These guidelines are for the use of practitioners registered with the Dr Edward Bach Centre and relate to their work with the system of 38 flower remedies discovered by Dr Edward Bach. References to BFRPs (Bach Foundation Registered Practitioners) include BFRAPs (Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioners) unless otherwise indicated.
Children, practitioners and the law
All countries have laws that protect the rights and safety of children. When working as BFRPs we need to ensure we are aware of local law, but beyond that we should in any event organise the help we offer children in a way that best protects their rights and safety.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a child is anybody ‘below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier’. As this suggests, in practice different countries set different age limits for different activities – and they are often contradictory and confusing.
In the UK, for example, for most purposes anybody under the age of 16 is considered a child; but you can be held criminally responsible for breaking the law as young as 10, and can’t vote or get a tattoo until you are 18.
A general rule of thumb is that BFRPs should not see children under the age of 16 for a consultation unless a parent or guardian is present. Apart from ensuring that consent issues are addressed, this protects the BFRP from possible accusations of abuse or inappropriate conduct.
The actual meaning of ‘being present’ is of course open to debate. Is a guardian in the next room present? Does the parent have to be able to hear everything that is said? – clearly the latter case could be a problem if the child feels unable or unwilling to talk about emotions that may be to do with home life and family relationships.
Where practical you might conduct the consultation within view of the parent or guardian, but at enough of a distance to allow the child to speak freely. Another option might be to ask the parent or guardian to suggest a third person who could act ‘in loco parentis’ by sitting in on the consultation.
Consent to treatment
In health care generally there is much debate about the age at which a child should be asked to consent to treatment – or be allowed to refuse treatment. (See for example the British Medical Journal of 7th May 1994.)
On the face of it we might feel this debate is less relevant to BFRPs than to surgeons, as our treatment is so gentle and safe. Ours is a self-help system, however, and because of this the client’s wishes are always paramount. We should respect any client’s decision not to take remedies. If a child is old enough to express a preference we need to listen.
This could mean declining to cooperate with parents or guardians who want to give remedies without a child’s knowledge.
The right to medical aid
In the UK the parents or guardians of a child under 16 have an obligation under law to seek medical aid when that child is sick. For the purposes of the law treatment with Bach remedies does not constitute medical aid; going to the doctor does.
This means that if you believe that a child hadn’t seen a doctor for a treatable condition, you need to inform the parent or guardian of their legal obligations.
Even if your jurisdiction does not enforce a similar legal obligation, it is good practice to point out that the remedies work on an emotional level, and make plain that your service is not an alternative to appropriate medical advice.
Teaching the remedies
The role of BFRPs is to teach the remedies. One of the joys of working with children is that they quickly learn about the drops and what they do.
As long as we keep the explanation at a simple level, even very young children can learn a little about the system. This empowers them to take more charge of which remedies are selected, when they are used and so on.
It can be a good idea to get a signed statement from the parent/guardian (and from the child, if he or she is old enough to make such a declaration) to set out the limits of what you are offering.
The statement could say that you as practitioner reserve the right to inform the parent of any cause for concern should that arise; and also that the Bach treatment is aimed at everyday emotions, so that for any medical need the child remains at all times under the care of her parent, GP and so on.
Here’ s an idea of what a written disclaimer might look like:
As a Bach Foundation Registered Practitioner I am bound by the Bach Foundation Code of Practice. This requires that I provide a safe environment in which everything we discuss will remain confidential.
The Code also requires that I decline cases that exceed my capacity or competence and refer you to more qualified people where appropriate.
Despite the promise of confidentiality I therefore reserve the right to inform a parent/guardian/doctor/other qualified professional if I am concerned that your safety or that of others might be at risk.
Bach remedies aim to treat emotional states and do not replace medical treatment. Please ensure you see a qualified medical practitioner for any medical problems that might require medical intervention.
Please sign to show you have read and understood this document.
Name and telephone number of the family doctor:
The disclaimer can easily be expanded where other issues are likely to cause a problem.
For example, in countries where the law confines practitioners to a purely educational role you could add a paragraph stating that you are providing a one-on-one seminar on using Bach remedies for self-help, and not a health consultation.
If the mixing of treatment bottles is problematic for any reason you could add that the parent or guardian signing the form assumes full responsibility for the final selection of remedies and (if appropriate) for mixing them in a treatment bottle.
The information here is provided in good faith but does not constitute legal advice or opinion. No responsibility will be taken by the Bach Centre or any of its agents or officers for any act or omission carried out by anybody who follows these guidelines. In line with clauses 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 of the Bach Foundation Code of Practice BFRPs are responsible for their own actions at all times.