Community Service Assignment: Counselling For Child At Risk & Consensual Sex
Task: To prepare a community service assignment, students are required to read two ethical dilemma scenarios (NWS reporting requirements for child at risk and NWS age of consent for consensual sex) and respond to both, answering the following questions:
1. Provide one example of how the counsellor’s personal beliefs could impact the ethical nature of the counselling relationship in each scenario
2. State the ethical principle(s) relevant to the scenario.
3. Describe any relevant reporting issues providing reasons for your answers
4. Discuss a possible course of action for the counsellor to take to resolve the dilemma in each scenario. In the first scenario write in the first person, as this is imagining you are counsellor, in the second scenario write in the third person as the counsellor in Aimee.
Community Service Assignment Scenario 1 – Reporting requirements for child at risk
A person who is below the age group of 18 is marked as child. The child can be at risk in terms of education, health and welfare. Thus, mandatory reporting department in NSW trains individual so that they can identify child at risk and make immediate reporting to protect the child (ASC, 2019). The aim of this scenario is to understand actions that can be undertaken by counsellors to deal with child who is at risk.
Impact of counsellor’s personal belief
Counsellors tend to have their own set of beliefs, attitudes as well as behavior towards a certain situation or person. In my opinion, this can have an impact on the process in which they treat their clients. In this scenario, child who is at risk can be highly vulnerable. I think the child needs security and protection from the counsellor. Thus, if the counsellor beliefs in confidentiality of client, then it can have a positive impact on the child who is being treated.On the contrary, if a counselor undertakes client-centered approach and it contradicts his sense of determination and usefulness then it can be said that the personal belief of the counsellor can have a negative impact on the treatment of client.
Child who is at risk might have encountered physical, mental or sexual abuse. In such situations, the child can be highly vulnerable and their physical and mental condition might be very fragile. In my opinion, it the utmost responsibility of the counselor to analyze the situation of the client and focus on ethical code of conduct while undertaking any actions. Responsiveness towards the need of the client and providing a positive and supportive environment to the child who is vulnerable and is at risk is one of the major codes of conduct that needs to be followed by counselor’s while treating the child (ACA, 2019). Moreover, I think that the counselor should also update their own knowledge to stay aware about conditions of child who are at risk.
A child who has undergone sexual abuse might be afraid to report this to the legal authorities.I think when a counselor meets such client then, it is the primary responsibility of the counselor to report the event to police or must assist the client to take legal steps. He/she might not provide details about the situation and about the person who has abused the child.In such case, counselor might be at ethical dilemma and they might not have enough information to report the incident to police.
Possible course of action
The counselor needs to undertake actions that can help them overcome any kind of ethical dilemma. In my opinion, in such scenario, it is the responsibility of the counselor to focus on his/her own job. The counselor should focus on making the child comfortable so that they he/she can speak about the trauma and pain that they have gone through in a more confident manner. This can help the counselor carry out his or her treatment and help the child overcome the trauma as early as possible. On the other hand, under the Care Protection Act of New South Wales (NSW) that came into action in the year 1988, informed consent can be taken from the client. Informed consent aims at extracting all relevant and useful information from the client by ensuring the safety of the client (Psychology council of NSW, 2022). Once, all information is taken and recorded by the counselor then I think it should be reported to the police for further actions. This step can also reduce ethical dilemma of the counselor in the most effective way.
The report concludes that it is the responsibility of the counselor to create a positive and safer environment for the treating a child who is vulnerable.
Community Service Assignment Scenario – 2 NSW age of consent for consensual sex
The age of consent for consensual sex in NSW is 16 years. Internal reporting or counselling service can be availed by the people of NSW for reporting any case of sexual offences. The aim of this report is to discuss about the ethical dilemmas that counselor might face to deal with the above scenario.
Impact of counsellor’s personal belief
Sexual values and beliefs of counselor plays an important role in treating clients who have suffered from any kind of sexual abuse. Sexological worldviews plays an important role in shaping these beliefs and views (Speciale, 2020). Though the NSW government has made 16 years as the minimum age for providing sexual consent, still there are lots of ambiguity associated with this concept. Thus, the feeling of the counsellor after hearing the incident from the client can have a positive and negative impact on the entire process of treatment.
The concept of consensual sex is a very delicate matter. Thus, offering confidentiality to the client is one of the primary code of conducts that should be maintained by the counselor while treating these patients. Furthermore, consensual sex or perfect age of consensual sex is one such scenario where legal matters are highly associated. Thus, in such case it is the responsibility of the client to stop acting as an agent or legal counsel of behalf of their clients.
The counselor might face reporting issues in various ways. If the parents of the child who is below 16 fails to force their child to report the incident to the counsellor or any legal authority. In such cases, the counselor is in ethical dilemma because under section 316 of the Crime Act, a situation can be reported to the police if the person who is reporting have significant evidence that can further lead to the conviction of the offender (The shopfront, 2018). Furthermore, if one person who is below 16 years and the other person who is above 16 years experiences consensual sex. Then, finding the person who is guilty and reporting them against the person is another major reporting issues that the counselor might encounter.
Possible course of action
The mental condition of clients who have gone through consensual sex can be unique from one another. Consensual sex before 16 years is mostly problematic. Therefore, primarily it is the responsibility of the counselor to create a positive environment and restore confidence within the client. This action might help them to come up with their problems more clearly and concisely. Furthermore, the counselor should also be empathetic towards the client who has gone through any form of consensual sex. People who have gone through consensual sex, might feel guilty of their actions (Cowan, Ashai&Gentile, 2020). Thus, if the counsellor is empathetic in nature, then it can help the client remove the sense of guilty from their mind and they can become freer to talk about the situation or trauma that are associated with the incident. These possible courses of actions can have a positive impact on the treatment of patients.
The report concludes that treating clients who have gone through consensual sex can be a complex process. Thus, it is the responsibility of the counselor to create a positive and empathetic environment for the client so that they can come up with their issues and discuss about trauma more effectively.
ACA, 2019.Code of Ethics and Practice of the Association for Counsellors in Australia.Retrieved from https://www.theaca.net.au/documents/ACA%20Code%20of%20Ethics%20and%20Practice%20Ver15.pdf
ASC, 2019.Mandatory Reporting of Children at risk of Significant Harm Policy and Procedures – New South Wales.Retrieved from https://www.ascschools.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/POL-8g-Mandatory-Reporting-of-Children-at-risk-of-Sig-harm-Policy-NSW-V3.pdf Cowan, A., Ashai, A., & Gentile, J. P. (2020). Psychotherapy with survivors of sexual abuse and assault.Community service assignment Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 17(1-3), 22.
Psychology council of NSW, 2022.What are my mandatory reporting obligations Retrieved from https://www.psychologycouncil.nsw.gov.au/what-are-my-mandatory-reporting-obligations
Speciale, M. (2020).Negotiating sexual values in counselor education: A qualitative case exploration. Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness: Research, Practice, and Education, 2(1), 3.
The shopfront, 2018.Age of consent: issues for youth workers. Retrieved from https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/kidsfamilies/youth/Documents/forum-speaker-presentations/2018/sanders-age-of-consent-issues.pdf