Study Points

Ethics for Counselors

Course #77723 - $30 • 6 Hours/Credits

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  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.
  1. Virtue ethics is an ancient ethical system attributed to

    HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF COUNSELING ETHICS

    Ethics have been discussed in various arenas since ancient times. The ethics that most Western counselors are familiar with are derivatives of the virtue ethics system developed by Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and most notably, Aristotle, in the 5th century B.C.E. Virtue ethics were thought to be a way to make decisions in life that developed strong personal character, based on attaining permanent happiness through knowledge, reason, restraint, and striving for excellence in physical and intellectual pursuits [54]. The word ethics has evolved from the ancient Greek word ethikos, meaning moral character, and implies that a personal character is constructed. The ability to engage in the ethical decision-making process, or thinking analytically about how an action will be viewed in the context of the community by applying its upheld virtues, develops strong character. The action will be viewed by others who can determine that the decision-maker is a virtuous person if the outcome is in line with the values of society. The community will have positive feelings about the person, the person will have positive self-esteem, and the end result will be happiness.

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  2. Which of the following historical events reinforced the need for codified standards of ethics?

    HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF COUNSELING ETHICS

    Several medical research events in the 20th century served as catalysts to strengthen the codifying principles and behaviors that protect the rights of all individuals. This spurred the creation of codes of ethics in human service arenas, including counseling. The codes of ethics that were developed were designed to protect all individuals from harm and strived to be inclusive of age, race, ethnicity, culture, immigration status, disability, educational level, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and socioeconomic status.

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  3. The Tuskegee experiment is one of the most publicized research projects referred to in ethical discussion today. It involved

    HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF COUNSELING ETHICS

    Another significant event occurred in the United States when, in 1932, the Public Health Service initiated a syphilis study on 399 black men from Tuskegee, Alabama, who were unaware of their diagnosis. The goal of the study was to observe the men over a period of time to examine how the disease progressed in people of African descent, because most of the clinical data on syphilis came from evaluating people of European descent. When the study began, there were no effective remedies; however, fifteen years into the study, penicillin was found to be a cure for syphilis. The research participants were never informed, and treatment was withheld, in spite of the fact that by the end of the experiment, in 1972, 128 men had died either from the disease or related complications [1].

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  4. All of the following are reasons ethical codes are developed, EXCEPT:

    HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF COUNSELING ETHICS

    Ford identifies several reasons that codes of ethics are developed [53]:

    • To identify the purpose, goals, and values of an organization to members and those applying

    • To give rights to and protect both clients and professionals

    • To provide guidance for ethical decision making

    • To influence public perception and ensure professionalism by showing that the organization will monitor itself for the public

    • To send a message to law enforcement and government that the organization can enforce its own rules and regulate itself

    • To help to establish an organization by differentiating it from similar institutions

    • To establish a road toward being granted licensing of professionals in that field

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  5. Which philosophical viewpoint is characterized by diversity and pluralism?

    HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF COUNSELING ETHICS

    Postmodernism is a reaction to the belief that there is "rational scientific control over the natural and social worlds" [3]. Postmodernism is characterized by diversity, pluralism, and questioning the belief that there are objective laws or principles guiding behavior [3]. Postmodernists argue that ethical principles must take into account historical and social contexts to understand individuals' behaviors [4]. This philosophical climate emphasizes situational ethics in which there are no black-and-white rules about principles of good and bad. Ultimately, a set of universal ethical principles cannot be easily applied [3].

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  6. Courage, cleanliness, and cheerfulness are examples of

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    Frequently, the terms values and ethics are employed interchangeably; however, the terms are not synonymous. Values are beliefs, attitudes, or preferred conceptions about what is good or desirable, that provide direction for daily living. They stem from our personal, cultural, societal, and agency values. Rokeach has argued that values may be organized into two categories: terminal values and instrumental values [9]. Terminal values describe the desired end-goal for a person's life. Some that are identified by Rokeach are happiness, inner harmony, wisdom, salvation, equality, freedom, pleasure, true friendship, mature love, self-respect, social recognition, family security, national security, a sense of accomplishment, a world of beauty, a world at peace, a comfortable life, and an exciting life. Instrumental values are those that help a person to achieve their desired terminal values; they are the tools one uses to work toward an end goal. Instrumental values include love, cheerfulness, politeness, responsibility, honesty, self-control, independence, intellect, broad-mindedness, obedience, capability, courage, strength, imagination, logic, ambition, cleanliness, helpfulness, and forgiveness. Ultimately, all of these types of values influence how a person will behave. Not all individuals will identify with all of these values; most will have a few terminal values that are most important to them. When there is conflict or tension between instrumental values, such as politeness and honesty, individuals will begin to prioritize [9].

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  7. Ethics may best be defined as

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    Ethics are the beliefs an individual or group maintains about what constitutes correct or proper behavior or actions [13]. To put it simply, ethics are the standards of conduct an individual uses to make decisions. The term morality is often confused with ethics; however, morality involves the judgment or evaluation of an ethical system, decision, or action based on social, cultural, or religious norms [13,14]. The term morals or morality is derived from the Greek word mores, which translates as customs or values. The separation between ethics and values/morals is best illustrated in the following two examples.

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  8. Morality is best defined as

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    Ethics are the beliefs an individual or group maintains about what constitutes correct or proper behavior or actions [13]. To put it simply, ethics are the standards of conduct an individual uses to make decisions. The term morality is often confused with ethics; however, morality involves the judgment or evaluation of an ethical system, decision, or action based on social, cultural, or religious norms [13,14]. The term morals or morality is derived from the Greek word mores, which translates as customs or values. The separation between ethics and values/morals is best illustrated in the following two examples.

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  9. What constitutes an ethical dilemma?

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    An ethical dilemma presents itself to a counselor when he or she must make a choice between two mutually exclusive courses of action. The action may involve the choice of two goods (benefits) or the choice of avoiding two harms (problems). If one side of the dilemma is more valuable or good than the other side then there is no dilemma because the choice will lean toward the side that is more desirable [15].

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  10. Ethical principles are best defined as

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    Ethical principles are expressions that reflect people's ethical obligations or duties [10]. These principles of correct conduct in a given situation originated from debates and discussions in ancient times and became the theoretical framework upon which we base our actions as individuals and societies. Most prominently, it was the Bible and Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, who created most of the familiar ethical principles in use today. The following are general ethical principles that counseling professionals recognize [10]:

    • Autonomy: The duty to maximize the individual's rights to make his/her own decisions

    • Beneficence: The duty to do good

    • Confidentiality: The duty to respect privacy and trust and to protect information

    • Competency: The duty to only practice in areas of expertise

    • Fidelity: The duty to keep one's promise or word

    • Gratitude: The duty to make up for (or repay) a good

    • Justice: The duty to treat all fairly, distributing risks and benefits equitably

    • Nonmaleficence: The duty to cause no harm

    • Ordering: The duty to rank the ethical principles that one follows in order of priority and to follow that ranking in resolving ethical issues

    • Publicity: The duty to take actions based on ethical standards that must be known and recognized by all who are involved

    • Reparation: The duty to make up for a wrong

    • Respect for persons: The duty to honor others, their rights, and their responsibilities

    • Universality: The duty to take actions that hold for everyone, regardless of time, place, or people involved

    • Utility: The duty to provide the greatest good or least harm for the greatest number of people

    • Veracity: The duty to tell the truth

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  11. The ethical principle of competency is the duty to

    COMMON TERMS USED IN THE DISCUSSION OF ETHICS

    Ethical principles are expressions that reflect people's ethical obligations or duties [10]. These principles of correct conduct in a given situation originated from debates and discussions in ancient times and became the theoretical framework upon which we base our actions as individuals and societies. Most prominently, it was the Bible and Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, who created most of the familiar ethical principles in use today. The following are general ethical principles that counseling professionals recognize [10]:

    • Autonomy: The duty to maximize the individual's rights to make his/her own decisions

    • Beneficence: The duty to do good

    • Confidentiality: The duty to respect privacy and trust and to protect information

    • Competency: The duty to only practice in areas of expertise

    • Fidelity: The duty to keep one's promise or word

    • Gratitude: The duty to make up for (or repay) a good

    • Justice: The duty to treat all fairly, distributing risks and benefits equitably

    • Nonmaleficence: The duty to cause no harm

    • Ordering: The duty to rank the ethical principles that one follows in order of priority and to follow that ranking in resolving ethical issues

    • Publicity: The duty to take actions based on ethical standards that must be known and recognized by all who are involved

    • Reparation: The duty to make up for a wrong

    • Respect for persons: The duty to honor others, their rights, and their responsibilities

    • Universality: The duty to take actions that hold for everyone, regardless of time, place, or people involved

    • Utility: The duty to provide the greatest good or least harm for the greatest number of people

    • Veracity: The duty to tell the truth

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  12. Which of the following is NOT one of the nine sections included in the ACA Code of Ethics?

    VALUES AND ETHICAL PRINCIPLES IN ETHICAL CODES

    Section B: Confidentiality and Privacy

    Trust is perhaps the most important aspect of a counseling relationship. A client's trust is earned by maintaining boundaries and respecting privacy. Information relating to client care should be shared with other professionals only with the consent of the client. When counseling minors or people with diminished capacity, all local and federal laws must be obeyed and a third party should be consulted before sharing any private information.

    Section C: Professional Responsibility

    The responsible counselor values honesty and is competent. Professional competence is an ethical standard, meaning counselors should only practice in areas in which they have the requisite knowledge and abilities. One can only help if he or she has the proper tools and the skills to utilize them effectively; techniques, procedures, and modalities used in practice should have a solid foundation of theory, empiricism, and/or science. Counselors must also improve their knowledge and abilities so they can further assist clients and contribute to the advancement of their profession. Advocating for positive social change and engaging in self-care activities are also highly recommended, and pro bono work is encouraged. Self-monitoring for impairment (i.e., physical, mental, or emotional illness that interferes with practice) and not practicing while impaired is important. The principles represented in this section are nonmaleficence, ordering, and universality. An important value is self-awareness.

    Section I: Resolving Ethical Issues

    Counselors should be familiar with their agency's or institution's rules and regulations; these should be accepted and upheld or employment should be sought elsewhere. When ethical dilemmas arise, they should be resolved using communication with all those involved. When a conflict cannot be resolved among the parties involved, consultation with peers may be necessary. Ethical codes should be followed, but in some cases, this may conflict with laws (e.g., subpoena). It is advised that laws prevail over ethics when all other means of resolution are exhausted. Counselors who become aware of colleagues' ethics violations that are not able to be resolved informally are obligated to report them provided it does not violate client-counselor confidentiality. The ethical resolution of dilemmas or issues requires the application of the ethical principles of ordering, respect, reparation, and veracity. Values of honesty, courage, independence, and intellect, among many others, determine positive outcomes in adverse situations.

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  13. Deontologic ethics is

    ETHICAL THEORIES

    Deontologic theories concentrate on considering absolutes, definitives, and imperatives [7]. Deontologic theories may also be referred to as fundamentalism or ethical rationalism [17]. The Greek word deon means duty or obligation, and the deontologic theorist would argue that values such as self-determination and confidentiality are absolute and definitive, and they must prevail whatever the circumstances (i.e., universally applicable) [17]. An action is deemed right or wrong according to whether it follows pre-established criteria known as imperatives. An imperative is viewed as a "must do," a rule, an absolute, or a black-and-white issue. This is an ethic based upon duty linked to absolute truths set down by specific philosophical schools of thought. Persons adhering to this perspective ask: What rules apply? What are the duties or obligations that provide the framework for ethical behavior [120,121,122]? As long as one follows the principles dictated by these imperatives and does his/her duty, one is said to be acting ethically.

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  14. Which of the following is considered a teleologic ethical theory?

    ETHICAL THEORIES

    Utilitarianism is the most well-known teleologic ethical theory. It is the principle that follows the outcome-based belief of actions that provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people [125]. So rather than individual goodness or rightness, this principle speaks for the group or society as a whole. Social laws in the United States are based upon this principle. The individual interests are secondary to the interest of the group at large. There are two types of utilitarianism: rule utilitarianism and act utilitarianism [125]. In rule utilitarianism, a person's past experiences are his influence toward achieving the greatest good. In act utilitarianism, the situation determines whether an action or decision is right or wrong. There are no rules to the game; each situation presents a different set of circumstances. This is commonly referred to as situational ethics. In situational ethics, if the act or decision results in happiness or goodness for the client and their social context, it would be ethically right.

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  15. Which of the following is NOT a component of decision analyses?

    ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING FRAMEWORKS

    In general, decision analyses typically include the following: acknowledging the decision, listing the advantages or disadvantages (pros or cons), creating the pathways of the decision, estimating the probabilities and values, and calculating the expected value [23].

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  16. What is the main focus of the Ethical Principles Screen developed by Loewenberg and Dolgoff?

    ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING FRAMEWORKS

    Loewenberg and Dolgoff's Ethical Principles Screen is an ethical decision-making framework that differs slightly from the Kenyon model [28]. This method focuses on a hierarchy of ethical principles to evaluate the potential course of action for ethical dilemmas. The hierarchy rank prioritizes ethical principles; in other words, it depicts which principle should be adhered to first. The first ethical principle is more important than the second to the seventh [11]. Counselors should strive for the first ethical principle before any of the following ethical principles. In a situation where an ethical dilemma involves life or death, this ethical principle should be adhered to first before principle 6, which is adhering to confidentiality. When reading Loewenberg and Dolgoff's hierarchy, the counselor can see that only conditions to maintain the client's right to survival (ethical principle 1) or his/her right to fair treatment (ethical principle 2) take precedence to ethical principle 3, which is free choice and freedom or self-determination.

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  17. Lawrence Kohlberg identifies two important correlates of his six stages of moral development. One of these is that

    ETHICAL SELF-REFLECTION

    Kohlberg's stages of moral development theory presumes that there are six stages of moral development that people go through in much the same way that infants learn first to roll over, to sit up, to crawl, to stand, and finally to walk [32]. The following section is from Lawrence Kohlberg's theory on moral development. There are two important correlates of Kohlberg's system:

    • Everyone goes through each stage in the same order, but not everyone goes through all the stages.

    • A person at one stage can understand the reasoning of any stage below him or her but cannot understand more than one stage above.

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  18. Lawrence Kohlberg presumes there are six stages of moral development. A person making a stage 5 decision uses which of the following justifications?

    ETHICAL SELF-REFLECTION

    Stage 5: "No, the client might benefit from our relationship, but it is wrong. I need to merely validate her as a human being."

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  19. Which of the following ethical conflicts may be a concern in a managed care environment?

    MANAGED CARE AND ETHICS

    At the core, it is the ethical conflict of distributive justice versus injustice [37]. Distributive justice stresses the role of fairness in the distribution of services and states that, at minimum, a basic level of care should be provided. However, the principle of distributive justice may be compromised when services are allocated based on fixed criteria and not on individuals' needs [37]. Situations will then emerge in which the utilization reviewer indicates that the client is not approved for more services, and the counselor may find him or herself unable to provide services that are still necessary. In this case, it is suggested that counselors utilize their roles as advocates to encourage and coach their clients to go through grievance procedures for more services from their managed care provider [37].

    Another ethical issue emerging within counseling practice in a managed care environment is that of the counselor's fiduciary relationship with their agency versus a fiduciary relationship with the client [37]. Each relationship has competing sets of loyalties and responsibilities. First, the counselor has a fiduciary relationship to the managed care company. The responsibility to the agency is to keep expenditures within budget. Yet, there is also the counselor's obligation to the client's best interests and needs [37]. One way of managing this conflict is for counselors to be involved in the advocacy and development of policies that allow some leeway for clients who may require additional services.

    Confidentiality, which is founded on respect and dignity, is of paramount importance to the therapeutic relationship. However, managed care systems also present challenges to the ethical issue of client confidentiality, as they often request that clients' records be submitted for review for approval of services [38,131]. Consequently, counselors and other practitioners should explain up front and provide disclosure statements that establish the limits to confidentiality, what types of information must be shared, how this information is communicated, treatment options, billing arrangements, and other information [38,39].

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  20. According to Manhal-Baugus, the two main ethical issues in online counseling are privacy/confidentiality and

    ONLINE COUNSELING

    Manhal-Baugus described two main ethical issues pertinent to distance counseling: information that is conveyed to the client about privacy/confidentiality and principles in establishing online relationships [100].

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  • Back to Course Home
  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.