1.If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond this way? If this were my client, I would further explore the reasons she desires the out of office interaction, and the possible risks and benefits of this interaction. For instance, I could say, “You say that meeting in the office makes you feel uncomfortable, can you elaborate more on that?” By asking such a question, we may be able to discern the underlying reasons for wanting to meet outside the office. It is possible that the nature of the client helper relationship makes her uncomfortable and she is looking for more of a social interaction, which would not be beneficial to the therapeutic process. We also have to look into personal and/or cultural values that could affect the nature of the relationship. Instead of focusing on whether or not to take the interaction outside of the office, it would be important to really dig into the underlying reasons for this suggestion. As a counselor I would try to avoid crossing certain boundaries, and/or violating ethical standards. As client and counselor we could work together to find a way that would help make the interactions a bit more comfortable, but still maintaining the professional aspect of the relationship
2. What do the ACA and AACC Code of ethics say regarding managing boundaries? What is your response to this?
The ACA Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC Code of Ethics (2004) do not explicitly ban the interaction of client and counselor in a professional relationship outside of the office. These particular interactions would be defined as boundary crossings. According to Corey, Corey, Callanan (2011), “a boundary crossing is a departure from commonly accepted practices that could potentially benefit clients.” (p275) As such, these interactions do not fall under the category of non professional dual relationships, which are explicitly outlined by the ACA Code of Ethics (2005) and the AACC Code of Ethics (2004). However, if we were to view this interaction as a dual relationship we would have to proceed cautiously.
According to the ACA Code of Ethics (2005), “Counselor-client non professional relationship with clients…should be avoided except when the interaction is potentially beneficial to the client.”(A.5.c). The AACC Code of Ethics (2004) states, “Dual relationships involve the breakdown of proper professional or ministerial boundaries… Many dual relationships are wrong and indefensible, but some dual relationships are worthwhile and defensible.”(ES1-140) In my opinion, I agree with the codes of ethics. The nature of the therapeutic relationship is outlined in the informed consent process at the beginning of therapy. Straying from this structure should be avoided, however, discretion and discernment is needed to decide when it could be potentially beneficial for a client.
SEGMENT TWO: THE FRIENDSHIP
1. If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond that way?
If this were my client I would have many questions regarding her motives to seek a friendship once the counseling relationship has ended. I would say, “What would you hope to gain or achieve by having me as your friend.” By asking this question we can raise issues of her fear of forming new friendships, her security in this relationship, and any underlying issues that may need to be addressed further in therapy. We could also address scenarios that would cause conflict such as asking for advice or opinions in certain situations. In these cases the friendship would revert back to a client counselor relationship, and therefore the two parties are not equal. I would focus more on the reasons she has for wanting a friendship and gaining further insight into the client.
2. What do the ACA and AACC Code of Ethics say regarding dual relationships? What is your response to this?
According to the ACA Code of Ethics (2005), Counselor-client non professional relationships with clients, former clients, their romantic partners, or their family members should be avoided, except when the interaction is potentially beneficial.” (A.5.c) The AACC Code of Ethics states, “While in therapy, or when counseling relations are imminent, or for an appropriate time after termination of counseling, Christian counselors do not engage in dual relations with counselees.”( ES1-141) The client counselor helping relationship has connotations that would carry over into another relationship such as a friendship; therefore both parties would not be equal. I agree with the stance that dual relationships, even after the termination of the therapeutic relationship should be avoided.
SEGMENT THREE: SEXUAL ATTRACTION
1. What is your response to this counselor’s sharing his feelings of sexual attraction with his client?
I find it inappropriate that the counselor addressed his own personal feelings during the therapy session. This is something that should be discussed in supervision, and never brought up to the client. The role of the therapeutic relationship is meant to offer the client a space where they can work through their own issues. We should never burden a client with our own feelings and struggles. If he felt his attraction would get in the way of the helping relationship, he should refer her to another counselor.
2. What does this statement mean and why is it so important: “Counselor know thyself; counselor know they ethics codes’?
This statement alludes to the fact that we must know our weaknesses and we must perform self examinations at all times. If we do not explore our feelings and weaknesses, we risk falling and causing harm to our selves and our clients as well. Accountability to ourselves and our supervisors are essential in helping us to maintain integrity in our relationships. We must also be aware of the consequences of our actions, if we act on our impulses. We must know the codes of ethics we must adhere to as counselors. Our codes of ethics urge us to protect the client above all else, even if it means protecting them from ourselves. If we are aware of and adhere to the codes of ethics as well as the moral compass found in our Bibles, we will be effective counselors.
3. If you were a counselor in this position what actions would you take to protect your client? What if the sexual feelings between the two of you were escalating?
First and foremost, I would never inform my client of my feelings. There are two reactions that could occur and neither is beneficial to the helping relationship. The client may feel uncomfortable and therefore would not want to continue therapy, or they may reciprocate the attraction, and that would severely hinder any therapeutic interaction. In order to protect my client, I would disclose my feelings in supervision or with a trusted colleague, or in my own personal therapy if necessary. If I knew I was attracted to my client, I would avoid doing anything that would cause my feelings to escalate. This would include setting and maintain clear boundaries for myself and my client such as physical touch and self disclosure. If the feelings were escalating, I would again seek consultation during supervision, and if there was no way to resolve the situation, I would refer my client to another professional.
4. What do the ACA and AACC Code of Ethics say regarding sexual relationships with clients? What is your response to this?
According to the ACA Code of Ethics (2005), Sexual or romantic counselor-client interactions or relationships with current clients or their family members are prohibited.” (A.5.a) The AACC Code of Ethics (2004) states, “ All forms of sexual misconduct in pastoral, professional, or lay relationships are unethical…Due to the inherent power imbalance of helping relationships and the immoral nature of sexual behavior outside if marriage, such apparent consent is illusory and illegitimate.” (ES1-130)
I firmly support the stance of both these ethics codes. Sexual relationships outside of marriage and especially during an ongoing therapeutic relationship can be especially damaging to client and counselor alike. All possible measures must be taken to maintain counselor integrity and protect the client from harm.
SEGMENT FOUR: BARTERING
1. If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond that way?
First and foremost, I would try to find if there is another option for the client before we consider bartering as an option. If there is no other way that the client can pay for services we would have to weigh the pros and cons of such an interaction together. There are many issues we must consider such as quality of services, time frames and contracts, what would happen if either one of us were not pleased with the work of the other and so forth. If we decided to proceed forward I would take special caution to document everything, showing that the relationship is not an exploitative one. All in all I would try to find a way around this problem, but if there was no other option I would not want to abandon the client in therapy because of lack of payment.
2. Review the ACA and AACC codes. What is discussed regarding bartering and what is your response to this?
The ACA Code of Ethics (2005) states, “Counselors may barter only if the relationship is not exploitative or harmful and does not place the counselor in an unfair advantage, if the client requests it, and if such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the community.”(A.10.d) The AACC Code of ethics does not have any specific regulations regarding bartering, instead suggests using sliding fee scales and participating in pro bono work for clients that are unable to pay. “Clinicians are encouraged, however, to use sliding fee schedules scaled to client’s ability to pay, and other reduced payment methods to increase counseling accessibility to those of lesser financial means.” (AACC,2004, ES1-512) “Christian counselors are encouraged, beyond their fee schedule, to make a portion of their time and services available without cost or at a greatly reduced fee to those unable to pay.”(AACC, 2004, ES1-513)
I believe that we should do all in our power to help someone who is need, even if they cannot afford it. As long as it is not an exploitative relationship in either way, we are able to offer our services without expecting payment in return. The most important aspect is helping a client through their crisis or situation.
SEGMENT FIVE: GIFT GIVING
1. If this was your client, what would you say and do? Be specific. Why would you respond this way?
If this were my client, I would further explore his reasons for wanting to give me the tickets. I would ask him, “What does giving me this present mean for you?” By asking this question we could discover if the action of gift giving was out of sheer appreciation or if there were underlying issues we needed to address together. I would also ask him, “How would our relationship be affected in your eyes if I accepted or declined your gift?” This way, as client and counselor we can work through the pros and cons and implications if I were to accept his gift. In this way, I would not have to explicitly say no to his request, but he would be able to understand the predicament I would put myself in as a counselor.
2. Review the ACA and AACC codes. What is discussed regarding gift giving and what is your response to this?
According to the ACA Code of Ethics (2005),
Counselors understand the challenges of accepting gifts from clients and recognize that in some cultures, small gifts are a token of respect and showing gratitude. When determining whether or not to accept a gift from clients, counselors take into account: the therapeutic relationship, the monetary value of the gift, and the counselor’s motivation from wanting or declining the gift. (A.10.e)
The American Association of Christian Counselors does not explicitly prohibit or condone gifts from clients, however, I believe the same caution should be taken as above. We must proceed cautiously with our clients, in order to protect them and to protect ourselves. What may seem as a harmless gesture at first may become an issue down the line, so I believe we must use discernment in regards to personal and cultural cues.
American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). (2004). AACC Code of Ethics: The
Y2004 final code. Retrieved from http://www.aacc.net/about-us/code-of-ethics/
American Counseling Association (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Corey, G., Corey, M., & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions, (8th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks