Counselor Ethics and Responsibilities

Counselor Ethics and Responsibilities Free Essay


An individual is born with a set of core values that are inherited from parents or grandparents. The values help people to be who they are as they grow up, make choices of their partners, and the decisions concerning their experience. In joining the counseling profession, it is important for one to recognize how to distinguish personal and working lives. It is not the goal of a counselor to pass judgment or make resolutions instead of others but rather to assist humans in dealing with issues so that they may lead fulfilling life.

Section 1: Counselor Values

In the case of Eleanor who is an 87-year-old terminal cancer victim, my belief is that ending one’s life is not the best solution. Life is essential and should be protected at all costs because it ensures well-being of the human race. However, according to the ACA code of ethics in regards to the terminally ill and end-of-life care, individual autonomy is to be respected (ACA, 2005). Nonetheless, it is significant that Eleanor is brought to understanding that family is vital as a possible safeguard that assures that the right to suicide assistance is not abused (Fulmer, 2013). Eleanor states that it is not in her interest to revisit the issue of killing herself, but it is important that she is made aware that it would practically be impossible when sharing the information with her family. Moreover, she might have to deal with the fact that the potential response from her relatives may induce psychological vulnerability since she may feel no longer worthwhile if they accept such a decision (Fulmer, 2013). Finally, although Eleanor might consider all those situations, she needs to recognize the necessity of emotional support in her decision-making. Hence, in accordance with the Standard A.9.c of the Ethical code, the counselor is also permitted to break the rule of confidentiality if the patient makes a statement that reveals the foreseeable harm (ACA, 2005). Therefore, in such circumstances, her family has to be brought to terms with Eleanor’s commitment.

In case of the couple obliged to deal with the difficulties of their marriage while being in the open relationship, it is a personal believe that at the root of all their problems is the fact that they are in that kind of affairs. As a consequence, the practice of open relationships is one that should be abhorred by parties in a wedlock because many forms of these liaisons tend to end at an awful mental point eventually leading to the termination of matrimony (Ruskin, 2016). According to the ACA code of ethics A.7 that covers handling situations with multiple clients, I would make the couple understand the nature of professional relationships with the advisor and realize that they are both patients (ACA, 2005). In helping the partners exploring their differences, it is important that two of them share the reason why they are in the open relationship. It is significant to help the lovers recognize that each of them is impacted by their choice of the type of affairs differently and that the only eventuality even if it takes many years is that they have to bear responsibility for their choices (Ruskin, 2016). Furthermore, it would be essential for them to be able to define what marriage is and why they are wed. Guiding the partners and granting them aid to see the turmoil of allowing other intimate relationships in their matrimony would provide the right approach in showing the couple what affects their marriage.

Section 2: Client’s rights

Counselors are guided by the code of ethics based on Kitchener’s five moral principles that presuppose merit and authority. To protect consumers’ rights, the first postulate of autonomy was introduced, which assumes that one respects the right of individuals to make their decisions (NAADAC, 2015). The ultimate freedom to choose yes or no belongs to the client, however, the therapist also has the right to determine whether they can participate in the process. The second principle is the exercise of non-maleficence and the adviser is expected not to do any harm, namely anything that can supposedly further hurt or damage the client (NAADAC, 2015). In many cases, the theory creates a dilemma with regard to perspective. For example, if patients choose physician-assisted suicide and begin to seek guidance and help, endorsing their ideas would mean the outcome of death. Demise in itself would be considered harm; on the other hand, allowing clients to endure the continued agony can be interpreted as damage as well. Thirdly, beneficence advocates for promotion of good (NAADAC, 2015). Thus, the principle itself poses the dilemma because it also depends on outlooks and personal value systems of the counselor. In the example of the client who chooses assisted death, the difficulty appears when one view believes in preserving life at all costs to support wellbeing, while the other one implied that good is upheld when suffering is alleviated. Fourthly, fidelity concerns itself with promise fulfillment and loyalty, whereby the therapist is expected to keep his/her word given to the client (NAADAC, 2015). It predominantly comes into play when the patient has already made a decision, and in the instance of those who choose to end their life clinically, if counselors pledge to help locate a physician to assist in the process, they are then ethically compelled to perform this task. Lastly, in the exercise of justice, the advisor is supposed to employ equality, obey the law, and appropriately allocate social resources (NAADAC, 2015). The equality rule suggests that all clients have the same access to what they seek if it is available and legal. Therefore, the therapist should be able to act according to valid legislation under their state jurisdiction. If the advisors adheres to the above mentioned, they should properly allocate resources such as time to each patient. In case of the sick person intending to commit assisted suicide, the right legal measures should be followed, and the counselor should not devote more time to such an individual who is perhaps terminally ill than to his/her other clients.

Informed consent process

When one begins the counseling relationship with an advisor, it is the obligation of the counselor to ensure that the client is provided with adequate information for their informed consent. The latter is presented in the form of documents that make the client aware of the policies operated by the therapist, the corresponding laws, and patients’ rights (Barnett, Rego, & Xie, 2015). The counselor is obliged to draw a consent form, which should be easily readable and interpretable that the client signs to indicate approval. Some of the rights of consumers ensured in the consent document has to do with the billing information that includes data of how much the experts charge and how they collect their fees, and how the client is supposed to pay. Concerning confidentiality, the counselor is expected to assure the patient that the information they share is always confidential. Finally, if the advisors are HIPPA compliants, they should care for the privacy issues in the consent document. The HIPPA compliance official papers outline privacy practices and consumers’ rights, and especially the way in which the client would like to be contacted (Barnett et al., 2015).

Section 3: Responsibility to Warn and Protect

Every counselor has the dual ethical and legal responsibility towards their clients and other third parties whereby they have to protect the latter from potentially dangerous patients, to guarantee safety to their clients to avoid being harmed by others, and finally to safeguard people from hurting themselves (Tapp & Payne, 2011). The duties reflect the delicate balance between confidentiality and the accountability that follows the obligation to warn and safeguard humans, which often needs to be handled one case at a time. A majority of the individual state laws allow the counselors to breach confidentiality in order to notify and save a person in danger (Tapp & Payne, 2011). However, many of the therapists have experienced ambivalence and uncertainty when it comes to reconciliation and integrating their professional ethics of confidentiality with the legal duty to protect and warn. Therefore, since the legitimate mandates are different in many states concerning the commitment to apprise and secure, it is imperative that the primary factor of consideration should be legal statutes. Additional aspect that need to be regarded include sufficiency of the evidence that the client poses a threat to other individuals, the proof that violence beyond doubt is likely to occur soon; and finally the possibility of identification of the potential victim. Practicing in Florida absolves the counselors’ obligation to maintain security because of the permissive language used in its laws following an appellate decision in Boynton Vs. Burglass 1991 ruling (Tapp & Payne, 2011).

Section 4: Client Record-Keeping

It is a mandatory requirement that counselors should keep accurate notes and records of their sessions with clients. Many of the federal and state legislations often demand the adequate record maintenance by therapists because it indicates that the advisor provided service to a patient. Registers may be necessary for reviewing, by insurance companies and supervisors for assessment of various items in addition to lawmaking (Williams & Ellison, 2009). Therefore, keeping proper records indemnifies the counselor from legal prosecution for failure to offer comprehensive services required by the client. Furthermore, it helps demonstrate that personal needs were satisfied and the counseling plan was consistent with the standards  set for the practice. Hence, recordkeeping protects the patient by ensuring that the treatment for which they sought was received.


As a profession, counseling requires one to be able to deal with diverse groups of people objectively while being receptive to their needs. Clients do not seek counseling in order to be judged, but they aim at acquiring understanding and answers to their life issues. Therefore, personal problems and opinions should not hinder the job, and more importantly, a counselor has to strictly follow the ACA, NBCC, and NAADAC guidelines not only for the patients’ protection but for their security as well.

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