RUNNING HEADER: LEGAL ETHICAL AND PROFESSIONAL ISSUES IN THE FIELD OF COUNSELING
Legal Ethical & Professional Issues in the Field of Counseling
Legal Ethical and Professional Issues in Consultation
What are the legal and ethical issues as it pertains to consultation? Legal issues are relevant in two areas, laws governing the practice of your profession and criminal and civil laws that either directly or indirectly impacts the counseling professional practice. Laws governing the practice of counseling professionals are specifically articulated in the licensing law.
Most licensing laws also require therapists to keep information confidential except when permitted or mandated by state law.
What are ethical issues? Ethical issues in the counseling professions are regulated by laws and professional codes. The American Counseling Association (ACA) has provided Codes of Ethics which relates to evaluation, assessment, and interpretation. Ethical standards are promulgated in part to provide guidance for the profession, and help prevent patient exploitation and impairment of therapist judgment. Ethical principles range from being explicit in their clarity with regard to prohibition and/or sanctions of specific behaviors on the one hand, to being extremely nebulous and open to interpretation on the other.
Counselors’ do not disclose confidential information, which would lead to identification of clients in presentation and is permissible only when they have agreed about the material of which is to be presented public. When acting as a consultant, counselors seek agreement among all parties involved concerning each to preserve confidential information and limit confidentiality of information shared by others. As ethical practitioners, we are to value confidentiality.
At the same time, we also have a legal responsibility to report endangering acts. The decision making and daily functioning of consultants without an ethical framework may be influenced by confusion and anxiety. Unethical and legally inadequate decisions may result in bitter interpersonal and legal conflicts. Even though universal norms apply to all people in all situations, professional ethics do not. Instead, professional ethics are systems of norms restricted to work-related decision making and behavior, not the consultant’s personal life. When a client enters into a counseling relationship, the counselor is obligated to provide the information necessary for the client’s informed consent. All codes of professional counseling ethics require this informed consent and many state practice laws mandate it.
The informed consent advises the client of the counselor’s policies, state and federal laws, and clients’ rights. This document protects the client and the counselor. Ethical codes are frequently adopted or used to provide guidance by state licensing boards to set forth minimum standards of practice in their regulation of the various professions. As state licensing agencies and legislatures continue to draft and redraft legislation when creating statute which forms the basis of licensing laws they often look closely at the respective mental health professions evolving ethical code when drafting regulation and statute. Therefore by definition certain issues are both ethical and legal in nature.
For example, while confidentiality is an ethical concept that often serves to protect the client or patient and privilege is a legal term of art that refers to a client’s statutory right to have confidential information protected, for our purposes making a distinction between the two can simply be arbitrary. Simply put, ethics involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing. However the right thing is not always easy to identify. Ethics includes the fundamental ground rules by which we live our lives. Values that guide how we ought to behave are considered moral values, for example, values such as respect, honesty, fairness and responsibility. Statements around how these values are applied are sometimes called moral or ethical principles. Ethical consultants must have a set of principles, which defines ethical behavior and guides the consultants’ actions toward those behaviors. This is true whether you are an external consultant or an internal leader wanting to lead employees fairly and equally. Many times, those principles are documented as a code of ethics. As a former educator, we have to abide by the code of ethics set in force by the school district. We have an obligation to keep students information confidential.
It is not always easy to do so because teachers share information about our students with each other. For example, if I am having behavioral problems with a student, I may ask another teacher who has that student in his/her class to get advice on how he/she may handle that student’s behavior in their class. As a future counselor, I understand that I may be confronted daily with a variety of ethical and legal issues. Areas of ambiguity exist, probably require identification and careful consideration before reasonable and rational decisions are to be made. An understanding of the concepts and principles of ethics will allow me to strengthen the counselor-client relationship and to provide the best service to those who will be entrusted in my care for counseling. When faced with ethical issues, it is important that the counselor remember that a successful counselor services the needs of the client. Counselors/therapists must always strive for the highest standards in ethical and professional conduct even though things are not always clear-cut, but when in doubt, consult with other professionals.
American Counseling Association. (2005). Code of ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author. Cottone, R.R., & Tarvydas, V.M. (Eds.) (1998). Ethical and professional issues in counseling. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Welfel, E.R. (1998). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy: Standards, research, and emerging issues. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
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Legal Ethical & Professional Issues In Counselingg. (2016, May 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/legal-ethical-professional-issues-in-counselingg/