This paper discusses an ethical dilemma that is observed in the given counseling case study. An ethical dilemma entails a situation in which two possible moral choices have to be made. The choices are contradictory such that neither of them is morally acceptable. In such situation, guiding moral principles do not decide which choice is right or wrong. Therefore, the counselor or the client is left unsatisfied with personal or societal morals (Elizabeth, 2012).
In the case provided, the client, under counseling, is suffering from alcohol substance abuse disorder. However, she regularly comes for counseling when under alcohol intoxication. Ideally, counseling an alcohol intoxicated person is complicated because the person is mentally impaired. The counselor is, therefore, subjected to an ethical dilemma whether to continue with the counseling process, or to dismiss the client.
The counselor’s choice to continue with the counseling process will not yield any good results because of the client’s intoxication. Alternatively, a choice to dismiss the client is ethically unacceptable because the dismissal of substance abuse clients is highly prohibited in the counseling profession. In this case, the counselor’s diligence, competence, and skills are put on trial.
Another issue that emerges during the counseling process is the client’s affair with another counselor. The client wanted the counselor to keep the affair confidential, and not to talk about it. According to American psychology association (APA), codes of ethics prohibit the counselors from having affairs with their clients when they are in the counseling relationships. This is because the affair may interfere with professional decision-making. In the case study provided, the counselor is in a true ethical dilemma about the confidentiality code of ethics. The counselor is in trouble whether to report the affair to the relevant authorities or to keep it confidential. There could be potential dangers involving the client’s affair with another counselor. For instance, the affair might be the cause for the client’s substance abuse.
The counselor’s decision to keep the client’s affair confidential may not help the situation. If the counselor becomes aware that the affair is the major cause of the client’s continued alcohol intoxication, he has no obligation to reveal the affair to relevant authorities. However, by so doing, he will be violating the client’s privacy, and this may end the counseling relationship when the client is distressed with alcohol abuse. Therefore, the counselor must first consider all the possible dangers involved in disclosing or not disclosing the affair. He must consult other experienced counselors before making a choice about the matter.
Maintaining the client’s confidentiality has exceptions when there are foreseeable dangers. The law gives a professional counselor authority to disclose the client’s privacy to protect him/her from suicidal behaviors. In the case study, the client forbade the counselor to talk about her affair with another counselor. This request is not enough to stop the counselor from disclosing the affair when it contributes to client’s continued intoxication. However, the revelation will put the counselor’s profession in danger and the future of the counseling relationship with the client.
The practitioner might feel morally compelled to act in a manner that will compromise counseling ethics to help the client. However, this may backfire and result into civil disobedience, which is a serious offense. In such a situation, the counselor will not claim immunity from ethical codes even though the actions were a matter of conscience. Therefore, the counselor is in an ethical dilemma about the client’s private affair with another counselor (Elizabeth, 2012).
Elizabeth R., W. (2012). Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Substance Abuse in Client Service Series. New York: Cengage Learning.