PSY 430 Case Study Ethical Decision Making

Case Study: Ethical Decision Making

Ethics in Psychology PSY430 A02

Summary of Joes Behavior

Joe is definitely out of his range of scope of practice as a professional and feel that he needs to definitely improve his education and get better training if he is wanting to continue to work as a successful and helpful counselor in the future. Unfortunately, he is making highly crucial mistakes in his therapy and treatment with Jill. One of the most important crucial errors that Joe made while being Jill’s Counselor is many different codes of ethics when it comes to his clients Privacy. When Joe calls Jill’s place of work and speaks with her supervisor and states who he is and that he is Jill’s Professional Counselor and talks to him about their ongoing therapy treatments for her depression, anxiety and other mental concerns. Joe was unethical, unprofessional with his actions when he did this, this goes against everything you learn while studying in school to be a counselor, the training and education seminars that you learn to become a Professional, you are taught that you should always be in a professional manner and thoughtful manner when it comes to your clients, it’s an oath that all Professional Counselors and Therapists sign. What he did went against all of Jill’s dignity and rights and her privacy which is why she is in treatment and can down the road cause her to have trust issues with the future counselors and therapists that she goes to.

Joe also shows unprofessional choices and activities when he openly begins a sexual relationship with Jill, who she is vulnerable. He knows that what he is doing is wrong, he knows that his behaviors and actions are morally wrong because he is the professional and she is the paying client. However, he does offer to help her find a new therapist and give her a referral to that therapist. He chose at the time for some strange reason not to give the referral to another therapist and continued a sexual relationship with her. He should of went to his boss which he also chose not to do because he knew what he was doing was wrong and new there were to be consequences for his actions, possibly fired and his license could be taken from him.

As we continue on to read through this Case Study we know that the unprofessional service and treatment that Joe provided Jill. Joe’s actions were unprofessional when Jill talked about her confusion with sexuality and that she thought that she was attracted to the same sex, when he told her that she should go pray and ask for forgiveness and that it was a moral sin to do that sort of thing was extremely unprofessional and against all what Professional Counselor’s stand for. I personally come from a very religious family and was taught what is right and wrong in my religion but as a Professional I have to realize that it definitely isn’t my place to judge a client regarding their feelings, thoughts and activities that have no part of my own personal life and my own personal beliefs. I take an oath when becoming a professional and know that my clients are not all going to believe in what I do, everyone has their own beliefs, thoughts and feelings which can be completely opposite of my religion. The Oath that I take is to help my clients, even at times that I disagree with their feelings, thoughts, actions, etc.

However, Joe hasn’t provided any of these services offered for Jill when she sincerely mentioned her questions and concerns about her own sexuality he really never should have shared any of his own personal religious beliefs, feelings or thoughts to her because of the state that her mind was in at the time. Jill is like anyone else she has the right to choose her own sexuality.

Jill has cultural issues that she is also dealing with and she unfortunately is really struggling with her Asian background and culture. If it was me as her professional counselor I would not see anything different about her because I see people as equal and don’t base them on the color of their skin, their culture origin, etc. In our society today we have many different ethnic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds so going forth into becoming a Professional I feel we all should study about different cultures, despite Joe, his remarks show that he needs to be more educated and trained when it comes to cultures, if he chooses not than he may want to sit back and rethink his career of choice, maybe counselor/therapist isn’t the job for him. In order to properly help or be helpful to a client a professional counselor must understand and acknowledge that everyone comes from different cultures, backgrounds, etc. They don’t need judged or the feeling like they are not getting proper care they are paying for it is up to us as Professionals to know this and educate ourselves for whatever walks into our offices, they are paying us to help it is our right to do what we can for our clients to make them feel welcome, hopeful and know that we are here to help them, that is our job.

ACA Code of Ethics violated

A.1.a Primary Responsibility: “The primary responsibility of the counselor is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of clients” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.4.a Avoiding Harm and Imposing Values: “Counselors act to avoid harming their clients, trainees, and research participants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.4.b Personal Values: “Counselors are aware of-and avoid imposing-their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor’s values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.5.a Sexual and/or Romantic Relationships Prohibited “Sexual and/or romantic counselor-client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic partners or their family members is prohibited. This probation applies to both impersonal and electronic interaction or relationships.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.5.e Personal Virtual Relationships with Current Clients “Counselors are prohibited from engaging in a personal virtual relationship with individuals with whom they have a current counseling relationship (e.g. social and other medias).” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.7.b Confidentiality and Advocacy “Counselors obtain client consent prior to engaging in advocacy efforts on behalf of an identifiable client to improve the provision of services and to work toward removal of systemic barriers or obstacles that inhibit client access, growth, and development.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.11.a Competence within termination and referral “if counselors lack the competence to be a professional assistance to clients, they avoid entering or continuing counseling relationships. Counselors are knowledgeable about culturally and clinically appropriate referral resources and suggest these alternatives. If clients decline the suggested referrals, counselor discontinue the relationship.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.11.b Values within termination and referral “Counselors refrain from referring prospective and current clients based solely on the counselors personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Counselors respect the diversity of clients and seek training in areas in which they are at risk of imposing their values onto clients, especially when the counselor values are inconsistent with the client’s goals or are discriminatory in nature.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

A.12 Abandonment and Neglect client neglect “Counselors do not abandon or neglect clients in counseling. Counselors assist in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of treatment, when necessary, during interruptions such as vacation, illness and following termination.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

B.1.a Multicultural/ Diversity Consideration “Counselors maintain awareness and sensitivity regarding cultural meaning of confidentiality and privacy. Counselors respect the differing views toward disclosure of information. Counselors hold ongoing discussions with clients as to how, when, and with whom information’s is shared.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

B.1.b Respect to Privacy “Counselors respect the privacy of prospective and current clients. Counselors request private information from clients only when it is beneficial to the counseling process.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

B.1.c Respect for Confidentiality “Counselors protect the confidential information of prospective and current clients. Counselors disclose information only with appropriate consent or with sound legal or ethical jurisdiction.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

B.3.a Subordinates “Counselors make every effort to ensure that pricacy and confidentiality of clients are maintained by subordinates, including employees, supervisors, students, clerical assistants, and volunteers.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

C.1 Knowledge of and Compliance with Standards Counselors have a responsibility to read, understand, and follow the ACA Code of Ethics and adhere to applicable laws and regulations.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

E.8 Multicultural Issues/Diversity in Assessment “Counselors select and use the caution assessment techniques normed on populations other than that of the client. Counselors recognize the effects of age, gender, race, language preference, religion, spirituality, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status on test administration and interpretation, and they place test results in proper perspective with other relevant factors.” (ACA Code of Ethics,2014)

APA Code of Ethics (2010)

1.04 Boundaries of Competence “(a) Psychologists provide services, teach, and conduct research only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, or appropriate professional experience.” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

1:08 Human Differences “Where differences of rage, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status significantly affect psychologist work concerning particular individuals or groups, psychologists obtain training, experience, consultation, or supervision necessary to ensure the competence of their services, or they make appropriate referrals.” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

1:09 Respecting Others “In their work related activities, psychologists respect the rights of others to hold values, attitudes and opinions that differ from their own.” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

1:10 Nondiscrimination “in their work related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair decimation based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or basis prescribed by law.” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

1:15 Misuse of Psychologists Influence “Because Psychologists scientific and professional judgements and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influences.” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

1:20 Consultations and Referrals “Psychologists arrange for appropriate consultations and referrals based principally on the best interest of their patients or clients, with appropriate consent, and subject to other relevant consideration, including applicable law and contractual obligations. (See also Standards 501 discussing the limits of confidentiality, and 5.06 consultations).” (APA Code of Ethics,2010)

Similarities vs Difference of APA and ACA Code of Ethics

Similarities Differences
ACA offers ethical code set for specializing in providing Mental Health Counseling.APA gives us guidelines that pertain to the Psychological Profession ACA concentrates on specific surrounding of the client-counselor relationAPA guidelines are more informative to the psychologist professional than they are on the clients
The both address the awareness of culture in clinical settings with clients diagnosed with mental disorders, which they both are cultural sensitive The ACA compared to the APA is mainly focused on the ethical codes that are specific in the counseling of mental health clients.
They both have a view on maintaining their non-judgmental APA is more broad and diverse and it embraces a much wider psychological specialty of association.
They both have to understand culture is always evolving and that the guidelines are appropriate to change to suit any situation. APA focuses more on cultural awareness than ACA of the interaction in the professional psychology.

When you are dealing with clients a Professional Counselor can face situations that may require them to make and think about ethical decisions. For a Professional Counselor who is determining what, when, and which action to take if they are faced with an ethical situation that might be a problem. The reason that ACA and APA continue to come up with guidelines is to help and train the Professional counselors to make and deal on ethical decisions.

Ethical decision-making model: Principle Ethics

There are 8 Steps to follow for Ethical Decision-Making and those are:


  1. Identify the Problem: Joe pushing his religion onto Jill when she talks to him about her sexuality and how she thought that she was experiencing sexual attraction toward the same sex.
  2. Identify the potential issues involved: Joe is a Catholic and believes that it is a sin and immoral to have sexual thoughts or attractions with the same sex, he told her that she needs to go to church and pray for forgiveness, he also told her that she needs to avoid thinking about being attracted to woman.
  3. Review relevant ethical guidelines: Ethical guideline A.4.b. Personal Values clearly states that counselors are aware of-and avoid imposing-their own values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Because he stated about the immoral due to his religion and that she needs to ask for forgiveness leads to unethical code.
  4. Knows relevant laws and regulations: He knows that this was wrong of him to mention and the laws clearly state that he isn’t allowed to impose his beliefs upon his client.
  5. Obtain Consultation: Joe should of went to his supervisor but he didn’t do that because he thought he would get into trouble for some of his unethical decisions he has made with Jill.
  6. Consider possible and probable course of action: Fine for being unethical and termination of employment
  7. List the consequences of the probable course of action: Some actions that Joe could be looking at is that his place of employment could possible drop his employment for being unethical with his client Jill. There is a possible chance of fines and penalties but not drastic enough for losing his license.
  8. Decide on what appears to be the best course of action: The best course of action for Joe would be to get a referral for a new therapist/counselor for Jill, since his religion is causing him ethical decisions and unethical actions with Jill he should recommend her to see a different therapist/counselor that could help her more efficiently than he can.

American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved February 15,2016, from

American Psychologist Association )2014). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved February 15,2016, from

Argosy University Online. (2016 February 13). Retrieved February 13,2016 from

Argosy University Online. (2016). Course Case Study. Retrieved Febuary 16,2016 from

Kathy R Fitzpatrick,APR, & Member,BEPS. (2014) Ethical decision-making guide helps resolve ethical dilemmas. Retrieved February 16,2016 from

Psychology Today. (2015), Five Steps to Better Ethical Decision making/Psychology Today. Retrieved February 16,2016 from

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