Ethical Decisions

This is a 2 part assignment!  Combine these into a single submission with one title page and one reference page.
Assignments must be double spaced APA format.

Part I:  Now that you are thoroughly familiar with the ACA 2014 Code of Ethics, read and submit a 2 page paper on the case example attached.  This has to do with your becoming aware of a colleague whose behavior has become of concern to you.


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Case Example – A Colleague of Concern

Imagine you are a counselor, and that you have just seen a new client for the first time. She is 28, single, and a graduate student in social work. Her name is Kristy and she has been experiencing some signs and symptoms of stress that she wants to explore in counseling.

Kristy tells you that she recently saw a former colleague of yours for an initial counseling session. She didn’t feel he was the right professional for her, and she even questioned his professionalism.

You find out that Kristy was able to share in her session with your former colleague, that she was experiencing what she felt were considerable signs of stress in her life. She reportedly shared that she was not sleeping well, that she had lost some weight, and that she was avoiding her friends many times in favor of staying home and “vegging” on the couch.

Kristy goes on to tell you that your former colleague shared with her during her session, that he had lost “the love of his life” 2 years prior, to a car accident. He disclosed that the anniversary of her death was fast approaching. In the last few minutes of the session, he asked Kristy if she would like to meet him for coffee sometime later that week.

Kristy told you that she came away from the session with your colleague confused, and feeling more stressed than when she went in to see him. She told you that she just wants to feel better and that she is happy to have a new counselor who seems like she will be able to help her – you!

Following Kristy’s session, you continue to think about what she reported about your former colleague. Using the ACA 2014 Code of Ethics, and Corey’s ethical decision-making model in the textbook(see textbook information below), analyze this case. Go through all the steps of the ethical-decision making model, and apply each one to this case. Come up with some courses of action, and make a case for each one using the Code of Ethics.

Try to keep this to 2 narrative pages, double spaced, APA format. In addition, include a title page and a References Page. If you need to go over 2 pages, 3 is the absolute limit. Learning to write concisely is an important part of professional writing. Work to edit down your writing so you say more in fewer words.

Ethical decision making model located in the textbook:

Corey, G., Corey, M.S., & Callanan, P. (2018). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (10th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing. Print ISBN # 978-1337406291 (Available through Cengage)


Steps in Making Ethical Decisions( copied from the above textbook; also use the textbook for a reference)

When making ethical decisions, ask yourself these questions: “Which values do I rely on and why?” “How do my values affect my work with clients?” “Do my personal values have a place in my professional work?” When making ethical decisions, the National Association of Social Workers (2008) cautions you to be aware of your clients’ as well as your own personal values, cultural and religious beliefs, and practices. Acting responsibly implies recognizing any conflicts between personal and professional values and dealing with them effectively. The American Counseling Association’s (2014) Code of Ethics states that when counselors encounter an ethical dilemma, they are expected to carefully consider an ethical decision-making process. To make sound ethical decisions, it is necessary to slow down the decision-making process and engage in an intentional course of ethical deliberation, consultation, and action (Barnett & Johnson, 2015). Furthermore, when engaging in an ethical decision-making process, documentation of this process is important in case you are questioned about your choices, actions, and behaviors. Although no one ethical decision-making model is most effective, mental health professionals need to be familiar with at least one of the models or an amalgam that best fits for them.

Ethical decision making is not a purely cognitive and linear process that follows clearly defined and predictable steps. Indeed, it is crucial to acknowledge that emotions play a part in how you make ethical decisions. As a practitioner, your feelings will likely influence how you interpret both your client’s behavior and your own behavior. Furthermore, if you are uncomfortable with an ethical decision and do not adequately deal with this discomfort, it will certainly influence your future behavior with your client. An integral part of recognizing and working through an ethical concern is discussing your beliefs and values, motivations, feelings, and actions with a supervisor or a colleague.

In the process of making the best ethical decisions, it is also important to involve your clients whenever possible. Because you are making decisions about what is best for their welfare, it is appropriate to discuss the nature of the ethical dilemma that pertains to them. For instance, ethical decision making from a feminist therapy perspective calls for involving the client at every stage of the therapeutic process, which is based on the feminist principle that power should be equalized in the therapeutic relationship (Brown, 2010).

Consulting with the client fully and appropriately is a fundamental step in ethical decision making, for doing so increases the chances of making the best possible decision. Walden (2015) suggests that important therapeutic benefits can result from inclusion of the client in the ethical decision-making process, and she offers some strategies for accomplishing this goal at both the organizational and individual levels. When we make decisions about a client for the client rather than with the client, Walden maintains that we rob the client of power in the relationship. When we collaborate with clients, they are empowered. By soliciting the client’s perspective, we stand a good chance of achieving better counseling results and the best resolution for any ethical questions that arise. Potential therapeutic benefits can be gained by including clients in dealing with ethical concerns, and this practice represents functioning at the aspirational level. In fact, Walden questions whether it is truly possible to attain the aspirational level of ethical functioning without including the client’s voice in ethical concerns. By adding the voice and the unique perspective of the consumers of professional services, we indicate to the public that we as a profession are genuinely interested in protecting the rights and welfare of those who make use of our services. Bringing the client into ethical matters entails few risks, and both the client and the professional may benefit from this collaboration.

The social constructionist model of ethical decision making shares some aspects with the feminist model but focuses primarily on the social aspects of decision making in counseling (Cottone, 2001). This model redefines the ethical decision-making process as an interactive rather than an individual or intrapsychic process and places the decision in the social context itself, not in the mind of the person making the decision. This approach involves negotiating, consensualizing, and when necessary, arbitrating.

Garcia, Cartwright, Winston, and Borzuchowska (2003) describe a transcultural integrative model of ethical decision making that addresses the need for including cultural factors in the process of resolving ethical dilemmas. They present their model in a step-by-step format that counselors can use in dealing with ethical dilemmas in a variety of settings and with different client populations. Frame and Williams (2005) have developed a model of ethical decision making from a multicultural perspective based on universalist philosophy. In this model cultural differences are recognized, but common principles such as altruism, responsibility, justice, and caring that link cultures are emphasized.

Many of the ethical dilemmas we will encounter are not likely to have a readily apparent answer. Birrell and Bruns (2016) assert that answers to ethical matters are not contained in the code of ethics, no matter how detailed. The ethical encounter and ethical moments cannot be codified or reified or legalized. Relational ethics is about learning how to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. “Counselors can only struggle toward answers in the shared search toward mutuality and interdependence, which has the capacity to bring healing to the individuals they serve” (p. 396). Keeping in mind the feminist model of ethical decision making, Walden’s (2015) views on including the client’s voice in ethical concerns, a social constructionist approach to ethics, and a transcultural integrative model of ethical decision making, we present our approach to thinking through ethical dilemmas. Following these steps may help you think through ethical problems.

  1. Identify the problem or dilemma. It is important to determine whether a situation truly involves ethics. To determine the nature of the problem or dilemma, gather all the information that sheds light on the situation. Clarify whether the conflict is ethical, legal, clinical, cultural, professional, or moral—or a combination of any or all of these. The first step toward resolving an ethical dilemma is recognizing that a problem exists and identifying its specific nature. Because ethical decision making in practice is a complex and multifaceted process, it is useful to look at the problem from many perspectives and to avoid relying on a simple solution (Levitt et al., 2015). Consultation with your client begins at this initial stage and continues throughout the process of working toward an ethical decision, as does the process of documenting your decisions and actions. Frame and Williams (2005) suggest reflecting on these questions to identify and define an ethical dilemma: What is the crux of the dilemma? Who is involved? What are the stakes? What values of mine are involved? What cultural and historical factors are in play? What insights does my client have regarding the dilemma? How is the client affected by the various aspects of the problem? What are my insights about the problem? Taking time to engage in reflection is a basic first step.
  2. Identify the potential issues involved. After the information is collected, list and describe the critical issues and discard the irrelevant ones. Evaluate the rights, responsibilities, and welfare of all those who are affected by the situation. Consider the cultural context of the situation, including relevant cultural dimensions of the client’s situation such as culture, race, socioeconomic status, and religious or spiritual background. Other relevant variables include the client’s age and the client’s relationship with other family members. It is important to consider the context of power and privilege and also to assess acculturation and racial identity development of the client (Frame & Williams, 2005). Part of the process of making ethical decisions involves identifying and examining the ethical principles that are relevant in the situation. Consider the six fundamental moral principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity and apply them to the situation, including those that may be in conflict. It may help to prioritize these ethical principles and think through ways in which they can support a resolution to the dilemma. Reasons can be presented that support various sides of a given issue, and different ethical principles may sometimes imply contradictory courses of action. When it is appropriate, and to the degree that it is possible, involve your client in identifying potential issues in the situation.
  3. Review the relevant ethics codes. Consult available guidelines that could apply in your situation. Ask yourself whether the standards or principles of your professional organization offer a possible solution to the problem. Consider whether your own values and ethics are consistent with, or in conflict with, the relevant codes. If you are in disagreement with a particular standard, do you have a rationale to support your position? It is imperative to document this process to demonstrate your conscientious commitment to solving a dilemma. You can also seek guidance from your professional organization on any specific concern relating to an ethical or legal situation. Most of the national professional organizations provide members with access to a telephone discussion of ethical and legal issues. These consultations focus on giving members guidance in understanding and applying the code of ethics to a particular situation and in assisting members in exploring relevant questions. However, these consultations do not tell members what to do, nor does the organization assume responsibility for making the decision.
  4. Know the applicable laws and regulations. It is necessary that you keep up to date on relevant state and federal laws that might apply to ethical dilemmas. In addition, be sure you understand the current rules and regulations of the agency or organization where you work. This is especially critical in matters of keeping or breaching confidentiality, reporting child or elder abuse, dealing with issues pertaining to danger to self or others, parental rights, record keeping, assessment, diagnosis, licensing statutes, and the grounds for malpractice. However, realize that knowledge of the laws and regulations are not sufficient in addressing a dilemma. As Welfel (2016) aptly puts it, “rules, laws, and codes must be fully understood to act responsibly, but they are the starting point of truly ethical action, not the end point” (p. 24).
  5. Obtain consultation. You do not have to make ethical decisions alone, but it is important to maintain client confidentiality when consulting others. It is generally helpful to consult with several trusted colleagues to obtain different perspectives on the area of concern and to arrive at the best possible decision. Consultation can uncover ideas that you have not considered, and it can also help you gain objectivity. As a counselor, it is expected that you will seek consultation and supervision, even if these sources are not available in your work setting (Levitt et al., 2015). Wheeler and Bertram (2015) suggest that two heads are better than one, and that three heads are often even better! Do not consult only with those who share your viewpoint. If there is a legal question, seek legal counsel. If the ethical dilemma involves working with a client from a different culture or who has a different worldview than yours, it is prudent to consult with a person who has expertise in this culture. If a clinical issue is involved, seek consultation from a professional with appropriate clinical expertise. After you present your assessment of the situation and your ideas of how you might proceed, ask for feedback on your analysis. Are there factors you are not considering? Have you thoroughly examined all of the ethical, clinical, and legal issues involved in the case? It is always wise to document the nature of your consultation, including the suggestions provided by those with whom you consulted. In court cases, a record of consultation illustrates that you have attempted to adhere to community standards by finding out what your colleagues in the community would do in the same situation. In an investigation the “reasonable person” standard may be applied: “What would a professional in your community with 3 years’ experience have done in your situation?”
  6. Consider possible and probable courses of action. At this point, take time to think about the range of courses of actions. Brainstorm to identify multiple options for dealing with the situation. Generate a variety of possible solutions to the dilemma (Frame & Williams, 2005). Consider the ethical and legal implications of the possible solutions you have identified. What do you think is likely to happen if you implement each option? By listing a wide variety of courses of action, you may identify a possibility that is unorthodox but useful. Be creative and list as many options as you can think of, even if you are not sure an option will work (Forester-Miller & Davis, 2016). Of course, one alternative is that no action is required. As you think about the many possibilities for action, discuss these options with your client as well as with other professionals and document these discussions.
  7. Enumerate and consider the possible consequences of various decisions. Consider the implications of each course of action for the client, for others who will be affected, and for you as the counselor (Forester-Miller & Davis, 2016). Examine the probable outcomes of various actions, considering the potential risks and benefits of each course of action. Again, collaboration with your client about consequences for him or her is most important, for doing this can lead to your client’s empowerment. Use the six fundamental moral principles (autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity) as a framework for evaluating the consequences of a given course of action. Realize that there are likely to be multiple outcomes rather than a single desired outcome in dealing with an ethical dilemma. Continue to reflect on other options and consult with colleagues who may see possibilities you have not considered.
  8. Choose what appears to be the best course of action. To make the best decision, carefully consider the information you have received from various sources. The more obvious the dilemma, the clearer the course of action; the more subtle the dilemma, the more difficult the decision will be. After deciding, try not to second-guess your course of action. You may wonder if you have made the best decision in a given situation, or you may realize later that another action might have been more beneficial. Hindsight does not invalidate the decision you made based on the information you had at the time. Once your decision has been enacted, follow up to assess whether your actions had the desired outcomes (Forester-Miller & Davis, 2016). Evaluate your course of action by asking these questions (Frame & Williams, 2005): How does my action fit with the code of ethics of my profession? To what degree does the action taken consider the cultural values and experiences of the client? How might others evaluate my action? What did I learn from dealing with this ethical dilemma? Once you have decided on a course of action, remain open to the possibility that circumstances may require that you make adjustments to your plan. Wheeler and Bertram (2015) recommend careful documentation of the ethical decision-making process you used in arriving at a course of action, including the options you considered and ruled out. It is important to document the outcome and to include any additional actions that were taken to resolve the issue. We also recommend documenting any consultations you had to help in the decision-making process. Review your notes and follow up to determine the outcomes and whether further action is needed. To obtain the most accurate picture, involve your client in this process.

The goal of any ethical decision-making process is to help you take into account all relevant facts, use any resources available to you, and reason through the dilemma in a way that points to the best possible course of action. Clinicians have different perspectives and values, which are a part of their decision-making process, and ethical issues can have diverse outcomes. Reflecting on your assessment of the situation and on the actions you have taken is essential. By following a systematic model, you can be assured that you will be able to provide a rationale for the course of action you chose (Forester-Miller & Davis, 2016). The procedural steps we have listed here should not be thought of as a simple and linear way to reach a resolution on ethical matters. However, we have found that these steps do stimulate self-reflection and encourage discussion with clients and colleagues. Using this process, we are confident that you will find a solution that is helpful for your client, your profession, and yourself.

Part II: Self Care/Wellness Plan

Imagine that you are practicing as a professional counselor and you begin having trouble sleeping, you are tired, and feel overwhelmed for days on end. You have said some things in anger or frustration to friends and/or family recently, and your stomach feels “tied up in knots” more days than not.

You find yourself not returning calls to clients, and you are getting behind on your documentation. You worry that you are getting behind on things, but really don’t feel motivated to do much of anything to change things.

You have a colleague who has expressed concern in the past few days, that you haven’t seemed “yourself,” in quite some time. Your colleague brings up the term “wounded healer” which initially alarms you, but you can’t get it out of your mind.

In 2 – 3 pages (not including title page and reference page), respond to this situation as if this was really your experience. Write up a wellness plan for yourself that you can practice in your day to day life, as well as turn to in the future when you are feeling “less than 100%.” Provide some narrative that will help me understand how you arrived at this plan, and the significance of the pieces of your personal plan.

Grading will be based on depth of thought, and reflection. Do not rush through this. Give yourself time to really consider all aspects of your situation if this was you, as a professional counselor, in the future. Work hard to come up with a plan that you can really follow, and that will be of help to you. Also consider and discuss the implications legally, ethically, and personally of this situation as it bears down on you.

This is Part II of this assignment. Part I has to do with a “colleague of concern.”