Therapist values and beliefs will differ from clients. The purpose of counseling is to guide client is discovering personal values and beliefs. Therapist should never counsel outside their expertise, but should seek training in various cultures, beliefs, as well as understand a variety of values. As therapist it is important to be able to have self-awareness, dealing with personal issues. If therapists understand and have worked through their spiritual emotional baggage, they can listen to their clients’ spiritual experiences, values, and practices without becoming emotionally reactive and imposing their personal agenda on clients (Corey, Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2015). Ethical Implications
The belief that practitioners can be completely objective and value-free is no longer a dominant perspective in the field of psychology (Corey et al., 2015). When a therapist does not agree with a client’s values, it is important that the therapist does not portray personal beliefs and values onto clients. When a therapist supports clients in their own determination it can empower the client. Value imposition suggests therapist is attempting to encourage a client to adopt their values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors (Corey et al., 2015). The main focus is to give guidance to clients to help them discover and develop personal values. If clients goals are based off own personal values, and therapist does not agree with same values, this makes it difficult for therapist to help client reach goals specified in assessment (Kelly, 2005). An example of this would be if a therapist does not believe in trying to work out a long term relationship where adultery has occurred, and client’s desire is to try to stay together; therapist may not be able to help client reach goals successfully.
Difference in Values
At times a therapist may encounter ethical dilemmas; it can be challenging to know how to respond to a client once they have disclosed a situation that goes against counselor’s values. Therapist and clients values may differ in situations such as; are abortion, suicide, adultery, drug use, domestic violence, and/or child abuse. Therapist should always have self-awareness to ensure they are dealing with personal issues; to be sure it does not interfere with in their counselor/client relationship (ACA, 2014). If a client discloses that she is considering of having an abortion, therapist must support clients values, and support client. Therapist needs to consult an attorney and/or state laws regarding abortion to ensure legal obligations are met (Corey et al., 2015).
If client is expressing signs of feeling ambivalence about the idea of having an abortion, therapist needs to discuss what issues is client concerned with that may be contributing to her being self-conflicted. Therapist can offer to give client a list of options available such as adoption, or abortion (Poletto, 2008). It is important for therapist to recognize a situation may be stressful to client, will not seem stressful to them. At the same time therapist must show sensitivity to clients at all times. Clients can sense when therapist is not understanding to their situation. Referrals
There will be times a therapist may need to refer clients due to lack of training or expertise in area of client’s needs. According to ACA (2014), “counselors must practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience.” Difference is value between client/therapist is not reason enough to refer client to another agency, therapist should seek supervision and staff with co-workers. Therapist should only consider referring a client only when therapist clearly lacks the training skills to deal with the problems presented by the client (Corey et al., 2015). ACA and NADAAC both offer a pathway for therapist to follow when having ethical dilemmas about when or when not to refer a client. According to NADAAC Code of Ethics (2014), “addiction professionals will honestly represent their professional qualifications, affiliations, credentials and experience.”
Therapist must explain qualifications, and area of expertise to client during assessment to ensure therapist can assist in helping with problems presented by client. There are other reasons a client may need to be referred to another agency. If therapist specializes in addiction disorders and client has co-occurring disorders. Therapist must ensure that client is no longer using substances in order to make a diagnosis that mental health assessment is needed. If therapist recognizes psychological problems caused by addictive behaviors, including symptoms such as anxiety, depression, aggression, and academic and career dissatisfaction, a referral may be necessary (Alavi, Ferdosi, Jannatifard, Eslami, Alaghemandan, & Setare, 2012). Referral not an Option
If you experience difficulties over conflicting personal values, the ethical course of action is to seek supervision and learn ways to effectively manage these differences (Corey et al., 2015). Therapist needs to identify what barriers make it difficult to counsel client, seek supervision to work through personal issues. Therapist must keep in mind that clients are susceptible and need understanding, seeking support from a therapist rather than judgment (Corey et al., 2015). One way to help therapist find understanding in client’s values is to listen to client’s values as well as gaining knowledge on how they attained the values and the importance of the values.
Therapist needs to understand own values, emotional baggage, and be able to work through personal issues in order to listen effectively to their clients values, and practices without becoming emotionally reactive and imposing their personal agenda on clients (Corey et al., 2015). Therapist will often have ethical dilemmas due to different value system with clients. Counselors must understand their own spiritual and religious beliefs, or the lack thereof, if they hope to gain an in-depth appreciation of the beliefs of their clients (Corey et al., 2015). Therapist assists client growth and change in ways that foster the interest and well-being of clients.
American Counseling Association. (2014). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from www.counseling.org/docs/ethics/2014-aca-code-of ethics.pdf?sfvrsn=4 Alavi, S. S., Ferdosi, M., Jannatifard, F., Eslami, M., Alaghemandan, H., & Setare, M. (2012). Behavioral addiction versus substance addiction: Correspondence of psychiatric and psychological views. International Journal
of Preventive Medicine, 3(4), 290-294. Retrieved from: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/ ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5521519d-0cd0-4282-8cc7- Corey, G., Corey, M., Corey, C., Callanan, P. (2015). Issues And Ethics In The Helping Profession (Ninth ed). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. Kelly T.A. (2005) The role of values in psychotherapy: A critical review of process and outcome effects. Clinical Psychology Review. 1990;10:171–186. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686993/ National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. (2013). NAADAC: Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.naadac.org/code-of-ethics. Poletto, Sandra, (2008) AIPCS Counseling Dilemmas; Ethics, Values, and Boundaries; Retrieved from: http://www.counsellingconnection.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/aipcs-counselling-dilemmas-ebook.pdf