Ethical Issues in the Counseling Practice

EthicalIssues in the Counseling Practice

EthicalIssues in the Counseling Practice

Thecounseling profession, similar to other professionals, is associatedwith numerous ethical issues that may affect the quality and theeffectiveness of the therapeutic serviced delivered to clients. Thetherapists are expected to observe the necessary ethical standardswhen establishing new therapeutic relationship with clients in orderto ensure the success the entire therapeutic procedure (Brown, 2013).This paper will address the ethical tasks required when establishingthe therapeutic relationship, the information that should go to theinformed consent, and the limitations of confidentiality.

Ethicaltasks necessary when establishing a new therapeutic relationship

Therapeuticrelation is a special type of interaction between the therapists andthe client, which should be based on ethical standards. The therapistshould observe some ethical tasks while establishing a newtherapeutic relationship with a client. The first tasks to foster therelationship, which is achieved through several functions, includingthe documentation of the information necessary for the therapy,initiating communication in ways that are culturally anddevelopmentally appropriate, and getting the informed consent of theclient (American Counseling Association, 2014). The next task is tobuild trust with the client, which is accomplished by maintainingconfidentiality and upholding the suitable boundaries between thetherapist and the client. The third task is the consideration of theprofessional responsibility of the therapists, which involves thedetermination of whether the therapist has the knowledge and skillsrequired to deal with the health challenge of the client (Brown,2013). This is the basis for ensuring that the therapeutic servicerendered meets the standards and ensures the safety of the client.The fourth task is maintaining empathic response to clients, which isaccomplished by focusing on clients as they speak and restrictingquestioning. In addition, the therapist should maintain a goodrelationship with other professionals, which helps them consult withfellow professionals whenever the consultation is necessary. Inaddition, the therapist should conduct the assessment, evaluation,and interpretation in order to ensure that the clients’ well-beingis only based on the professional assessment (ACA, 2014).


Informedconsent is a special process that involves getting permission fromthe client or the research subject before conducting any research orhealth care intervention on the client. Informed consent has sixmajor elements. First, the informed consent contains the statementshowing the client the purpose of a given healthcare intervention,the expected duration of the intervention, and a brief description ofprocedures that will be used (University of California, 2014).

Secondly,the informed consent contains the statement informing the clientabout any risk or discomfort that has been reasonably foreseen. Thepossible types of discomfort and risks may include psychological,physical, economic, and social harm the (University of California,2014).

Third,the informed consent should contain the statement informing theclients about the benefits that the subject of any other person willget from the health care intervention the (University of California,2014). A clear statement of anticipated benefits can motivate theclient to participate or refuse to undergo the health careintervention.

Fourth,the informed consent should inform the client about the alternativecourses of health care interventions or procedures. This is criticalbecause it helps clients make rational and informed decision whenselecting the most appropriate procedure for intervention.

Fifth,the informed consent should contain a statement expressing the extentto which the confidentiality of all records should be maintained.

Theinformed consent should also state whether the subject of the clientshould expect any compensation in case some injuries occur the(University of California, 2014). The six elements considered aboveare the basic contents of the informed consent, but there are otherfactors hat may be included as deemed appropriate.

Limitationsof confidentiality

Confidentialityis part of the ethical practices that the health care professionalsare expected to observe. However, healthcare practitioners may beexpected to share clients’ information without their consent insome cases. First, the health care providers may contact a thirdparty (such as the security agents or members of the family) in casethey believe that the client present pending danger to themselves orthe health care provider (Reamer, 2014).

Secondly,the health care provider may give client’s information withouttheir written authorization to the court if such a request has beenmade. This is common in cases where the client has court proceedings(Reamer, 2014).

Third,the health care provider may furnish the government agency with theclient’s information without their written consent, but the agencyshould have requested for such information (Reamer, 2014).

Fourth,the health care provider may present the client information in courtwithout a written authorization by the client in case the patientsues the provider. This helps the court in assessing the truth of theclient’s claim.

Fifth,the health care provider may provide the client’s information tothe employer in case the client files a compensation claim, andprovider services are compensated under the workers` compensationbenefits. In such a circumstance, the health care provider may notrequire the authorization of the client when submitting the client’sinformation. In essence, the ethical provision on the confidentialityof client’s information is often overlooked, but in specialsituations.

Inconclusion, ethical guidelines are crucial tools that help the healthcare providers in ensuring that the services rendered to clients areup to the required standards and address their needs. Ethics shouldbe observed starting from the time of establishing a new therapeuticrelationship up to the time of terminating the therapeutic procedure.The informed consent informs that clients about the objective of thehealth intervention and expected risks as well as benefits in orderto help them make informed decisions regarding the intervention.Confidentiality is a critical component of the ethical guidelinesthat the health care providers should observe, but it is limited insome situations.


AmericanCounseling Association (2014). ACACode of Ethics.Alexandria: ACA.

Brown,N. (2013). Creativeactivities for group therapy.London: Routledge.

Reamer,G. (2014). Eyeon ethics: The limits of confidentiality.Spring City, PA: Great Valley Publishing Co. Incorporation.

Universityof California (2014). Requiredelements of informed consent.Irvine: University of California.