Ethical dilemmas are common for counselors and psychologists. You might have a client revealing details of a crime they committed. The client might also point out that they’re in an abusive relationship at home. Deciding whether to report this to the authorities is one of the ethical challenges. But it doesn’t end there. You’re likely to face many other moral issues. And without a code of ethics to help you navigate through, things can get quite dicey. Here are some reasons why ethics are necessary for counselors.
Counselor Ethics Advocate for Confidentiality
Confidentiality is a principle of nondisclosure between clients and counselors. Unless a client gives their permission, any information they share must remain secret. Clients need to know that they can trust you with their secrets. Without trust, it won’t be easy to share their problems truthfully.
Confidentiality does a lot more than help a client to open up. It helps clients maintain a sense of dignity. But, the code of ethics followed by counselors allows the sharing of some information. For instance, a client may tell you they plan to commit suicide or murder someone. In such cases, this leaves you with no option but to alert relevant authorities.
Avoiding Sexual and Dual Relationships
Counselors shouldn’t sleep with their clients under any circumstance. Several malpractice lawsuits in the psychotherapy industry are those of sexual misconduct. Therapists are in a position of power over their clients. As such, they have a responsibility to prevent such occurrences from happening. Even when sessions are complete, counselors should still avoid such a relationship. Dual relationships of any kind may interfere with the counselor’s judgment during therapy. These ethical codes help protect clients and counselors from malpractice and legal issues.
Stay Clear of Exceeding Confidence
As a counselor, ethics demand that you be honest about your training and experience. Making the client believe that you can handle certain cases when it’s not true is unethical. Several malpractice lawsuits result from therapists claiming to know more than they do. Practicing a therapeutic method where you don’t have experience could land you into trouble. This is because your client’s mental health is just as serious as their physical health. After all, you can’t give medicine to a client if you’re not authorized to do so.
Allow the Client Their Autonomy
People have the right to make decisions without coercion. As a counselor, it’s easy to get so invested in your client that you feel you have to convince them to do certain things. While your opinion might be correct, you must allow the client to do what they decide. Otherwise, you would be taking away their autonomy. The purpose of therapy is to offer guidance rather than recommend solutions.
Counselor ethics might make Counseling sound like it has many rules. But it is one of the most rewarding occupations. If you’ve been thinking about becoming one, you need to start by getting the necessary training. Feel free to reach out to Colorado Counselor Training to learn more.