Example Of Professional Code Of Ethics Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Ethics, Confidentiality, Public, Dilemma, Code of Ethics, Professionalism, Profession, Information

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2023/04/10

1. Select one type of ethical dilemma that may arise in counselling practice and build a mock case example around it to use for your assignment.
a. The ethical dilemma could be in the areas of the client’s rights, counsellor responsibilities, confidentiality, boundaries, professional competence, supervision or any other area that may cause an ethical dilemma for you as the counsellor
b. Whatever ethical dilemma you choose to construct as an example for this assignment, make sure it offers enough opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to assess, work through and resolve an ethical dilemma directly related to counselling practice.
2. Once you have selected an ethical dilemma, explain in detail what the ethical dilemma is and what values are at stake or in conflict to cause such a dilemma for you as a counsellor.
The ethical dilemma that I am facing as a counselor is in regards to information that was conveyed by a patient in a private session. Sarah is a counsellor who works for a specialist agency supporting adult survivors of sexual abuse. Her client, Angie, discloses abuse perpetrated by a family friend when she was eight years old. She has recently discovered that the alleged abuser has moved in with her aunt, who has a child – a boy aged 11. Angie has never disclosed her abuse to her family and does not wish to do so now. This demonstrates an underlying concern in regards to the position that the counsellor, their manager, and the agency as a whole has in establishing their obligations towards both their clients and the rights and dignity of society in not being exposed to illegal acts. The agency policy is to provide total confidentiality to clients, apart from when legally obliged not to do so. Angie minimizes any current risk and states that she only told Sarah because of the agency policy to protect her confidentiality.
This case presents a major dilemma. The issue at stake is the privacy of the patient and the obligations on the part of the psychiatrist to respect the obligation that they have to secrecy regarding these intentions. In this case, the major is, therefore, the question of where this patient's rights end and concern for public safety begins in the eyes of the law. These concerns must be reviewed in regards to the underlying values that are at stake. These values include not only those of the patient, the counselor, the organization that they work for, and the public as a whole. For this reason, careful consideration and analysis of the various prospects and issues associated with the facts of the case should be developed. By doing so, a more comparable solution to the issue can help to maintain both the privacy of the patient and the well being of the public. Through careful scrutiny of the underlying issues, a more purposeful and coherent solution can be promoted.
a. Make sure you provide a comprehensive review of the ethical dilemma that includes insightful analysis of the conflicting values that need to be reviewed, assessed and resolved.
In developing a comprehensive review of the dilemma in question, the underlying conflict that is present within this case can be brought forth. As the patient has their own rights, these must be weighed in relation to the needs of public safety and the consequences of undertaking this responsibility for the organization in question. The major values in question are those of privacy and public safety. In this sense, there seems to be an overwhelming threat to the safety of the public, however, there is also the doctrine of personal responsibility that is held by the psychiatrist in maintaining the privileges of their client. These privileges suggest that there is an important need to develop a coherent framework for understanding how the priorities of the counselor and the organization that they belong to should be established.
b. Clarify the conflicting values that would need to be comprehensively reviewed including those values of the client’s, the counsellor’s, the supervisor’s, the organisation where the counselling practice is placed, and the broader society values and laws.
The major values that must be comprehensively reviewed in regards to this case in regards to the client are their right to privacy. For the counselor, the major concern is the establishment of a basis for the public safety. The supervisor's position would most likely be similar to the counselor's in that they would have a conflicting obligation to both the client and the general public's well being. Similarly, the organization that these individuals are a part of would most likely need to establish a boundary between the responsibilities of their employees towards their clients and the public at large. In this way, the values of society as a whole, and its values and laws, would likely view the safety of the public as the priority over the privacy of the individual in this case.
c. In your mock case example of an ethical dilemma for this assignment you will need to demonstrate insight into the types of ethical dilemmas that could arise in counselling practice by demonstrating realistic and believable scenarios of value conflict across all stakeholders concerned.
3. Once completing all of the steps above you then need to clarify in detail the approach you would take to resolve the ethical dilemma you have proposed.
a. In detailing out your approach for dealing with the ethical dilemma you need to make specific reference to the guidelines presented in both the PACFA and ACA Code of Ethics found in your Required Book of Readings Assignment 2a and Assignment 2b.
b. While the PACFA and ACA code of ethics need to be used as a structure upon which to base your response you should also allow some room in your discussion for any value conflict you may have specifically with the code of ethics. If you do have any conflict with the code of ethics you need to clarify how you would intend to deal with that conflict in the context of maintaining an ethically sound practice while upholding the principal ethics of the counselling profession within Australia.
Careful analysis of the case suggests that there is an important consideration that must be given to the basic conditions that are at work within the corresponding needs of both the patient and the public. This case, therefore, presents a major challenge to the priorities that are considered in the establishment of ethical guidelines lain out by PACFA in that it both questions the need to account for the humanity and dignity of people as a whole and the capabilities of the organization in “Respecting the privacy of their members and preserving the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of their work.” This is the root of the issue in regards to the case in question. The responsibilities of the counselor and the organization in maintaining the right to privacy within this case presents the need to establish the values that are presented within the code of ethics. For this reason, the privacy of the patient must be considered on the grounds that the counselor, their managers, and the organization as a whole have a professional responsibility to do so.
This, however, presents further difficulties when determining the underlying conception that the professional code of ethics would make concerning the needs of the public, and the responsibility that the counselor and the organization have towards society as well. However, there is also the issue of “abiding by the laws of the society in which they are constituted.” In this sense, despite their protection in regards to the privacy rights of the individuals, the professionals still have an obligation towards society and its laws as well. For this reason, there is evidence that they have a responsibility to convey the information regarding the attack to the relevant authorities. This demonstrates the underlying considerations that must be given in regards to the professional code of ethics and the responsibility that the organization has to the society of which it is a part.
The professional code of ethics, therefore, allows for the establishment of protocols that can be utilized in a case that this conflict in interest is present. The motivations, however, should be considered, and the challenge of weighing the considerations must be done so in a way that corresponds to the outline provided in the code's doctrines. These considerations can be analyzed in association with the specific information that is presented within the code of ethics and can, in this way, help to inform the responsibilities that should be regarded by the counseling organization towards both their patient and the needs of society and the public safety that they are obligated to uphold.
Further reading of the Professional Code of Ethics demonstrates the basic requirements that are outlined in regards to coming forwards with specific information. It is, in this sense, important to provide any information that might seem to inhibit danger towards the public. It is stated, however, that “may cause serious physical or other harm to others or themselves.” This is established based on the idea of “reasonable grounds” which would have to be evident in order for the responsibilities towards privacy to be superseded. Furthermore, if the permission of those in question can be obtained before conveying the information to an “appropriately qualified person” (186). This demonstrates the need to take the utmost care and responsibility in reporting this information to the proper sources. In this sense, although there may be a violation of the law, the personal rights of the individual in question should still be upheld by the standards of the code.
This demonstrates the importance that the code of ethics places on the needs of both the individuals in question and society as a whole. However, according to the code of ethics, any breach of trust should be done so only on these specific grounds, and only if the establishment of reasonable grounds has been considered. In this case, it is important to both restrict the amount of information that is given to only the necessities, and to also limiting the number of people who have access to the information to only those who are the most capable in offering a solution. The information should, therefore, be “pertinent to the immediate situation” and not excessive in any way. This balance demonstrates the importance of establishing a basis for the principles that are being exercised within the professional code of ethics. In this case, the doctrines of the case can be considered in regards to both private and public needs and rights. This is important in creating a framework for how professionals should act in these situations and how they should frame their responses to specific issues.
This demonstrates the underlying considerations that are necessary in regards to the outlines that are established within the professional code of ethics. These considerations demonstrate the relationship between the needs of the professional, their organization, and the clients that they work for. While it is necessary, in this case, to establish communication with an expert regarding the actions that are being considered by the client it is equally important to maintain their personal considerations in regards to their rights to privacy. These rights have been established on the grounds that they intend to develop a more exhaustive approach to the underlying considerations. In this sense, the professional practitioner must first establish that there is a real threat to the public good. Upon doing so, they must also take the precautions necessary to provide the necessary information while still maintaining the intended secrecy of the client. Furthermore, the obligations of the organization as a whole towards the clients should be undertaken in respect to a professional manner and should be considered in regards to the relevance that this relationship has to the case.


Corey G et al (2011) Issues and Ethics in the helping professions.
Bonsmann, C. (2010). What do clients have to say about therapy? Counselling Psychology Review, 24(4), 31-45.
Morrissey st al. (2006) Ethics & Professional practice for Psychologists
Pratt, G. (2007). Reflections of an Indigenous Counsellor: sharng the journey – therapist and person? Australasian Psychiatrist.
Sperry, L. (2007). Organisational Ethics. In L. Sperry, the Ethical and Professional Practice of Counseling and psychotherapy (pp. 53-73). Boston: Allyn & Bacon
Urofsky, R. (2003). Philosophy, moral philosophy, and counselling ethics: Not an abstraction. Counseling and Values.

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