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At the very basic level, a professional is someone who has undergone specialized training for a certain vocation. However, a professional is not solely defined by this attribute but also by his adherence to certain behavior that are inherent in the particular profession. This is because every professional group has a code of conduct which stipulates what is admissible behavior within the profession.
A professional is required to align himself/herself to these values and constantly aim to exhibit certain principles and responsibilities. Professional ethics are stipulated by professional bodies which endorse the code of ethics that professionals in the field adhere to. This paper shall compare and contrast the codes for psychologists with those for counselors.
Definition of Counseling
The American Counseling Association (2010) defines counseling as “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals”. While the two professions compare in that they both aim to improve the mental well being of the client, they differ considerably since counselors do not perform the in-depth analysis of a client in their problem solving that psychologists perform.
Similarities in Codes
Maintaining of confidentiality is one of the common codes of conduct for both the Psychologist and the counselor. Both professions recognize that trust is the cornerstone of the relationship with patients and whenever possible, both professions aim to protect confidential information provided by the client. Both professions also require practitioners to stipulate to the clients the limits of confidentiality at the onset of the therapeutic relationship.
Considering the fact that both the counseling and psychological professions are both committed to the expansion of scientific and professional knowledge in their fields, research work is greatly valued by the two. Counselors and psychologists are both required to protect the identity of research participants and in the event where the identity is to be revealed, prior consent from the participants is required.
Both the Psychologist and the counselor abide to the same codes of conduct with regard to terminating their services to a client. In both professions, the counselor/psychologist is required to terminate their services when it becomes apparent that the client no longer needs the services or are not benefiting from it. Both professionals also require the termination of services when the client threatens the counselor/psychologist.
Differences in codes
There is a difference in the codes of conduct as pertains to the duration that a professional should wait before engaging in a sexual relationship with former clients. Psychologists are required to wait for a minimum of two years after the termination of therapy while the ACA (2005) dictates that a counselor must wait for 5 years after the last professional engagement before engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with a former client.
A major difference exists in the establishment of the fee for professional services offered. ACA (2005) stipulates that a counselor should consider the financial status of the client when coming up with the appropriate fee. A psychologist on the other hand is required to ensure that his/her fee practices are in accordance with the law.
The code of conduct as pertains to advertisement of services also varies in the two professions. Psychologists are prohibited from soliciting testimonials from current patients. Counselors are on the other hand not prohibited from soliciting testimonials from current or former clients as long as the clients are not vulnerable (ACA, 2005).
Insights and Conclusion
A significant note from the comparison of the two codes is that the two professions share most of their code of conducts and ethics. This is possibly because both professions are committed to encourage the growth and development of clients so as to enable them to lead healthy and productive lives.
In my opinion, I think that the psychology code is easier to follow since it is explicit in nature and does not leave space for misinterpretation. For example, on the matter of the client fees, the stipulation that a psychologist should charge in accordance with the law is explicit and no person can manipulate this. The counselor’s code which stipulation that one should consider the financial status of the client can be misused by either the client or the counselor.
American Counseling Association (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Web.
American Psychological Association (2010). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Web.