Ethical Decision Making Process
Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling
October 27, 2013
While every job and every position is considered important in their own right, certain professions have greater direct impacts on individual’s well beings than others. One such profession is that of a counselor. Counselors serve in a variety of settings, to a variety of clients and to meet a variety of different goals. As a result, the nature of the counselor to client relationship can become complex. Within these complexities, and because of the nature in which the counselor is called to serve, it is imperative that the counselor be well equipped to make decisions that positively impact the client they serve, while also considering other societal factors. It may be near impossible to be immediately prepared to respond to all ethical dilemmas, so as such creating a framework or model for ethical decision making is imperative. Understanding basic frameworks, variances and elaborations on particular models and being proactive about the changing trends in ethical decision making are crucial to effective, safe and caring counseling. The Need for Ethical Decision Making Processes and Models
Some research argues that the use of processes in decision making can cause dangers to the client (Chen-Bo, 2011). Arguments include the use or misuse of certain steps in the process to bring about unfavorable outcomes, or the decrease in positive intrinsic thoughts or feelings when specified processes are required (Chen-Bo, 2011). However, despite these studies, the vast majority of research indicates that ethical decision making processes greatly serve the counselor and the client.
Models for ethical decision making serve many purposes. Primarily, they serve to build upon a foundation that is greater than the counselor’s intuition or knowledgebase alone. Models also give clear demonstrations of methods that have worked in the past, as well as indicate where differences between the client’s situation and other’s situation may exist. They also expand give clear illustrations of key aspects thay a counselor alone may have overlooked or failed to consider, such as all the individuals which would be affected by the decision to be made, or the legal considerations that must be met before a decision is made. Failing to use models and processes to guide ethical decision making may severely hamper the ability of the counselor to come to the best resolution (Richard, 2012). Foundations for Ethical Decision Making
Ethical decision making takes into consideration several basic principles. Reducing harm to clients, or Nonmaleficence, is perhaps the most obvious aspect of ethical practice, however this ideology is complimented by Beneficence, which incorporates creating positive results for the clients in which the counselor serves. Each of these two concepts should be practiced within the parameters of Fidelity, which is the counselor making and meeting realistic goals with the client, and further expanded by ongoing Veracity, which involves truthful interaction throughout the counselor’s work with the client. Other principles include Autonomy of the client, which allows for self determination in the majority of their goals and interactions within the counseling sessions, and Justice, which implies that all clients receive equal service from a counselor, free from discrimination of all kind and respect for client diversity (Corey, Corey & Callana, 2011). Even with such clear and seemingly straightforward principles, these concepts themselves can be a cause for an ethical dilemma (Hill, 2004). It is possible that each principle put strain on another. For example, in situations where a high need of work is needed in a population, and time and resources are limited, beneficence may be compromised for justice, or vice versa. It is in such situations that an ethical approach to decision...
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