Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making

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Ethical decision making

Counselors experience numerous cases of ethical dilemmas in the course of executing their duties. Consequently, they must possess effective, ethical decision-making skills (Daniels, 2004). According to Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011), the development of a strong relationship between counselors and their clients is vital in improving the effectiveness with which they undertake their duties. However, this can only be achieved if a high degree of collaboration between the two parties is created. One of the factors that enhance the creation of collaboration is confidentiality. One of the major benefits of confidentiality is that it contributes towards the development of trust between counselors and their clients hence promoting information sharing.

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However, counselors should ensure that their clients understand that confidentiality is not absolute, but there are exceptions and limits to which it applies. The importance and scope of confidentiality in ethical decision making are well illustrated in this paper. This paper explores the steps to be taken into account in the ethical decision-making process concerning the case of Larry.

The systematic ethical decision-making process

The case highlights the dilemma faced by the counselor on whether to disclose the secret drug abuse habit by her client to his parent. To deal with this dilemma, several systematic ethical decisions making steps are proposed as outlined below.

  1. Assessment of the ethical issue. Problem identification forms the first step of every decision-making process. Concerning ethical decision making, the first step will entail ensuring that relevant data associated with the case is collected. This will aid in developing a comprehensive understanding of the prevailing ethical issue.
  2. Analysis and diagnosis. The second step will involve a comprehensive analysis of the data collected to identify and understand the ethical problem. Moreover, the analysis will also entail the evaluation of the client’s rights and the welfare of individuals who might be affected by the decision made. The revelation made by Larry that he has faced death on numerous occasions while under the influence of drugs indicates the seriousness of the problem. The information provided by Larry will be used in reviewing the concept of confidentiality hence determining the extent to which it is applicable. The analysis process will aid in appreciating the importance of eradicating possible risks that clients might experience as a result of such behavior.
  3. Reviewing relevant ethical codes. The behavior by Larry to continue using drugs secretly poses a threat not only to himself but also to other individuals. This is well illustrated by the accident he experienced, which resulted in his paralysis. Consequently, I will ensure that the most optimal ethical decision that is in the best interest of both the client and society is made. This will be attained by reviewing the relevant ethical codes that the agency has incorporated in the course of its operation. The review process will aid in ensuring that the decision made is not limited by the prevailing ethical codes.
  4. Evaluation of relevant rules and regulations. Before making the decision, I will review whether there are any rules and regulations formulated by the counseling agency that is associated with the dilemma faced. This will form the basis of determining the extent to which confidentiality will apply.
  5. Consultation. In addition to evaluating the prevailing rules and regulations, a comprehensive consultation process with my colleagues will be undertaken. This will aid in gathering expert opinions from colleagues on the most optimal decision course of action. The consultation process will also take into account the opinion of my client and his parents. However, informed consent to involve the parents in the brainstorming session will be sought from my client. The involvement of my client in the brainstorming session will aid in developing a comprehensive understanding of his drug abuse behavior.
  6. Evaluation of alternatives. The information revealed by Larry indicates the existence of severe and foreseeable danger. Therefore, it is essential for a concerted effort to be put in helping Larry deal with the drug abuse problem. As a result, I will evaluate the alternatives provided arrived at through the brainstorming session to select the most favorable solution.
  7. Specification of the consequences of the decisions taken. Before selecting the best ethical decision to implement, a detailed analysis of the implications of every alternative proposed in the evaluation phase will be conducted. At this stage, I will involve my clients to ensure that they understand the implications of every course of action.
  8. Implementation of the decision. After identifying the best choice to address the situation, I will ensure that the decision is implemented. Additionally, an effective feedback mechanism to assess the client’s progress in dealing with the problem will be designed and implemented.

Ways in which the APA Ethics code is important in ethical decision making

The APA code of ethics is aimed at protecting the concept of confidentiality, which is a crucial component in the ethical decision-making process. Therefore, taking into account the APA code of ethics is vital in promoting confidentiality in the ethical decision-making process.

Importance of moral principles in ethical decision making

  1. Beneficence. This entails ensuring that the decision made is in the best interest of my clients. The principle of beneficence will ensure that I use my expertise in arriving at the most optimal decision that benefits my clients.
  2. Justice. This entails treating everyone with an equal degree of fairness. Practitioners are under an obligation to ensure that they are fair in treating their clients. Incorporation of justice promotes ethical decision making by eliminating client discrimination based on sex, race, gender, and ethnicity, amongst other demographic orientations (Wachter, Goldman & Hollander, 2005).
  3. Fidelity. To ensure effective implementation of the decision selected, I will ensure that I keep the promises made to my clients. This will contribute towards the creation of a high level of commitment towards the counseling sessions hence attaining the intended goal (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2011).
  4. Veracity. In the ethical decision-making process, I will ensure that I am truthful and honest. This will play an essential role in enhancing the development of trust hence promoting the working relationship.
  5. Nonmaleficence. The decision made will be in the best interest of the clients. Therefore, I will avoid taking any action that might be harmful to my clients. This will enhance the development of the collaboration between the two parties hence culminating in the attainment of mutual benefit.

Reference List

Corey, G., Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Belmont, California: Brooks/Cole.

Daniels, R. (2004). Nursing fundamentals: caring and clinical decision making. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Learning.

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Watcher, R., Goldman, L., & Hollander, H. (2005). Hospital medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott William.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, January 14). Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making. Retrieved from


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"Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making." PsychologyWriting, 14 Jan. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making'. 14 January.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making." January 14, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making." January 14, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Counseling and Ethical Decision-Making." January 14, 2022.