Ethical Guidelines for Counselors

Have you ever stood in front of a situation with an ethical dilemma? You don’t have to be related to health services or health counseling in order to come across situations where ethical decisions had to be made by you.

The evolution of service industries has led nowadays to a change in some privacy issues of the patients around the globe. The professional relationships between companies and their clients have changed dramatically. Today ethical conduct in counsel work is not optional anymore. Now it is usually a requirement.

The counseling ethics in the relationship between the counsels and the clients are divided into two areas – the professional ethics and the confidentiality.

Confidentiality

In order to make counseling as effective as possible, it is important to give the clients a sense of complete security. They should know that what they say will never be shared with anyone. In theory, the perfect freedom would be a complete confidentiality that would allow the clients to discuss just about anything. However, in reality it is not always as perfect as that.

Usually the counselors should discuss the confidentiality degree with the client before establishing the counseling relationship. Usually this relationship consists of partial confidentiality. It means that the counselor may use some of the session details to improve the service quality, exchange the details with fellow counselors, or maintain a collection of notes for further theoretical use. Of course if there is an investigator with a court order that asks for the client’s details, the counselor must comply and provide him with the details. These situations can be very problematic. Sometimes they create a dilemma where a client may be dangerous and risk the lives of others, yet it is a private information that the counselor just can’t expose. Some counselors that work with prison occupants and potentially dangerous clients face these dilemmas on a regular basis. Visit www.houseofrecovery.org for more reliable tips.

“When I was working in the HART company (Home Assessment Response Team), my job was to visit houses of people who have been a part of substance abuse. Some of these people were living in the Community Centers of Correction instead of drug rehab centers. I usually advised them not to tell me too much personal information, including names and dates, because I knew that the confidentiality wasn’t perfect in their case and if they would tell me information that could harm them, I would eventually be obligated to give that information to authorities in any case that would be required.”

Because of situations such as the one described here, some counselors think that promising to the client a complete confidentiality is unethical. Here are the most common reasons to why counselors can’t provide the clients with perfect confidentiality:

  • – Keeping records that hold personal information about the clients;
  • – Sharing information with the supervisors;
  • – Protecting third party people from danger;
  • – Court orders or law enforcement issues that make the counselors provide the information.

Professional Ethics

Because counseling is not a regular profession in many countries, the actual quality of the code of ethics is the one that makes the difference. The organizations that provide a more in-depth way of dealing with ethical questions are usually the ones that should be the most appropriate in their field.

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