A professional counseling organization supports the rigorous standards for education, training and clinical practice. The counselors are committed to increasing knowledge of human behavior and understanding of themselves and the clients that they are trying to help. They are skilled professionals who provide a full range of counseling services in a variety of settings.
Most professional counseling organizations have a code, a document intended as a guide to: assist members to make sound ethical decisions; to define ethical behaviors and best practices for its members; to support the mission of the organization; and to educate members, students and the public at large regarding the ethical standards of counselors(AMHCA, 2010).
Ethics involves systematic judgments of value regarding “how people ought to act toward one another” as members of a particular societal group (Kitchener, 2000). These judgments are influenced by the culture and customs of a group. They are passed down from one generation to another and can change over time due to new experiences and growth of the group. The ethical codes and standards documents of professional associations serve as a group’s best reflection and demonstrates the appropriate behaviors its for members are to exhibit.
Nonmaleficence is the ethical principle addressing the counselor’s responsibility to “do no harm” including the removal of present harm and the prevention of future harm (Gladding, 2004). Counseling professionals must avoid harming their clients, students, trainees, and research participants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm. Harm can be defined in many ways. It is the duty of the professional to avoid situations that would reduce the well being of the client.
In the counseling professional’s world, there are times when one principle may take precedence over another. In these times, professional codes of ethics and