Ethics in Action Section 1
If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond this way?
If I were the counselor that was handling this young ladies case I would first and foremost try and gain trust with her. Without trust I will never have the opportunity to assist her. I would not tell the client’s parents without notifying her first. The ACA code of ethics states “When counseling minor clients or adult clients who lack the capacity to give voluntary, informed consent, counselors protect the confidentiality of information received in the counseling relationship as specified by federal and state laws, written policies, and applicable ethical standards” (ACA, 2005, p.8). I do not see how I would be violating any state or federal law due to the fact that the client or anyone else is not in any foreseeable danger. If I were fearful that the young lady was capable of doing something extreme like suicide or trying to abort the fetus herself, I must contact her parents and child welfare services because I am fearful for the young ladies safety. Otherwise I would feel that it is my duty to keep what goes on in the counseling session confidential and then work with the client to where she feels safe and able to inform her parents on her own.
What is an Informed Consent Form and why is it important? What would you include on your own Informed Consent Form regarding confidentiality? Why?
The ACA code of ethics defines informed consent as “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. Counselors have an obligation to review in writing and verbally with clients the rights and responsibilities of both the counselor and the client. (ACA, 2005, p.3). The counselor should seek to be forthcoming and answer all questions that the potential client may ask. The counselor should inform the client that the therapeutic process is not done by them alone. It is a reciprocating relationship and both parties have an invested interest. The client should also be informed of what the projected outcome the counselor expects as a result of their mutual efforts. Informed consent must include the client’s signature and a list of client’s rights as well (ACA, 2005). In regards to my confidentiality consent form I would have a list of all persons or agencies that the client agrees that I can speak with in regards to their therapeutic treatment. I would have people such as family and case managers if applicable. Agencies such as local LME’s and doctor’s offices would also be important. I would need to be kept abreast of any medication changes or changes in diagnosis. I would inform the client that if they are not comfortable with any of the names on the consent to release confidential information form that they could easily be removed as long as they signed that this was their wishes. I would also have on my consent form what I am planning on using the information that I am gathering for. More than likely it will be used solely for treatment and evaluation. At the location where the client signs I would have a written statement that the doctrine of informed consent has been explained to me and I understand the contents to be released will be protected at all times. It is also important to not allow the consent to release confidentiality to exceed one year and should be reexamined as needed.
What does the law in your own state say regarding how you need to handle this kind of situation?
The state of North Carolina has extreme limitations that do not fully protect the confidentiality of minor clients. Prior to providing psychological services to a minor a therapist or psychologist must get consents signed by the parents or...