Ethical Case Study Analysis Orrin Warner Argosy University
There are many issues concerning the scenario laid out in this case study. The first issue would be the fact that James is inexperienced in the relationship field and he is relying on the fact that he knows several people that can be influential in helping to start and further his career. It seems to me that the way he is thinking is very unethical from the start. Because he went to a local school and has no diversity in relationships he should be planning to get as much exposure to other cultures as possible, instead of counting on his knowledge of the town. This definitely does not assure that he will be good at helping others solve their problems. If James wants to be successful in this field he should using his planning skills to do things ethically instead of mapping out this unethical approach to become a counselor. Stemming from the various different issues in this case study, it can be considered that because James has unethical plans he would possibly affect his clients by not providing proper treatment. He has already shown that he cannot or is not willing to follow proper ethical guidelines, principles, and procedures that are set by ACA and the APA (American Counseling Association, 1995). According to lack of relationship experience and his attitude when it comes to the ethical guidelines, he seems to believe that he is not bound by the guidelines that all other counselors must follow. It even appears that James ex-girlfriend does not take her job seriously enough to follow the ethical guidelines of being a clinical supervisor, or she is allowing her relationship status with James cause her to act unethically. As the clinical supervisor she must follow guidelines and procedures by not mixing her relationship with her professional duties (Haas & Malouf, 1989). It is written in 104. (b) that a counselor must obtain scientific or professional knowledge understanding the different factors associated with each client’s diverse situation, concerning race, age, sexual identity, culture, background, and other important information in order to provide effective service. In order for them to do this they must get the necessary training, experience, consultation, or supervision. This will make certain that they are competent enough to provide treatment. This particular APA code prohibits James from providing services for which he has not been properly educated, trained, or supervised in, or qualified for. In order for him to become ready to be a professional counselor James would have to learn about people of different cultures, and backgrounds, and also with distinctive characters. This knowledge would aid in preparing him to become a good successful counselor. James must fully understand that psychological services of any kind should only be given after the counselor has had the appropriate training, supervision, study, consultation, and education (American Counseling Association, 1995). James should get the proper education, training, supervision, and consultation needed to join the appropriate field in which he would like to provide services. He definitely must take in consideration how serious the field is and how important it is to provide top-notch treatment to each client. After he has received the proper training he would know the value of each and every client based on their own individual needs, and not treat client’s issues the same according to gender, age, religion, or race (Haas & Malouf, 1989). Another ethical issue that was determined is the fact that James ex-girlfriend is going to be his clinical supervisor. This situation could play out in many ways, but it is definitely a violation of the code of ethics. He also intends to use his ex-girlfriends credentials to graduate in nine months which is not only unethical but illegal, and could cause him to lose his license eligibility. This relationship could definitely affect James’ work. We already know that he plans to use it to his advantage by acquiring his license early, using her credentials, as well as, seeing clients before he has been properly trained and educated. If James follows through with his plans he is shuttling himself into a field that he is not properly prepared to practice in. There are certain preparatory skills that are needed to successfully practice as a licensed counselor, like experience, expertise, and education. If these skills were not needed then they would not be mandatory in order to practice as a counselor. The clients that James service in his private practice will surely receive limited services, because he has not been properly educated to provide good quality service. This situation can be attributed to the relationship that James has with his ex-girlfriend, and his unethical tactics. The fact that she allows James to see clients right away because she assumes he will be a good counselor shows that she is not acting ethically at this point herself, possibly due to their relationship status. Even though she does not need to clarify exactly how well James does as a counselor, it is up to her to make sure that he is ready prior to allowing him to practice in the field (Haas & Malouf, 1989). It becomes apparent at the very beginning that James is not up to par when it comes to offering his first client, Lisa services for her issues that she has been having for quite some time. James comes in late, does not bother to look over important documents that could definitely help in providing the correct treatment for this client, and then does not discuss crucial information that he noted during Lisa’s first session with him. The ACA has a whole section that discusses the many ethical violations that are found in this case study, as it relates to this issue. Section F on Supervision, Training, and Teaching talks about the ethical part that a clinical supervisor must adhere to in order to properly train a counselor to do their job with integrity, and sufficiency in the counseling field (American Counseling Association, 1995). F.3.b Sexual Relationships, states that sexual or romantic relationships with supervisees are prohibited. F.2.b, Multicultural Issues/ Diversity in Supervision where the role of multi-culturalism is addressed is an issue in this area; F.4.c Standards for Supervisees are also an issue in this area. F.6.b Gatekeeping and Remediation which states that the role of the supervisor is to keep an ongoing evaluation of the supervisees limitations is a major area violated in this case study. Counselors should provide their services based on honesty, integrity, respect, and fairness. Any personal problems should not have any bearing on their decision-making process (Haas & Malouf, 1989). The proper way to handle this issue would be for James’ ex-girlfriend to transfer James to another clinical supervisor. This would avoid the conflict of interest that they are dealing with because of their prior relationship. He should complete his internship with another clinical supervisor and then try to get his license based on his own qualifications as an educated, well trained, skilled counselor. James’ very first client presents him with a very complicated case and he is not capable of handling her dilemma, so he needs to refer her to a capable counselor that can assist her with dealing with all of the issues that she brings to the table. It seems that she is dealing with serious depression issues that stem from her childhood abuse and neglect, as well as, the guilt of what happened to her mother’s significant other. This is a very serious matter and improper handling of this client could possibly affect her life forever (Haas & Malouf, 1989). The dilemma when it comes to this particular issue would be the complications that goes along with this client’s case, and the fact that James is not skilled enough to handle it, therefore James would have to speak with his supervisor about her case and they will have to make a decision on maintaining Lisa’s confidentiality. Even though she has entrusted James with some very personal information from her life experiences, it is his duty to make sure that the right thing is done in this situation, especially for his client’s sake. According to Section B of the ACA, Confidentiality, Privileged Information, and Privacy, a counselor must respect a client’s rights, privacy, and confidentiality. Section B. 1. D. Explanation of Limitation, is especially important in this issue because it discusses when a counselor should inform clients of the limitations of confidential and seek foreseeable situations when that confidentiality must be breached (American Counseling Association, 1995). In Section B.2.a Danger and Legal Requirements, might come into play in this situation, therefore James must consult with other professionals, possibly his supervisor because he has no experience at all handling situations of this nature. This will definitely be beneficial to his client getting the proper assistance. Because this case is so complex there are several courses of action I would take because they would have substantial implications. First I would make sure that James gets the proper education, training, supervision, and counseling skills to become an effective counselor this will definitely help him in the long run when he finally opens his private practice in his hometown. His clients will get quality, multi-cultural diverse counseling from a very knowledgeable counselor. Next I would have James ex-girlfriend refer him to another clinical supervisor so that he can get the level of supervision that he truly needs to make him a good counselor. This will also assure that James completes his training by meeting all the necessary requirements before he get his license. The final and probably the most important course of action would be to transfer Lisa to a more experienced, and qualified counselor who can handle her very complex issues. Considering the client confidentiality, and also looking at the integrity factor this has to be done according to ethical standards (Kitchener, 1984). The decision-making model I used was to identify the main problem, which was James’ unethical approach to the counseling field. This is what caused his poor education, experience, skill, and training, causing him to provide his client with poor quality treatment. It was very apparent that James was not using APA or ACA code of ethics, to which I applied to the issues I found in the case study. It seems like he is not aware that there is a code of ethics that he should apply to every situation that he face in the field of counseling, or he is just so unethical that it does not matter to him. These ethical codes are taught and one must make it a priority to learn them if they are going to become a counselor (Forester-Miller & Rubenstein, 1992). Finally, making sure that the courses of actions that I pointed out in the case study are implemented. This will ensure that James gets what he needs, James ex-girlfriend gets the opportunity to maintain an ethical career, and most of all Lisa, who is the most important person in this scenario gets the proper counseling she deserves so she can get better (Forester-Miller & Rubenstein, 1992).
References American Counseling Association (1995). Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Alexandria VA: Author. Forester-Miller, H. & Rubenstein, R.L. (1992). Group counseling: Ethics and professional issues. In D. Capuzzi & D. R. Gross (Eds.), Introduction to Group Counseling (pp.307-323). Denver, CO: Love. Haas, L.J. & Malouf, J.L. (1989). Keeping up the good work: A practitioner’s guide to mental health ethics. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Exchange. Kitchener, K. S. (1984). Intuition, critical evaluation and ethical principles: The foundation for ethical decisions in counseling psychology. Counseling Psychologist, 12(3), 43-55.
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