Similarly, the concept of gift giving and receiving can lead to ethical concerns where some counselors and clients are not open to accepting gifts of any sort. Depending on cultural values, some clients might view counselors’ rejection of gifts as being disrespectful and may tarnish the counseling relationship that was built. In group counseling, counselors are vulnerable to several risks affiliated with ethical issues in groups.
Among the identified risks is the fact that verbal abuse is more likely to occur in comparison to individual therapy, the possibility of members becoming dependent on the group leader, screening and selection may be poorly conducted, and the group leader has less control in influencing what occurs within the group and with members’ behavior outside the group (Corey, Williams & Moline, 1995). Moreover, confidentiality is neither guaranteed nor enforced and the risks associated with groups are greater than that of individual therapy (Corey, Williams & Moline, 1995).
Accordingly, within the academic setting, counseling professionals in schools have the responsibility of serving students, parents, teachers, and the community (Freeman, 2000). Additionally, such professionals are expected to ensure that the overall development encompassing areas such as the educational, personal and vocational aspect of every student is captured within both the counseling services and the school’s educational program (Freeman, 2000).
School counselors as with other helping professionals, are subjected to legal, ethical and federal legislation and are often placed in precarious positions for identifying and reporting suspected cases of child abuse (Freeman, 2000). The concept of competence however, when looked at multiculturally encompasses knowing how to evaluate one’s self and the impact it has on clients, students, and others seeking help. It also incorporates knowing how to edantically assess the research of others and how to conduct ethical and relevant research independently (SommersFlanagan & Sommers- Flanagan, 2007).
The boundaries of competence are defined within the realms of ethical codes as “education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience” (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers- Flanagan, 2007, p. 212). Also, ongoing competence and self-assessment is red through factors such as training, educational and skills based readiness; access to skilled, specialized supervision; potential for issues to block efficacy; and multicultural competence (Sommers-Flanagan & Sommers- Flanagan, 2007). If counselors working with individuals are not trained in the specific area deemed essential for the population they are working with, this may result in issues of malpractice as the individuals seeking help with not be offered and cheated out of the appropriate treatment.
Of equal importance also are researches involving human subjects which are governed by both law and ethical standards where acquiring voluntary consent of human subjects is essential (Freeman, 2000). Ethical standards stipulate that the risk for human subjects must be marginal, must involve full and voluntary consent to participate and must emerge from the experience unscathed (Freeman, 2000). Accordingly, within the field of ethics, the most pertinent ethical principles to the study of human subjects are identified as “respect for the person, beneficence, and justice” (Freeman, 2000, p. 83). Consequently, ethical issues are present in couples and family therapy as well. Couples and family therapy is embedded within the foundation of systems theory which postulates “psychological problems as arising from within the individual’s present environment and the intergenerational family system” (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006, p. 438).
The family systems perspective is developed with the notion that clients’ problematic behaviors may serve a purpose for the family, may be a function of the family’s inability to operate fficiently and may be a symptom of dysfunctional patterns handed down across generations (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006). The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists proposed eight core ethical standards for couples and family therapy. These codes are outlined as: responsibility to clients; confidentiality; professional competence and integrity; responsibility to students and supervisees; responsibility to research participants; responsibility to the profession; financial arrangements and advertising (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006).
Couples and family therapists are inevitably confronted with more potential ethical conflicts than individual therapists as the most common reasons reported for seeking couples therapy are problematic communication and lack of emotional attachment (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006). Therapeutic interventions in couples and family therapy may be influenced by therapists’ values relating to topics such as marriage, divorce, preservation of the family, gender roles and child rearing (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006).
As such, therapists may exercise bias in taking sides with one member of the family against others or may become too involved with keeping the family together more than the family members themselves (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006). The therapist’s role, however, is to assist couples and family members in seeing their actions clearly, help them explore and clarify their values and to help them make more honest assessments of how well their current patterns are working for them (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2006). What does an ethical practitioner do when s/he faces an ethical challenge in practice?
Within the field of counseling, counselors at some point in their career are prone to experience or be faced with ethical challenges. Thus, counselors when faced with ethical dilemmas are encouraged to reflect on formal code of ethics governing their professions accompanied by a formal ethical decision making process to garner comprehensive solutions (Freeman, 2000). In accordance with an ethical framework for good practice, when things go wrong with own clients, counselors should respond promptly and appropriately to any complaint made by their clients through complying with agency policies and procedures (Bond, 2010).
In cases where counselors believe that they have acted in accordance with good practice, but their clients remain dissatisfied, counselors may wish to employ independent dispute resolution techniques such as mediation or seeking a second professional opinion (Bond, 2010). Counselors are expected to fulfill their reporting duties through completing documentation, consult frequently with colleagues and supervisors and keep abreast of code of ethics outlined within the American Counseling Association handbook.
Additionally, in combatting ethical challenges, counselors are implored to develop a thorough understanding of what constitutes a multiple relationship, protect the confidentiality of their clients, respect their clients autonomy, become familiar with their supervisory responsibilities, practice only within their scope of competence, understand clearly their clients and roles, stick to evidence, ensure that their work is adequately covered by insurance, and seek to understand the difference between termination and abandonment.
It has been argued that the manner in which counselors perceive and resolve moral problems is a determinant of their orientation (Levitt & Aligo, 2013). Describe several ethical situations that might be most challenging to you personally? As a new counselor to the field, I have found working within clients’ homes to be challenging in terms of boundaries as I am in the home for an extended period where minor clients and or their parents enjoy asking personal questions I feel are not appropriate or that makes me uncomfortable in responding on the spot.
Additionally, I feel like the characteristic of authenticity is somewhat devalued by the physical constraints of being in the confines of someone’s home which I believe inevitably restricts my ability for being myself and with being compatible on the level of my children clientele. Similarly, while observing a session earlier this semester, the client just asked abruptly “are you from around here and how long does it take you to get here? || was very shocked and responded quickly by saying “about 30 minutes”. The client did not ask me anymore questions for the session but continued to talk to me at points. I imagine that in future sessions being asked spontaneous personal questions might pose some sort of a challenge to me as I try refrain from engaging in discussions regarding my personal life with clients where establishing clear boundaries at the onset of the counseling relationship may prove difficult.
Likewise, I think that working with client populations I consider myself to be incompetent with specifically children under five years to be a prospective challenge as I fear such clients will be cheated out of achieving their utmost potential as a result of my incompetence. Another personal ethically challenging issue is that of working with clients with specific insurance companies where the direction of treatment may be dictated hence requiring the use of techniques I may have had no prior training in.