Questions and Answers on Ethics in Action

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Ethics in Action Segment Responses

Liberty University

SEGMENT ONE: MANAGING BOUNDARIES

1.If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond this way? If this were my client, I would further explore the reasons she desires the out of office interaction, and the possible risks and benefits of this interaction. For instance, I could say, “You say that meeting in the office makes you feel uncomfortable, can you elaborate more on that?” By asking such a question, we may be able to discern the underlying reasons for wanting to meet outside the office. It is possible that the nature of the client helper relationship makes her uncomfortable and she is looking for more of a social interaction, which would not be beneficial to the therapeutic process. We also have to look into personal and/or cultural values that could affect the nature of the relationship. Instead of focusing on whether or not to take the interaction outside of the office, it would be important to really dig into the underlying reasons for this suggestion. As a counselor I would try to avoid crossing certain boundaries, and/or violating ethical standards. As client and counselor we could work together to find a way that would help make the interactions a bit more comfortable, but still maintaining the professional aspect of the relationship

2. What do the ACA and AACC Code of ethics say regarding managing boundaries? What is your response to this?

The ACA Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) do not explicitly ban the interaction of client and counselor in a professional relationship outside of the office. These particular interactions would be defined as boundary crossings. According to Corey, Corey, Callanan (2011), “a boundary crossing is a departure from commonly accepted practices that could potentially benefit clients.” (p275) As such, these interactions do not fall under the category of non professional dual relationships, which are explicitly outlined by the ACA Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC Code of Ethics (2004). However, if we were to view this interaction as a dual relationship we would have to proceed cautiously. According to the ACA Code of Ethics (2005), “Counselor-client non professional relationship with clients…should be avoided except when the interaction is potentially beneficial to the client.”(A.5.c). The AACC Code of Ethics (2004) states, “Dual relationships involve the breakdown of proper professional or ministerial boundaries… Many dual relationships are wrong and indefensible, but some dual relationships are worthwhile and defensible.”(ES1-140) In my opinion, I agree with the codes of ethics. The nature of the therapeutic relationship is outlined in the informed consent process at the beginning of therapy. Straying from this structure should be avoided, however, discretion and discernment is needed to decide when it could be potentially beneficial for a client.

SEGMENT TWO: THE FRIENDSHIP

1. If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond that way?

If this were my client I would have many questions regarding her motives to seek a friendship once the counseling relationship has ended. I would say, “What would you hope to gain or achieve by having me as your friend.” By asking this question we can raise issues of her fear of forming new friendships, her security in this relationship, and any underlying issues that may need to be addressed further in therapy. We could also address scenarios that would cause conflict such as asking for advice or opinions in certain situations. In these cases the friendship would revert back to a client counselor relationship, and therefore the two parties are not equal. I would focus more on the reasons she has for wanting a friendship and gaining further insight into the client.

2. What do the ACA and AACC Code of Ethics say regarding dual...
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