The ACA Code of Ethics assists in client growth and development by encouraging healthy and secure relationship between counselors and clients. In line with group therapy, counselors must strive to understand the different cultural backgrounds of the clients and learn how to integrate clients having the same needs and goals that are compatible to those of a given group.
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In terms of relationships, the ethical codes encourage non-sexual professional relationships between counselors and clients (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005). However, sexual or romantic relationships can only occur after 5 years; this helps to prevent situations where a counselor can take advantage of a client due to his/her position.
From these aspects, the act of the mental health counselor of accepting an invitation from his group is professional and ethical. Besides, the vignette does not show any illicit relationship that could have existed between the leader and one of the group members.
Again, the dinner invitation, did not amount to potential beneficial interaction to the involved parties whatsoever; the ceremony is comparable to a graduation or wedding invitation. In such scenarios, there are no beneficial interactions.
Since counseling process fosters the interests and welfares of the clients, the invitation in the group dinner provided another avenue for bonding and sharing of new ideas for the group (Cherry, n.d.). Group therapy also sets up a socialization technique among participants, and such locations and ceremonies offer supportive and safe environment for the group members to practice new behaviors without fear.
In addition, group therapy makes members view each other as one family and occasions such as dinners are favorable for sharing on effects of childhood experiences on personality and behaviors (Cherry, n.d.).
The leaders’ acceptance to the dinner ceremony invitation did not violate ethics and professionalism requirements of the job. To this end, the leaders’ act remains ethical and professional in the context of group therapy and the ACA Codes of Ethics.
Cherry (n.d.) holds that group therapy creates solidarity among members thus enabling clients gain a sense of belonging and acceptance within the group. The mental health counselor acceptance to join the group at the ceremony was a sign of unison towards a common goal. When this group shares meals, it breaks monotony from the routine meetings and activities thus relieving stressful and painful encounters.
The ACA Code of Ethics requires counselors to develop and maintain professional relationships in their supervisions. The vignette does not reveal any remuneration, reimbursement, or professional services that the students or the counselor was yet to receive.
Evidently, the act did not violate any training experience that the group had gone through during their past sessions. Additionally, the meeting did not harm any participants or amounts to acts of bribery on the counselor’s part; it reveals that the medical health counselor upheld high level of ethical conduct (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005).
The vignette also shows that the group ended after one year at the time of the dinner meeting. Markedly, the ceremony did not violate confidentiality rights of any participants, and did not result in any romantic relationship between the participants.
As noted earlier, the ACA Codes of Ethics only permits a counselor to have a romantic relationship with his/her student after 5 years from the time of dissolution of the group (Ethics & Professional Standards, 2005).
Even though the group was not under the supervision of the counselor at the time of their dinner meeting, there are laws and regulations that protect the rights and guide the relations that exist between the counselor and the former group members. From the aforementioned thoughts, the meeting did not go against the professional and ethical provisions of the ACA Codes of Ethics.
Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Is Group Therapy?. Education: Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-group-therapy-2795760
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Ethics & Professional Standards. (2005, January 13). American Counseling Association. Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/ethics