Ethical challenges of boundary issues Essay
Boundaries exist to protect the welfare of clients who are in a vulnerable position in the relationship as well as place limits that promote integrity and help us understand the parameters of the relationship (Remley & Herlihy, 2014). Boundaries between therapist and client come in many forms and exist in many contextual forms. Crossing a boundary has potential effects, both damaging and strengthening, to the helping relationship. We must be able to recognize these boundaries and broach them with caution when dealing with our clients.
Summary of Ethical Challenges in Case Study #9 In this case study we find the ethical dilemma is that the counselor, Diana, failed to properly cover the issues of informed consent and confidentiality with her clients, Mr. & Mrs. Cole. By not properly covering confidentiality issues and informed consent with her clients, she has found herself in a position that places competence, neutrality and her client’s confidentiality at risk (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 195). Diana holds information from Mr. Cole that would help Mrs.
Cole but is not at liberty to disclose that information with her. If she did so it would be a violation of the other client’s confidentiality, as she did not cover that during her initial meeting with the couple. Applicable Ethical Codes Implementing best practices, Diana should have made clear at the beginning of her session with the Cole’s that she would not keep any information from one or the other. The addressing of informed consent would have alleviated this situation for Diana. This issue is addressed in The American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethic section A.
2. a. which states, Informed Consent Clients have the freedom to choose whether to enter into or remain in a counseling relationship and need adequate information about the counseling process and the counselor (2005). A second issue that Diana should have addressed with the Cole’s is that Mrs. Cole was the primary client and that Mr. Cole was later asked to join them in the sessions. Although Mr. Cole sought to resolve issues individually with Diana, the primary client is Mrs. Cole. This issue also should have been addressed in their initial meeting.
The ACA Code of Ethics states in section B. 4. b. when dealing with couples and family counseling, that in couples and family counseling, counselors clearly define who is considered “the client” and discuss expectations and limitations of confidentiality (2005). Summary of Ethical Challenges in Case Study #14 Teresa is a professional counselor who moves with her son to a small town and befriends the school’s principal Evelyn. Their children are close friends, and the women share many things in common. The women develop a close friendship.
The children spend much time with each other at Teresa’s home. Evelyn confides in Teresa that there are some issues with her child, Charlie, and asks her to take him on as a client. Teresa is the only counselor in a three hour radius. Teresa is reluctant and discusses her reluctance with Evelyn, but they come to an agreement and Teresa takes Charlie on as a client. Teresa meets with Charlie and discusses confidentiality with him. Charlie shares some things with Teresa that she feels need to be broached with Evelyn and she struggles with how to address them with her.
Teresa finds that the situation of counseling Charlie has become an issue and that she must actively seek supervision to sort through the situation with Charlie and Evelyn (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 218). Applicable Ethical Codes The ACA states in standard A. 5. c that a counselor–client nonprofessional relationships with clients, former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members should be avoided, except when the interaction is potentially beneficial to the client (2005). Although there was no other counselor in the local area, Teresa was close friends with Evelyn and had a personal relationship with Charlie.
Although Charlie may have benefited from sessions with Teresa, the personal relationship held prior to the sessions presents interference with the ability for Teresa to remain subjective and impartial on all levels. This is not a professional helping relationship, as it is a dual- relationship that interferes with Teresa’s ability to be subjective. Summary of Ethical Challenges in Case Study #20 This case study looks at Michael, a school counselor’s and his relationship with Jenny, a seventeen year old student.
Michael deals with students who are affected by poverty, drugs, absentee parents and domestic violence. Jenny seeks out Michael in his office one day, distraught, explaining she had been in a verbal altercation with another student. Jenny explained she was under a lot of pressure and stress and did not want to get into a fight. After a brief discussion with Jenny, Michael learned that she was dealing with much stress at home and was six weeks pregnant. Jenny also asked that he tell no one. She was uncertain whether or not if she planned on keeping the baby or not (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 251).
Jenny states that her mother is not understanding and she is not sharing this information with her. Michael is the father of two daughters of his own, and feels for Jenny. Michel recognizes that he has personal feelings associated with this situation that reflect on his own morals, values and beliefs on teen pregnancy (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 252). Michael is against teens raising babies, does not want to imply she should abort the fetus and is concerned with his obligation to inform her parents as she is a minor. Applicable Ethical Codes
Michael is aware that his personal beliefs and feelings are interfering with his ability to process what is best in the case for Jenny. Ethical and legal issues come into play in this situation, and Michael needs to do what is best for his client. Standard A. 4. b. of the ACA code of ethics addresses this issue by stating, Personal Values Counselors are aware of their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants (2005).
Also he is uncertain of his legal obligations because Jenny is a minor, if he is required to notify her parents of her pregnancy. In his research he finds conflicting information in B. 1. c. stating that counselors do not share personal information without consent (2005) and in B. 2. a. stating that confidentiality does not apply when disclosure is required to protect clients from foreseeable harm (2005). The school district manual provides no further guidance for Michael in deciding what to do when making a decision in regards to notifying her parents. Ethical Decision Making Model
Ethics are principles that define behavior as fair and proper and they are concerned with how a moral person should behave when it comes to making an ethical decision (Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2002). Counselor are presented a variety of ethical dilemmas that require them to navigate and choose sound decision options. This is done through the application of a decision making model. The above case studies all present ethical dilemmas that required a counselor to stop and think about the situation they were in and then reflect on the options and outcomes that were possible.
This is a decision making model. The Forester-Miller Decision making model is the process I would apply to the above case studies (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 14). This model allows for the identification of the problem, examination of relevant ethical codes and consideration of the moral principles. When that is completed and reviewed and no solid answer is attained it is then recommended that a counselor seek consult with colleagues or a supervisor and discuss any and all emotions.
The counselor may involve the client in the decision making process if necessary, while identifying the desired outcome and course of actions. The counselor would then consider the potential consequences, evaluate the plan of action and implement a course of action. Addressing challenges by applying ethical decision making model Boundary crossings clearly violate any standard of care outlined in the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics. It is the responsibility of the professional counselor to stay abreast of the codes that hold us accountable in the field of counseling.
When an ethical dilemma or boundary issue arises, it is the responsibility of the professional counselor to stop and address this challenge. The most appropriate way to do so would be by implementing a decision making model. This will allow the counselor to reason their way through a complex situation in a systematic way (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 14). Prevention of ethical challenges In the assigned case study # 9 (Herlihy & Corey, 2006, p. 195) the ethical boundary issue could have been easily prevented.
The counselor, Diana, failed to discuss informed consent with her client Mrs. Cole and again did not discuss informed consent at the initial meeting of Mr. & Mrs. Cole. The situation the counselor found herself in, of competence, neutrality and confidentiality, could have been avoided had she properly informed her clients of her procedures of confidentiality during her intake. Making sure we follow proper procedures at all times can limit the instances of boundary violations and ethical challenges we face in the counseling field.