Based on the five principls adopted by Beauchamp and Childress, as a counsellor there is a need to respect the freedom of Tommy in making his own choices and decisions without the constraints imposed by others. (Toriello et al., 2003). The principle of autonomy assumes that individuals have the right to decide how to live their own lives, as long as their actions do not interfere with the welfare of others. The key role here is in determining if Tommy is competent to make his own decisions and establish whether or not he has the information needed to make a personal choice.
Tommy as a substance abuser also can experience poor judgment due either to active substance use or to the results of long-term use. In cases of incompetence, I think it is not fair to the client to allow for full autonomy in decision-making as the client could unwittingly harm himself. Yet the process of proving incompetence can be burdensome and time consuming like in Tommy’s case where his readiness to change is forced by friend and his mother.
Tommy has the right to his freedom and decision making as long as his actions do not interfere with the welfare of others which could also mean doing no harms to others. However substance abusing is an active means of harming himself and what may be doing good in the eyes of the counsellor may be seen as doing harm in the eyes of the client and others. Tommy’s families and friends are often adversely affected by him and they could have many questions and concerns regarding his ill member even if he is not interfering with the welfare of others.