The Importance of Ethics in Counselling

Categories: EthicsPsychology

Ethics can be an extremely difficult subject to define and discuss as it closely related to one’s own unique moral, cultural, and spiritual values. Within the counselling profession however there is a strict ethical framework which must be adhered to. This framework has been developed over the years to insure integrity, confidentiality, and responsibility on the part of the counsellor. In this essay I will discuss briefly the importance of ethics within the counselling profession, I will also outline a few of the major ethical dilemmas that might possibly arise while working in the field of counselling.

The primary role of the counsellor is not one of merely using techniques. It is essentially an ethical task. Simply stated, it is to serve the clients best interests. ” {Pg 126 of Ursula o farrells first steps in counselling} It is widely acknowledged that when working in the field of counselling and psychotherapy morals and ethical duties may be challenged on a daily basis.

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In order for effective therapy to take place it is of utmost importance that the therapist has a good awareness of self and how his or her own morals and values might affect the professional relationship with the client.

The counsellor must constantly monitor his motifs and continue to reflect on and re-evaluate his own moral, cultural, and spiritual values. This level of self awareness and ongoing personal development is mandatory in joining any of the accrediting bodies of counselling in this country such as the IACP and the IAAAC.

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These mandatory requirements ensure a level of competence in those whom are accredited members of their association. I will back this statement up with a quotation from the IACP summary of code of ethics and practice [2005]. pg133 of Ursula o farrells book} Principal 2: Competence, states “Practitioners are required to monitor and develop their professional skills and ethical awareness on an ongoing basis. They recognise that their expertise and capacity for work are limited, and take care not to exceed the limits”. In abiding by these ethical codes the therapist or counsellor ensures that he or she is extending their best professional care and treatment to their clients.

A common phenomenon which is likely to occur in the field of counselling is the phenomenon we refer to as transference and counter transference. In a therapeutic context, transference refers to redirection of a clients feelings for a significant person to the counsellor. This behaviour can often manifest as a sexual attraction toward the counsellor. It can also be seen in many other forms such as extreme dependence, parentification, mistrust, hatered, and many more besides.

Counter transference is defined as a redirection of a counsellors feelings toward a client. For example: a counsellor might be unconsciously seeking to fulfil his or her need for love or power in the therapeutic relationship with the client. A counsellors attunement to their own counter transference is nearly as critical as understanding transference. In either dilemma the counsellors own moral values and the ethical code of their profession and accrediting body may be jeprodized or heavily challenged.

If such an instance should occur it would be the ethical responsibility of the counsellor to bring their dilemma to their supervisor where it can be explored and challenged in order to save the therapeutic relationship with the client in question. If it is not resolved appropriately it then becomes the responsibility of the counsellor to use their right to referral. Counsellors should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client suffers neither physical nor psychological harm during the therapeutic process.

I have given these examples of possible scenarios mentioned above in order to highlight the responsibility of a counsellor to commit to the cultivation and maintenance of good self awareness and constant ongoing self care and reflection. In my opinion it is one of the most important of our ethical duties to ourselves and our clients. I will now give a brief overview of some of the other pricipals highlighted in the IACP code of ethics. Their code of ethics is based on four overall ethical principles, these principals are as follows: Principal 1: Respect for the rights and dignity of the client.

This refers to the requirement of the practitioner to treat their clients with the utmost respect at all times, to give due regard to their moral and cultural values, and to treat all information obtained in the counselling process with the strictest of confidence so as to maintain the dignity and unanimity of the client Principal 2: competence. This refers to the counsellors dedication toward their own ongoing development of professional skills, ethical awareness, and also the awareness of their own limitations.

Principal 3: Responsibility. It is the responsibility of the counsellor to ensure that their clients receive the best service possible. It also refers to the responsibility of referring clients to other colleagues or other professionals whom may be more appropriately trained to help them. Principal 4: Integrity This refers to the importance of counsellors taking measures to maintain their own mental health by insuring that their work is supervised by a trained and accredited professional , thus helping themselves overcome the personal stress and other ethical dilemmas that might arise for them while working in the counselling profession.

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The Importance of Ethics in Counselling. (2017, Jan 16). Retrieved from

The Importance of Ethics in Counselling

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