About Individual Ethical Dilemmas

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Individual obstacles and opportunities shape the views, philosophies, and lifestyles of people from various origins. Many people enter the counseling profession with the purpose of assisting clients in overcoming the obstacles that have engulfed their lives. Nonetheless, there are a variety of issues that present as doubts and ambiguities, providing a quandary when working with clients experiencing challenges as complex as our own. Because of the ethical issues that counselors experience in their work, ethical decision making models are crucial in helping a counselor to an ethical resolution (Forester-Miller & Davis, 1995).  Noteworthy, counselors are always aware that such models are useful in guiding their decisions but their final decisions will always carry consequences even beyond the levels of office doors. The paper will apply the principles set out in the Welfel’s (2014) ethical decision-making model. The choice of the model was informed by the manner that it has incorporated the ethical principles and standards that are grounded on the counselor’s reflection of the process of making decision. The decision making process using the Welfel’s model outlines nine steps including developing of ethical sensitivity, defining the dilemma and options at hand, seek help from professional standards, searching for ethical scholarship, applying the principles in the case, consulting with supervisors and peers, making a decision after deliberation, inform the supervisor and take action and then reflect on the experience (Welfel, 2016).

Case One

In this case, dealing with juveniles from different backgrounds and socioeconomic status creates a challenge in my practice as an intern. The problem is compounded by the fact that my supervisor does not give me an ear. Therefore, all the counseling processes have been purely with the help of reference materials and literature learnt in school. Nonetheless, the challenge now emanate from the need for me to fill forms to apply for my license as a counselor. However, I feel that I have a lot of unanswered questions in regard to the counseling process because the clientele involved juvenile from very diverse backgrounds that made them have very varied worldview from mine.

Step One: Developing Ethical Sensitivity, Integrating Personal and Professional Values

Fundamentally, the process of decision making in counseling rests with the ability of the counselor to identify an ethical dilemma in their practice. It is notable that most counselors lack the ability to recognize ethical dilemmas. The American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics (2014), together with incorporation of ideas from the best practice recommendations, indicate that there is need to have a decision making process that will enhance resolution of difficult dilemmas. In this case, ethical sensitivity is paramount in counseling profession as it shapes the mind towards identifying ethical dilemmas. Indeed, ethical sensitivity helps counselors to arrive at ethical conclusion. Furthermore, the ACA Code of Ethics described the role and responsibility of a supervisor. A supervisor has the mandate to provide regular consultation to the supervisee as well as providing feedback to the supervisee on areas that need improvement particularly on matters of multicultural dynamics.

As I recognized the challenges posed by the difference in background and personal ethical and moral beliefs of the juveniles, I noted that my work was being jeopardized. Through the use of the Transcultural Integrative Decision-Making Model, it became clear that attitudes and emotional behaviors of a client makes a counselor to appreciate the role of socialization and acculturation (Luke, Goodrich, & Gilbride, 2013). Furthermore, ethical sensitivity is built throughout ones career through supervision, consulting other professionals, self-reflections and continuing education.

In my case, I am aware that I lack he multicultural experiences and I am concerned with what to do with the cases of juveniles. Therefore, at this point I am aware that I have encountered an ethical dilemma that calls for ethical decision making process.

Step Two: Clarifying Facts, Stakeholders, and the Sociocultural Context of the Case

After being sensitive to the ethical dilemma at hand, there is need to build have facts that range from the cultural and social platform for the case. there is need to have careful considerations for the available facts in order to avoid undermining the reasoning that could result in a vague ethical conclusion (Welfel, 2016). Therefore, I must understand myself within the context of the juvenile including that of their socio-cultural factors.

The most relevant facts about this case is based on the consideration that the difference in our backgrounds with the juveniles presents a dilemma. More challenges emanate from the fact that my supervisor fails to guide me through the situation. In this case, I must look at my worldview and racial identity development. In this case, I must ask myself what parts of my experience may have cloud my awareness and thinking as it regards to the cultural diversity with my clientele. Furthermore, I need to engage more on self-examination to come up with the factors that may deter my competence in multicultural counseling. In this case, I will need to reflect on the knowledge, attitudes and skills that may have deterred my practice. More so, it becomes clear that I have been breaching the ACA Code of Ethics that indicate that counselors should have proper communication that is culturally appropriate. Furthermore, the code indicates that a counselor should be culturally sensitive to avoid casing harm to the client.

More so, I must come to understand the effects of applying for license at this state because I still have issues and questions regarding the worldviews of my clients. It is prudent to understand that receiving a license would make me a full counselor. Therefore, being a counselor at the point where I cannot handle issues of people from diverse cultures is a big setback in my profession. For this case, I need to ponder more about this issue and the extent that I will be doing injustice to myself and my profession. Therefore, I need to ask myself whether seeking for help from other counselors would be vital. In this case, will seeking help from another supervisor cause mayhem with my main supervisor?

Relevant Stakeholders

In this case, I must come to understand that seeking for license and thereafter conduct counseling as a full counselor will affect others. Furthermore, I must be consider that carrying on with the process of counseling without the right skills and attitudes towards the juveniles will have some effects on them. In this regard, the cultural values and worldviews of the clients is crucial. A stakeholder is any person or group of people that may be affected by the actions of the counselor (Welfel, 2016). Therefore, the juveniles and my supervisor are the stakeholders.

Step Three: Central Issues of the Dilemma and Available Options

From the facts and the stakeholders of the case, it becomes clear that the ethical dilemma may quite complex because of the multifaceted problems. As such, I must ensure that I incorporate the cultural concerns into the considerations of my dilemma. In regard to the ACA Code of Ethics, I should maintain privacy and confidentiality (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Therefore, the options of seeking for help and clarification on some cases from other counselors may breach this principle.

In reference to the dilemma in the case, it becomes clear that I need a supervisor. Based on ACA Code of Ethics, ethical responsibility section states that students and supervisees have a mandate to follow ACA Code of Ethics. The supervisor should provide adequate skills to the supervisee at all times and make them understand the responsibilities spelt out in ACA Code of Ethics (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Therefore, this becomes a challenge because my supervisor does not listen to me and cannot answer any of my concerns.

Step Four: Professional Standard, Guidelines and Regulations

These are key in helping me shape my options and direct me in the process of taking a step forward. In this case, it is clear to me that I have a professional responsibility to follow the ACA Code of Ethics (2014) (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Through reference, it becomes possible for me to ask for help from any other supervisor. In this case, I will be able to apply for my licensing to become a counselor. Collaborative counseling is provided for in the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (“2016 APA Ethics Committee Rules and Procedures,” n.d.). Indeed, collaborative supervision could also be useful where one supervisor fails (“Collaborative Supervision.pdf,” n.d.). Therefore, seeking for help from other senior counselors would be prudent. The demands of the Code of Ethics indicate that counselors should serve clients within the premises of competence. Therefore, there is need to learn skills and knowledge to help me have multicultural competency and work with diverse clients (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step five: Search the Ethics Scholarship

In this step, there is need to conduct literature review to identify the problem and the dilemma at hand. The factors concerning the need to apply for licensing have been spelt out in various cases in the ACA Code of Ethics. Where professionals must at all times state the truth and be responsible for their actions. Based on the model of Welfel’s model of design making, consultation is key before making any decision (Welfel, 2016).

Step six: Applying Ethical Principles to the Situation

In order to be loyal to the principles of professional ethical behavior, there is need to understand that autonomy that gives one right to control their lives, avoiding actions that cause harm, justice or treating individuals equitably, fidelity or keeping promise, veracity or dealing truthfully and beneficence or working for the good of the client (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). In this case, it becomes clear that I have breached some of the principles because of my incompetence in matters of multicultural concerns (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Welfel supports the ethical principles and that such should be applied in conjunction with other factors such as honesty and consistency of character (Welfel, 2016).

Step Seven: Consulting with the Supervisor and Respected Colleagues

It is prudent to engage supervisors and colleagues in cases of dilemma (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). However, for my case, the only option possible is for me to seek for help from other colleagues. As much consultation alleviates the feelings of isolation, it is clear that my case is quite different. Although this step is given by Welfel as step seven, it can be taken at any stage of decision making (Welfel, 2016).

I feel that my supervisor did not provide sufficient help in regard to multicultural elements. Therefore, contacting state licensing board and ACA Ethics Committee would be prudent at this point (Welfel, 2016).

Step Eight: Deliberate and Decide

After seeking for help through Welfel’s model, it is evident that professional and moral responsibility starts with me. Therefore, putting the interest of the current and future patients at heart is important (Welfel, 2016). I will seek help from other senior counselors on matters multicultural dynamics and from then I will apply for my license.

Step nine: informing the Supervisor, Implementing and Documenting Actions

I will take an ethical courage as noted by Welfel to put down the decision on paper and seek from literature before implementing the decision. After that, there is need to document the decisions.

Step Ten: Reflect on the Experience

When everything has settled down, I will reflect on my decisions. The process will shape y thinking and give me a better way of looking at things in the future when faced with ethical dilemma (Welfel, 2016). Working with this kind of dilemma that has been coupled with the uncooperative supervisor has been complex but educative.

Case Two

Step One: Developing Ethical Sensitivity, integrating Personal and Professional Values

This case presents a unique encounter that discusses my feelings for the client despite being a seller of controlled substance. The strong emotional feeling becomes the dilemma in this case as it will compromise my decision regarding the individual. Secondly, I am not sure whether my judgements towards the case are right or they have been influenced by my feelings for my client. More so, I am not sure whether to hand over the process to be done with someone with no feelings.

Step Two: Clarifying Facts, Stakeholders, and the Sociocultural Context of the Case

Therefore, there is need to engage the right principles of my ethics to avoid being on the wrong side of this case. For this case, I will refer to the ACA Code of Ethics and receive directives from the Welfel’s model. Therefore, I will engage in ten steps to ensure that I provide the best case process for the dilemma. Through the ACA Code of Ethics, there should be boundaries between the line of profession and any relationship between a client and a counselor (Jain & Roberts, 2009). In this case, the boundaries serve to protect the client and guide the counselor thus maintaining and marinating the credibility of counseling (“2014-15 American Counseling Association Ethics Competition Response.pdf,” n.d.).

Section A.6.b states that “counselors should consider the risk and benefits of extending current counseling relationships beyond the conventional parameters.” Furthermore, counselors are then cautioned on matters pertaining to consultation, documentation and supervision so that they avoid making any judgment that is impaired.

Therefore, counseling boundaries acts as a means of creating a distinction between professional and non-professional relationships with every client.

Step Three: Central Issues of the dilemma and Available Options

Based on the ACA Code of Ethics, A.5.a. “Sexual and/or romantic counselor–client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic partners, or their family members are prohibited” (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). For this case, the only available option for me is to talk with my supervisor on the need to change the counselor because my duty has been compromised by the emotional feelings.

Nonetheless, there is need to continue with my advocacy for the patient and let the feelings be hidden. As per the ACA Code of Ethics, there is need to advocate for the client to ensure that barriers that inhibit my client from attaining full development are removed (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step Four: Refer to Professional Standard, Guidelines and Regulations

Acting at the best interest of the client is the primary goal of every working counselor (Welfel, 2016). Therefore, anything that seems to be contrary to interest of the patient should be considered a violation of the requirement for one to enhance adequate welfare for the client. As stated in the ACA Code of Ethics (2014), there is a strong need for a counselor to enhance a client’s welfare. In this case, having emotional attachment to the client would compromise the documentation and reporting of any case scenarios (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step Five: Search the Ethics Scholarship

Through the process of evaluation and assessment, it becomes evident that literature is needed to support the process of making decision. Through examination of literature, we find that there are various options that are available for people to refer to in making decision (Welfel, 2016). The ACA Code of Ethics states that “counselors strive to resolve ethical dilemmas with direct and open communication among all patients involved” (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). In this case, there is need to engage the supervisor of the compromise in the line of duty. Seeking help at this point would be a viable means to safeguard the welfare of the client.

Furthermore, ACA Code of Ethics indicate that changes can be effected in an organization through the process of taking into place the constructive actions (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step Six: Applying Ethical Principles to the Situation

Through the principles of beneficence, there is need to ensure that the client receives the best outcomes that would return his life back to normal. In such case, the client seems to be of sound mind and that there is need to protect his dignity. In this case, there is need to let justice prevail in order to help the client serve his jail term in peace. Nonetheless, upholding the principle of veracity is critical when dealing with the client to ensure that truth prevails at all times (Welfel, 2016). As a counselor I should not let my feelings direct me towards making false promises to the client.

Step Seven: consult with the Supervisor and Respected Colleagues

Welfels (2016) recognizes that consultation is the most critical aspect of counseling that should be utilized by every counselor. Therefore, there is need for me to consult on aspects such as dealing with a client that one has developed feelings for. At this point, it will be prudent to consult the respected colleagues to ensure that confidentiality is also practiced (Welfel, 2016).

Step Eight: Deliberate and Decide

At this point, there is need to examine all the possible factors such as facts and stakeholders and the type of effects the decisions would pose to the stakeholders (Welfel, 2016). The process involves honest examination of each of the facts in the ethical dilemma then taking the boldness to make a decision. For this case, I will seek for referral of the client to another counselor in the future to avoid any harm to the client or compromise to the information.

Step Nine: inform the Supervisor, Implement and Document Actions

At this point, I will go ahead with the process of finalizing on the process of resolving the ethical dilemma. I will inform the supervisor about my decision and then make it documented and then implement the decisions.

Step Ten: Reflect on the Experience

Ethical decision making process is an active and continuous process that then leaves one with a lot of reflective avenues to examine and cross check (Treatment, 2009). The process of reflecting on some of these past experiences forms a central point through which lessons can be obtained. One can be able to understand the appropriateness and the drawbacks of the decisions they made. Indeed, one becomes aware of the challenges that exist in the process of making decisions in a state of ethical dilemma.

Case Three

Step One: Developing Ethical Sensitivity, Integrating Personal and Professional Values

The first thing for this case is identification of the problem with two aspects being considered. First, I have been asked by my supervisor that I go on with the process of examining the client despite early signs of uncooperative behaviors that are evident by the manner that the client does not answer some of my questions. I feel that I cannot handle the case well because of the religious differences between me and the client. Secondly, I am faced with the problem of whether it is right or wrong to refer the client to another counselor. However, my supervisor believes that the case is easy and that I can handle it. Therefore, I am torn between two sides, whether to refer the patient to another counselor or to heed to my supervisors advice and proceed with the interrogation.

Step two: Clarifying Facts, Stakeholders, and the Sociocultural Context of the Case

The major dilemma arises from the barrier that resulted from the difference in the religious beliefs between me and the client. In this regard, I could not create a good rapport with the client to enable me obtain some information from the client. The problem at hand needs to be elaborated using the principles and guidelines presented in the ethical codes. As regard to the use of ACA Code of Ethics, it is considered a tool for counselors that help in shaping the actions to harness values of counseling profession (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

In regard to the stakeholders, the client and my supervisor will directly be affected by the type of decisions that I make. For instance, decision to quit the process of interviewing the client with seeking for patient consent would mean that the patient will feel betrayed. More so, my supervisor would not have a chance to teach me some of the skills required to deal with patients of diverse religions.

Step Three: Central Issues of the Dilemma and Available Options

Indeed, the major problem within the context emanates from the difference in religious beliefs between the client and me.at this point, it is evident that the client holds a lot of beliefs about their religion thus becoming a hindrance to the process of being interviewed.

Although the ACA Code of Ethics indicates that counselors should refrain from making references to current clients because of counselors personal values, beliefs or attitude, there are other provisions that allow for referring (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Instead, there is need for counselors to respect diversity in their areas of practice and they should seek training to understand the various aspects of client’s goals. Nonetheless, when such transfers are to be made, then the client should be informed and clear communication established between practitioners and the clients (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step Four: Professional Standard, Guidelines and Regulations

Based on the concepts of ACA Code of Ethics (2014), it is the primary responsibility of the counselor to ensure uphold the welfare of the client. The primary responsibility (A.1.a) states that “the primary responsibility of counselors is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients” (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Indeed, referring the client may not be the permanent solution. Instead, I should work towards building my skills to enable me deal with clients from diverse religious backgrounds.

Rather than hanging the boots and calling it quits, there is need for learning more skills that will be crucial in the future. Through this, being culturally competent should be my primary objective in order to build better skills for future cases (Treatment, 2009).

Step five: Search the Ethics Scholarship

Primarily, “non-maleficence or avoiding actions that would cause harm” to the client should be upheld (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) agree that the primary responsibility of a counselor is the client (“American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) | RecoveryMonth.gov,” n.d.). As such, building client trust would require confidential working relationships and establishing appropriate collaborations (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.).

Step Six: applying Ethical Principles to the Situation

There is need to ensure that the client enjoys full autonomy during the process of counseling (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). This can be accorded by ensuring that there is no restrictions and force as to when they should answer my questions. Indeed, this will work to harness beneficence to the client. Furthermore, there is need to continuously engage the client to ensure that they can build trust on me over time.

Step Seven: consult with the Supervisor and Respected Colleagues

Consultation is the main part of decision making process for counselors (“aca-code-of-ethics.pdf,” n.d.). Therefore, consulting my supervisor on the various aspects pertaining dealing with people from diverse cultures and religious backgrounds.

Step Eight: Deliberate and Decide

After making various considerations, there is need to arrive at a consensus and make a decision. For this case, I will not quit the process of counseling the patient. I will take this opportunity as a learning point that will shape my attitudes, perceptions and views about various religious beliefs. Indeed, I will learn to accommodate all manner of religious dynamics and uniqueness.

Step Nine: inform the Supervisor, Implement and Document Actions

Informing the supervisor of my decision forms the main stage of making the decision known to the entire team of counselors. From then, the decisions and course of action is documented. They say “what is not documented was not done” (Forester-Miller & Davis, 1995).

Step Ten: Reflect on the Experience

Indeed, after a journey through an ethical dilemma, a complete consideration of the process becomes a key reflector of the kind of job that one has done. Welfel (2016) defines that the presence of “experience without reflection is wasted”. The process utilized can give a clear picture of the limitations and effectiveness of the chosen process. We strengthen our learning and avoid situations that could put us in a compromise and expose us to dilemma. Indeed, the learning experience through this dilemma was long and rough due to the difficult decisions arrived at.


2014-15 American Counseling Association Ethics Competition Response.pdf. (n.d.).

2016 APA Ethics Committee Rules and Procedures. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/committee-2016.aspx

aca-code-of-ethics.pdf. (n.d.).

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) | RecoveryMonth.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2017, from https://www.recoverymonth.gov/organizations-programs/american-mental-health-counselors-association-amhca

Collaborative Supervision.pdf. (n.d.).

Forester-Miller, H., & Davis, T. E. (1995). A practitioner’s guide to ethical decision making. American Counseling Association Alexandria, VA.

Jain, S., & Roberts, L. W. (2009). Ethics in psychotherapy: A focus on professional boundaries and confidentiality practices. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 32(2), 299–314.

Luke, M., Goodrich, K. M., & Gilbride, D. D. (2013). Testing the Intercultural Model of Ethical Decision Making With Counselor Trainees. CEAS Counselor Education and Supervision, 52(3), 222–234.

Treatment, C. for S. A. (2009). Part 1, Chapter 1, Clinical Supervision and Professional Development of the Substance Abuse Counselor: Information You Need to Know. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64848/

Welfel, E. R. (2016). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy : standards, research, and emerging issues.

April 19, 2023

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