[Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Discussion

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Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants

Post26 Jun 2008

Proposal for a set of Ethical Standards for those individuals interested and willing to co-counsel other exiting BKs and the friends and family of BKs.


Brahma Kumaris Info was set up with the primary aim of helping ex-BKs, exiting BKs and the friends and family of BKs come to terms with and understand the Brahma Kumari experience and to support each other along the lines of xBKChat.com


Initially, following the demise of xBKChat.com, we attempted to open this discussion up to active BKs, PBKs and the members of other BKWSU splinter groups in order to address the issues arising within the greater community of individuals affected by Brahma Kumari teachings and practise, and non-BKs. An experiment which remains under review, it was our wish to inform others and discussion any matter from all points of view. It is our opinion that this experiment suffered greatly from the lack of response from leading BKs that we approach to be involved, the hostile legal action taken against the site by the BKWSO in the USA and other unfortunate incidents.

The forum and website continues to have a positive effect and we receive regular enquiries from friends and family of BKs and exiting BKs and we are conscious of the vulnerability individuals feel at such times in their lives. We appreciate that there is a need to manage such enquiries with a sensitivity that is bordering on that of a professional counsellor. A sensitivity that is not always portrayed by the rough and tumble of the forum or those that wish to use it for their own purely social or proselyting purposes.

Although we do not pretend to be professional counsellors, we are aware both of the lack of specialists in this field and that, ultimately, all ex-BKs have specialist knowledge and experience which they can give to others.

To this end, we are proposing that individuals interested in co-counseling other exiting BKs read over, contemplate on and adopt the following guidelines set by recognised experts in the field of cult exiting as good practise. Acceptance or further discussion of which can be made below.

The following article appeared in AFF's Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1996 © ATRC All rights reserved. It was written with paid professionals in mind and so it is thought that the section regarding financial matters would not apply.

Acceptance with prohibit those individuals seeking to re-convert ex- or family members.
Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants - Carol Giambalvo, Joseph Kelly, Patrick Ryan, Madeleine Landau Tobias

Abstract

A group of thought reform consultants, popularly known as exit counselors, propose detailed ethical standards to guide this new profession. In addition to a preamble, these standards include sections on the responsibility of consultants toward professionalism, toward clients, and toward the public. The second section outlines standards pertaining to the consulting relationship, confidentiality and records, and financial matters. The third section is divided into subsections on educational programs and advertising and presentation to the public.

    Editor's Preface (Michael D. Langone, Editor of the Cultic Studies Journal)

    In the mid-1970s increasing numbers of parents began to consult mental health professionals and clergy about their adult children=s involvements in new religious groups that many called cults. Parents reported that formerly well-adjusted and engaged young adults (many were college students) changed radically, sometimes over a short period of time. These young adults typically dropped out of school, shunned their families and friends, and devoted themselves full time to working for these strange new groups to which they had pledged their total allegiance. Many parents concluded that their children had undergone a type of brainwashing.

    Unfortunately for these parents, few helping professionals took their concerns seriously. Most assumed that these parents were overprotective or that their children were merely "going through a phase." But a handful of professionals, including Dr. John Clark on the East Coast and Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer on the West Coast, listened to the parents and began to speak out publicly. Soon, small and loosely organized groups of parents began to form in different parts of the country.

    Several of these groups joined to form the Citizens Freedom Foundation (CFF), later renamed the Cult Awareness Network (CAN). CAN became the leading grassroots organization for this movement. One informal group in Massachusetts gave birth, so to speak, to the American Family Foundation (AFF), which has become the leading professional organization concerned with cults and psychological manipulation. Both AFF and CFF/CAN were chartered in 1979.

    While these groups were developing, parents were doing what they could to rescue their children and sometimes other family members from what were perceived as dangerous situations. Through trial and error, the controversial process of deprogramming developed. In the 1970s, for many parents, deprogramming became the preferred means of rescuing a cult member. Although initially the term deprogramming encompassed interventions that were voluntary (the cult member was free to leave at any time) and involuntary (restraint was used for at least part of the time), in time the term came to refer primarily to involuntary interventions. Much confusion occurs today when people mistakenly use deprogramming in its original sense because they unintentionally give the impression that they are talking about involuntary interventions when in fact they may be referring to voluntary interventions.

    Even though incorrect, the widespread belief among many parents that (involuntary) deprogramming was their best, if not their only option was not as unreasonable at that time as it seems today. This belief was so widely held and so supported by media accounts that several state legislatures considered conservatorship legislation, which would have enabled the parents of a cult member to legally extricate him or her for psychiatric evaluation. Such legislation was tantamount to a legalization of deprogramming. Though arousing passionate opposition, this legislation garnered significant support. In New York state, for example, the legislature twice passed the legislation, only to have it vetoed by the governor. Ultimately, however, the opposition to deprogramming and the growing recognition of the effectiveness of less restrictive alternatives ended all legislative efforts for conservatorship bills.

    Deprogramming was controversial because it involved forcing a cult member to listen to people relate information not available in the cults. Cult members were sometimes abducted from the street; although more commonly they were simply prevented from leaving their homes, a vacation cabin, a motel room, or whatever location was chosen for the deprogramming process. Deprogrammings often succeeded in extricating the family member from the cult; one study found a success rate of 63%. Nevertheless, deprogrammings failed more often than many persons realized; and sometimes lawsuits were filed against parents and deprogrammers.

    Deprogrammings were arranged through informal, quasi-underground means. Much secrecy surrounded the process for many years. Mental health professionals were almost always "out of the loop" -- in part because most did not want to become involved for ethical and legal reasons and in part because their expertise was to a large extent irrelevant to the deprogramming itself. The main role of the mental health professional was to help families cope with their alarm about a family member in a cult and to help former cult members and their families cope with the many problems that accompanied reentry into mainstream society. However, sometimes mental health professionals, clergy persons, or former cult members were able to persuade those still in a cult to talk voluntarily about their cult involvements. Sometimes these conversations resulted in a decision to leave the cult.

    Because of these successes, the legal risks entailed in deprogramming, and the ethical discomfort many parents and deprogrammers felt, non-coercive means of helping cult members reevaluate their cult affiliations began to get more attention. By the mid-1980s it had become clear to many persons that what had come to be called exit counseling was at least as effective as deprogramming and certainly was much less risky--psychologically as well as legally. A few individuals committed themselves to doing exit counseling and refused to do "involuntaries."

    Even within the exit counseling field, further branching off has occurred. Some tend to be technique oriented and/or advance a particular religious perspective. Others are information oriented. They introduce themselves as individuals with important information. Although they may have a preference regarding how the cult member chooses to respond to that information, they take pains to avoid manipulating the cult member. During the past few years, some exit counselors, who prefer to be known as thought reform consultants, have been trying to professionalize their field by establishing ethical and competency criteria. Although this process of professionalization continues, the following set of ethical standards developed by a group of exit counselors demonstrates how much this field has developed during the past 20 years.
RATIONALE

Thought reform includes the use of highly manipulative methods and processes such as undue social and psychological influence, behavioral modification techniques, disguised hypnosis and trance induction, and other physiological and psychological influence techniques. These techniques are used in a coordinated and systematic way without the informed consent of an individual. Thought reform is commonly associated with cults, but it can occur in other contexts. For our purposes here, cult refers to groups that tend to be deceptive, psychologically and/or physically abusive, and exploitatively manipulative.

Many different approaches have been applied to the problem of freeing people from the hold of thought reform programs. Early in the history of the problem, some concerned families resorted to methods which we in the 1990's, consider unethical. Deprogramming was the process of countering the cults' programming; the process often meant taking adult children off the street or detaining them until they listened to a detailed critique of the cultic group.

Later, as the techniques and process evolved, the term exit counseling was adopted, indicating a voluntary respectful approach. However, there was no universal consensus among those in the field about ethical criteria. This created some problems. First, anyone could declare him- or herself as an exit counselor. Second, the terms exit counseling and deprogramming were often confused and used interchangeably. The labels did not indicate what the individuals were doing or their competency, ethics, or approach. The ethical standards here have been developed and subscribed to by a group of consultants who prefer the term thought reform consultant to describe their profession.

PREAMBLE

Consultation refers to a voluntary relationship between a professional helper and help-needing individual, family, group, or social unit in which the consultant is providing information that enables client(s) to more clearly define and solve the problem(s) for which they sought consultation. Thought reform consultation is the presentation of information concerning the principles and practical applications of thought reform. This presentation is done in a manner that is legal and conforms to the following ethical standards.

The consultation involves a respectful dialogue in an open environment, supplemented by educational materials, such as pertinent literature, generic source materials, informational multi-media presentations, and personal testimonies. As thought reform consultant we voluntarily agree to subscribe to these ethical standards.

The existence of ethical standards also stimulates consultants to show greater concern for their own professional functioning and for the conduct of fellow professionals, such as educators, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, clergy, and others in the helping professions. As an ethical code, this document establishes principles that define the ethical behavior of those who have subscribed to it.

SECTION I. RESPONSIBILITY OF CONSULTANTS TOWARD PROFESSIONALISM

Each individual subscribing consultant influences the development of the profession through continuous efforts to improve professional practices, teaching, services, and research. Professional growth continues throughout the consultant's career and is exemplified by the development of a set of criteria that defines why and how a consultant functions in the helping relationship.

To ensure competent service, subscribing consultants recognize the need for continued sharing of information.

Subscribing consultants will obtain a minimum amount of continuing education credits agreed upon by the majority of consultants subscribing to these standards.

Each subscribing consultant has an obligation to continued professional growth, including active participation in the meetings of fellow consultants as well as participation in research and public education programs.

Subscribing consultants are encouraged to devote a portion of their time to related work for which there is little or no financial return.

SECTION II. RESPONSIBILITY OF CONSULTANTS TOWARD CLIENTS

This section refers to practices and procedures of individual and/or group consulting relationships. The term "client" herein is defined as: the person(s) coming to a consultant for guidance or information in order to help an individual involved in a cultic relationship. If the client decides to pursue an intervention aimed at helping the involved person reevaluate his or her commitment to the group practicing thought reform, the involved person becomes the primary "client" when the intervention begins.

A. General Standards for the Consulting Relationship

The subscribing consultant's primary obligation is to respect the integrity and promote the welfare of the client(s), whether the client(s) is (are) assisted individually or in a group relationship.

When working with clients, a subscribing consultant avoids discrimination due to race, religion, sex, political affiliation, social or economic status, or choice of lifestyle.

When a subscribing consultant cannot offer service for any reason, he or she will make appropriate referrals, when possible.
A subscribing consultant will not use his or her consulting relationship for personal needs or to further religious, political, or business interests.

A subscribing consultant will not employ methods or techniques such as neuro-linguistics programming, hypnosis or Ericksonian hypnosis or other techniques similar to those employed by cult groups without fully informed consent of the client.

Subscribing consultants recognize their boundaries of competence and provide only those services for which they are qualified by training or experience. Consultants should only accept those cases for which they are qualified.

The consulting relationship must be one in which client self-direction is encouraged and cultivated. The subscribing consultant must maintain this role consistently and not become a decision-maker for the client or create within the client a future dependency on the consultant.

The Human Services field is becoming increasingly complex and specialized. Few thought reform consultants are able to deal with every cult problem, and many potential clients have difficulty determining the competence of thought reform consultants. Selecting one is difficult because of the lack of knowledge about pertinent qualifications. In some cases, stress itself may impair judgment.

Subscribing consultants should help potential clients make informed evaluations of consultants they are considering.

The subscribing consultant must inform the client of the purposes, goals, rules of procedure, and limitations that may affect the relationship at or before the time the consulting relationship is begun.

Before an intervention can be initiated, subscribing consultants and client(s) must agree on the definition of the problem, the goals of the intervention, and the range of possible consequences.

A subscribing consultant must inform the concerned party(ies) that should a client be prevented from leaving the site of the consultation or physically restrained in any manner (unless legally sanctioned permission has been obtained), the consultant will terminate the consultation immediately.

After obtaining the client's permission (if confidentiality is placed at risk), a subscribing consultant may choose to consult with any other professionally competent person about a client or aspects of the situation. If the client refuses to allow consultant to seek outside consultation when the consultant deems such consultation necessary, the consultant should consider terminating with that client.

When the subscribing consultant is engaged in individual or group consulting (e.g., group sessions with persons who have walked away from cultic relationships with individuals and/or groups), the consultant should be cognizant of mental health resources available.

Ethical behavior among professional associates, including consultants subscribing to these ethical standards and those not subscribing, must be expected at all times. When information is possessed that raises doubt as to the ethical behavior of professional colleagues, whether subscribing consultants or peer consultants, the member should take action to attempt to rectify such a condition. Such action shall use the procedures established by these ethical standards.

The subscribing consultant must have a high degree of self-awareness of his or her own values, knowledge, skills, limitations, and needs in entering a helping relationship that involves decision-making capacity and critical thinking skills, and that the focus of the relationship should be on the issues to be resolved and not on the person(s) presenting the problem.

Dual relationships with clients that might impair the consultant's objectivity and professional judgment (e.g., with close friends or relatives) should be avoided and/or the consulting relationship terminated through referral to another competent professional.

Subscribing consultants do not condone or engage in sexual harassment, which is defined as deliberate or repeated comments, gestures, or physical contacts of a sexual nature.

The subscribing consultant will avoid any type of sexual contact with clients. Sexual relationships with clients are unethical and are forbidden.

When the subscribing consultant concludes that he or she cannot be of professional assistance to the client, the consultant must terminate the relationship.

A subscribing consultant has an obligation to withdraw from a consulting relationship if it is believed that employment will result in violation of the Ethical Standards.

If subscribing consultants encounter situations in which appropriate ethical behavior is not clear, they should seek the advice from knowledgeable persons.

B. Confidentiality and Records:

Records of the consulting relationship, including interview notes, family intake information, correspondence, tape recordings, electronic data storage, and other documents are to be considered confidential information. Revelation to others of such material must occur only upon the expressed written consent of the client.

Use of data derived from a consulting relationship for purposes of consultant training or research shall be confined to content that can be disguised to protect the identity of the subject client unless written permission of the client is obtained.

C. Financial matters

A subscribing consultant recognizes the importance of clear understandings on financial matters with clients. Arrangements for payments are settled at the beginning of the consultation relationship. Each consultant will provide a written and dated schedule of fees to potential clients.

In establishing fees for professional services, subscribing consultants must consider the financial status of clients and family. In the event that the established fee structure is inappropriate for a client, consultants are encouraged to assist families in finding appropriate and available services at an acceptable cost.

A subscribing consultant will neither offer nor accept payment for referrals, and will actively seek all significant information from the source of referral (with the permission of the client).

SECTION III. Responsibility Toward the Public

A. Educational Programs

Products or services provided by the subscribing consultant in interventions, public lectures, demonstrations, written articles, radio or television programs, or other types of media must meet the criteria cited in these standards.

When subscribing consultants provide information to the public or to subordinates, peers, or colleagues, they have a responsibility to ensure that case-related information is sufficiently disguised to protect confidentiality and that other information is as unbiased and factual as possible.

B. Advertising and Presentation to the Public

A subscribing consultant shall not, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of a partner or associate or any other thought reform consultant subscribing to these ethical standards, use or participate in the use of any form of paid public advertising of services which:

    a. Inappropriately uses statistical data or other information based on past performance or prediction of future success;
    b. Contains a testimonial about or endorsement of a thought reform consultant;
    c. Is intended or is likely to attract clients by use of self-praise.
The subscribing consultant neither claims nor implies professional qualifications exceeding those possessed and is responsible for correcting any misrepresentations of these qualifications by others.

Subscribing consultants may not compensate another person for recommending him or her, or to encourage future recommendations. Advertisements and public communications, whether in directories, announcement cards, newspapers or on radio to television, should be formulated to convey information that is necessary to make an appropriate selection. Self-praising should be avoided.
In advertising services as a private consultant, the subscribing consultant must advertise the services in a manner that accurately informs the public of professional services, expense, and available techniques of consulting.

The subscribing consultant may list the following: highest relevant degree, type and level of certification and/or license, address, telephone number, and type and/or description of services. Such information must not contain false, inaccurate, misleading, partial, out-of-context, or deceptive material or statements.

Subscribing consultants do not present their affiliation with any organization in such a way that would imply inaccurate sponsorship or certification by that organization.

A subscribing consultant shall not knowingly make a representation about his or her ability, background, or experience, or that of a partner or associate, or about the fee or any other aspect of a proposed professional engagement, that is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive, and that might reasonably be expected to induce reliance by a member of the public.

Without limitation, a false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive statement or claim in this context includes a statement or claim which:

    a. Contains a material misrepresentation of fact;
    b. Omits any material fact that is necessary to make the statement, in light of all circumstances, from being misleading;
    c. Is intended or is likely to create an unqualified expectation;
    d. Relates to professional fees other than:

    1. a statement of the fee for an initial consultation; a statement of the fee charged for a specific service and any refund policy;
    2. a statement of the range of fees for specifically described services, provided there is a reasonable disclosure of relevant variables and considerations so that the statement is not likely to be misunderstood;
    3. a statement of specified hourly or daily rates, provided the statement makes clear that the total charge will vary according to the number of hours or days devoted to the matter.
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[Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Discussion

Post27 Mar 2009

Following other discussions on the forum, and inline with recent developments in the direction of this website, we are proposing a 'Code of Ethics' for all members in addition to our terms and conditions. See below.

The model used as a start point was taken from a reputable association for psychotherapists. If individuals can construct a better one, please propose here. There is a resource of alternative codes, please see: Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions.

On going development is happening, here.

We welcome comments, corrections and discussions of potential additions. The Code of Ethics is currently active.

See, here for the latest edition.
Brahma Kumaris Info: Code of Ethics - v.1.0.1


Members are expected to act with honesty and integrity and have a responsibility to be familiar with, and abide by this Code of Ethics.

This code sets out Brahma Kumaris Info's intention which is to:

    • support ex-BKs and individuals exiting the BKWSU
    • supporting family member and friends of BKs
    • acting as a workgroup to research and document the Brahma Kumari movement (that is to host honest enquiry rather than "chatting" and the "publishing" of thoughts and experiences, with all the standards that go along with responsible publishing) and/or
    • encouraging positive reform within the BK movement

Following the above, members commit to abide by the following code:

'''Code of Ethics'''

1) Members must act in a way that they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of other members or the general public. Members must maintain appropriate boundaries in their relationships with other members and respect them at all times not using the forum to seek intimate relationships or exploit others.

2) Members must preserve any confidential information acquired through their involvement in the forum and protect the privacy of individuals and organisations about whom information is held, including that given in private messages, even after leaving the forum.

3) Members must conduct themselves and their involvement in such a way that does not damage the stated aims of the forum or the interests of other members, except where those interests are unlawful or injurious or damaging to others.

4) Any serious allegations whether about an individual or an organisation should be based on good evidence or supported by a personal witness statement if asked for. Please distinguish between fact and opinion. It is the responsibility of all members to ensure the accuracy of their postings.

5) If a member is an adherent of, or re-joins the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BK, BKWSU, BKWSO etc), the Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya (PBK, AIVV) or any other BK splinter groups, they are required to respect the aims of the site and to be honest about their affiliations and refrain from religious prosletizing.

6) Members must restrict their posting within the limits of reasonableness, accurateness and their own competence. All members accept and commit to a common duty of care. Members must be mindful of the vulnerabilities of others and ensure that any opinions or advice offered are not framed in a way which exaggerates personal experience or expertise. Members shall not attempt to give advice exceeding their qualifications.

7) Posts of an entirely personal and 'off forum' nature should be restricted to the blogging area and what would be best be said privately sent as a private message via members rather than published in public on the forum. Please respect the administration's limited time and resources by posting in the appropriate areas and topics.

8) Members must ensure whoever holds parental responsibility for any child member is aware of the principles and practicalities of forum membership and assure that as far as possible they are maintained. Please note that some topics may be unsuitable for minors.

9) Members accept that a forum is an inappropriate place for the treatment of serious psychological problems and will not use it as a substitute for professional help.

If your condition is serious, please contact us via email or previate message and we will try our best to assist you in finding that help.

10) Members must limit their involvement, or refrain from posting, when they are under the influence of intoxicants.

11) Members shall refrain from advertising their own professional services and using forum membership to further their own financial interests.

12) If doing research, the nature, purpose and conditions of any research must be fully explained to other members and informed consent must be obtained from both other members and the administrators.

Members shall, in all their involvement value integrity, impartiality and seek to establish the highest ethical standards in such a manner as not to bring the forum or themselves into disrepute.

A breach of this code may result in membership being suspended for a "cooling off" period. Repeated or serious breaches will result in membership being cancelled.


April 2009

BrahmaKumaris.Info-Code of Ethics-2009.doc
Original first draft, taken directly from a reputable association of psychotherapists.
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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post27 Mar 2009

Admin wrote:Following other discussions on the forum, and inline with recent developments in the direction of this website, we are proposing a 'Code of Ethics' for all members in addition to our terms and conditions. See below.

We welcome comments, corrections and discussions of potential additions. If there are no strong disagreements, the code will be made 'official' within 28 days.

This is an important and comprehensive proposal, new to the ex-BK community and offering us significant potential benefits.

I have concerns in two tracks.

My first concern is related to the content of the proposal:

I would like to know something more about the background of your proposing these codes. Obviously you have put a lot of time and thought into them. What motivates you to propose them? In what way are the current terms and conditions inadequate in serving the forum's purposes? What direction are your intending to develop the forum, and which population of people do you think would be better served by a more directed approach than by our current process with its chaotic aspects? I am especially concerned with the thinking behind the therapy-related restrictions. Are you proposing that the forum is intended to serve as a kind of therapy group, or has other therapeutic functions? These questions are a few that occur to me on a brief reading of the proposal. I post them to be illustrative rather than comprehensive.

My second concern is related to the procedure of adoption:

Given that the forum has run with some success for more than two years without extensive restrictions, given the comprehensive nature of the proposal with its potential to impact on participants' expression, and given that the forum's existence as a functioning community does not appear to be in immediate jeopardy, I would propose allowing two months for a discussion, concluding with a poll incorporating major points of discussion, and a final two-week period of discussion. At that point I would propose that Admin make his final decisions, taking this process into account, or if he allows, for the final code to be written by a committee and adopted in a democratic process.

The professional guild to which I belong took years to draft and approve our code of ethics for that practice. I would suggest our taking similar care here (if not so long a period) to adopt a code that is neither loose nor onerous, that expresses our collective will to exist as a community, as a support group, and as a service to individuals in need.

These are my concerns.

Joel
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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post28 Mar 2009

As stated, inline with other developments (such as the archiving of the BK and PBK forums and splitting off of their active discussion) lack of resources insist that we must focus on what we consider to be the most important issues and unique purposes of this forum and website.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to sustain the current open discussion at the level we do and, as it stands as a documentation of the broader Brahma Kumari movement, we are unwilling to allow it to deteriorate to the levels most internet forums do. It is hoped that other arenas will be created, and continue to develop, bearing some of the load of the variety of interests and points of view this forum has created.

The proposed focus would be on;

    • supporting ex-BKs and individuals exiting the BKWSU
    • supporting family member and friends of BKs, and
    • acting as a workgroup to research and document the Brahma Kumari movement (that is an attention of "publishing" rather than "chatting" and all the standards that go along with responsible publishing.)
    encouraging positive reform within the BK movement - (Admin: amended)
The code of ethics, whilst not seeking to suggesting to suggest we are qualified to offer therapeutic services, reflect the seriousness which which we wish to adopt and hope is supported my others. It is hoped that these would also make clear to such individuals what we are able to offer them to avoid conflicts.

The other alternative is that more individuals come forward, who are willing to put in an hour or so each day and provide technical and editorial assistance, in order to support and develop the forum and website at its current level. There are no plans to close the site.

Your comment are welcome.
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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post28 Mar 2009

Admin wrote:As stated, inline with other developments (such as the archiving of the BK and PBK forums and splitting off of their active discussion) lack of resources insist that we must focus on what we consider to be the most important issues and unique purposes of this forum and website ... Your comment are welcome.

The reality right now is that we have a community where people speak their minds, often in ways that are not consistent with the forum categories or the threads they are posting in. Discussion diverges on tangents, erupts in humor, irony. People argue, disagree, debate. In some cases agree, embrace, sing and dance with joy. Other times we cry, blame, disagree, lash out.

Everyone who posts here, posts among a group of friends, colleagues, associates who share a common thread of history around the BK community, its culture, and teachings. What are we to do when confronted with a request to agree to new conditions in order to be permitted to participate?

When I advise my friends who are installing software on their Apple Macs, I advise them to click on 'Agree', regardless of whether they agree. "Do you want to do your job or don't you?" If the answer is yes, then they click on 'I agree'.

Here we have a community. No one who feels a part of the discussions here has an alternative to agreeing to conditions if conditions are to be imposed. They expect they can continue to have fun, to be themselves, at least until the axe falls.

As BKs, we were taught to filter our thoughts, to be mindful of the danger of expressing what we truly think, since that might be something injurious. We are taught to fear our honest selves. At least, some of us took the teachings in that way.

As ex-BKs, we learn not to fear our spontaneous expressions of ourselves. The sky won't fall if I tell a woman posting here that her posts are charming, and I find her feminine and attractive. That I would like to spend time with her, get to know her better, touch her, and allow for the possibility of more intimate possibilities that could follow.

So I am curious about creating a code of ethics where I shouldn't be writing that ... but I am confused, what about telling her what I am feeling in a personal message? Should I control myself in public forums? I cannot be myself because I must check my behavior against a code of ethics that asks me to behave as a therapist or peer-counselor to someone who I am feeling a stirring attraction.

I can understand about the value of a code of ethics, because I am an alternative health practitioner, and our professional guild has drafted a code. However, that defines restrictions on the therapist. We are not therapists here! We may want participants here to feel free to explore intimacy and love. In several therapy groups I've been in, participants do flirt and explore intimacy.

So why exclude that here? Admin already excludes those that do not toe the principles he holds important to this forum. Why does he need more reasons to exclude others?

The exclusion part is what bothers me the most. Shiv Shankar, if I remember correctly, believes he is the manifestation or medium of Shiva (sorry S-S, if I got this wrong ... it's about the forum and Admin, please correct me in the appropriate thread or via PM). Why is he posting here and John Morgan excluded? How is it that any given post may disappear, whether the person is a newcomer nivi_k, or an old-timer Bansy?

I am stuck on the therapeutic part (not my only realm of concern) because in therapy groups, people are not excluded unless they are disruptive and damaging to others. Exclusion or excommunication is considered to be harmful when the BKs do it to someone who admits breaking celibacy. What is the good of enforcing therapist-level constraints on regular members, if the forum is not run with the level of openness, honesty and self-revelation of a therapy group?

With 15,000 posts the last time I looked (probably 20,000 now) I agree with Admin that something needs to be done to keep the material orderly if it is to serve as a concentrated reference to newcomers. Jannisder and several other women came to the forum with serious issues that developed in several threads. Those accounts are important to anyone coming afterwards, yet newcomers have no way to navigate to those threads. My heart was tender during those days. You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by what these women wrote.

So I am sympathetic with Admin's proposed alternative to the code of ethics - having regular editors devote time to organizing or indexing.

However, I am confused by the whole process. It doesn't feel like a therapist offering me choices, clear for me to simply look inside and respond from my heart. There is a level of indirection, of talking about things in abstract. No names and addresses, to use the language of therapy.

When I sign up for insurance or a bank account, I don't have authority to redraft the contract. I have to agree or get out. That's what this code of ethics feels like to me right now: a contract "offered" by a stronger party to a weaker party: either accept or leave.

I am afraid to offend Admin. Mr. Green, who I like, hangs out here. So do many others whose company I enjoy and respect. If I argue here (well, this happened in the past) I find that I cannot login due to a "technical problem". These are my friends, I feel my rights to access them are in question unless I conform to something that I don't understand.

I grew up with that and became an accommodator and placator. I killed myself (at least hid myself deeply away) because I was afraid that my Dad might get angry with me. I feared his rage and retribution. I was always looking for a sign of whether what I did would be acceptable. Today he is one of my best friends, and yet my present self is still bent and cowered by this fear of his anger.

I would rather help Admin, to whom I feel friendship (having met him in person) than argue about a code of ethics. I would like that the forum provide a useful information resource, if this could be an alternative to expecting therapistic behavior at all times on this forum from myself.

At the level of offering compromise, would it be possible for us to divvy up and re-read and select among our many posts those that would be valuable to newcomers and those in need? Could we expand our classic posts section to fill this role and be free to be ourselves elsewhere? I know that Tete re-reads old threads here, and so do many newcomers. It would be great if we could select and concentrate the best posts, like drying brine to produce that delectable seasoning that goes so well with chips.

I apologize if my thinking jumps here and there. I feel the underlying issues here are serious. I value the profound and the banal among all posts here. I am not afraid of the forum degrading. At the same time, I would like for the forum to be able to satisfy Admin's ideals for it as well as being a comfortable place to chat or argue with friends.

I created another forum that allows for chatting without constraint except as self-imposed. It has few active members. BK.info is an important forum for me. I cannot help but write ...
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admin

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post28 Mar 2009

All offers of support and assistant are welcome, to the extent that they do not create further burdens.
joel wrote:Shiv Shankar, if I remember correctly, believes he is the manifestation or medium of Shiva (sorry S-S, if I got this wrong ... it's about the forum and Admin, please correct me in the appropriate thread or via PM). Why is he posting here and John Morgan excluded? How is it that any given post may disappear, whether the person is a newcomer nivi_k, or an old-timer Bansy?

• nivi_k posted two consecutive posts, one of 8 or 9 partial lines and one of two lines.

During the process of combining them back into one post to save space, as we do, they were both lost. nivi_k was informed of this immediately by a recorded and dated Private Message, apologized to for it happening and requested to post again before she posted to the forum. It was a forum simple malfunction and the posts were neither controversial nor particularly important.

• Shiv Shankar, Dilarama, the PBKs etc, are currently disallowed to post; the policy has ensured that the entirely independent BK-PBK.Info now has a healthy discussion of its own developing. Our wish to not to be accused of favoritism meant that all PBK accounts were suspended whereas a few would, in fact, be welcome to post here.

All users logs are documented for comment, here; [Admin] User log; Cautions, Suspension, Bans etc

• John Morgan, who maintains an ambiguous position towards the BK religion, was requested to follow or accept the split of the forums and post accordingly. He responded in disagreement by publishing a private message on the public forum, contrary to policy. His account is suspended on the basis that he accepts that terms of involvement.

• Bansy, Posting factually erroneous material seeking to damage the forum elsewhere.

Bansy's log is stated as "ignoring administration correspondence relating to personal issues arising from the recent split of forum into ex-BK and BK/PBK forums (user wishes to post pro-BKWSU on ex-BK forum). Numerous attempts at direct personal mediation attempted but (all were) ignored by user."

Whilst ignoring Admin correspondence, bansy continued to politick on forum and elsewhere in a manner seeking to damage the forum, her post was held until she decides to respond. All copies of correspondence are kept documenting the nature and tone of the requests made but she has not given permission for these to made public. Until she does so, we are unable to defend ourselves from her accusations.

• In a number of incidents of accounts being suspended, there are also what would be considered elements of 'privileged information'. It is enough to say that where there are symptoms of what could be a mental illness, there is a limit to how much the forum can and should absorb or how far it is our responsibility to support it. Likewise, there is a limit to how much the forum can and should support those that seek to undermine or discredit the work that is being done here.

Without checking the archive, the number of posts actually removed (excluding duplications and those requested of us) are in the realm of 4 or 5;

    • Sparkal for aggressive sexual references towards female forum member;
    • BK Luis Riveros for making a repeated attempt of revealing personal information about another members;
    • tete, for posting an entirely unrelated and off forum posts or content.

In such cases, we keep copies of these precisely for requests such as these. In most cases, non-controversial 'off forum' posts are moved to [Admin] Completed requests & posts moved for Admin reasons.

We hope this goes someway to establishing the standards to which the forum is maintained and the efforts made on top of general editorial and technical duties.

It should also be noted that we approached both tete and joel to establish an entirely open, liberal and unmoderator forum for such individuals within the movement, and advised on this before it was created, as we did not want them to be unsupported.

There 28,783 posts to date.
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leela

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post28 Mar 2009

This is in part a response to the propsed Code of Ethics, and in part a reflection on recent discussions about the role of the forum.

This forum has served me immensely even though I don't seem to fit the stated definition of who and how you wish to serve. A Code of Ethics is of course a useful and necessary thing, but narrowing the definition of who and how the forum should serve causes me concern for several reasons.

Discussion about setting tighter boundaries around who should be here and what should be discussed is potentially harmful, in my view. By implication, this suggests that some ex-BKs are not welcome and that their experiences are not suitable for sharing. This resonates perfectly with the deepest damage of an "at risk" individual.

    - It confirms them in their conviction that they are not welcome in the world.
    - It confirms them in their conviction that no help is available.
    - It confirms them in their cul-de-sac of silence.
By focusing on exiting BKs, as opposed to ex-BKs, this seems to imply that there is a predictable timeline to the unraveling of the BK hyspnosis. This is not so! It is more than 10 years since I last set foot in GCG, London. Each unraveling is uniquely personal and follows its own unique timeline.

Focusing on exiting BKs also suggests it is possible to know when and how a person is most at risk. I think it is worth remembering the tragedy of Ranjana here. As I recall, she was already exiting the BKs in early 1986. By some definitions, she had already left in the summer of 1987 when she had her first "fall" (she denied it was a suicide attempt). Her actual death was not until the end of 1993/beginning of 1994 - some 7 years later.

What is the definition of exiting? When does exitING become exitED? Where on that timeline is a person most at risk or most in need of help? Who decides what is or is not helpful? I think these are all unanswerable questions.

My relatively short ride here has been wild and turbulent - I have been welcomed and not welcomed, encouraged and attacked, pacified and shocked, informed and confused, inspired and bored. Happily, this has ALL contributed to an avalanche of insights and revelations. I am turned upside down and inside out and I am immensely hopeful. I can SEE! I think maybe the service you already provide with this forum is wider and deeper than you see. I would just like to encourage you to keep an open door and an open mind.
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admin

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post28 Mar 2009

That should read 'ex- and exiting-BKs' then. We do not envisage any time limit to where or when the exiting process started or continued. We hope that BK and PBKs come forward to support their own community elsewhere.

Our limit is to how many resources we have in order to maintain the forum, and that does not go as far as to support individuals seeking to develop their faith in Brahma Brahma Kumari movement from whom's leadership we have never had any support.

All offers of support will be considered. Please offer your own suggestions to the definitions you request above.
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Terry

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post29 Mar 2009

I'd suggest that the stated aims in the new announcement (documentation, factual reporting, etc) can co-exist with what' s been going on up until now.

Have a section that is exactly as per the stated aims.

Allow the rest of the forum to continue - looser and freer flowing (or separate sites?). It'd then be quite obvious what is official and what was public chatter and no responsibility of the site co-ordinaters.

Admin does a fantastic job, but time is a consideration. Most blogs and other online forums I've seen are much more chaotic. This one could take a little more slack & chaos without losing much - thereby freeing up time for the formal side?

I, too, think that much of the good work done for people who come here is unintentional - and it is the very freedom and flow that is attractive. And there doesn't seem to be many other "ex- anything" forums around on the web - this may help other "ex-iters" ?

As for contributing time into housekeeping and other projects. May I suggest a link to "jobs on offer" or "Volunteers needed" with a job description and estimated time involved, and deadline if applicable etc. It is hard to give open ended committments (e.g. my routines are anything but predictable - I have had little work demands lately, but that is now changing, and will change again, along with family commitments).
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ex-l

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics

Post29 Mar 2009

joel wrote:I can understand about the value of a code of ethics, because I am an alternative health practitioner, and our professional guild has drafted a code. However, that defines restrictions on the therapist. We are not therapists here! We may want participants here to feel free to explore intimacy and love. In several therapy groups I've been in, participants do flirt and explore intimacy. So why exclude that here?

This is my personal opinion, I would not see such a code as a "code of therapists" ... more just a 'code of professional ethics'.

That is to say, a code governing "professional" behaviour between the peers (equals) on this forum. The problem is ... there are few individuals who really know what "professional code of ethics" entails, would bother reading them or share such an ambition.

Of course, I think it is funny that ex-BKs would come up with a set of Maryadas that is more strict in elements than BKs themselves ... I think the codes so far would be a very good example to the Brahma Kumaris, which is why I agree to them. And I have to agree with the "no seeking sex", "no coming here just to seek a relationship", "no bringing the business of such love affairs on the forum".

The reason for this is is that I watch the forum closely and I am not entirely stupid. I saw one scene were one indidual HAD pursued such a path, it went sour and the forum was used as a venue to vent at the other individual. It was tacky and, of course, it put the other individual off. Such behaviour is surely neither professional nor healing. I thought it very selfish, however the first individual felt agreived, as the second person had the right to be here too.

Individuals seeking assistance are vulnerable, are likely to project onto their "saviours", the rush of being uncorked could take them anywhere why should it gush all over the forum for others to watch? Similarly, individuals used to the absolute authority of the BKWSU are likely to take the opportunity of venting some of that against the administration team here.

Note how few come forward to help, rather than criticise, and how many think they have a God given right to be looked after. I do not mean this hurtfully but what have those other individuals actually given? I don't mean "enjoyed" I mean "given", "done", "created" of their own will or effort.

The other bottomline is; no one really reads "codes of ethics". So what do these mean? A big stick to whack individuals who cross the line ... or an attempt to gain credibility and order?

Why don't you loosen up your own forum entirely? Bring it up to professional standard, e.g. a domain name and an integrated look. Let it be the no maintenance anarchist's cookbook of the ex-BK movement ... and let this be the showroom?
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bkti-pit

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Draft

Post29 Mar 2009

I have "enjoyed" the Forum and benefited immensely from it and contributed my bit in an incognito way in the Encyclopedia.

English not being the language I grew up with I do not fully understand the proposed code of ethics but felt a bit "threatened" by the section about those supporting the BKWSU. Hey! I still consider myself a BK, although "independent" and perhaps "questioning" but not yet "exiting", although I am getting closer to the exit. I have however always felt welcomed here and accepted. It may be because I am not a proselyting type.

I think I understand the basic purpose of this Forum and I fully respect and support it. I think that overall the decision of creating a separate forum for the "believers" has improved the quality here and I do fully understand the difficulty for a few committed to take the load of supporting such a venture like this Forum and I am forever grateful to them and sorry I can not do more to help.

I had a look at the new forum set up by Joel and think it can probably well serve the purpose for which it has been set up and it seems to me that it is a good way to lighten the load on the admins of this Forum as well as letting it focus on its primary purpose.

The admins are human beings and in my opinion they are entitled to make misjudgments and mistakes. I think we are far from the control freaks of the BKWSU.

I think a code of ethics is a good initiative. What is being proposed is offered for everyone to comment and amend. I am sorry I am not articulated enough in my thinking on such subjects to be able to contribute much in that respect.

Long life to brahmakumaris.info!
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ex-l

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Draft

Post30 Mar 2009

bkti-pit wrote:English not being the language I grew up with I do not fully understand the proposed code of ethics but felt a bit "threatened" by the section about those supporting the BKWSU ... I have however always felt welcomed here and accepted. It may be because I am not a proselyting type.

I had to laugh when I saw that ... BKWSU "membership" (although they have no such thing as membership) categorised in the same section as criminal behaviour! But it strikes me the whole thing is not so much a, "you are in or out" but an, "get what it is all about and just be honest".

I hear two things from what you have said,

    one) need for simpler "international" English
    two) some kind of clear, simple mission statement perhaps

    Should be we need to define what "professional" is for those that have a clue - or is there a danger of setting the requirements too high? Sincerity is equally important.
Perhaps we could the split the BKWSU element into its own category and included the AIVV/PBK? For me, its not so much about where a person is at, but how they carry themselves and if they 'get' or respect where the forum is coming from.
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paulkershaw

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Draft

Post30 Mar 2009

IMHO, I too feel a threatening process emerging in the 'proposed' Code of Ethics. I've kept quiet for a few days whilst I think about it but I must say that I cannot accept it as such, and agree with others who may have also voiced concerns. To be completely open, direct and straightforward it feels like it contains a hidden agenda in order to limit postings or eventually ban someone who's not fitting into a mould.

Whilst there will always be human interaction of a somewhat distasteful flavour when a forum like this is in place - and this forum is certainly truly making a huge 'healing' difference to many many people, the way it should be - I personally don't wish to be involved in the political agendas of whoever wishes to work with such political-egoistic 'energies'. We are all far more intelligent that that - I hope.

Whilst I fully agree and support that any process/organisation needs to perhaps grow organically I fear to say that what I am seeing into the proposed Code of Ethics won't let me agree with its supposed 'ideals'. To be open and straightforward (again), the whole ideal 'smacks' of stuff that we accuse the BKWSU of, but it's shrouded in the guide of a Code of Ethics. The forum already has such 'rules' in place? We don't need more in my opinion.

For me, to try and offer a way through this and if the forum truly needs such processes, then I can suggest that a "Duty of Care' notice be agreed on, also over the time frames and processes that Joel is suggesting and published accordingly, after agreement by the majority of its 'members'.

After all is that not one of the things we are asking of the BKWSU to put into place? ... and after all, what would the forum be without its diversity and people from different backgrounds and opinions.
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Mr Green

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Draft

Post30 Mar 2009

I don't think it's needed, it's better to hang loose.

it's not a place where people need protecting especially, no one is offering their life or money here.
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tom

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Re: [Policy] Brahma Kumari Info: Code of Ethics - Draft

Post30 Mar 2009

Mr Green wrote:no one is offering their life or money here

With all my respect, do you really think, for the ones who are running this site, it is only a game to spend time? Do you believe they don't have better things to do in life?
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