Why Ethics Matter

He who would be everything cannot be anything.

Irvin Yalom

It might seem crazy that I have to make this page at all. However, it seems that ethics are entirely lacking at The Haven. What is more concerning is that no one seems to be learning about the rules set by society for counselling before abandoning them. We must first learn about an idea before discrediting it.

Ironically, I did take an ethics course. That was one of the courses a leader from Haven had me do for another one of her clients. That stopped being funny to me a long time ago. I also took the course a long time ago, so I am not able to remember it in its entirety. The textbook was quite good. You can find it here:


https://www.amazon.ca/Ethics-Psychotherapists-Counselors-Proactive-Approach/dp/1405177667/185-9596114-7160908?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Much of the dysfunctional dynamics occur repeatedly because there are no formal ethics. The only guideline that isn’t too vague to be useful is the one on not sleeping with participants, and even that seems negotiable. And these tend to be outlined as guidelines rather than as a code. There is a reason why the savior dynamic is so common at The Haven and this needs to be looked at. I learned to play whatever role was required, to be a blank canvas for people to project whatever they wanted onto me, and to allow Haven faculty to take over my life. Until I got so small that I exploded and reported a counsellor, who had her counselling membership taken away from the association I reported her to. Her behaviour is so common, she could have been six others. The Haven hasn’t taken the time to look at this issue. A lack of professional ethics is the norm at The Haven.

Power differences exist. We must acknowledge this and put safeguards in place. We all have blindspots, that is why ethical codes exist in the helping professions. It is quite clear to all other institutions working in the counselling domain that professional boundaries are important. This has been lost at The Haven, resulting in struggling senses of self, identity and a lack of power for the one being counselled. It breeds the hero/savior role and by doing so, breeds the victim role. We need to seriously look at this.

The same can be said for labels and insults, conflicting roles, informed consent and confidentiality. These are important. As I understand it, there isn’t a single ethics course at The Haven. This is incredibly troubling.

Perhaps The Haven should stay out of the realm of personal counselling and stick to what its good at. For seventeen years I have felt used by Haven counsellors who lacked boundaries, confidentiality and seemed to get off on being the nurturing hero. How does a child speak up against such a pattern?

Patterns continue on for all of us, that is why continuous training and study are important, for the professional to be aware of his/her own patterns and the ways in which they are fulfilling their own needs through the client. I don’t think anyone can see Haven’s particular dysfunctional patterns from within. A code needs to be in place.

Recent research on resilience reported in the New Yorker shows that the secret to resilience is having an internal locus of control. Constant advice bordering on control reduces, if not removes entirely, this locus of control. This is why advice is also considered a no-go in ethics textbooks.

The Haven doesn’t seem to know if it’s providing education or therapy. It claims education generally, but I think that this is largely so that it can get out of any ethical responsibilities. A true education offers the tools for many different ways of looking at something, and engages in rational debate where no idea is better than the other by virtue of who came up with it but by virtue of the evidence provided. Most leaders, however, seem to only be aware of Haven teaching. I was shocked that a recent post by a leader made a remark that Harvard was finally catching up to The Haven. I am fairly certain that this person knows very little about all of the wonderful, current work done at Harvard. This type of egocentrism at Haven is concerning. No small community can avoid turning to hypocrisy whilst shunning all new ideas.

There is also hypocrisy in the very running of The Haven. For instance, they have started to post fake employment ads to get around government rules on foreign workers. I am unsure of how I feel about the ads themselves but I have frequently heard faculty laugh about the creation of these ads, never seeming to consider that people are finding these ads and looking into applying. I had the misfortune of explaining to someone that they were fake. I felt shame even without being responsible for this. I felt shame for even knowing about it. The rules seem to be invented as they go along, with those who are related or married to faculty skipping the line in running programs.

No other institution functions this way because this is not a practical way to function. Even if we are focused on relationships over formal structure, these relationships require formal structures in order to work. Ethics matter.