Ethical Standards for Breathworkers and
Process for Addressing a Breach of Ethics
GPBA Ethical Standards
Adherence to a standard of ethical practice is a defining element of any profession. A code of ethics provides clarity and safety for the public and the practitioners regarding the purpose for their relationship and the boundaries within which they operate. Subscribing to a standard code of practice communicates to the public at large that breathwork is a valid, accessible and professional tool for healing and growth.
The following code of ethics for breathwork professionals was ratified in 2003 by the collaborative effort of some 22 breathwork schools and training programs around the world and amended by the GPBA Board of Directors in 2007.
All schools, trainers and practitioners who are Subscribers or Members listed on this GPBA site have signed the pledge to uphold these ethics. They have also agreed to follow a procedure of responsible action when a breach of ethics has appeared to occur. The GPBA recommended process is given below.
The Ethics Committee of the GPBA Board of Directors is available to advise and assist in a perceived breach of ethics by a breathwork professional.
1. Client Suitability.
a) Establish a client’s ability to utilize and integrate the results of a breathwork session.
b) Not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or appearance.
2. Contract with Clients.
a) Establish clear contracts with clients regarding the number and duration of sessions and financial terms.
b) Establish prior agreement with the client for the utilization of other techniques than breathwork during a session, e.g., touch.
c) Practice my breathwork skills primarily for the benefit of the client.
d) Maintain confidentiality of client information and security of records of client session content.
3. Practitioner Competence
a) Practice within my area of professional competence, training and expertise, make this clear to my prospective clients, and not make claims for my service that cannot be substantiated.
b) Continue to develop personally, practicing the technique that I offer to others while nourishing passion and reverence for my calling, and keeping a healthy balance in my work and self care.
c) Seek supervision and consultation when appropriate.
4. Practitioner/Client Relationship
a) Establish and maintain healthy, appropriate and professional boundaries, respecting the rights and dignity of those I serve.
b) Refrain from using my influence to exploit or inappropriately exercise power over my clients.
c) Refrain from using my breathwork practice to promote my personal religious beliefs.
d) Refrain from all forms of sexual behavior or harassment with clients even when client initiates or invites such behavior.
e) Provide clients with information about complimentary resources as appropriate.
f) Refer clients to appropriate resources when they present issues beyond my scope of training.
5. Practitioner Interrelationships
a) Maintain and nurture healthy relationships to other breathworkers.
b) Give constructive feedback to other Alliance practitioners who I believe have failed to follow one or more of the ethical principles. If this does not sufficiently resolve the issue, seek consultation with the most appropriate professional and/or civil authorities within my region for the protection of clients involved.
GPBA Process for Addressing Breach of Ethics
An important purpose of the Ethics and principles for GPBA Breathwork Practitioners and Schools is to provide an instructive, life enhancing and healing framework for practitioner and client/student relationships. While it is impossible to specifically address every situation or give exhaustive guidelines for all behaviours, these ethics and principles are intended to provide guidance towards the highest ideals.
In the process of making decisions regarding professional behaviour, GPBA practitioners should be mindful of the GPBA ethics and principles, in addition to any applicable laws and regulations of their country or specific professional associations with which they are affiliated. If the GPBA standards are higher than those required by law, practitioners and schools should meet the higher standard of the GPBA.
Recognising the humanity of all practitioners, there may be times when a practitioner breaches an ethic or principle, knowingly or unknowingly. The practitioner may become self aware of the breach or may be made aware of this breach by a client/student or another practitioner.
The guidance put forth by the GPBA promotes restorative and corrective action, rather than punitive or regulatory action, to promote good health and benefit for all parties concerned. We suggest that as schools or practitioners utilise this process they undertake it as an opportunity to heal, learn, evolve, and benefit the well being of all participants.
The process has five possible stages with the paradigm being to move to the next stage only if healing and restoration can not take place at the prior stage.
- Self awareness
- Colleague awareness and support
- Community awareness and support
- GPBA Ethics Committee awareness and support
- Third party professional awareness and support
First Stage – Self Awareness
Knowingly or unknowingly a practitioner or school may behave in such a way that violates the ethics and principles of the GPBA. They may have a realisation of this and choose to correct the inner or outer situation that fostered this breach. In such a case the GPBA recommends:
- Setting aside some time for inner reflection and exploration, looking for internal attitudes, beliefs or wounds which created the possibility
- external structures (or lack thereof) which created the possibility
- Seeking appropriate personal, professional or supervisory support to create transformative action that prevents a breach from occurring again.
- Making appropriate acknowledgement and/or amends to clients or students
- If the practitioner or school becomes aware that they have violated ethics because a client or student has stated that or confronted them it is strongly recommended that step 2 and 3 be taken consciously.
Second Stage – Colleague Awareness and Support
It is the responsibility of all GPBA members to give constructive feedback to GPBA members, as well as to be receptive and willing to receive constructive feedback from GPBA members when a breach of ethics has been perceived. If an GPBA member believes another practitioner has failed to follow one or more of the ethical principles the GPBA recommends.
- Setting aside some time for inner reflection to get clear about the issue and how to communicate it so that it can be well received.
- Talking to the practitioner who you believe has violated the ethics, and making suggestions for taking appropriate actions to restore a healthy situation such as inner work on their own and with a competent practitioner making amends to clients/students such as acknowledgment and conversation, financial restitution, referral to another professional breathworker, and creating on-going ways to support healthy behaviors.
- If you believe that the practitioner has restored a healthy situation for themselves and the client, then support them.
- If you believe the practitioner has not restored a healthy situation consult with other breathwork practitioners (suggested 2-4) in your community and use stage 3.
Third Stage – Community Awareness and Support
A community of breathworkers has an opportunity to use the diversity of their experience and wisdom to create a safe and nurturing container for a practitioner to be supported in looking at his/her unethical behaviour. If a community wishes to address a breach of ethics situation, the GPBA recommends:
- Ask the practitioner who has failed to follow the ethics to meet with you, suggesting an environment of trust, truth telling, unconditional positive regard and love, and wisdom, so that a healthy breathwork community can be supported and maintained.
- Begin the meeting with some silence for meditation, prayer, contemplation or spiritual practice of each individual’s choice.
- At the meeting let everyone, beginning with the practitioner in question, share the information they have, their concerns, and their ideas for restoration, including making amends to the client where appropriate.
- Keep going around the circle, with pauses for meditation or prayer, until consensus is reached.
- If consensus is reached, including the practitioner in question, create follow-up support.
- If consensus is not reached, especially if the practitioner in question does not assume responsibility for the breach, then use stage 4.
Fourth Stage – GPBA Awareness and Support
If the first three stages have not brought healing to the situation, a practitioner or community may make a request for guidance through the GPBA Ethics Committee. The GPBA will use the wisdom of the current 6-12 members of the Board of Directors to make suggestions and recommendations.
Inform the GPBA through email, postal mail, or a phone call to the Chair of the Ethics Committee (currently Jessica Dibb), giving the following information:
- the name and contact info of the practitioner or school who has allegedly breached the ethics,
- the nature of the alleged breach of ethics,
- what steps have been taken,
- what recommendations have been made,
- the practitioner in question’s current response and thinking about the situation.
The GPBA will convene the Ethics Committee in a confidential meeting via conference call or secured chat space. This meeting may include the practitioner in question for part or all of the meeting. The committee will keep sharing until consensus is reached about what action should take place to create healing for any clients who have been affected and for the practitioner to be able to follow the ethics and principles wholeheartedly and responsibly.
The practitioner will be informed of the recommendations for restorative action to maintain GPBA status.
If the practitioner does not agree with the assessment of the situation or the recommendations he/she may request that the GPBA consult with a third party professional.
Fifth Stage – Third Party Professional Awareness and Support
The GPBA Ethics Committee and the practitioner will consult with a Third Party Professional to be used as an arbitrator.
If the practitioner or school agrees to follow the recommendations of the third party arbitrator they will maintain their status as an GPBA member.
If the practitioner or school does not agree to follow the recommendations their GPBA membership will be revoked.
The process is dedicated to wholeness and growth. At all times compassion, responsiveness, openness, wisdom and love should be exercised for the well being of all breathwork clients, students, practitioners and schools.