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Psychology Essay on Ethics of Counselling



Psychology Essay Instructions: Write a reflective essay in which you provide an academically sound and theoretically grounded argument on the importance and benefits of self-awareness and critical self-reflection for mental health professionals. This should be referenced in-text and in the reference list.

Further, describe how your values and biases may influence the helping relationship. Your essay should identify specific personal values that have come to your attention through your participation in this module and should include your thoughts about the different family and life experiences that have contributed to establishing your value system.

Critically reflect on how your values may influence the helping relationship and discuss the issue of ‘values imposition’. You should also demonstrate your awareness of how your values can be a source of counsellor strength, as well as impairment, and describe how you intend to deal with your values and biases when these emerge in the helping relationship.


Introduction to the context of psychology essay:
A conflict or conundrum between professional codes of ethics and the values that a psychotherapist carries will always be there. However counsellor must learn to set boundaries between these two, and must not reflect his/her personal values and ethics onto the clientele. Although most therapists finds it very difficult to maintain the line, since their process of learning is often stuffed with values. Like most of the people they try to find an answer in black and white, or right and wrong. It is a matter of learning and unlearning when it comes to reconciling their beliefs and values to professionally counsel patients (Gunetilleke et al., 2011).

The conflict – regarding their personal and cultural identities and role in socialization - that a counsellor might deal with, not only detrimentally impact their way of seeing a conundrum, but also whether they consider a situation as an ethical conundrum(Garcia et al., 2003). The values (personal and social) of the decision maker are a predominant factor that plays a significant role on how the conundrum during a counselling is considered. Their biases – which the therapists do not often identify – can influence their decision and behaviour which will render negative impact on the client (Mattison, 2000).

  • Reflection of Professional Strategies During the Couse of Therapy: It is necessary for professional therapists to go through “philosophical sophistication’ when they are training themselves. According to Basche & Anderson, et. al (2017), most students or the potential therapists starts graduate programmes with long-held ideas of right or wrong and black or white professional behaviours, which is a part of their cognitive inhibitions.

According “Social or ethnic acculturation”(Mintz et al., 2009), and Berry’s Model to Berry’s model (Berry, 2003), the professional therapists must follow one of these four strategies described below:

  1. Marginalization Strategy:
    It reflects poor demarcation of new (professional) and old (personal) cultures. In most cases it is either devoid of firmly developed and personally held moral sense or a sense of ethics that dwells with professionalism(Handelsman et al., 2005).
  2. A Separation Strategy:
    This strategy illustrates a professional who has a firmly developed, personally held moral sense. However, she prevents herself from implying it to her professional values (Handelsman et al., 2005).
    For an instance, a girl or a boy had taken a suicide attempt to get rid of the abusive family. In such situation, the therapist believes that a person has the right to end his/life at any point, since it’s his/her life. However, the therapist must not imply her personal belief while counselling. According to the ethics of counselling, it is her duty to prevent the patient from committing suicide, and keep him/her positive and mentally healthy (Gunetilleke et al., 2011).
  3. The Assimilation Strategy:
    It is an effective strategy to adopt the new or professional ethical values, while discarding the long-held, old beliefs and morals(Handelsman et al., 2005).
    For instance, the counsellor believes that she has the right to inform the suicide threat of her patient to his/her parents, considering how harmful the threat can be. In such cases, the therapist no longer believes in the ‘right to commit suicide’(Gunetilleke et al., 2011).
  4. Integration Strategy:
    This strategy reflects adopting the new or professional values, while behold his/her personal values that are important according to him/her (Handelsman et al., 2005). In such cases, the counsellor usually faces no moral conundrum, because he/she can set aside the long-held beliefs, morals and/or ethics(Gunetilleke et al., 2011).
    According to Bernstein (2008) a professional therapist must practice in following ways, to keep his/her personal and old sets of ethics to its place, and adopt the professionally accepted codes of ethics:
    1. While making a decision that has a lot of ethical conundrums, the counsellor must identify necessary standards of ethics, laws, ethical principles, and personal values.
    2. The professionals can use various components – such as laws, ethical standards and principals, and personal values – for an efficient decision making model.
    3. They must move towards integrating their professional ethics with personal ones.
  • How One’s values and biases May Reflect During the Therapy and How it Can Impact the Relationship with the Client : Reflection of culture-infused counselling competencies:
    This strategy includes an infusion of both professional codes of ethics, and personal cultural and ethical values. This framework includes that the therapist must acknowledge both the bright side and negative aspects of his/her culture.
    Acknowledging that the therapist is seeing the world with his/her cultural lens is the best way of self-awareness during therapy. The therapist must recognize how his/her way of seeing the world is affecting the society, and the quality of therapy. It helps the therapist to acknowledge his/her cultural, ethical and moral biases. It is necessary to identify his/her racist, sexist, homophobic, heterosexist, islamophobic, ageist, and ableist stigmas and beliefs. The counsellor must be able to recognize how oppression, discrimination and stereotyping affect his/her personality and the quality of therapy. This will enable the counsellor to respect all members of the society with equal values and justice. And to imply that it is also necessary for the therapist to understand the nature of privilege, and power differences in society(Collins & Arthur, 2010).
    In addition, the therapist must acknowledge that counselling and psychology are bound to culture. Therefore, he/she must recognize the cultural background of the client and accept that monocultural perspective cannot fit in all cases of therapies. Therefore, the therapist has an open mind to advice the patient for alternative methods of therapy and healing.
    The counsellor or therapist must be able to identify the impact of cultural diversity, feminist and several cultural diversity movements, and social movements on the current professional codes of ethics and theories of therapy. Therefore, he/she must be open to new cultural systems, theories and practices.
    It is necessary to understand the cultural and social difference between the therapist and the client during the course of therapy. However, there must be congruence between personal and professional roles that the therapist plays. And in this wake he/she must learn to define what culture-infused counselling is(Collins & Arthur, 2010).
  • Laws Professional Therapists MUST Reflect During the Course of Therapy:
  1. Informed Consent To Therapy:
    The therapist must obtain an informed consent to therapy from the patient. According to this rule the therapist inform the client/patient about the kind of therapy, involvement of third parties, estimated remunerations, as well as how limited ( and/or how broad) the confidentiality of the therapy is. The therapist must confirm that the patient can ask question and obtain answers to the same.
    In addition to this, the patient must be confirmed about the limitations and potential risk factors of the therapy, available alternative treatments and the voluntary nature of the participation("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
    When counselling a child, it might be very the privacy issues, confidentiality and legal facilities can be very challenging, since the child’s parent has competing interests. The therapist must take reasonable roles, if it becomes almost clear that he/she may be called on to play a potentially conflicting role. The therapist must be well-aware of legal and ethical threats to confidentiality when records are subpoenaed. In such cases the counsellor must respond properly in order to maintain the best interest of his/her young patient (Lawrence & Kurpius, 2000).
    When treating a child, there are several consideration the counsellor have to keep in mind before sharing information with the parents (Pathak & Chou, 2019; Dugger & Carlson, 2007), and not abiding to such terms and conditions might harm the therapy of the child.
  2. Therapy that involved couples or Families:
    The therapist, by this law, must inform beforehand who the patient is among all of the involved candidates. This law must include all the other laws mentioned above ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
    When counselling a child who comes with the family members, the therapist need to be well-aware of laws and professional ethical codes in obtaining inform consent before treating the minor (Pathak & Chou, 2019; Dugger & Carlson, 2007).
    Finally, the therapist must abide to ethical issues when treating a family along with a child whose parents are undergoing a divorce or separation. There are multicultural considerations, since divorce or separation is treated differently in different cultural condition (Sori & Hecker, 2015).
  3. Group Therapy
    When doing this the psychotherapist must make it clear about the roles and responsibilities of the people involved, and where is the limit of the confidentiality of the therapy ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  4. Giving Therapy to the Ones Served by Others:
    In such cases the therapist must carefully consider the issues of the treatment and the welfare of the potential patients. Those identified issues must be discussed with the patient party or with the individual who is legally authorized on behalf of the patient. The above mentioned step is taken to mitigate the risk of conflict and perplexity. The whole process must entail caution and sensitivity ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  5. The therapist must not sexually engage himself or herself with the present patients ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  6. The psychotherapist must not be engaged in sexual Intimacies with one of the family members or partners of the present clients ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  7. Therapy of Ex-sexual Partner(s):
    A therapist cannot accept the opportunity to treat his or her past sexual partner ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  8. Developing Physical relationship with Past Patients:
    Psychologists do not involve in physical relationship with ex-clients for at least two years even when the therapy has been terminated.
  9. Psychologists do not involve in physical relationship with ex-clients for at least two years interval in the circumstances that are most unusual. In such cases, the therapist will have to prove that he/she hadn’t exploited his/her partner by any means, under the following circumstances ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021):

    (a) The stretch of time he/she spent with the partner after termination of therapy.

    (b) The attributes, intensity and time-length of the therapy.

    (c) The reason of termination.

    (d) The personal history of the patient’s mental health status.

    (e) The chances of potential adverse effects on the patient.

    (f) Any statement and/or actions made by the counsellor during the time-frame of therapy, which suggested or invited the probability of a post-termination of a romantic-sexual or physical relationship with the patient.

  10. Interruption of Therapy:
    When embarking on a contractual professional relationship, the therapist makes reasonable efforts to give appropriate solution to the patients’ problems, even when the contract has terminated. Even after the termination of therapy, the therapist must abide to the law to provide appropriate resolution to the patient, considering patients’ welfare as a prime concern ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).
  11. Termination of Therapy:

    (a) A therapist can terminate his/her therapy when it’s evident that the patient no longer requires the service because he/she is unlikely to be benefitted by the service or the therapy is doing more harm to the patient than good ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).

    (b) The therapist might decide to terminate the therapy when he/she felt threatened by any means by the patient or the patient’s family member, partner or friend(s) ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).

    (c) When alternative therapy is more appropriate to the client, the psychotherapist can terminate his/her service ("Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct", 2021).

My Biases and How I am Working on Them:
For me, sometimes it is hard to recognize multicultural counselling competence. I am often unable to recognize dwelling privilege and social powers. In addition to such inabilities, I had islamophobic, racist and somewhat sexist beliefs (Collins & Arthur, 2010). I recognized that surrounding where I grew up had affected my beliefs. As soon as a person recognizes his/her stigma and old discriminatory beliefs, he/she is being able to start working on them(Myers et al., 2021). Now, I have overcome such beliefs. It has helped me to become a better therapist (and a person), by not implying or reflecting them during the course of therapy.

Initially I was unable to identify the personal and professional ethical dilemma, because of my long-held beliefs that were often influenced by my upbringings and cultural backgrounds. I gradually tried to recognize the difference, and draw the line between personal values and professional codes of ethics. I tried my best to understand different cultural and social background. I interacted with people from different socio-economic and cultural strata of the society. I tried to understand their personal beliefs, values and ethics.

Finally, I tried to imply my learning during the course of therapy. I learnt to value cultural diversity, cultural identities, social and religious sentiments (Collins & Arthur, 2010). At the same time, it enabled me to see the world through the lens of justice and equality. I belief that everyone deserve a better life, therefore, the foundation of psychology must be built upon cultural values, diversity and most importantly empathy and sensibility.

  • The Drawbacks of Current Theories:
    With all due respect, I would like to point out that we need to make people understand the psychotherapy is more scientific than philosophy ("Science of Psychology", 2021). I do understand the value of philosophy in all aspects of education, society and life. However, we need to understand that neuroscience, biochemistry, and genetics play a very significant role here. Of course, they are influenced by cultural and ethnical factors, as well as socio-economic struggle and privileges (Kelly et al., 2018; Bishop, 2015).

Human psychology is a sensitive issue. It is predominantly controlled by one’s cultural, social and socio-economical background. Therefore, it should be dealt with diligence, tolerance and understanding. The therapist will most probably encounter several diversities while treating a patient. He/she must draw a boundary between the personal beliefs and professional code of ethics. It is necessary to reflect the theories and laws of professional codes of ethics while dealing with the patient. Finally, his/her therapy must reflect the dynamic changes of the society and time during the course of therapy.

Bernstein, J. (2021). Introduction: Making Learning Visible to Whom?.DigitalCommons@EMU. Retrieved 25 July 2021, from

Berry, J. (2003). Conceptual approaches to acculturation. Acculturation: Advances In Theory, Measurement, And Applied Research., 17-37.

Bishop, D. (2015). The interface between genetics and psychology: lessons from developmental dyslexia. Psychology essay Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1806), 20143139.

Collins, S., & Arthur, N. (2010). Culture-infused counselling: A model for developing multicultural competence. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 23(2), 217-233.

Dugger, S., & Carlson, L. (2007). Critical incidents in counseling children.American Counseling Association.

Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. (2021). Retrieved 26 July 2021, from

Garcia, J., Cartwright, B., Winston, S., &Borzuchowska, B. (2003).A Transcultural Integrative Model for Ethical Decision Making in Counseling. Journal OfCounseling& Development, 81(3), 268-277.

Gunetilleke, N., De Silva, N., &Lokuge, G. (2011). Development Professionals: Reconciling Personal Values with Professional Values. IDS Bulletin, 42(5), 45-51.

Handelsman, M., Gottlieb, M., & Knapp, S. (2005). Training ethical psychologists: An acculturation model. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 36(1), 59-65.

Kelly, M., Kriznik, N., Kinmonth, A., & Fletcher, P. (2018). The brain, self and society: a social-neuroscience model of predictive processing. Social Neuroscience, 14(3), 266-276.

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Mintz, L., Jackson, A., Neville, H., Illfelder-Kaye, J., Winterowd, C., & Loewy, M. (2009).The Need for a Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity. The Counseling Psychologist, 37(5), 644-675.

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Sori, C., &Hecker, L. (2015).Ethical and Legal Considerations When Counselling Children and Families. Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Family Therapy, 36(4), 450-464.


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