Analyzing the Counselling Topics Journal

Excerpt from Journal :


The difference between law and ethics in counseling

In practice, ethics entails grasping and incorporating principles and standards of specific professional organizations. Ethical codes for professionals in the mental healthcare field aim at outlining the responsibility and professional conduct expected of them (Jennings, Sovereign, Bottorff, Mussell, & Vye, 2005). Graduate students have to establish their understanding of ethics theory and apply it in practice, before entering professional practice. As stated by Laureate Education (2010), modern practice involves applying conventional theoretical models to therapeutic processes involving clients. Moreover, it is responsible for uniting mental healthcare professions, as every profession inducts identical conventional approaches or procedures for guiding practice. The inverse is represented by post-modern practice.

Legal practice standards and ethical standards are different. Usually, legal standards relate to standard professional practices within a particular professional community, whereas ethical standards are often idealistic. The following aspects are included under legal standards:

1. Statutory law: This represents numerous federal, Congressional laws and state legislature-enacted laws. These encompass, among others, statutes that govern the obligation of social workers to report any suspected case of neglect and abuse of vulnerable groups like kids and aged people; statutes that govern minor children's right of consenting to alcohol/drug abuse therapy and mental health-related counseling; and federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws.

1. Regulatory law: Numerous regulations issued by state and federal agencies (like Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)), mental healthcare agencies, state-level human service, and child welfare agencies govern practice. Under the U.S. legal system, state and federal agencies are authorized to lay down enforceable regulations. While creating regulations, public agencies need to abide by strict procedures (for instance, offering public notice, allowing the public to make their views known on regulations' drafts, etc.).

1. Case law: Courts create several social work-related stipulations in the course of judicial rulings and litigation.

1. Constitutional law: State constitutions and the national Constitution of America cover several provisions pertaining to practice. Such provisions relate to citizens' rights of privacy, protections against illegal seizure and search (which are crucial in the context of residential treatment initiatives), protections against unusual, brutal punishment (crucial in adult as well as juvenile correctional facilities), amongst similar others.

1. Executive orders: CEOs of local, federal, and state governments (i.e., country executives, mayors, governors, or the President) might issue orders resembling regulations. Such authority is often grounded in state and federal statute, e.g., the executive order of a governor that requires state-financed agencies to hold back human and health services from illegal migrants (Reamer, 2008).

How countertransference can be an ethical concern in counseling

The term 'countertransference' implies a series of responses and reactions of the counselor towards his/her clients (and vice versa), grounded in counselors' personal issues and background. While countertransference takes place in every mental therapy and may prove to be a valuable tool; unequal countertransference results when counselors project their personal unresolved issues or feelings onto their clients. These issues/feelings might surface while working with certain clients. When counselors' personal boundaries are weak, they will more likely face difficulties in maintaining objectivity, and might react to clients' transference reaction using countertransference. This, however, is different from counselors' subjective opinions of and attitude towards their clients, which can be negative (in case of clients with an unpleasant disposition or appearance) or positive (in case of clients having an attractive, friendly personality). For instance, clients who behave seductively will probably make the counselor feel threatened or uncomfortable. Counselors should closely notice their personal feelings, in order to protect clients as well as to understand them better. Concurrently, counselors must remember that what they feel about clients is probably what others typically feel about them as well. Countertransference is said to occur when counselors lose their impartiality and become angry, sad, or overwhelmed by listening to a client's grievances. In such cases, counselors may force clients to cope with issues of childhood neglect or abuse before clients are ready to do so, owing to counselors' personal emotional dispositions. Or, the client may even be discouraged by a counselor (inadvertendly) from broaching the issue of abuse, believing or assuming that the time is not ripe to broach the topic. It is crucial for counselors to allow clients to establish when they wish to tackle such issues as childhood neglect and abuse, and the pace at which they wish to go about it. The treatment's success will be in jeopardy if counselors don't realize their countertransference feelings towards any specific client. In such cases, counselors must supervise closely, and, if needed, one must refer clients to a different counselor. Counselors need to possess a general understanding of countertransference and transference issues, whilst having maximum possible knowledge about their personal unresolved issues and emotional vulnerability. This is particularly important for individuals who have experienced neglect or abuse in childhood and have grown up to become counselors to serve fellow sufferers (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment., 2000).

Reasons for a referral of a client to another professional in counseling

It is sometimes essential for counselors to allow clients to seek extra support, wherever appropriate. Here, counseling is a supportive cog in the broader supportive grid of resources and organizations. A role of professional counseling practice is making proper referrals. Counselors come across clients hailing from different social groups and classes, and they may be presented with a variety of challenges. One ethical obligation of counselors is to work within their job description and competence. Referrals should be made when a client requires assistance with things outside one's field, e.g., medical issues, legal difficulties, claiming benefits, debt, etc. Some of the many potential instances where a referral ought to be made include:

1. The counselor does not have the requisite skill(s) to deal with a particular client's needs.

1. Client has a different need (for instance, he/she is seeking advice or information).

1. Client needs specialist services (for instance, one perceives a mental health issue/disorder in the client).

1. Client and counselor know each other beyond the clinic.

1. A proper therapeutic client-counselor relationship is not possible (for reasons such as, personality differences, client's reluctance to confide in the counselor, etc.).

1. One does not perceive any progress

1. The counselor cannot cope with client issues as they hold personal meaning for the counselor, or go outside the counselor's comfort zone.

1. Client's behavior is becoming disruptive, and this might potentially harm client, counselor or other people.

Referring one's client to somebody else doesn't indicate a lack of competence, or weakness on the counselor's part, nor does it imply that the counselor is incapable of providing clients with a safe therapeutic environment. Through awareness of potential referral agencies, clients may be able to choose the option best suited for them. Integral to making referrals is doing what's best for one's client. Priority must always be given to the best interests of clients and towards the integrity of the counselor to his profession (Health Psychology Consultancy, 2011).

How cultural encapsulation is an ethical issue in counseling

For a culturally-encapsulated counselor, one group of assumptions forms the basis of personal reality. Counselors with this perspective are insensitive to individuals' cultural variations, ignore proofs or do not ask for proofs when it comes to unreasoned assumptions, as it may end up disconfirming personal assumptions, are hesitant to judge the views of others, are trapped in a single standpoint, which disallows alternatives and resists change, and demonstrate minimal efforts to accommodate others' behavior (Corey, et al., 117).

Despite the systemic modifications supporting continuous personal counselor assessment and professional growth of a values-sensitive and multicultural ethic, some counselors continue to hold privileged or encapsulated cultural perspectives. This attitude of a practitioner in the context of clinical treatment has potential profound ethical consequences for vulnerable client groups with different life experiences and cultures. Considering the values-sensitive and multicultural ethic, the key distinction between aspirational and mandatory ethical perspectives assumes importance for clinical practitioners. An evaluation of ethical codes of clinical practice reveals that multicultural skills are a compulsory ethical requirement for counselors to not only earn, but also maintain their practice license. Unfortunately, for some counselors, adherence to the multicultural ethic is not informed by a lifelong professional and personal goal that is to be achieved and maintained for improving therapeutic dynamics linked to relationship with client, self, and provision of effective therapy (in other words, aspirational intention). For various reasons, such practitioners/counselors regard this ethic as noxious, unnecessary expectation, indicating that they possess an encapsulated cultural view (Greenlee & Ryan, n.d.).

Pluralistic cultural awareness is totally opposite to the privileged/encapsulated perspective. It accepts cultural complexity and respects its expressed diversity of beliefs, lifestyle practices, and values. Additionally, cultural pluralism affects the counselor's clinical practice, as the therapeutic client-counselor relationship represents a unique miniature version of social interaction and society. From the perspective of clinical practice, without developing and maintaining the therapeutic client-counselor relationship, therapy is ineffective or minimally so, if at all.

Ethical issues in working with minors in counseling


Sources Used in Documents:


ACA. (2005). 2005 ACA code of ethics [White Paper]. Retrieved from American Counseling Association: f98489937dda

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2000). Chapter 4 -- Therapeutic Issues for Counselors. In C. f. Treatment, Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP). Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S.); .

Diaz, A., Neal, W. P., Nucci, A. T., Ludmer, P., Bitterman, J., & Edwards, S. (2004). Legal and ethical issues facing adolescent health care professionals. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, 71(3), 181-185.

Dolgoff, R., Loewenberg, F. M., & Harrington, D. (2009). Ethical decisions for social work practice (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson.

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