Counselor Ethics and Responsibilities
Counselor Ethics and Responsibilities
Counselors have the responsibility of providing therapy services to patients, which is a healthcare service. The healthcare department concerned with counselors’ services has implemented ethical standard to ensure that the well-being of clients is protected and that counselors perform their duties diligently (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). Some of the ethical requirements to counselors include safeguarding the client’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Since the clients share personal information regarding their lives, it is important that the counselors should not share this information to any one (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013). Other ethical responsibilities include understanding the cultural backgrounds of clients, which will enable the counselor to avoid being bias or discriminative which is against the rules of the nursing profession. This paper is going to analyze counselor ethics and responsibilities (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013).
Section 1: Client Rights
One of the ethical principles aimed at maintaining clients’ rights during counseling is the autonomy principle. Autonomy principle involves respecting client’s decisions on the treatment process (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). A counselor should practice this principle by allowing patients to choose which healthcare intervention is best suited for their needs and which intervention not to be implemented. Patients should be free to participate in the decision-making process, as they are able to know what best suits their lifestyle (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). This principle is based on the fact that individuals have solutions and different perspectives of improving their own lives. Due to this, counselors should have good listening skills to enable them to understand their patients better and their healthcare goals. This will enable the counselors to direct the healthcare interventions to suit the patients during the counseling process (Barnett & Johnson, 2015).
This also increases the self-esteem of clients, which is important in the counseling process. Nonmaleficence is also a principle, which is aimed at protecting the client. This principle states that the counselor should not undertake any procedure, which may harm the clients (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). Counselors should provide the clients with the necessary resources required during the counseling process. Counselors should also practice actions that will benefit the clients as they have the responsibility of helping their clients (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). A practice to prevent harm to the patient includes privacy and confidentiality of a client’s personal information. Counselors should also use safe treatment interventions before recommending high-risk interventions. All counselors should show compassion to their clients, which will help them in whatever they may be going through (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015).
Beneficence is an ethical principle, which states that all healthcare practitioners should always do good to their clients. Doing good involves undertaking healthcare interventions which will improve the health status of patients (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). Although this principle is closely related to nonmaleficence, is has different principles. A counselor should implement strategies, which have the goals of improving the health status of the client. Justice is another ethical principle, which means that each client or patient should receive what he or she deserves (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013). This includes fair treatment and equality in the counseling process. A counselor can achieve this by treating all his/her clients on the same level without discrimination or doing favors to some clients (Jungers ; Gregoire, 2013).
Every client has a right for fair treatment regardless other factors which may include race, sex, color, or cultural background (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Clients should be respected and not judged according to their background differences. Fidelity on the other hand means that counselors are able to keep their commitments to clients, which should not be based on the role as a counselor but on the virtue of caring (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). Caring is a virtue that all healthcare practitioners should poses. All healthcare practitioners should be caring to their patients as patients are individuals requiring such care in order to improve their health status. A counselors should be faithful in his/her work regardless the client he/she is attending to (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015).
The Informed Consent Process
This process requires that all healthcare practitioners obtain an appropriate informed consent. This is a process of ensuring that a client’s rights are protected, and no intervention is administered without the permission of the client (ACA, 2014). Informed consent involves two processes, which include a consent dialogue and a documented consent according to the required guidelines. The process of informed consent protects client’s rights in relation to financial aspects related to the treatment process. Some of the decisions made by clients have an impact on the billing process (ACA, 2014).
Clients should be informed on the billing process, payments, and the payment process. Clients can be able to analyze the contracts before giving the consent of payment according to the provisions of the contract (ACA, 2014). This protects the client from other extra charges which counselors may take advantage. Any extra billings will be in violation of the contract. Due to the many variables involved in the billing process which include admission fees, service charges, care rates, and charges for third party services, it is important that for clients to give consent in all these processes to avoid the burden of medical bills (ACA, 2014). All information related to billing should be recorded and documented as an ethical responsibility of the healthcare practitioner in protecting the client’s rights (ACA, 2014).
Right to privacy
The informed consent process ensures that clients’ personal information is protected from access. This may be from other parties who may use the information for malicious reasons (NAADAC, 2016). This information includes clinical records and psychotherapy notes, which the law requires. Clients have the right to give consent on what information might be shared depending on certain circumstances, which may include emergencies and necessary information required for consultation (NAADAC, 2016).
The HIPAA compliance has set a required standard for protection of sensitive patient information (ACA, 2014). This regulation requires that organizations which deal with important health information to have physical and network security measures to prevent the information from access by other parties (ACA, 2014). Counselors who provide treatment services to clients are also required to meet this compliance. This will protect the client right of privacy and confidentiality, as counselors are not supposed to share or allow private information to be accessed by other parties (ACA, 2014).
Compliance with credentialing board requirements for incorporating informed consent into practice
This is meant to protect the healthcare provision rights as well as the patient’s rights (NAADAC, 2016). This requires that all healthcare practitioners to incorporate informed consent into their practice and all sensitive procedures should require consent from the client as well as the important authorities (NAADAC, 2016). This also ensures that all professional counselors follow the same ethical principles and standards. Both the client and the counselor should sign the consent (NAADAC, 2016).
Section 2: Responsibility to Warn and Protect
The duty to warn requires that a counselor to inform third parties or the necessary authority where a client poses a threat to his/her life or physical violence against another individual (Watson & Flamez, 2015). This allows a therapist to breach client privacy rights. The state of California confines counselors to performing the sole duty of protecting. Factors to consider that will determine a counselor’s duty to warn and duty to protect responsibilities as a counselor include the laws of the state as well as the federal laws (Watson ; Flamez, 2015). In California State, it is not a requirement for healthcare practitioners to warn or report to the police unless the therapist believes that warning the client might reduce the risk the patient poses to himself/herself and other individuals. This is the only required responsibility to therapists in the state of California (Watson ; Flamez, 2015).
Section 3: Client Record-Keeping
The ACA code of ethics provides the guidelines for record keeping. The guidelines provide the obligations of the counselor in creating and keeping records of client’s private information (ACA, 2014). Records regarding information of patients should be safely kept and maintained as a right to the patient. This guideline protects the client’s right of privacy, which seeks to ensure that information relating to clients is well kept (ACA, 2014). The client has also the right to access his/her records and thee records should be regularly updated by the counselor. Record keeping also helps in protecting the therapist against legal issues (ACA, 2014). Some law processes may require the information related to certain clients and so it is necessary for the counselors to safely keep this information (ACA, 2014). This information may include physical violence, child abuse, or sexual assault. In case the counselor terminates the counseling process, unauthorized personnel cannot access the client’s information (ACA, 2014).
There is a notion that expects counselors to put the interests of their clients before their own needs. However, the ACA Code of Ethics requires that counselors take care of their own self and attend to their personal well-being (ACA, 2014). This is meant to prevent the loss of psychological function as counselors serve their clients. This guideline is connected to the believe in the Bible which requires individuals to take care of themselves as they are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17). A counselor is expected to be of full function and state in delivering healthcare services to clients, which should include the body, spirit, and the mind (ACA, 2014).
A counselor can plan to maintain a healthy balance between the professional and personal life by taking care of his/her emotional, physical, and psychological health status which can impact his/her professional life (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). Both the professional and the personal life are important and influence each other. A counselor can practice a good time management by engaging in activities, which will help him/her to develop in the profession as well as the personal life. Finding personal fulfillment from the counseling profession will also help the counselor in creating a balance between the professional and the personal life (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015).
Some of the healthy self-care activities that a counselor can engage in include engaging in a favorable environmental context and social dimensions. Counselors can also manage their time wisely and invest in spiritual care, which positively impacts their general health (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). Other strategies to take care of the physical dimension include a proper nutrition, rest to rejuvenate the body, and exercise. One of the healthy self-care activities that I have considered but have not implemented include taking a vacation during my leave period. Taking a vacation is important in giving the body as well as the mind a time to rest (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015). Resting is important and rejuvenates the body, which enables an individual to have high energy levels and a clear mind in making informed decisions. Exercising is also an important self-health activity, which I have implemented yet (Wheeler & Bertram, 2015).
Some red flags suggesting that I may need to address personal issues to avoid personal impairment include stress, which may lead to improper behavior during counseling sessions (Herlihy, 2014). Stress is the body’s reaction to certain demands, which may negatively affect the performance of my responsibilities at work. Stress may affect the professional functionality of counselors, which may result in poor performance or behavior, which is in violation to the ACA ethical guidelines (Herlihy, 2014). Canceling counseling appointments or sometimes coming late to appointments is also a red flag suggesting I may need to address personal issues to avoid personal impairment. This may be caused by personal issues and not having the right balance between professional and personal life (Herlihy, 2014).
It is good and important for counselors to be counseled. If a counselor has some personal issues interfering with his/her professional responsibilities, it is a good that the counselor seeks help from other professional counselors (Herlihy, 2014). Counseling is meant to help individuals with problems regardless of whom they are. Counselors are humans as well who may face life challenges, which may require counseling to help them in addressing those challenges (Herlihy, 2014). This is meant to make the counselors better and improve their performance, which is important in helping other individuals as well solve their issues (Herlihy, 2014).
Section 5: Advocacy
Advocating for the counselors and the counseling profession is important and helps in providing support to the counseling process. Ways to advocate for the counselors and the counseling profession at the government level include communicating to the political leaders on the importance of supporting the therapy process in the state level (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015). This will help the government in providing support to the counseling profession, which is important for the provision of quality services. Political leaders are involved in the policy-making process and can influence and bring ideas into the legislation process, which will help the provision of the required support to the counseling profession (Barnett ; Johnson, 2015).
Section 6: Counselor Values
Abortion has been a key discussion across the world but my opinion is highly against abortion. The process of giving birth is a complex process and what comes after is a gift of a baby. There are many women who are struggling to have kids and would sacrifice anything o have this opportunity. The process of abortion is also surrounded by many problems including death cases and other health complications (ACA, 2014). Although having an unplanned baby can be a challenge to the mother as well as the parents of the child, the child is a living creature, which must be protected from any harm, and abortion does not achieve this (ACA, 2014). Being a counselor who has addressed issues of infertility to women who are struggling to have kids, I think it is better to offer the children for adoption rather than performing an abortion (ACA, 2014).
Giving up a child after birth is better than abortion since as a Christian I believe there is no sin committed through adoption as compared to abortion. Extramarital affairs are also a common issue in today’s marriages, which is not appropriate from my opinion (NAADAC, 2016). During marriage, a couple promises to stick by each other and not have an extramarital affair, which is an oath, made before witnesses and God. Having affairs is going against the oath of marriage and may have serious consequences to both parties (NAADAC, 2016). A marriage is made up of two different individuals who may have different opinions concerning certain phenomenon.
A marriage will always have some issues but these issues can be solved through some strategies, which have worked for other couples (NAADAC, 2016). Due to the commitment made during the wedding of loving and being faithful until death, it is important that couples do their best to mend up any broken marriage and be submissive to each other as promised on the wedding day (NAADAC, 2016). As a Christian, I believe that God instituted the first marriage and his intentions were that it would work. The spouses should not engage in activities, which will rock the marriage more but should concentrate on activities, which will help in reconstructing the marriage once again (ACA, 2014).
Counselors have dedicated their lives in providing counseling services, which are aimed at improving the lives of their clients. This can be achieved by enhanced training on the requirements of this profession, which include the rights of the clients as well as the rights of the counselor (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013). This is important in ensuring that the counselors provide high quality counseling services to their clients and anything, which may cause harm to the clients, is avoided. Counselors should be aware of their responsibilities and what their duties entail as indicated in the Code of Ethics (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013). This will help the counselors in behaving ethically in their profession. This will increase the trust between the client and the counselor, which is necessary in the counseling process to achieve the desired goals (Jungers & Gregoire, 2013).
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.
NAADAC. (2016). NAADAC/NCC AP Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: NAADAC.
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.