For your professional ethics edification in September

Written by Janise Randall, ACPE Certified Educator

Filed under: News

Once a month the ACPE Professional Ethics Commission (PEC) posts a couple of statements from our Code of Professional Ethics for ACPE Members.  Each posting is accompanied by a brief personal reflection from a member of the PEC discussing some ways this person lives these commitments*. September's statements are:


4. In collegial relationships, ACPE members:
a. respect the integrity and welfare of colleagues; maintain professional relationships on a professional basis, refraining from disparagement and avoiding emotional, sexual or any other kind of exploitation.
b. take collegial and responsible action when concerns about incompetence, impairment, or misconduct arise.

For September, Janise Randall, ACPE Certified Educator, for Houston Methodist, The Woodlands Hospital, comments:

This standard calls our attention to how we respect our spiritual care colleagues and maintain healthy professional relationships void of exploitation. Upon first reading ethics code 4(a), I immediately thought of the chart-topping song by Aretha Franklin, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. This hit song is a reminder that respect is paramount in building and maintaining any type of relationship. When we truly respect the integrity and welfare of our colleagues we are less likely to engage in unhealthy or unprofessional behaviors. 

At the beginning of the CPE year, my students discuss their rules of professional engagement with one another. Although respect is always at the top of the list, some students have a tough time defining the word without using it in their definitions. A helpful definition is, “treating someone in a way that shows that you care about their wellbeing”. I constantly challenge my students to define respect by listing its visible behaviors. In case there is difficulty in defining respect, I have listed several behaviors that are helpful for relational engagement.

Ways to Demonstrate Respect


  • Look for common ground
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • When listening seek to understand not just to respond
  • Apologize when you are wrong
  • Be considerate
  • Hold yourselves and one another accountable
  • Honor the emotional, physical, and spiritual boundaries of your colleagues
  • Test assumptions
  • Ask permission before engaging in healthy touch
  • Honor and value the worthiness of others

Regarding ethics code 4(b), it is important to understand that holding ourselves and each other professionally accountable is a demonstration of respect. When holding one another accountable for misconduct and incompetence it is important to respect the dignity of the person and lead with empathy. Accountability is an act of courage because it calls us to take responsibility for our actions and to be honest about our concerns.   


*Every situation is unique, and any member should not act based solely on the comments in the article but to base action on an independent review of the ethical standards applicable to his/her situation.