In the ethical professional practice of human services exists six moral principles. These six moral principles help guide and govern each social worker, counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, and any other human service provider. The six moral principles are: Autonomy, Nonmaleficence, Beneficence, Justice, Fidelity, and Veracity. Self-care is another important attribute to include within the six moral principles. They serve as a guide for the professional as well as the client.
We’ll begin with Autonomy. Autonomy is a self-respecting quality every individual should possess.
Autonomy focuses on personal development, freedom of expression, and pioneering independence. In the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), autonomy is described as clients self-directing their own affairs with the emotional support of a clinician; This process properly assists clients to be able to exercise self-control and independence (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.17). Autonomy is important because it says the client has the right to have a voice and choice in their convictions.
This principle gives the clients free will to make key decisions throughout their lives. When I use autonomy with my future clients, I imagine this moral principle being used to strengthen their beliefs about themselves. When I witness a client feeling lost, I will remind them of their courage that lies within.
Next, we’ll discuss Nonmaleficence. Nonmaleficence is the prevention of mistreating someone. C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015) describes nonmaleficence as an act to restrain oneself from imposing damage onto a client; this type of harm includes the exploitation of a client (C.
Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p. 17). The importance of nonmaleficence is helpful in preventing the clinician from harming the client. For example, in the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), it talks about misdiagnosing students and the misinterpretation of body language. Both actions are damaging to the client. Misdiagnosing the client gives them an unnecessary label and misunderstanding a client’s body language brings miscommunication. We need to be attentive culturally and psychologically (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.18). The method I would use to practice nonmaleficence with my clients is being cognizant socially, psychologically, culturally, and economically. A scenario I picture would be a client having a different background than me socially and economically. In this situation, I would make sure I wasn’t unintentionally labeling or stigmatizing them.
After nonmaleficence is beneficence. Beneficence is the act of rightness for the greater good of people and humanity. Within the text, C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), explain that practitioners practicing beneficence encourages good health and self-esteem for the clients (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.18). Beneficence is crucial to practice in order help clients stay on a functional path. It is important to not allow the clients to deter from their goals. With beneficence, the clients’ goals are more likely to be achieved. I envision beneficence to influence every daily aspect of my ethical practice with clients. A depiction would be showing support and positive encouragement to a client who suffered childhood abuse. I would be patient if the client was unable to verbally express the abuse and trauma. Beneficence is part of the healing process for clients.
The fourth moral principle is justice. Justice is the correct and impartial attitude to express to clients. According to the text, C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), expound on justice being a balance of giving, which does not condemn or deny help based on a client’s background. In fact, the principle of justice provides equal help for all clients. It does not discriminate based on gender, financial status, ethnic background, etc. (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.18). Justice is important in making sure everyone receives the help they need. Without justice, there would be an imbalance of others receiving more help. For instance, if only female clients were being helped, that would be unjust to the male clients. The male clients would feel shorted in comparison to the female clients. I foresee the justice principle influencing my everyday interactions with clients. The justice principle approach would influence how I would respond to my clients by reminding me to give an equal quantity of time and energy as well as support, no matter how different their situation is. An example would be to give a wealthy and a poor individual the same amount of time and attention.
The fifth moral principle is fidelity. Fidelity is clinicians being dedicated to their clients. Fidelity is described in the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), as an ethical professional being accountable with a devoted promise to the client, ensuring stability and trust in their professional relationship (p.19). It is important to build a trusting rapport with a client, as that stabilizes the foundation for the therapeutic relationship. If there’s no trust, the confident foundation between the client and ethical provider diminishes. I visualize fidelity influencing my approach with every meeting with my clients. A sample that I would go by as described in the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), would be each time I meet with my client, I would keep my commitment of notifying him/her about the counseling procedures, such as the documentation of our sessions; this would all be done through permission (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.19).
The sixth moral principle is veracity. Veracity is the act of being authentic to clients. Veracity is explained in the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), as the professional displaying honesty and truthfulness with clients. This principle is represented by the consistency of trust. Veracity is important in the fact that if there’s no trust or honesty, the therapeutic relationship will not thrive by any means. To have a healthy relationship between the client and ethical provider, veracity needs to exist between them (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.19). I perceive veracity as being an integral aspect in my daily interactions with my clients. Without veracity, my clients’ trust towards me would start to decline. An example would be if I informed a client that I would not release any personal or medical information with anyone else. In this case I would be following the proper protocol.
To properly apply all these principles, the provider must give themselves self-care. In the text by C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, (2015), self-care is the ethical professional nurturing oneself, so that they can use each moral principle effectively with their clients. It is detrimental to the human professional and client when self-care is not exercised (C. Corey, G. Corey, M.S. Corey, & P. Callanan, 2015, p.19).
Ethical behavior means doing the right action. It means choosing the universal perspective of morality over your own subjective principle. An ethical example would be if you witnessed one of your coworkers abusing a client, you would report the situation right away. An unethical example would be if you allowed the client to be continually abused by your coworker out of fear that your job might be sabotaged. I will determine if my actions are following the guidelines by seeing if they coincide with the six moral principles.
The ethical codes help guide professional behavior by keeping an order of perspective. It reminds you of what’s right and what isn’t. The benefits of having ethical codes are: codes are organized, just, and promote the well-being for everyone involved. A potential limitation of having ethical codes are: it can be time consuming to build rapport, which can take away from profit. The standard A. 4 Avoiding Harm and Imposing Values (a.) and (b.) from the American Counseling Association (2014), is important for helping professionals to have ethical codes by making sure they are not harming, imposing their personal beliefs, or values onto their clients (American Counseling Association, 2014, p.4-5). This code directly applies to the moral principle nonmaleficence.
In closing, these six moral principles have been a beneficial guide for the practitioner as well as the client. These six moral principles provide a moral compass that remind us how important our effect on humanity is. To apply these six moral principles means having self-care. When we have self-care, we ultimately free and heal the world.