This paper will discuss the personalization of counseling ethics for myself as I work toward and become a licensed professional counselor. I will use the five ethical principles considered fundamental to the ethics of counseling. The five principles are: autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, and fidelity. I will discuss how these principles will guide and inform my practice as a licensed professional counselor. I will define each term from a counseling perspective and how each one will contribute to my own personal ethical code of practice as a counselor. I will then discuss how they apply to the ACA code of ethics and discuss Biblical reflection and integration. I will then show how I will make it my own personal counseling ethic and how it will be integrated into my counseling methods, techniques and practice. Autonomy;
Autonomy means the independence and right of the individual to make his own decisions, (Dictionary.com). From a counseling perspective autonomy means that the client has the right to decide what they need and want in therapy and to freely express that right through various avenues as they enter therapy. One primary way a patient can remain autonomous and in control of what he or she will allow in a counseling relationship is in the agreement to confidentiality form(s) they sign upon entering into a counseling agreement. As a patient reads an intake form given to them by their counselor and/or counseling organization at which they are considering receiving counseling is by signing or refusing to sign documents they either agree with or don’t agree with. Some counselors and/or counseling organizations may not be allowed to take on a client, (legally, morally, ethically), if the client, through exercising their right of autonomy, refuses to sign documents or agreements which the counselor and/or counseling agency has to abide by because of legal issues or the agencies policies and procedures. Just as a client has a right to autonomy, so does the counselor and/or counseling agency, i.e.: if they decide a client isn’t a “good fit,” either because they seem unwilling to sign documents that the agency needs for them to sign, or because the counselor or agency aren’t qualified to counsel a certain individual/couple/family, they may decide the client would have a better experience either with another counselor or agency. In order for this to be an ethical process for a client a counselor and/or agency decides not to take on, they should have ready lists of referrals that relate to the type of counseling the client may need. If the client is a good fit, the counselor and/or agency needs to, in good faith, seek to update the client in face-to-face settings where they perceive things are “at,” and they need to adjust the methods of treatment, counseling, and/or types of methods which aren’t as helpful in order to preserve the integrity of both the client and the organization. This enables a client to make choices relevant to their clinical treatment as things progress. In the counseling arena, this is what autonomy looks like for a client.
From the ACA Code of Ethics, A.2.a.: Informed Consent talks about the fact that clients are autonomous in the fact that they can choose what they will give consent to in the counseling relationship, meaning that, ethically, they have the right to decide what they will or won’t allow as far as the role they will allow the counselor to take as well as their willingness to participate. This also means that the counselor explains things such as limits of confidentiality and their own personal or agencies policies and procedures regarding informed consent. A4b. talks about personal values of the counselor, in this context, autonomy for the client means that the therapist can’t impose their own values on the client and the client has the right to freely express themselves, within appropriate guidelines, (usually laid...