Students and Supervisor-mentors participating in Phillips Theological Seminary's Theological Field Education program are expected to maintain the highest standards of professional ethics in all of their relationships. Clear professional boundaries will protect you, along with the indiviuals and institutions in which you serve.
Characteristics of professional ethics include:
- Placing the needs of the person receiving ministry or care first, but not at the expense of the health or safety of self or others;
- Maintaining clear and appropriate boundaries;
- Protecting confidentiality;
- Seeking and engaging in appropriate consultation;
- Avoiding actual or the appearance of conflicts of interest; and
- Relationships of accountability between the student, supervisor-mentor, and director of Theological Field Education
Students and supervisor-mentors should make professional ethics a regular part of their reflective practice. Whenever one is in a situation that raises questions of appropriate ethical conduct, there is an obligation to seek appropriate consultation. For students, such conversations should include, but are not limited to, their supervisor-mentor, the TFE class instructor, and/or the director of Theological Field Education.
While in no sense an exhaustive list, a few guidelines are suggested below in response to issues that may emerge within field educaton settings.
- Consultation and confidentiality. Persons in professional ministry/leadership should respect the need for and limits of confidentiality. The limits of confidentiality include supervisory and professional peer consultation as a regular and necessary part of the formation process; adherence to institutional policies, and local, state, and federal laws—including mandatory reporting of the threat of and/or actual violence and abuse towards self or others; and ethical considerations relating to positions of power and authority. Because professional ministry/leadership include trustworthy relationships that may require confidential conversations, we advise you to disclose the limits of confidentiality.
- Accountability for time, learning, and expectations. The Internship Agreement outlines the shared expectations between the student, supervisor-mentor, ministry site, and the director of Theological Field Education. When changes around expectations need to be made, they should emerge from mutual consultation and written revision of the student's Learning Covenant (developed Fall semester in Theological Field Education I).