There are certain standards that need to be upheld to maintain a voluntary position, or to engage in free/pro bono work. According to the American Counseling Association, (2014), these standards should include honoring diversity among people, along with embracing a “multicultural approach” in support of the dignity, potential and worth of people regardless of their social or cultural background (ACA, p. 3). I feel that as a professional counselor I should practice with integrity, and maintain the confidentiality of the counselor and client relationship, while engaging in a professional and competent way. In this way, as a counselor, I will establish trust in professional relationships.
I would not disclose information to a patient unless I felt it was absolutely essential to a patient’s healing. Hill & Knox (2001) note that self-disclosure is most often about one’s professional background more so than about intimate personal details. Self-disclosure must be utilized cautiously by therapists; there is unclear data about the outcome of self-disclosure (Hill & Knox, 2001). Self-disclosure should not be used by the professional counselor to put the counselor at ease; in certain circumstances, however, it may prove beneficial for the client, and enable recovery. As a counselor, I must weigh the benefits and risks of self-disclosure carefully.
Objectivity is important for ensuring an ethical decision-making process. The ACA ethical code provides guidelines for ethical decision-making (ACA, 2014). These guidelines suggest counselors acknowledge that objective decision-making is a process; reasoning may entail “consideration of professional values, ethical principles and ethical standards” (ACA, p. 3). For me to ensure the objectivity of sessions with clients, I will need to work diligently on problem-solving and on considering the client’s view along with the facts present in the case. I will also have to avoid considering my personal circumstances, or on bringing in personal circumstances. While empathy can be helpful in working with a client, I can use empathy while still maintaining objective critical thinking during the counseling process.
Shapiro, Brown & Biegel (2007) note that self-care is a useful “complement” to professional training of therapists (p. 105). Professional therapists have a duty toward self-care; without self-care, professional counselors run the risk of suffering significant stress, negative affect, anxiety, and depression (Shairo, Brown & Biegel 2007). With appropriate self-care, which can include mindfulness, time off, and stress reduction exercises, it will be possible for me to have a balanced practice. To engage in self-care, I plan to balance work time with flex-time, including planned vacations, time off and family time.
The ACA Code of Ethics (2014) sates that a counselor’s actions should be “consistent with the spirit as well as the letter of the ethical standards” defined in the code of ethics (p. 3). By “spirit” the code refers to values that include integrity, honesty, and morality. Spirituality also refers to one’s personality belief structure, however. For me, I plan to maintain my spirituality by maintaining a work environment that promotes my beliefs by maintaining a spirituality-based counseling practice. I also plan to maintain my beliefs outside of the practice, and my circle of support outside of the counseling profession. This will help me gain perspective outside of the counseling profession.
Disposition Analysis (3 Dispositions Required of Professional Counselors; Discuss Strengths You Have in Maintaining the Dispositions and Challenges in Upholding Dispositions)
I feel that as a counselor, I am aware of my personal moral, ethical and value system. I feel very strongly about my beliefs. I attend Grand Canyon University because I have an allegiance to the Christian values and belief system. This prompted me into the professional counseling program. My values and beliefs have always drawn me toward a moral code of excellence. This code of excellence and ethics has prompted me toward benevolence toward others. My personal code of ethics includes forgiveness, and a tendency toward understanding my own faults, mistakes and need for self-acceptance. I understand that I am flawed, and despite these flaws, I am accepted. I believe that this will help me when counselor others. I feel this self-awareness will help encourage greater self-awareness in others while working as a counselor. I also understand how important it may be to refer clients to other counselors in situations where my counseling style or morals and values may not be ideally suited to the client I am working with. I may work with clients that are searching for a non-Christian counselor, for example. In instances like this, it would be best that I refer a client to another counselor, unless my client has no preference for the spiritual background of the counselor they work with.
The APA (2014) Code of Ethics provides clear guidelines for accepting clients and for maintaining a relationship with clients that promotes accessibility and advocacy. The code also promotes acceptance of people regardless of their cultural background, beliefs, habits, or the reasons for a need for counseling. I was raised in an area where I was exposed to people from many different backgrounds. My belief in Christ also has garnered in a strong acceptance of people no matter their disposition. I enjoy speaking with people whether they have limited experiences, or have a wide range of experiences. I feel this will prove very helpful to me as a counselor. Listening skills are crucial to professional counseling. Within the scope of acceptance, I also feel is the tendency of a counselor to attend to ethical and legal responsibilities, while accepting responsibility for one’s personal actions and behaviors. I feel it important for a counselor to be accountable for not only their actions, but to hold their clients accountable for the activities and plan of counseling the counselor and client design together.
The saying that “patience is a virtue” couldn’t be truer than for a counselor. Recovery isn’t something that happens overnight. Counselors must work diligently with clients to form a relationship. While it may be true that some clients come in for a few sessions, often it will be truer that more form lasting relationships (Geller & Norcross, 2005). I feel that as a professional counselor, my duty will be to develop patience, and to learn to show initiative in cases and motivation when my clients are not capable of doing so. If my clients have difficulty meeting deadlines, I may need to help them with this. This may be an area where I need to exhibit some exercise, as I have not always been the most patient person. This is the result of my excitement to see achievement and results. I am also eager to see my clients free from any bondage or pain they are experiencing. I will have to work consistently on myself as a professional counselor, and remind myself that I am not present for own time, but am present for my client’s time. I feel that in this way, I will be able to avoid any trappings of feeling that I have to rush my clients during visits. I will also plan to work in extra time each week for reviews of my cases, to ensure that I am allotting enough time for my clients and for their cases and review.
- ACA. (2014). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics. American Counseling Association. Retrieved from:
- Geller, J.D. & Norcross, J.C. (2005). The psychotherapist’s own psychotherapy: Patient and
clinician perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hill, C. & Knox, S. (2001). Self-disclosure. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research Practice,
Training. 38(4): 413-417.
- Shapiro, S.L., Brown K.W. & Biegel, G.M. (2007). Teaching self-care to caregivers: Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(2): 105-115.