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ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN COUNSELING Counselors, like all professionals, have ethical responsibilities and obligations. The counseling literature contains numerous references to ethics and the legal status of the counselor, but for a number of reasons ethical problems pose particularly difficult situations for people in the various helping professions. First, clear-cut, specific ethical codes that provide adequate guidelines for ethical behavior in the very wide range of situations encountered in counseling relationships have yet to be evolved. Second, most counseling professionals work within the context of institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals, churches, and private agencies whose institutional value systems may be quite…show more content…
Clients see such inconsistent behavior as unethical, although the inconsistency may stem from the lack of professional identity on the part of the counselor. Confidentiality The greatest single source of ethical dilemma in counseling results from questions of confidentiality. As indicated above, confidentiality brings into sharp focus the issue of the counselor 's responsibilities to the profession, to the institution or agency that employs the counselor and, most of all, to the individual seeking help. Principles of Confidentiality Schneiders (1963) terms the information revealed in counseling an "entrusted secret," information revealed with the condition that it be kept secret. Schneiders suggests seven general principles that govern confidentiality and communication: 1. The obligation of confidentiality is relative rather than absolute since there are conditions which can alter it. 2. Confidentiality depends on the nature of the material, so that material which is already public or can easily become so is not bound by confidentiality in the same way as is the entrusted secret. 3. Material that is harmless does not bind the counselor to confidentiality. 4. The material that is necessary for a counselor or an agency to function effectively is often released from the bonds of confidentiality. 5. Confidentiality is always conditioned by the intrinsic right of the counselee to his integrity and reputation, to the secret, and to resist aggression. Such rights can
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