Ethical guidelines for qualified support persons within RFSL

Adopted by RFSL's congress, October 2021. In the following ethical guidelines it is stated how employees within RFSL who work with individual support shall practice their ethical responsibility.

 By “qualified support persons” it means employees within RFSL with relevant education, experience and knowledge, who are employed to provide individual psychosocial support. Support can be given in direct contact, over the telephone, email or chat with people who are in need of discussing issues, problems and thoughts and gain new perspectives. 

The ethical guidelines aim at clarifying common minimum requirements within RFSL when offering qualified support. The minimum requirements should ensure that RFSL treats especially vulnerable individuals and groups who seek RFSL’s support in a secure way and with high quality. It can be a question of competency, education, routines, guidance, personal suitability, etc. As an employee within RFSL it’s especially relevant to base one’s work on a “harm reduction” perspective and consider how norms in different contexts affect the individual’s actions. Only if these guidelines are followed can qualified individual support be offered by RFSL. 

The qualified support persons shall get access to competence development and professional development. This means systematic and consistent quality-assurance of our own operation.  Furthermore the qualified support person should find and take part in networks for professionals working in the same or in a similar professional area. The preconditions for this work are created by the employer of the operation that offers support. A support person should always know where to turn in specific dilemmas or issues about who is responsible for the working environment and the professional development. Regular guidance by a qualified tutor is a requirement for all support operations that concern issues of trauma, suicide risk and children’s vulnerability. Qualified support persons need the opportunity to regularly discuss their work with at least one other person who is bound by confidentiality. Working alone should be avoided by the employer organising the work to facilitate collegial advice in cooperation with the employee. 

These guidelines show how a qualified support person shall act to ensure the best results for the person seeking support. Especially in situations where these guidelines don’t seem to give a clear instruction, it’s important to reflect about probable consequences of different interventions and discuss these with a manager and/or colleagues within the qualified individual support. If something isn’t working within RFSL, or if someone doesn’t carry out their work satisfactorily, it’s each person’s responsibility to pick up on this and to inform the immediate manager who can present the criticism so that the person can respond to it. Everybody is also expected to take criticism seriously, even when it concerns themselves, so that we can be a learning organisation. 

The foundations of individual support

– Basic values for individual support and qualified support persons are human rights and humanity. The work should contribute to a good and worthy life for those who seek support.

– The individual support and the qualified support persons’ professional role should be founded on formal education, experience, knowledge and research. 

– The operation is based on RFSL’s guiding principles about everybody’s equal rights.  

The qualified support person

– The qualified support person should, in their work, respect each person’s equal worth.

– The qualified support person meets people who seek support and has a professional responsibility towards people and groups in vulnerable positions.

– The qualified support person should carry out their professional role with responsibility and be aware of the limits of their own competency. 

– The qualified support person should maintain and develop their competency in support work and strive for ethical awareness and personal maturity. 

– The qualified support person should regularly speak about challenges in their work with colleagues and their immediate manager. 

The person seeking support

– Support efforts within RFSL should build on participation and agreement with the best interest of the client in focus. That means that the person seeking support is met with respect, empathy and kindness. 

– The expectations placed on a person seeking support should be based on fact. The aim should be to contribute to a more advantageous situation for the person seeking support. 

– The qualified support person should respect the person seeking support’s personal integrity and safeguard their self-determination as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the same rights of others or means that the life of the person seeking support is in danger. It might be that it surfaces that a person seeking support has expressed threats of suicide or that there’s an on-going suicidal act. 

– Specific measures against the self-determination of the person seeking support should be taken in the suspicion that a child’s welfare is at stake. The qualified support person is encouraged to seek information about, and accept support to understand, what measures need to be taken when a child’s wellbeing is in question.

– The qualified support person should inform the person seeking support about rights and expectations, and clarify the terms and resources available in the operation and in neighbouring societal support functions, and be transparent regarding their competency and the limitations of the operation. 

– The qualified support person should inform the client about the operation’s routines for complaints and, if it’s possible, offer to contact another support person if desired.

– The qualified support person can never, for their own or other’s benefit, abuse the position of dependency a person seeking support may be in.

– Information about the person seeking support should be handled with extreme caution in accordance with the organisation’s specific routines about confidentiality. 

The qualified support person in the organisation

– The qualified support person should be aware of, and have a loyal disposition towards, the basic work of the operation and its steering documents, among others RFSL’s code of conduct.

– The qualified support person should show respect for the management of the operation and for colleagues and other co-workers in different positions. 

– The qualified support person should counteract violating and discriminatory attitudes and actions that may arise from the operation’s way of working or in co-workers or support-seeker’s actions. Everyone belonging to the target group should feel welcome in the operation.

– The qualified support person should contribute to ensure that the operation maintains a high quality and can develop to meet people’s needs and the changing societal contexts. 

– Support work within RFSL should always follow the routines developed for the operation and are evaluated regularly internally within the operation.

– The qualified support person should contribute to the workplace in an inclusive, respectful and kind social environment.


– The qualified support person should be open to and willing to cooperate with other organisations and other professions. 

– The qualified support person should strive to create confidence in the support work and in the qualified support person’s professional competency, and be open to review of their professional capacity.