Code of Ethics
Team ministry that is centered and grounded in the life and structure of the congregation or community.
The Healing Pathway is primarily focused on team ministry that is centered and grounded in the life and structure of the congregation or community. Its ethical principles and values reflect the teachings and life of Jesus. However, this code of ethics can be applied to any belief system, or to any practice offering Healing Pathway sessions. Key values are compassion, honour, trust, inclusiveness, empowerment, respect, and love.
Scriptural references that guide the code include:
- Mark 12:29‐31
- John 3: 34
- Proverbs 3:27
- Proverbs 1:2‐3
Practitioners’ Code of Ethics
To serve as an instrument of healing is a position of honour and privilege.
To serve as an instrument of healing is a position of honour and privilege. It is the responsibility of the congregation, organization, community, and practitioner to act with integrity and accountability. While offering Healing Pathway sessions, the practitioner will abide by the following:
- Respecting every person as a whole and sacred human being
- Caring for any person no matter their race, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, sexual orientation,
gender identity, social or health status, or financial ability
- Being open to being taught by the person receiving and the Spirit
- Offering the opportunity to consent or decline the session and making certain the person receiving knows what to expect from and during the session
- Asking if the person receiving is comfortable with touch
- Recognizing their limitations and confining the work to that level of training and competency
- Requesting assistance or making referrals when appropriate
- Respecting the boundaries of the person receiving
- Continuing to develop their level of competency
- Respecting all information about the person receiving as confidential. This information can only be passed on with the person’s permission. Any documenting is done in accordance with church policy or other authoritative organization the practitioner is working under
Practitioners Accountability in Congregational/Community Ministry
When offering Healing Pathway sessions as a ministry of a congregation, organization, or community, the practitioner is responsible for the following:
- Ensuring the ministry is accountable to a committee or other body in the congregational, organizational, or community structure
- Conducting oneself in a manner that is consistent with the collective values of the congregation, organization, or community, including our normative practice of working in pairs with another practitioner whenever possible
- Engaging in continuing development of competency through practice and continuing education, as well as on-going personal growth and self-care, including a regular spiritual practice
- Keeping one’s integrity and judgment free of motives for profit or power
Defining and Respecting Personal Boundaries
One definition of a boundary violation is when another person invades or intrudes on your personal space by saying or doing something that crosses a line.
A boundary violation is when another person invades or intrudes on your personal space by saying or doing something that crosses a line. Boundaries will be different with each person and situation. There is often a physical response to a boundary violation, such as throat tightening, changing heartbeat, or shoulders tightening. Sometimes it is simply a sensation that something is not right.
Power in Boundaries
The person with the most power is the one who is ultimately responsible when boundary violations occur.
The person with the most power is the one who is ultimately responsible when a boundary violation occurs. A person offering healing is usually the person in the position of power. The following are some examples of how a practitioner may hold power:
- The practitioner knows more information about the healing techniques.
- The person receiving is placed in a vulnerable position by the sharing of intimate information.
- The person receiving presents with needs, hoping that the practitioner will meet them.
- When touch is included in the session in a compassionate manner, it may invoke an opening and a sharing that can often be child-like in behaviour or feeling. The person receiving may remember something from the past which involved a power imbalance, and this could intensify their perception of a power imbalance in the session.
- Anytime an individual is invited into a “safe” space, the practitioner is the one in power and responsible
for maintaining the safety. It may take a long time for some individuals to feel safe.
- When there is a power imbalance in a session, it is often difficult for the person receiving to defend their
boundaries by stating, “I don’t like the pressure of your touch,” or, “I don’t like what you are doing.” At the beginning of the session it is the responsibility of the practitioner to give specific and clear permission for the person receiving to say “No” to touch or non-touch at ANY time, AND to change their mind at any time during the session. The practitioner should also regularly check-in with the person receiving and question—without judgment—anything that seems uncomfortable or not right.
Ways in which Boundaries are Violated
- Over-disclosing on the part of the practitioner (the practitioner tells their story and is not fully present to the other person’s needs) results in only the practitioner’s needs being met.
- When an individual is in a client-type relationship with a practitioner, and then is asked to be in another kind of relationship (such as a friendship or as a colleague), the power imbalance can be brought into the other relationship unless it is openly discussed.
- The giving or receiving of significant gifts can place pressure on a relationship to make “things special.”
- Using the relationship to sell products or services or encouraging the person receiving to endorse causes unrelated to the healing sessions can place pressure on the person and is a conflict of interest.
- Providing care to someone when no one else is around, and there is a concern about sexual undertones, places both the practitioner and the person receiving at risk.
- Verbal intrusions, such as offering unsolicited advice, using probing questions, or using intimate language such as “dear” or “darling,” can be uncomfortable and result in a defensive state.
Ways to promote Healthy Boundaries
- Explain thoroughly what is likely to occur during the session and establish the person’s comfort and consent. Check-in throughout the session for their comfort, noticing visual or auditory clues (such as if they are sleeping or look relaxed). You can also ask, “How are you doing?” “What are you noticing?” “How is this for you?”
- It is important to let each person determine how safe they feel with the practitioner and session.
- Respect each person’s right to say “No” and empower them to declare their own personal comfort zone. Sometimes the most healing moment is when a person finally finds their voice to say “No” and it is respected.
- If the person receiving appears to be uncomfortable, stop, make eye contact, and re-establish comfort and consent to continue.
- Provide opportunities for the person receiving to ask questions.
- Obtain the person’s permission before allowing others to be present during the session.
- Practise only within your own limits and refer to other resources when you think that you are getting beyond those limits.
The Healing Pathway is part of The United Church of Canada. It is, therefore, rooted in the Christian faith and based on the teachings of Jesus. However, not all people who come to workshops or use the services are Christian or comfortable with words such as Christ or Jesus. Knowing that the language used to name spiritual connections is important, instructors for the Healing Pathway endeavour to use language that resonates with the participants. For example, language and text has been modified for workshops offered to groups such as Interfaith and Hospice. At any time, participants are encouraged to use language of the spirit as appropriate for the receiver.
Also, to create a safe environment during a healing session, it is necessary for practitioners to use language and symbols that are appropriate and consistent with the beliefs of the person receiving. It is respectful to ask what word(s) people use for their spiritual source.
Katherine, Anne. (1991). Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin. Park Ridge, Ill.: Parkside Publishing Corp. College of Chiropractors of Ontario, College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, & College of Physical Therapists of Ontario. (n.d.). Where’s My Line?: Professional Boundaries in a Therapeutic Relationship. Toronto, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.cmto.com/