Ethics and Ethical Dilemmas in the Work of School Counsellor Dagmar Kopčanová VÚDPaP Bratislava, Slovakia [email protected] ♦ Cross Border Seminar 2010 “Professional Care for Guidance Practitioners – Who Cares for Those Who Care” Bratislava 15 – 16th April 2010, Falkensteiner Hotel Bratislava Ethics - definitions : 1. ethic: a. A set of principles of right conduct. b. A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook). 2. ethics (used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy. 3. ethics (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession ( medical ethics, counsellor ethics, etc.) . Ethical dilemma : An ethical dilemma is : .....complex situation that will often involve an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_dilemma • you are caught between two possible choices in a situation where both could be considered "ethical" (right or moral choices) but the goodness of one cancels out the other. Example 1: Business is business...? You are a school principal in a secondary school in Warszaw and your spouse is a manager at T-mobile. Fearful of staff cutbacks, you start up a jewelry sales business for the evenings and are surprised when it quickly starts to make a profit. You know that you can double your regular salary if you recruit more sales staff. Some of your own teaching staff might like to join you. You: a/ recruit any teachers who would be good at sales b/ recruit only teachers who need the money c/ recruit staff only from your spouse's office d/ avoid recruiting any staff to avoid conflict Example 2: Making a better deal • You are on the District School Board and also own a small computer store. The Board issued a Request for Proposals for a large number of PC's to two big suppliers. After listening to their competing proposals you believe you could offer a better deal yourself. • You: • offer a better deal to the Board • express the opinion that both proposals are high • say nothing because it is a conflict of interest • absent yourself from all discussion on the deal Example 3: From the school settings... • Amanda is a bright student in your class but has done very badly in a recent test and has not been behaving well. Her parents are divorcing. Her mother who is a vocal critic on the school council has arranged an interview with you to "see what can be done about Amanda's test results". • You : • review the test to look for potential upgrades • ask the principal for help with the politics • explain that your marking was fair, and firm • discuss the impact of the divorce on Amanda • Anything else...? Meaning of ethical principles in the work of a school counsellor • „ Primum nihil nocere “ or the responsibility for the well- being of a client • The help and protection of a client as well as the counsellor • Some ethical dilemmas cannot be solved so easily or satisfactory • Legal regulations take always precedence over ethical doctrines (Pope and Bajt ,1988) Values of counselling The fundamental values of counselling include a commitment to: • Respecting human rights and dignity • Ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships • Enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application • Alleviating personal distress and suffering • Fostering a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned • Increasing personal effectiveness • Enhancing the quality of relationships between people • Appreciating the variety of human experience and culture • Striving for the fair and adequate provision of counselling Some examples of the most frequent ethical dilemmas among counselling psychologists: • • The most frequent ethical dilemmas by psychologists working in CHGC in Slovakia • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1.Contact or not to contact parents of the minor client 2.Various dilemmas with drugs, thefts, bullying etc. 3.Psychical biases and prejudices on the side of a practitioner, related to gender, race, political reasons, etc. 4.School, educational workers 5.Neglecting children by parents 6.Sexual abuse by parents 7.Parent´s disagreement with a psychologist´s proposal 8. Sexual abuse-other people 9.Family secret 10.Child custody 11.Shift to other school 12.Unprofessional interference of a colleague 13.Other (like refusal of next cooperation,etc.) NOTE : Some examples of ED : • -The client asked me not to tell about his theft in the supermarket to his parents... • - I know that my client started „to taste drugs“ .Feel embaressed to contact his parents... • - I was dealing with the case of a drug abuse (the young boy came voluntarily),however, the problem was to receive his approval on contacting his parents, or doctor, what he strongly rejected... • - The client insisted on taking no steps on behalf of his drug abuse - he was afraid of a dealer /threat of death) and me too... • - A secondary school girl confided her troubles with being abused in the family and did not want anybody learnt about it. After long talks she agreed we started the family therapy. Programme STEPS ( Solutions to ethical problems in schools (2001) • STEPS is a nine step model developed in the USA which considers the emotional influences of a problem, the chronological and developmental appropriateness of the solution, the setting and parent's right. http://www.gnsca.org/Stone/steps.htm • It shows how to deal with dilemmas appearing in the context of school settings • Model is presented in a few sequences Main principles : 1. Identify the dilemma (define the problem emotionally and intellectually) 2. Apply the ASCA and ACA Ethical Codes and the Law 3. Consider the chronological and developmental levels 4. Consider the setting, parental/guardian rights and minors' rights Working through ethical decisions and dilemmas (by Tim Bond, UK,1993) : Based on 5 C´s : Clarify Consult Consider Choose Check Working with ethical dilemmas II - practical part Dilemma 1 : The Suicidal Client • You are working as a counsellor in your first year in the secondary school in London. • From the first time you talked with your student Martin he has talked about suicidal feelings. In the latest meeting, 2 months after your intervention, he appears very depressed. It is 15 minutes to the end of the session and he suddenly shouts out : "Yes , it all makes sense now. I'm going to kill myself when I get home". • Practical part- continue... Dilemma 2: Boundaries (from Counselling) Client : What would really make me feel better would be a hug. No one will just love me for myself and let me feel they want to be near me. Nobody seems to understand what I really feel. My mom is always too busy and rushing off to do something important. She makes me feel as though I'm not important enough just for her to put her arms around me. I'm sick and tired of it. »Counsellor : Maybe if you let people know what you want, if you put it into words, you would find that they would give you what you are asking for. »Client: So if I let you know, will you hug me? Practical part- continue... • Dilemma 3 - The Role of the Counsellor • Much of the time your client talks about the tremendous problems they are having getting a job. You think that there are practical ( as opposed to psychological) reasons why your client is not being successful in her job applications. You could coach her but feel this isn't part of your role as a counsellor. All your normal counsellingstyle efforts to get the client to help herself are to no avail. • Practical part- continue... Dilemma 4 - Sexual attraction with clients You are a counsellor in a private school. A new student has come for an initial assessment interview, sent by the teacher. You find her very attractive and you interpret some of her behaviour as flirting with you. Neither of you is in a relationship. • Awareness- enhancing exercises connected with one's own well-being • 1. Take a fresh sheet of A4. Draw a graph like that below. Mark the x axis "Year" - it should start with the year you were born. The y axis should be titled "wellbeing ". This is a subjective rating from 0 - to 100 indicating how well you would say your life has been going at each point ( 100 is the highest). Think for a few minutes about significant events in your life, and how well your life has been going as you have got older. Now fill the graph in, annotating it with your significant life events and ratings. An example graph is illustrated below ( of course your significant life events and ratings may be completely different). What difficulties are there in filling in this graph ? • Exercise - example: What causes the ethical problems most : • • • • big variety / insufficient variety of provided services insufficient competencies of a counsellor work of a counsellor not evaluated enough counselling intervention that was not enough recognized by a client or other partners in the resolved case • social interaction limitations between client and family members • parents views with regards to the counsellor´s intervention • various misunderstandings due to the lack of sufficient communication What impact have these issues... All of the above mentioned situations can put many question marks in the work of a school counsellor, they contribute to his uncertainty and frequent selfconfrontation with accuracy of procedures, forms and methods used on behalf of best case solutions. Personal moral qualities : • Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another person’s experience from that person’s perspective. • Sincerity: a personal commitment to consistency between what is professed and what is done. • Integrity: commitment to being moral in dealings with others, personal straightforwardness, honesty and coherence. • Resilience: the capacity to work with the client’s concerns without being personally diminished. • Respect: showing appropriate esteem to others and their understanding of themselves. Personal moral qualities (cont.) • Humility: the ability to assess accurately and acknowledge one’s own strengths and weaknesses. • Competence: the effective deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to do what is required. • Fairness: the consistent application of appropriate criteria to inform decisions and actions. • Wisdom: possession of sound judgement that informs practice. • Courage: the capacity to act in spite of known fears, risks and uncertainty. Code of Ethics • Why it is important to have a specific Code of Ethics for a counsellor ? Conclusion: The challenge of working ethically means that practitioners will inevitably encounter situations where there are competing obligations. In such situations it is tempting to retreat from all ethical analysis in order to escape a sense of what may appear to be unresolvable ethical tension. In these circumstances the professionals can adhere to the assistance of variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration and to alternative ways of approaching ethics that may prove more useful. At any case, each counsellor should respect, (except of relevant laws), the ethical standards developed and accepted by particup national Counselling Association .
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