Awareness and understanding of how to deal with conflicts of responsibilities and other ethical concerns are of paramount importance for counseling practitioners, particularly in light of the fact that consensus value sets in the form of ethical standards guide and govern the professional behavior and actions of counselors, counseling psychologists, and other individuals in related helping professions (Corey, 2013).
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The current paper examines the guidelines that could be applied to resolve the conflicts of responsibilities among counselors, and also explores situations where a counselor might be involved in a conflict in deciding where their primary responsibility lies.
Although a counselor has a primary responsibility to guarantee that reasonable and comprehensive steps are taken to ensure that the client does not suffer emotional, physical, psychological, or spiritual harm during counseling sessions, extant literature demonstrates that conflict scenarios often arise during counseling sessions because professional counselors are also obliged to meet their responsibilities to several other associated parties, including family members of the client, agency or organization, society, as well as the profession in general (Corey, 2013).
Consequently, it is essential to use practical guidelines to handle the ethical situation that may be triggering a conflict of responsibilities in the counseling profession.
In situations where counselors may find themselves caught between ethical scenarios that may trigger or occasion conflicts of responsibilities in their professional duties, it is always essential for the therapists to consider the conflicting situations and discuss them with their counseling supervisors or other experienced counselors within work-related contexts.
In particular, counselors are first required to identify the problem by gathering as much information as possible, outlining the facts as presented, and synthesizing the resulting data to know if the conflict is related to them, client, institution, or significant others.
Next, counselors should refer to the specific code of ethics (e.g., ACA Code of Ethics) to have a comprehensive understanding of whether the conflict is addressed there or if it requires further steps in the ethical decision-making process (Corey, 2013).
If the conflicting issue is not addressed in the relevant code of ethics guiding the counseling profession, it should be the task of counselors to determine the nature and dimensions of the issue by, for instance, considering the moral principles guiding the profession, reviewing the relevant professional literature, and consulting with experienced professional colleagues and/or supervisors.
Afterward, counselors should brainstorm with other professional colleagues, supervisors and other interested parties to develop potential courses of action as per the presenting conflict, before considering the possible consequences of all the options to determine the correct course of action to take to resolve the conflict.
The counselors should then evaluate the selected course of action to develop a deeper understanding of whether it presents any new ethical considerations or possible conflicting prepositions, before implementing the course of action by intensifying their ego and character to allow them to carry out the most appropriate plan to resolve the conflict (Corey, 2013).
Lastly, there is a multiplicity of situations where counselors might be involved in a conflict, particularly in deciding where their primary responsibility lies.
For example, the organization or agency may be advertizing for non-existent services to clients, or a counselor might suspect misconduct by another counselor which may not be proficiently resolved even after holding discussions with the counselor concerned.
Some counseling organizations are also known to breach the client’s confidentiality or deny access to client files, leading to conflict. In such scenarios, it is always essential for counselors to follow the discussed guidelines with the view to establishing where their primary responsibility lies.
Corey, G. (2013). Theory and practical counseling and psychotherapy (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.