culture and to differences among people and cultural groups. This includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual identify, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religious, spiritual, existential or no belief system, immigration status, mental or physical disability, and social indicators such as literacy, homelessness, incarceration, or income level.
f. Provide services and care to persons only in the context of a professional based relationship. Unity Center facilitators and leaders should use clear and understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the services, limits to services, the person’s right to refuse, and provide opportunities for persons to ask questions in order to experience informed consent. In instances when clients have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the setting, Unity Center facilitators and leaders should take steps to ensure comprehension, including arranging for a qualified interpreter whenever possible. When a person lacks the capacity to provide informed consent to spiritual care services, permission should be sought from an appropriate surrogate caregiver of the person, seeking to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with the person’s wishes and interests.
g. Respect persons’ right to privacy and confidentiality. Unity Center facilitators and leaders should not solicit private information from persons unless it is essential to conducting spiritual care assessment, screening, evaluation, or research. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality apply. Appropriate confidential information may be disclosed to other members of the professional team within the setting of care according to organizational policies in documentation and creation of a plan of care. Respect the person’s confidentiality when communicating with family members or significant others except when disclosure is required for necessary treatment, granted by the person’s permission, or for the safety of any person as required by law. All confidentiality of persons should be safeguarded when using materials for educational purposes or written publication.
h. Maintain relationships with persons on a professional basis only. Unity Center facilitators and leaders should not take unfair advantage of any relationship or exploit others to further their own personal, religious, political, or business interests. They should engage in appropriate physical contact with persons only after setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact.
i. Sexual harassment actions, both physical and verbal including misconduct, harassment, or assault, of persons by Unity Center facilitators and leaders is strictly prohibited by Unity Center facilitators and leaders.
j. Use of derogatory language and actions by Unity Center Leaders and Professionals or providers to or about persons, their beliefs or any aspect of their culture, either by verbal or written means, is strictly prohibited by Unity Center facilitators and leaders. Included is any kind of language or actions that are forms of harassment, coercion, intimidation, or otherwise abusive. Accurate and respectful language should be used in all communication to and about persons.
k. Any conflicts of interest or appearance of conflicting interest(s) should be avoided or corrected. Unity Center facilitators and leaders should not take unfair advantage of any professional relationship to exploit others to further their personal, religious/spiritual, political, or business interests.
2. Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues
Unity Center facilitators and leaders engage in collegial relationships with peers including other Unity Center facilitators and leaders, community religious, spiritual, and existential belief system leaders, cultural community elders and leaders, and those from other professional disciplines.
a. Colleagues and their qualifications, views, and professional obligations should be treated with respect, regard, support, and confidentiality.
b. Unwarranted negative criticism of colleague should be avoided in all verbal and written communications, with other colleagues, and with persons to whom care is being provided. Unwarranted criticism includes but is not limited to colleagues’ level of competence or individuals’ attributes such as race ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, spiritual, or existential beliefs and values, culture, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
c. Collegial and responsible action should be taken when concerns about or direct knowledge of incompetence, impairment, misconduct, or violations against this code arise.
d. Cooperation with other Unity Center facilitators and leaders and other professional disciplines should always be demonstrated in order to enhance the well-being of persons being served.
e. Participate in and contribution to decisions that affect the well-being of the persons being served will be contributed to by contributing the expertise, perspectives, and experience of the spiritual care profession. Professional and ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of its individual members should be understood and respected.
f. Advocate for changes in their settings that honor spirituality as a key component to whole person care.
g. Participate in quality improvement projects and programs to enhance the provision of spiritual care services and contribute to the overall setting.
h. When a team decision raises ethical concerns for a spiritual care professional or provider, attempts to resolve the disagreement should be pursued through appropriate channels within the setting of care.
i. Understand the limits of one’s individual expertise and make referrals to other professionals when appropriate.
j. When evaluating the performance of colleagues, such responsibility should be fulfilled in a fair and considerate manner and on the basis of clearly stated criteria.
3. Ethical Responsibilities in Education
Those who function as educators, field instructors for students, or trainers of other professionals should provide instruction only within their areas of knowledge and competence and should provide instruction based on the most current information and knowledge available in the profession.
a. The educational environment will be maintained free of coercion, intimidation, harassment and with clear boundaries and respect for privacy and self-disclosure. Educators will not engage in any dual relationships with students in which there is risk of exploitation or potential harm to the student. Clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries will be established.
b. Students will be provided adequate, timely, and constructive feedback, with demonstration of knowledge and competency evaluated and graded in a manner that is fair and respectful.
c. When students are engaged in care of persons, the educator spiritual care professional or provider will ensure that persons are informed that the services are being provided by students.
4. Ethical Responsibilities in Research
Unity Center facilitators and leaders promote and engage in research to contribute to the development of knowledge and best practices within their profession.
a. Pursue continuing education in methods of reading, understanding, and critiquing methods and conclusions of research.
b. Keep current with and critically examine emerging knowledge relevant to spiritual care and fully use evaluation and research evidence in their professional practice.
c. Engage only in research within the boundaries of their competence.
d. Understand and utilize ethical principles including adherence to research design and implementation, informed consent, the right to withdraw consent and involvement, confidentiality, evaluation, and the use of information and findings for professional purposes only.
e. Report research data and findings accurately, including conscientious attribution of sources in research and writing.
5. Ethical Responsibilities to Unity Center
Unity Center facilitators and leaders who participate in Unity Center, whether a leader, student or member of organizations serving within Unity Center, commit to integrity, competence, respect, and collegiality as defined by the Code of Ethics.
a. Members will represent their certification or credentialing in an accurate manner to the Unity Center Board, Unity Center Spiritual Council, employers, colleagues, and the persons whom they serve.
b. Members will pay bills associated with space rental or usage in a timely manner.
c. Members will complete the annual continuing educational hours or certifications as required by their standards.