There are three (3) Case Studies that make up this Signature Assignment. In each case, use the Welfel (2016) ethical decision-making model to address the situation to come up with a plan/solution. Make sure that you review the following references while writing up the ppr. Please refer to these sources only: ACA Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author. Welfel, E.R. (2016). A Model for Ethical Practice: Using Resources to Enhance Individual Judgment and Ethical Resolve.
Title: Ethical Decision-Making: Three Case Studies
Ethical decision-making is an essential aspect of professional practice across disciplines, including counseling. The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics serves as a foundational guide for ethical practice in counseling. In this assignment, we will apply the Welfel (2016) ethical decision-making model to analyze and address ethical dilemmas in three distinct case studies. This model enables practitioners to enhance their individual judgment and ethical resolve by utilizing available ethical resources. Throughout the analysis, we will refer solely to the ACA Code of Ethics and Welfel’s model to guide our decision-making process.
Case Study 1: Confidentiality and Duty to Warn
In this case study, a counselor is faced with a difficult ethical dilemma regarding confidentiality and the duty to warn. A client suffering from severe depression confides in the counselor about their intentions to harm themselves. According to the ACA Code of Ethics, counselors have a duty to protect the welfare of their clients and may breach confidentiality when there is a reasonable belief of imminent harm to self or others.
The Welfel model suggests that the first step in ethical decision-making is to gather information and consult relevant ethical guidelines. In this case, the ACA Code of Ethics is the primary resource for guidance. The code provides a clear standard for the counselor’s duty to warn. By consulting this guideline, the counselor can make an informed decision based on a professional and ethical framework.
The next step is to identify personal values and biases that may influence the decision-making process. The counselor must recognize any potential conflicts or personal biases that could impact their ability to make an ethical and unbiased decision. In this case, the counselor might reflect on their values and beliefs surrounding client autonomy, the counselor’s duty to protect, and the balance between preserving confidentiality and ensuring client safety.
With sufficient information and self-reflection, the counselor can now explore alternative courses of action. In this case, the counselor may consider the following options: (a) breaching confidentiality and informing the client’s family or emergency contacts, (b) contacting emergency services for immediate intervention, or (c) providing the client with appropriate resources and support while maintaining confidentiality. Each option should be carefully weighed, considering the potential benefits and risks for the client.
The next step is to assess the potential impact of each course of action on all parties involved, including the client, the counselor, and external stakeholders. In this case, breaching confidentiality may create tension in the therapeutic relationship and potentially harm the client’s trust in the counselor. However, the ultimate goal is to prioritize the client’s safety and well-being.
After considering the consequences, the counselor should make a decision and put the plan into action. It is crucial to document the rationale behind the decision in the client’s records, ensuring the decision-making process is transparent and accountable. The counselor should also discuss the decision with the client, outlining the reasons for breaching confidentiality and the steps taken to ensure their safety and well-being.
Lastly, the counselor should engage in ongoing self-reflection and obtain consultation, if needed, to address any ethical dilemmas or concerns that may arise during this process. Self-reflection allows the counselor to evaluate the decision-making process and improve their ethical competence for future cases.
Case Study 2: Boundary Crossing and Dual Relationships
In this case study, a counselor finds themselves facing a boundary-crossing situation where their professional relationship with a former client becomes blurred due to a mutual hobby. The ACA Code of Ethics emphasizes the importance of maintaining clear professional boundaries and avoiding dual relationships with clients, especially those that could compromise objectivity or exploit the client in any way.
Applying the Welfel model, the counselor should gather information and consult the ACA Code of Ethics to understand the specific guidelines related to boundary crossings and dual relationships. By familiarizing themselves with the ethical standards, the counselor can gain clarity on the appropriate course of action.
Once informed, the counselor should consider their personal values, biases, and potential conflicts of interest that might influence their decision. They must examine their motivations, including any potential self-interest, and objectively evaluate the impact of engaging in a dual relationship with the former client. This introspection will assist the counselor in making an unbiased decision in alignment with professional ethical guidelines.
With a clear understanding of the ethical standards and personal reflections in mind, the counselor can explore alternative options. These may include discontinuing the hobby or re-establishing clear boundaries with the former client to prevent any potential harm to the therapeutic alliance and the client’s well-being.
Following the exploration of alternatives, the counselor should assess the potential impact of each course of action on all parties involved. In this case, engaging in a dual relationship or boundary crossing may create confusion and compromise the objectivity of the counselor, potentially leading to harm or exploitation of the former client. The counselor must prioritize the client’s best interests while ensuring ethical practice.
After considering the potential consequences, the counselor should make a decision that aligns with professional ethical standards and execute the chosen plan. Documenting the rationale behind the decision ensures accountability and transparency. Additionally, the counselor should remain open to feedback, engage in self-reflection, and seek consultation to continually improve their ethical decision-making competence in similar situations.
Case Study 3: Cultural Competence and Multicultural Considerations
In this case study, a counselor faces an ethical dilemma concerning cultural competence and multicultural considerations. The client belongs to a cultural group with distinct beliefs and practices that differ from the counselor’s own cultural background. The ACA Code of Ethics emphasizes the requirement for counselors to demonstrate cultural competence by acquiring knowledge and skills to effectively work with diverse clients.
Utilizing the Welfel model, the counselor should gather information about the client’s cultural background, consult the ACA Code of Ethics to understand the established guidelines, and explore relevant resources to enhance their cultural competencies. These resources may include research articles, cultural sensitivity workshops, or supervision from a more culturally competent colleague.
Once informed, the counselor should consider their personal values, biases, and any potential stereotypes or assumptions that may hinder effective counseling. Recognizing and addressing any cultural biases or preconceived notions is essential to achieving cultural competence and providing ethical care to the client.
After self-reflection, the counselor can explore various options for addressing the cultural differences between themselves and the client. These may include seeking consultation from culturally competent colleagues, attending cultural sensitivity training, or engaging in discussions with the client to expand mutual understanding.
Following the exploration of alternatives, the counselor should assess the potential impact of each course of action on the client’s well-being, the therapeutic relationship, and the counselor’s professional growth. Multicultural competence is crucial for client satisfaction, engagement, and maintaining a strong therapeutic alliance.
Once the counselor has considered the consequences, they should make an informed decision and put the plan into action. Documenting the ethical decision and ongoing process of cultural competence development in the client’s records ensures documentation and monitoring of progress for future reference.
Ongoing self-reflection, cultural competence training, and seeking consultation from culturally competent professionals are essential to continually improve and refine ethical decision-making skills in the context of multicultural counseling.
Ethical decision-making is a complex process that requires an understanding of relevant ethical guidelines, self-reflection, consideration of potential biases, exploration of alternative options, assessment of consequences, decision-making, and ongoing evaluation. By systematically applying the Welfel (2016) ethical decision-making model and referring to the ACA Code of Ethics, counselors can navigate challenging ethical dilemmas effectively and ethically. The three case studies presented herein highlight the importance of considering confidentiality, boundary crossings, dual relationships, cultural competence, and multicultural considerations in clinical practice.