Working Ethically, safely and professionally
‘Ethics’ is defined as: ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity’; they tend to be values imposed by one’s self or by a group on its members. ‘Morals’ is defined as: ‘standards of behavior; principles of right and wrong’; they tend to be imposed by society. ‘Principle’ is defined as: A rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior ‘Values’ is defined as: principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgement of what is important in life: High standard of morals will set standards of behavior for an individual and help them distinguish between right and wrong.
Their values will help them determine what is important in life. And help in moral dilemmas where it’s a case of choosing between right and right as opposed to choosing between right and wrong. Ethics are formulated out of a combination of morals and values and help a person to set certain boundaries for themselves or in the case of a profession; for its members. Having a sound combination of morals, values and ethics enables one to develop sound principles. It can therefore be said that if you have good principles, then you are likely to conduct yourself in an ethically sound manner.
Working Ethically, safely and professionally Essay Example
Far from being cut-and-dried however, there are very blurred thin grey lines of boundaries between these and more often than not, upbringing, social backgrounds and religious beliefs can play an extensive role in a person’s morals, values and principles which in turn affect their ethics. For example, I was brought up in a christian home and in a culture where extramarital sexual relations are wrong and frowned upon. Because of this background, culture and belief I strongly believed that I had to remain I virgin till my wedding day.
My principles, values and morals , moulded by my upbringing informed what was ‘ethically’ right for me. I have several good friends who are living with their partners and have children but have no intention of getting married because for them there is nothing wrong with it. It’s so crucial therefore as counsellors to maintain at the forefront of our minds that each client is different, thinks differently and believes differently to us and thereby give them an ‘unconditional positive regard. ‘ Unit 1. 1 Apply understanding of an ethical framework to counselling practice sessions.
Professionals can have a huge impact on their clients and their actions can affect the lives of the people they deal directly with and that of their families. It is imperative therefore that they exercise the highest level of safe and ethical practice to minimize harm to the client. In a professional setting one will encounter various people of varied cultural backgrounds with varied needs. This makes it extremely important therefore that the professional has very high ethical standards to ensure that the profession is upheld and that the client does not suffer any exploitation but receives a good standard of care.
It is required of the professional to understand that morals values principles and ethics are not separate entities. They must be considered with a holistic approach realizing that a persons background will inform their morals and values and in turn their ethics and principles. What may be perfectly acceptable to one may be taboo to the other simply because of ‘the conditions of worth’ placed on them by their society and upbringing. In counseling the ethical framework is intended to guide and inform practice. It’s is necessary to safeguard the profession as well as the client.
It is necessary in order to uphold high standards of professionalism and practice. Without these guidelines the profession could end up in disrepute . There would be no trust and respect or regard for counsellors. In a counselling practice I applied this by explaining to my client that I was a trainee working under BACP guidelines. I explained what BACP stood for and how I am bound by its guidelines . I went on further to explain patient centered counselling and what that would mean for my client. I also let them know that confidentiality was part of the ethical framework and that they could expect complete confidence.
I further explained the conditions under which this confidence may and will be breached. Unit 1. 2 Explain the importance of working within limits of proficiency It behooves the professional to give careful consideration to their own limitations when dealing with complex issues that may arise in order that the client at all times receives a good quality of care. This is an important aspect of the ethical framework known as working within the limits of our proficiency. In any given counseling session the counsellor has no idea what will be brought by the client.
It may happen that the counsellor finds themselves having to deal with an issue which is beyond their scope or ability. In such an instance the counsellor needs to be open and upfront with the client and arrange a referral if agreed to by the client. Having said that, the client may have formed such a bond with the counsellor that they do not want to see anyone else. This means that the counsellor will have to explain to their client the need for them to do some research on the topic and take the case unidentifiably to supervision for advice.
It is dangerous to attempt to handle a case above the limits of ones limit of ability. Not only may the client be able to see through the incongruence and be disappointed and mistrusting ,but the counsellor may end up causing more harm than good because they are attempting to deal with a situation they are ill informed on and unprepared for. In their professional capacity, a counsellor is in a position of authority and therefore ethically bound to give their client the best quality of care. This may sometimes mean referral to someone more qualified to handle the situation.
Unit 2. 2 establish and sustain the boundaries of the counsellor role in counselling practice sessions. Another aspect of the ethical framework is professional boundaries. Boundaries are key to any healthy relationship. In the same way boundaries are key to a healthy counselling relationship. They are needed in several aspects of the relationship including time, physical, confidentiality to name a few. Without these boundaries the relationship will develop but may go in the wrong direction. There will be hurts and disappointments resulting.
Wherever boundaries are put in place, one knows exactly how to behave and what to expect from the relationship as well as what is expected of them. In this way either party knows where they stand and there are few surprises and disappointments . For example if I’m counselling a client and decline to put in place any time boundaries in place, I know how long the session is going to last, but my client has no idea. They may end up being disappointed that it ended too soon or surprised it’s going on so long. With the boundaries in place they know exactly what to expect.
In one of my practice sessions I had put in all the time boundaries, but at the end still got a door- knob comment from my client. It was extremely tempting to pick up from there and continue the session but I had to be firm and let him know that we will discuss that at our next session. In a real life situation, I may have other clients waiting or other appointments booked in and to carry on with this client would be to communicate that the time boundaries are flexible or of no relevance. This may lead to serious misunderstanding further down the line.
Another scenario is where no professional boundaries are put in place. The counsellor and client relationship is a professional one. The counsellor is in a position of authority. It is not a friendship, it is not a romantic relationship, it is a professional one. With the counsellor helping the client through some very difficult times and sharing in things the client may have never shared with anyone else before,it is extremely easy for a physical attraction to develop as the counselling relationship develops.
Session after session the feelings will grow. The professional boundaries of conduct must be put in place early in the relationship to avoid this. Should this develop the counsellor is likely to be penalized for it as it is an abuse of their position of authority. I once had to put firm physical boundaries in place in my friendship with a gentleman in church. He was married with four children and wanted to take me and my children on days out without his family or my husband.
I felt extremely uncomfortable about this arrangement and declined the offer. He then began to send very innocent looking text messages , but what concerned me was that he didn’t want me to mention the texts to anyone. I decided then that despite all his protests otherwise that his intentions were not so pure. I threatened to forward all future texts to his wife , who also happened to be a friend. I did not receive any further messages from him. This is the kind of situation that one might find themselves in in a counselling relationship.
Seemingly innocent to begin with but as a professional I would need to judge the situation from an objective standpoint and be sure that I have in place the right boundaries to protect my client, myself, my career,and the reputation of the profession as a whole. Boundaries regarding Confidentiality must be maintained to prevent trusts being broken and to safeguard against disrepute. A client normally enters into the counselling setting feeling vulnerable, burdened and in need of help. It takes a lot of trust on their part to open up to a stranger. This trust must never be broken.
The client must be briefed on the circumstances under which this confidence may be breached. This is when there is a risk of a terrorist act or when there is an indication of harm to self or harm to others. Under no other circumstances must the confidence be broken without the clients prior knowledge and consent. Even when taking an issue into supervision it needs to be done unidentifiably. In conclusion , a counsellor is a professional in a position to help others through difficult times. One can only fully achieve this by working within the boundaries of the ethical framework . Working as such results in a safe practice.