Ethics In Mental Health Counseling Paper
In its broadest sense, ethics is that branch of philosophy concerned with the study of how people ought to act towards each other. To state this point in the traditional manner, we would say that ethics is interested in “what ought to be” rather than simply “what is, has been, and will be” (Alexandria, 2002, 89). Within the educational, medical, and mental health professions that most often work with special education populations, ethics is more often discussed in terms of ethical principles and the formal ethical codes of the various professions, which provide standards and guidelines by which professionals can guide their practice.Ethics In Mental Health Counseling Paper
Discussion and Analysis
Though it is true that ethics is concerned with telling the difference between “right and wrong,” the more important, and much more difficult, ethical distinctions which the special education professions must make involve decision-making when all the alternatives are either good or bad. Such situations are true ethical dilemmas, in that a reasonable case can be made for choosing each alternative, yet the ethical principles underlying each choice are in conflict. And usually, one choice precludes the other.
Special education professionals include special education teachers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and researchers, and they work in a variety of settings that range from working with special needs children in mainstream classrooms, self-contained classrooms, residential settings, rehabilitation hospitals, homes of chronically ill children, and juvenile justice educational settings, among others. While the demands and organizational structures of the settings within which special education services are offered vary tremendously, the ethical principles and standards by which professionals guide their practices are very similar.
Originating in and published by the various professional organizations, all the ethical codes embody the fundamental ethical principles of autonomy, justice, fidelity, nonmaleficence (the duty to do no harm), and beneficence (the duty to do good) identified by Kitchener (1984), who built upon the work of earlier ethicists Beauchamp and Childress (1983) and Drane (1982) (Beauchamp, 2003).Ethics In Mental Health Counseling Paper
The various ethical codes, including those of the American School Counselors Association (1992), the American Counseling Association (1995), the National Education Association (1985), the American Psychological Association (1992), the National Association of Social Workers (1993), and others, are periodically revised to reflect changes in social values and priorities, as well as evolving legal rulings and statutory requirements. All professionals have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about the ethical codes of their particular profession, as those codes represent the profession’s expectations of its members. In certain cases, these codes mandate or prohibit specific behaviors, and in less clear-cut situations they provide direction for further thought and consideration.
The primary reason for counselors to follow an ethical code is to protect clients’ welfare, and the following six basic moral principles are priority guidelines designed to help them make most appropriate decisions. Autonomy refers to counselors allowing clients to make their own decisions, with the therapist respecting any choices made.Ethics In Mental Health Counseling Paper