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Ethical Conflicts in Counseling


This article presents an examination of the ethical, moral, and legal aspects that influence decision-making in professional counseling and particular health care based on the case presented involving a client named Marcie. It examines the ethical essentialism of a counselor in disclosing some information that the client intends it be secret.

When the client’s values conflict with the counselor’s values

In counseling, it is not uncommon for clients and counselors to hold different values and beliefs on issues. Considering the case presented, the client, Mercies, believes that her mother should not be informed about her condition and whatever is going on with her life. On the contrary, as a counselor, it is essential to inform the parent as there are issues that will involve hospitalization and psychiatric examination of the victim. Firstly, it is essential to establish processes that allow said decisions to be directed to the well-being of the client. However, what would happen if, when establishing the parameters that will govern their ethical decisions, the counselor puts them deeper into their previous experiences, on their concepts of belief? Disclosing Mercies’ condition to her mother could save her life as this would make her mother understand her, and this is right. Nevertheless, what if disclosing the condition aggravates her depression and leads her to kill herself?

The fact that the client holds different values from the counselor should not impede the counselor from providing his/her services effectively. The role of the counselor is to examine the client’s state, understand their position and act accordingly. The counselor should be able to make the client understand why what they believe may not help them and make them know what is right. There are different guidelines on how counselors deal with the ethical dilemmas they face in their professional practice (Symons, 2020). Approaching the situations presented by clients in the help process and taking the therapist’s beliefs as a starting point is totally against the parameters established in the code of ethics of the profession. The counselor should show the importance of emphasizing the difference between ethical or moral principles that can guide an individual in the decision-making process and models for ethical decision-making.

Mental healthcare provider’s role in counseling services in critical circumstances

I do not believe that a healthcare provider should fail to provide counseling services to a client since they requested if it is a critical situation that may lead to devastating implications. In my argument, most of the victims of mental health issues are always in denial of their situation. As such, their decisions may not be based on what they intend but on their desire to conceal their denial. Symons (2020) stated that when talking about moral conduct, one thinks of a system of personal beliefs and how this influences interactions with others in all aspects of life. One should also think of the circumstances and the percussions of the decision. The right decision should e taken based on the final implications.

However, if not agreeing with the client would result in devastating implications, the health provider should take the client’s course. For example, a client may think that blood transfusion is immoral, but a different person, coming from a different family or cultural background, might not consider it immoral. However, this decision-making process does not transcend the ethical aspect since it is limited to decisions related to the personal aspect of the lives of individuals. On the other hand, ethics refers to the behavior judged as good or correct for a professional group (Symons, 2020). The professions have codes of ethics that set out the behaviors accepted by their members and guide them in the development of best practices in their careers. Any action that goes against the provisions of these parameters will be considered an ethical offense.

Critical information the clients need to give informed consent in counseling

Confidentiality is one of the most critical pieces of information that the client needs before opening up to the idea of counseling. The previous explanations state the importance of the interaction between advisor and client in the advisory process. However, the cooperation’s content and chronological description are insufficient to explain the influence of the relationship quality on the counseling process. Therefore, it is important to also consider the interaction in light of its social complexity. On the other hand, ethical decision-making models involve engaging in an intentional course of ethical deliberation, consultation, and action, which may compel the counselor to disclose some information if it is necessary.

In order to initiate a trustworthy relationship, there is an enormous need for trust on the part of the client since information relevant to decision-making about the issue at hand can be sensitive and personal. Therefore, trust based on signaling and screening is the decisive basis for decision-making to avoid the phenomenon of adverse selection. Knowing the processes for making correct ethical decisions entails a broad understanding and analysis of the subject, which is why it is essential to historically define what ethics is and why it is an important philosophical principle today (Ball, 2020).

In my opinion, the ethics of reason should guide a counselor in deciding what information to disclose and what not to. This is based on the theory of essentialists. Robinson (2022) established that there are no innate moral principles but that people discover the essence of good (pleasure) and evil (pain) through the experiences acquired throughout life and with the help of knowledge. Reason. If each professional establishes his practice based on what produces satisfaction (complacencies), he would be leaving aside the diversity that constitutes his clientele (Robinson, 2022). This would affect the client’s service since the work carried out by the professional must be aimed at their well-being. For his part, Kant proposed reason as a pure faculty in which the foundation of its determination for action is found in itself. As stated, the ethical vision is a product of reason. Kant’s actions that have moral merit are those that are not motivated by the inclinations of human beings but by duty.


In counseling, it is not uncommon for clients and counselors to hold different values and beliefs on issues. It is, however, the counselor’s duty to assess the implication of the situation and guide the client into believing in what is right. Through such experiences, they will direct their conduct toward the moral good. A point that should be considered with this position is that human beings could be passionate beings, which would cause them to be inclined to their complacency.


Ball, C. (2020). Counseling at the Regina Sexual Assault Centre (Doctoral dissertation, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina).

Symons, C. (2020). Context of practice: boundaries and ethics. Understanding Mental Health and Counselling, 457.

Robinson, R. C. (2022). Doing Ethics: Moral Reasoning, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, by Lewis Vaughn. Teaching Philosophy45(4), 525-529.


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