The philosophies and beliefs of a person are shaped from the day we are born all through maturity amongst our individual, ethnic, and shared encounters. Establishing what is factual from erroneous differs on our individual routine and what we allow to let sway our viewpoints and actions. Ethical decision making while essential, can sometimes be extremely difficult and challenging. This is predominantly spot-on when working with clientele that have unlike beliefs and views. For example: If one leg of a four-legged stool is missing, the stool will not stand correctly. If one leg is shorter than the others, the stool may be awkward to use. The correlation of a four-legged stool can be utilized to help better comprehend the prominence and interdependence of individual, organizational and cultural ethics and how all of these things tend to influence one another. The ethical aspects of counseling are based on a system of rules which have been constructed for a precise group of people or field of work, and were developed for the purpose of setting the standards of conduct and behavior that are to be used by professionals.
Ethical connotations hardly ever have an easy answer, and often counselors must seek help from more experienced professionals, but this is not a guarantee that the anticipated result will be accomplished. The first guideline in the ACA’s (2005) Code of Ethics reads “the primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients” (Kaplan, 2014). “Competence is required of practitioners if they are to protect and serve their clients. Although the intents are to not harm clients, sometimes incompetence is a contributing factor in causing harm for practitioners” (Corey, et al, 2014). When therapists are conscious of his/her own individual morals, principals, and unsettled struggles they can successfully discuss their clientele without dropping emphasis on the requirements of the customer, but sometimes this isn’t always the case. “Standard 2.01(a) requires psychologists to “provide services, teach, and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience” (Shiles, 2009).
Counselors should remain inside their span of training, be mindful of the restrictions of his/her licensed expertise, be present at essential education programs and maintain their learning, use his/her own common sense, and be able to identify when referrals should be made. It should be the disposition of counselors to always value the mixture of their clientele, novices, and study partakers. The ACA Code of Ethics (2005) section A.4.b. Personal Values states, “Counselors are aware of their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals” (Kaplan, 2014). “Standard C.5., states, “Counselors do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status/partnership, language preference, socioeconomic status, or any basis prescribed by law” (Kaplan, 2014). Personal standards, the main beliefs that describe an individual, develop over time. They are shaped by a mixture of influences as well as ones from family and friends, along with learning and religious establishments.
“When it becomes clear that a client’s counseling needs exceed our competence, we must either develop the competence necessary to effectively treat the client or refer this client to another competent professional” (Corey, et al, 2014). There are going to be many instances when treating clients that the situation is going to be uncomfortable and it may be easier to just refer the clients to someone else. “The ACA Code of Ethics (ACA, 2005) authorizes counselors to conclude a treatment liaison under these three circumstances: “When it becomes reasonably apparent that the client no longer needs assistance, is not likely to benefit, or is being harmed by continued counseling” (Kaplan, 2014). Although a counselor may be competent within a certain area of expertise, they still may need to refer a client from time to time to maintain working within the boundaries of the professional role and successfully delivering the services that client’s may need. “The counselor need not accept or approve of the client’s values. Disagreement with or nonacceptance of the client’s values does not mean that the client is not accepted as a person” (Kaplan, 2014).
Instances that referral may be necessary are as such: the patron has additional needs; the therapist lacks special proficiencies; the client needs a expert; the therapist is acquainted with the client beyond a professional basis; no growth is being formulated; the client is contributing in disorderly activities that could be damaging those around them; the therapist and client aren’t forming a beneficial connection due to personality differences; and the counselor is has taken the client outside of their comfort zone. Before making a referral it’s important to explore what is the difficulty within the situation; what barriers are preventing the professional from working with the client. Purely differing with a client or not having a distinct fondness for the client is not ethical grounds to make a referral.
When referral is not an option for a counselor the counselor must take additional steps to ensure that they are not only professionally competent but to also develop skills by working with colleagues that have more experience, especially when seeking new areas within the practice. These skills can be obtained by attending conferences, networking opportunities, reading books and journal articles, etc. The primary goal is for professional counselors to embrace supporting the individual’s worth, self-esteem, potential, and individuality. “In order to determine our level of competence, we must engage in an ongoing process of self-assessment and self-reflection” (Watson, et al, 2006).
In conclusion, values and ethical standards are sometimes challenging to describe although people understands and practices the theory. A therapist’s ethical responsibilities to clientele start during the initial interaction or appointment, not during the beginning meeting; the point that counselors have moral accountabilities to those individuals that request help obligates a specialist to withhold the utmost respect and dignity in order to promote the welfare of the client. There are always going to be differences of opinions and values but the ultimate concern is the welfare of the client.
Corey G., Corey, M. S., Corey, C., & Callanan, P. (2014). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (9th ed.). Independence, KY: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 9781285464671.
Kaplan, D.M. (2014). Ethical Implications of a Critical Legal Case for the
Counseling Profession: Ward v. Wilbanks. Journal of Counseling and Development, 92(2), 142-146.
Shiles, M. (2009). Discriminatory Referrals: Uncovering a Potential Ethical Dilemma Facing
Practitioners. Ethics & Behavior, 19(2), 142-155. doi:10.1080/10508420902772777 Watson, Z.P., Herlihy, B.R., & Pierce, L.A. (2006). Forging the Link Between Multicultural
Competence and Ethical Counseling Practice: A Historical Perspective. Counseling &
Values, 50(2), 99-107.
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