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Ethical Case Analysis

Case Study

Decisions made by a counselor are life changing. It is, therefore, very important for a counselor to make ethical decisions that would make building the ‘in solution search’ for a client. Ethical laws are not like science laws, and, even though, there are guidelines for making ethical decisions, a counselor can only take the guidelines seriously, but not dogmatically. Ethical laws have limitations in dictating the difference between right and wrong (Churchill, 2004). The paper gives an analysis of the steps to follow when making an ethical decision when a counselor is facing a dilemma.

Problem Identification

The problem that I am facing requires good understanding to be able to start solving it. The first place to start with when trying to get to the problem is noting the facts that I have at hand. The client has trouble sleeping, has vague somatic complaints, fearfulness, and distraction. These factors are consistent with cases of abuse. They constitute some of the factors listed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Another fact is that the child is living in a home, where one of the people who live there has had his niece accuse him of abusing her sexually when she was a child and lived with him. Some unconfirmed suspicions from the mother show that the young child may be a victim of sexual abuse from the uncle. There are suspicions from the mother that the daughter is being abused by mother’s uncle. I can thus conclude that, the issue is legal and clinical (Churchill, 2004).

Application of the ACA Code of Ethics

The issue at hand has some clauses that address it in the ACA Code of Ethics. The section B1 of the code explains the responsibility of the counselor to respect the patient’s rights. It is, therefore, my responsibility as a counselor to stand up for the right of the child if I feel that she is being abused. The subsection B.1.C explains the responsibilities of the counselor in respect to confidential information provided by clients. However, it explains the limitations of the respect for confidentiality and gives circumstances where can waiver the respect. The respect to confidentiality can only apply if it has support of sound legal and ethical justifications. The case applies to the mother’s cousin request. However, the ACA Code of Ethics does not give a definite way of solving the dilemma. A counselor I would have to move on with the decision-making model in order for me to get a solution for the dilemma (Sanderson, 2013).

Determining the Nature and Dimensions of the Dilemma

As a counselor and a human being, I have the responsibility to do my best for the child. I need to feel that I am doing my best to contribute in giving her a normal life. Therefore, I feel that the dilemma relates to the beneficence and the fidelity principles. The beneficence principle applies in that I would need to contribute to the welfare of the young girl. I would try and prevent further harm from being inflicted on her. Fidelity principle relates to this case, as I would need to make the clients trust me and believe that I have the ability to make some positive change in her life. Her trust would help her to open up to me, and explain her mother’s suspicions. I feel that the principle of beneficence would take priority in this case. It would be a constant reminder of the mighty responsibility I have at hand. The responsibility affects me ot only as a counselor but also as a human being and a strong believer in delivery of justice, especially, for those incapable of fighting for themselves. The expectations for me to create trust between me and the client would, therefore, come naturally.

In doing my work, I would use the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics, which is the most recent source of guidance for all counselors operating in our country. The code of ethics would help me make proper decisions to help solve the dilemma. I would discuss this case with some of my colleagues. The professionals working on the juvenile correctional facilities would be especially helpful. Children with these symptoms have gone on to commit crimes and make up a large population in the facilities (Sanderson, 2013). They would help me better understand the causes of the problem. The colleagues would also enable me get a perspective on how much the guardians disclose on cases involving people they are responsible for. According to them, a guardian can fail to give all the information and as he or she considers what he stands to lose. The mother without a home may fail to give all the information, as she is mindful of where to leave if she angers the uncle.

Generating Potential Course of Action

After talking to my colleagues, we would come up with some options. First is for the child to start therapy. Second, is informing the mother that we both need to inform the authorities. We would also inform the cousin of the need to inform the police of what she said her uncle did to her, as it would also help a child who could be going through the same thing as her. We would also invite the cousin to my office to have a talk with me.

Consideration of Potential Consequences of All Options and Determining a Course of Action

After noting all the potential ways of solving the dilemma would start eliminating those options that I feel are not beneficial to the case. Waiting a little longer before reporting although safe for the mother, as she does not want to antagonize the relationship she has with the uncle may be too risky for the well-being of the child. It could prove a bad mistake and it is also illegal. I would, therefore, choose to invite the cousin and talk with her. After getting her story and analyzing it, I would advise the mother to report to the police if the story is convincing. It could render the mother and daughter homeless, but it is a risk worth taking if the child has been living with her abuser. In the mean time, the child would be undergoing therapy.

Evaluation of Selected Course of Action

In evaluating my choice, I would use the Stadler (1986) recommendations for testing the solution using the justice, publicity and university tests. The solution passes the justice test in that I would treat anybody else the same way. It passes the publicity test in that I would be ok if a TV station or newspaper reports my action on the news. Finally, it passes the university test in that I would recommend the same solution to any counselor (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2015).

Implementation of the Course of Action

I would accompany the mother to report to the police and hope that our decision was right. The child would continue with therapy and, hopefully, get better.


In conclusion, counselors are often faced with such cases as the one discussed above. The decisions of the counselor will make or break lives. The counseling professionals have invested a lot in helping their colleagues make ethical decisions. It is the responsibility of every counselor to make use of every available guide and take precaution, in order to make sure that the decisions made meet the expected ethical standards of the counselor.

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