Counselor Ethical Boundaries and Practices
Counselor Ethical Boundaries and Practices
Counselors have the responsibility of ensuring that clients are respected by promoting the welfare of their clients. This is achieved by adhering to ethical standards, which help in promoting professional quality services (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013). Professional conduct is important in the counseling profession and is directly connected to positive outcomes in the healthcare industry. This also improves clients’ trust with the counselors. Counselors form a relationship with the clients in the process of therapy, which is necessary for the success of the counseling process (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). It is ethical for counselors to have relationships with their clients as long as it does not cause harm to the client. Counselors having challenges related to their ethical responsibilities can consult with other professionals, which can help improve the counseling practice. This paper will address boundary issues and the dual relationship in the counseling profession as well as professional partnerships in counseling (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013).
Section 1: Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships
Determining If a Boundary-Crossing or Dual Relationship Is Ethical and Appropriate
Dual relationships involve counselors having a different relationship with their clients other than the initial client-therapy relationship. Dual relationships are important and help counselors in understanding and addressing their client’s issues (Zur, 2013). However, there should be boundaries between the counselor and the client to ensure respect and dignity in the relationship. Counselors are prohibited from engaging in counseling relationships with close family members and friends who might distract the counselors from being objective and stay in course in the counseling process. The aspect of gifts is also incorporated and defined in the aspect of boundaries (Zur, 2013).
A breach of boundary involves deviation from the normal required ethical conduct. Professional boundaries ensure that counselors maintain the best interest of the client. Boundary crossing may cause harm to the client, which may include physical abuse and sexual violations (Miller, 2014). The ACA code of ethics has information related to what entails an unethical relationship. Risky dual relationships may involve counselors being attracted to their clients where the counselors need to take immediate action to prevent the rise of any behaviors that may compromise the relationship. The counselor may involve the supervisor who may reassign the client and implement strategies to address the feelings (Miller, 2014).
This action will ensure that the relationship does not lead to a serious concern or harm the patient. A dual relationship may also be termed unethical if it involves legal issues due to the misuse of the relationship (Miller, 2014). This is because the dual relationship should not be used to harm the client rather improve the health status of the client. A dual relationship is defined as ethical if based on the ethical principles of nonmaleficence, beneficence, autonomy, and justice. These principles are meant to ensure the welfare of the client and protect him/her from any harm that may be caused by the counselor (Miller, 2014).
Counselor Decision-Making and Counseling Examples to Counseling Situations in Which the Dual Relationship Issues Are Complex and Ambiguous
When a counselor has an additional relationship with his/her client other than the professional relationship, ethical concerns should be observed which would prevent the client as well as the counselor from any harm (Zur, 2013). One of the counseling situations in which a dual relationship issues are complex and ambiguous is a sexual or romantic relationship. This involves physical attraction between clients and counselors (Zur, 2013). Romantic relationships with clients are prohibited. The ethical code also prohibits counselors from offering their services to clients that they formerly had sexual relationships. In this situation, reassigning the client is an option to remain to the goals of the counseling process (Zur, 2013).
Another counseling situation, which the dual relationship issues are complex and ambiguous, is a situation where the client and the counselor are friends. This may affect the decision-making process of the counselor concerning complex and important decisions, which may affect the achievement of the health goals (Miller, 2014). This may also lead to non-professional conduct between the counselor and the client. Counselors should practice within the boundaries of their profession and anything against or outside this guideline should not be tolerated (Miller, 2014). Close supervision from the supervisor is important or reassigning the client as this relationship negatively affects the main counselor-client relationship. The third counseling situation, which a dual relationship issues are complex and ambiguous is a dual relationship involving a work colleague (Miller, 2014).
Sometimes counselors also seek counseling services from other counselors, which may affect the professional relationship. In this type of relationship, the counselor should use the ACA code of ethics, which has information related to what entails an unethical relationship (Herlihy, 2014). A forensic dual relationship is a relationship in which issues are complex and ambiguous. A forensic dual relationship involves a counselor being a witness in a legal trial or hearing involving his/her client. In this type of relationships, the counselor should set aside his/her own needs in ensuring that the client’s needs are addressed (Herlihy, 2014). A clear treatment plan can be developed based on the therapy context. There should be no conflict of interest in this relationship. Counselors should act competently and with integrity (Herlihy, 2014).
Section 2: Professional Collaboration in Counseling: Working with a Multidisciplinary Team
Working Collaboratively Within Your Scope of Practice with Other Mental Health Professionals to Ensure Quality Client Care
One of the ways to work collaboratively within my scope of practice with other mental health professionals to ensure quality client care is ensuring that the set ethical guidelines are followed as they are meant to improve the quality of healthcare provision (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Remaining ethical will enable a counselor not to overstep the boundaries which are important in upholding professionalism in the counseling profession. Counselors should refrain from anything that will cause harm to the clients and concentrate on improving the health status of the clients, as this is the main and sole reason of a counseling process (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Caution should be taken when engaging in dual relationships as ethical considerations should be observed to avoid legal as well as unethical concerns.
Counselors can improve the quality of their services by navigating the complex dynamics of collaboration while maintaining the interests of the client. Counselors can consult with other mental professionals, which will enable them to make decisions that are more informed (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Interdisciplinary collaboration has been indicated as the best and successful strategy in addressing some of the complex counseling issues. The ACA code of ethics put more emphasis on the importance of team collaboration in meeting the client’s interests (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). Counselors who integrate team collaboration in their practice serve their clients to the best of their interests. This can be achieved through training to facilitate interdisciplinary competency among the counseling professionals (Barnett & Johnson, 2015).
Whom Would You Expect To Work With As Part of a Multidisciplinary Team and What Would the Role of Each Person on the Team Be, Including Yourself
There are different parts of a multidisciplinary team each with different roles and responsibilities all aimed at improving the services offered to clients. These include colleagues, employers, and employees (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). These individuals are selected based on their competence, skills, and experiences. Employers have the role of consultation services, which involves appropriate referral resources when needed, and provision of important information when requested (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). Counselors have also the responsibility of reviewing the rights and responsibilities of other counselors and consultees. Colleagues can be used as partners in the counseling process to improve the counseling process (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). This can involve the communication to other parties about the purpose of the services expected to be provided, the costs involved, any risks expected, and any issues of confidentiality. Counselors have also the responsibility of providing decisions involving individuals based on psychometrics results (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015).
Section 3: Relationships with Supervisors and Colleagues
The Role of Clinical Supervisors According To the ACA Code of Ethics
Clinical supervisors have a primary obligation of monitoring the services provided by supervisees. These include monitoring the client welfare and supervisee performance and professional development (American Counseling Association, 2014). For this to be achieved, clinical supervisors meet regularly with supervisees to review their work and development helping them in addressing any arising challenges in meeting the diverse range of their clients according to the ACA code of ethics. Clinical supervisors help supervisees in understanding their client’s rights, which include the issue of confidentiality and storing of client’s information (American Counseling Association, 2014).
The Ethical Issues Involved In the Supervisor-Counselor Relationship. How Is This Relationship Similar To The Counselor-Client Relationship? How Is It Different?
Ethical issues involved in the supervisor-counselor relationship include an understanding and following the ACA code of ethics. Supervisors, as well as the counselors, have the responsibility of conducting themselves in a professional manner with sexual and romantic relationships being prohibited (American Counseling Association, 2014). Supervisors should not get involved with their counselors in sexual relationships as well as other individuals who are unable to remain objective. Supervisors have also the right to terminate their services to counselors with adequate notice following the right procedure in making referrals to other supervisors (American Counseling Association, 2014). This relationship is similar to the counselor-client relationship, as both have to understand and follow the ACA code of ethics, which gives them the same obligation. This relationship is different in that the supervisor-counselor relationship is meant to train and educate while the counselor-client relationship is meant to address rising concerns (American Counseling Association, 2014).
Occasionally, Counselors Will Observe Unethical Behavior In Their Colleagues. Describe an Unethical Behavior That One Might See and Identify an Ethical Decision-Making Model That Would Address the Unethical Behavior
Breaching confidentiality is an unethical behavior, which is common among counseling professionals. This involves sharing personal information regarding a client to the public, which is against the ACA code of ethics (Watson & Flamez, 2015). Breaching of confidentiality is a violation as counselors are expected to prevent confidential information related to clients from access by other external parties. Counselors should only provide this information only with the required and appropriate consent from the appropriate legal perspectives (Watson & Flamez, 2015). A client is required to give permission for his/her information to be shared with anyone including the closest family members.
An ethical decision-making model that would address the unethical behavior would involve identifying the ethical guideline, which prohibits such violation of a client’s rights (Watson ; Flamez, 2015). The next process would involve collecting any evidence to support the claims. The third process would involve an analysis of the consequences and the harm that may be caused by the unethical decision (Watson ; Flamez, 2015). The fourth process will involve an examination of why the unethical behavior happened which includes the reasons for the unethical behavior. The last process will include the strategies to address any harm that was caused and strategies to overcome any repeat of the behavior (Watson ; Flamez, 2015).
Section 4: Development of Your Thinking about Ethics
The Most Important Developments in Your Thinking About Ethical Practice That Have Occurred During This Course
It is important for counselors to become familiar with the basic ethical guidelines for new counselors or as practicing counselors. This will ensure effective therapy and quality counseling services, which will improve client outcomes (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Good therapy must follow the required ethical standards in the ACA code of ethics. Ethical codes are developed by professional associations and are meant to ensure appropriate behavior and prevent harm to clients who seek out counseling services (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). I have determined that ethical training can make a difference in how professional counselors behave in their practice with standard principles under the ACA code of ethics guiding all professional counselors across the nation.
Professional ACA code of ethics keeps the expectations of the counseling profession in one’s mind, which is important in enhancing one’s conduct in the profession (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). This course has provided different approaches to the aspect of professional ethics. I have also realized that ethics is more than a legal process as they are meant to increase transparency in the actions conducted by professional counselors (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). It is also important for counselors to form good relationships with their clients, which is facilitated by the code of ethics. Ethics are different from the traditional and societal perceptions in terms of dual relationships (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015).
Dual relationships require a different approach, which is different from the normal perspectives of the society. An example would include a dual relationship between a counselor and their best friend or workmate (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). There are guidelines as to how this relationship should be based on what is right and wrong. Professional ethics are in line with a majority of the beliefs and cultural values, which include respect for human life, self-control, and honesty, which is supported by most religions (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Everyone should play a role in maintaining and observing ethical standards in their profession
For the success of the counseling process, counselors, as well as clients, have an important role to play and each party should be well responsible for their actions. This can include dual relationships where both should act in a professional manner (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). Boundaries should be respected to maintain the professional relationship as a breach of boundaries might impact the outcome of the counseling process. Counselors should observe the ACA code of ethics and not be influenced by their values or personal relationships that they may have with their clients (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). This is important in creating a balance between the achievement of the set goals and having a good relationship with their client. All efforts of the counselors should be aimed at improving the health outcomes of the counseling process and any behaviors, which can cause harm to the client, should be avoided (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013).
American Counseling Association (ACA). (2014). 2014 ACA code of ethics. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Barnett, J. E., ; Johnson, W. B. (2015). Ethics desk reference for counselors. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Herlihy, B. (2014). Boundary Issues in Counseling. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley ; Sons, Ltd.
Jungers, C. M., ; Gregoire, J. (2013). Counseling ethics: Philosophical and professional foundations. Danvers, MA: Springer Pub. Co.
Miller, J. (2014, January 30). Utah therapist admits to sexual relationship with teen client. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57473599-78/peterson-police-abuse-girl.html.csp
Watson, J. C., ; Flamez, B. (2015). Counseling assessment and evaluation: Fundamentals of applied practice. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Wheeler, A. M., ; Bertram, B. (2015). The counselor and the law: A guide to legal and ethical practice. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Zur, O. (2013). Dual relationships, multiple relationships ; boundaries in psychotherapy, counseling ; mental health. Retrieved from http://www.zurinstitute.com/dualrelationships.html