Ethical Considerations among Counselors
Ethical Considerations among Counselors
Ethical considerations act as the guidelines that emerge from the field of counseling. These considerations ensure that counselors perform their duties appropriately. It is imperative for counselors to make ethical considerations since counseling is a field that deals with sensitive matters, such as divorce, mental health and so forth (Sori & Hecker, 2015). Counselors need to make various ethical considerations, and some of these include the client’s right, ethical decision making, disclosure, confidentiality, multicultural counseling, as well as dual relationships. This paper provides an analysis of the aforementioned ethical considerations.
Ethical Decision Making
One ethical consideration for counselors is ethical decision making. Ethical decision making is crucial for counselors since they often experience situations that have ethical dilemmas. For instance, counselors have to balance between being honest with their clients and ensuring that there are no misunderstandings or a violation of the patients’ rights (Smith, 2003). Ethical decision making enables counselors to address issues reasonably and avoid ignorance, which often worsens the situation. Some of the ethical decisions that counselors may make include consulting a code of ethics whenever an issue arises. A code of ethics allows counselors to address problems consistently. Another ethical decision is for a counselor to trust their judgment based on their experience with a particular matter (Sori & Hecker, 2015). Ethical decision making is, therefore, a guide that assists counselors to perform their duties accordingly.
Counselors also need to consider disclosure, particularly, therapist self-disclosure (TSD). TSD is a form of disclosure, which refers to the act of a counselor revealing some personal information about himself or herself to a patient. TSD can be intentional, unintentional and inevitable (Hanson 2005). Carew (2009) finds out that some counselors (therapists) self-disclose (to create a close relationship with clients), whereas others avoid this practice for different reasons (to avoid being vulnerable). Disclosure is important for therapists since, without it, there may be negative consequences, such as the worsening of attitudes among counselors if there are efforts to restrict TSD totally. This element is additionally essential as a counselor can learn to use it properly for the benefit of the client (Carew, 2009). Therefore, while disclosure raises some concerns for counselors, it is still beneficial for their practice. Counselors have to decide when it is best for them to self-disclose.
Furthermore, counselors need to know how to balance dual relationships, which are as a result of their profession. In particular, dual relationships arise from the ethical dilemmas that continuously confront counselors (Smith, 2003). Since a counselor handles different clients, he or she may find themselves in a situation that requires them to make a decision. For example, a counselor may have to decide whether it is right for them to seek the services of their junior because they are easily accessible. In such a relation, the most important question that the counselor needs to answer is who is to benefit the most. In other words, the counselor has to determine whose needs are met in the relationship and in most cases; it should be those of the client (Smith, 2003). Hence, counselors should avoid dual relationships that may be harmful to their clients or profession. It is thus, necessary for counselors to consider dual relationships that are not only manageable but also beneficial to the client.
Welfel (2010) states that it is the ethical duty of therapists to ensure their clients exercise their rights which include having access to sufficient information for informed decision making. However, some clients fail to exercise their rights due to failure of therapists to disclose information in some situations (Carew, 2009). The research reveals that it is unethical for therapists to withhold information from their clients for fear of conflicting with them in sensitive areas such as sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and abortion. This unethical practice can possibly result in strained relationship between the two parties. Second, the study reveals that therapist can violate the right of a client by disclosing sensitive information before getting to know each other. In such cases, the therapist may fail to meet the expectation of the client.
Confidentiality is a fundamental right for all clients. Prior to the commencement of the therapy sessions, the involved persons are assured of non-disclosure of their information beyond the professional boundary. It may, however, happen that therapists have to break confidentiality for legal and ethical reasons (Bhola & Raguram, 2016). For instance, a therapist may disclose information to protect a person from suicide. In the article, Hanson (2005) notes that therapists develop non-disclosure skills which help them protect their clients. For example, these professionals master the art of responding compassionately to questions that require confidential information regarding a person. However, some of the practitioners are too rigid to disclose information even if the decision is ethical and lawful.
Gallardo, Johnson, Parham, and Carter (2009) argue that multiculturalism directly affects therapies. Therapists have to be culturally responsive by working on a set of principles, managing the dynamics of differences, valuing diversity, gaining cultural knowledge, and conducting self-assessment. Carew (2009) conducted a research to investigate the extent to which modern therapists reflect upon the diversity and cultural changes among their clients. The study findings revealed that some therapists are victims of boundary violation due to lack of reflective awareness and understanding. These professionals do not take adequate time to study the culture of their clients and identify ways th...