In this paper, you will be able to see how to apply professional values, codes of ethics, and decision-making model to the process of ethical decision-making. I chose to look at ethical dilemma number 4. In this dilemma, a client’s confidentiality has been breached; due to her counselor. The first approach is for me to identify the problem and apply the ACA code of ethics. I then identify the moral principles and list all possible courses of action that could betake. Also list all possible consequences for each action that could be taken. I then carefully review, after which I chose what I believe to be the most accurate course of action for this scenario. So lastly I will take you step by step of how this action plan will be implement.
I chose to review ethical dilemma 4. Where Wilma, a counselor in a community agency, has been working with Donna for several months for anxiety and panic disorder. On multiple occasions, Wilma has given Donna homework to complete between sessions that has not been completed by Donna. This past week, Wilma sees Donna again in session and assigns her some more homework. Later that week, Wilma and a friend go out to dinner. Wilma looks up to see that Donna is her waitress. Frustrated with Donna’s lack of effort with her homework and in an effort to hold Donna accountable, Wilma decides to inquire if Donna has done her homework and says, “Donna, I am glad I ran into you. Have you done your homework since our last session?” I chose to review this particular ethical dilemma because this is something that could easy happen to any professional, if you fail to think before you speak. It can even be done with no ill intentions. However this could possible destroy the client and counselor relationship that has been built. The problem with this hypothetical ethical dilemma is that the client’s confidentiality was broken and relationship boundaries were crossed. This is an ethical and possible a legal problem.
It is an ethical problem because the clients confidentiality was broken when Wilma inquire if Donna had been working on her homework from their last session. It can also become a legal issue if Donna pursues it. This can become a major problem as it relates to the Wilma and the agency that she works for because the client’s confidentiality was broken. Donna could contact the agency that Wilma is employed for, or even contact the state board of counselors. The ACA code of ethics covers any ethical issues that a counselor maybe faced with. While reading over the ACA code of ethics confidentiality privileged communication and privacy was coved in great detail. Respecting Client Rights was defined as “counselors maintain awareness and sensitivity regarding cultural meanings of confidentiality and privacy. Counselors respect differing views toward disclosure of information.
Counselors hold ongoing discussions with clients as to how, when, and with whom information is to be shared” (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005). In the case with Wilma and Donna , Wilma was not sensitivity regarding Donna’s privacy. Wilma was having dinner with a friend and Donna was at work. That was not the right time to address anything that they had coved in a counseling session. According the ACA codes of ethics Wilma did not have respect for privacy or respect for confidentiality for her client. The ACA code of ethics defines respect for privacy as “Counselors respect client rights to privacy. Counselors solicit private information from clients only when it is beneficial to the consoling process” (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005). It is also stated that respect for confidentiality “Counselors do not share confidential information without client consent or without sound legal or ethical justification” (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005).
I believe that it a counselor’s main moral principle is loyalty to their clients and honoring their commitments to them. In this case Donna believe that anything that was discussed in their counseling sections would remain confidential. “There are state and national organization That work to assist clients and professional counselors in taking the appropriate legal and ethical steps. The American Counseling Association provides free confidential professional/ethical consolations to members of the ACA. If a counselor is advice they van contact the ACA Ethics and Professional Standards Department to set up appointments. Counselors can also contact their state LPCA to receive information regarding the proper protocol for certain cases” (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005). There are several potential course of action in this case. Any course of action that would be taking would be fully up to Donna in this case. Donna could ignore the comments that Wilma made to her. Donna could talk to Wilma, and express that she didn’t appreciate how she addressed her personal issues in front of a stranger and while she was at work. Also let Wilma know she would appreciate if she wouldn’t do that again.
After Donna address this issue with Wilma she could chose to keep her as her counselor or ask for a new counselor. Donna could also consult another counselor to determine the best course of action to take against Wilma. Lastly, Donna could contact ACA for legal and ethical advice regarding breach of confidentiality. For each potential course of action there is a potential consequence(s) and implications for each chose. If Donna choses to ignore the comment that Wilma made to her, there will not be any consequence for Wilma. However there could be potential consequences and/or implications for Donna. If Donna ignores the comments, Wilma may keep to making statements. If Donna talks to Wilma, and express that she didn’t appreciate how she addressed her personal issues in front of a stranger and while she was at work, this could help. The consequences of this course of action could be beneficial to both Donna and Wilma. It could be beneficial to both parties, Wilma will see that she breached her clients confidentiality and Donna will have the chance to express how that made her feel. This could help rebuild the trust that was lost do to Wilma’s lack of professionalism; it could also help Donna with her anxiety. If Donna consults another counselor to determine the best course of action, this could be very important in this case.
By discussing this with another counselor can help Donna gain a better insight as to how to handled and move forward with treatment. Lastly if Donna contacts the ACA board for legal and ethical advice, this could have major consequences for Wilma and the agency. Wilma will most likely be fined or even have her licenses revoked. I believe that the best course of action in this case would be for Donna to talk Wilma, and express that she didn’t appreciate how she addressed her personal issues in front of a stranger and while she was at work. I believe this is the best course of action only because Wilma did not go into detail about what the homework consisted of. Although Donna confidentiality was breached, no significant information was exposed, other then the fact that she sees a counselor. I don’t believe that is would be necessary for any legal action to be taken. I do believe that Donna should inform another member of the agency of what happened and the course of action that she has chose to take in dealing with dilemma. The selected course of action does not present any new ethical problems in my eyes. I believe that Donna has covered herself in all areas. If Donna talks to Wilma and also consult another counselor in the agency, this should eliminate any potential ethical problems.
After reviewing all possible courses of actions and consequences, I believe the most beneficial option would be to for Donna to talk Wilma, and express that she didn’t appreciate how she addressed her personal issues in front of a stranger and while she was at work and consult another counselor in the agency. I applied the test of justice, publicity, and universality here are my findings. Justice: In this case choosing to consult Wilma with this dilemma it will help Wilma be more aware of confidentiality of her clients. Publicity: In the public eye Wilma is not acting ethically. Universality: The course of action that Donna has chosen (addressing Wilma and consulting another counselor in the agency) would be a great recommendation for other people put in similar situations.
There are certain steps that Donna has to take in order to implement this course of action. First, Donna needs to consult the other counselor that works for Wilma agency. Donna should have a sit down conversation with this person and go over each detail of the event that happen on the night she was working. Also Donna should express the course of action that she wants to take to handle this case. Lastly Donna, Wilma and the counselor that Donna informed of the incident should all have a sit down conversation. Donna can then explain to Wilma how she felt and the lack of professionalism. Wilma and Donna are both being protected in this case because there is a three person there to over see the conversation and take notes that can go into Wilma and Donna records.
Chappell, C. (2013, July 1). Virginia Board of Counseling . Retrieved November 15, 2013, from Virgunia.gov:
Ethics & Professional Standards. (2005). Retrieved November 15, 2013, from American Counseling Association: www.counseking.org/knowledge-centr/ethics
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