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Counseling is an activity which cannot be used for exploitation of people whether it is voluntary or paid for. Therefore psychotherapists and counselors are supposed to be cautious when undertaking this practice because anything considered unethical is not acceptable. Codes of ethics are used in counseling and psychotherapy for numerous important functions. Counseling and psychotherapy has a number of values and principles which include respect, impartiality and integrity. Besides that counselors and psychotherapists are not supposed to deny their services to an individual on the basis of marital status, or socioeconomic, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender, race or even religion. Psychotherapy and counseling ethics replaces and unifies all the codes that were being used by trainers, supervisors and counselors. On addition to that they are required by their governing bodies to make all the necessary input which can help them accommodate people with physical disabilities.
Counselors and psychotherapists are expected to carry out their medical profession in accordance to the set ethical standards. Their patients are to be treated with uttermost dignity and respect. On addition to that they are supposed to give priority to the needs and interests of the people they serve. The counselors and psychotherapists are required by their governing bodies and law to show the highest degree of honesty during their professional practice. They are supposed to reveal all the information they have acquired through training and experience to the client without any form of discrimination. Besides that they are supposed to show the highest degree of competence without any form of exaggeration. There are many rules and regulations which are under their ethical codes. These regulations are supposed to govern them in their professional practice as counselors or psychotherapists.
The requirements of a practitioner
The codes of ethics are used in psychotherapy and counseling in order to protect the patients and clients from harmful practices. For instance the practitioner is supposed to create a relationship which is impartially helpful in terms of respect in order to develop trust in his clients. He is supposed to show respect for the values and personality of the patient in all his professional undertaking. All this has to be done in order to protect the client who might be exploited by the practitioner in several ways. These services cannot be offered without an agreed contract therefore there are recognized practices. The agreed contract binds them to effective work as medical practitioners. This is the reason why before one becomes a counselor or a psychotherapist they are first required to agree to the terms of the governing code. The ethical code for psychotherapists and counselors is based on four principles. There are specific ethical standards which are clearly defined under the four ethical principles.
The four ethical code principles
The first principle requires the practitioners to respect the dignity and rights of their clients. For example the practitioners are supposed to treat their patients as people of immeasurable worth because they have the right to choose their specific priorities. Besides that they are supposed to greatly regard their cultural and moral values. Practitioners are supposed to be cautions in order to avoid infringing their client’s privacy. All the information obtained during their services and practice is supposed to remain confidential. On addition to that they are supposed to ensure that their patients have understood their consent and proposed action. The second principle greatly emphasizes on competence. For instance all counselors and psychotherapists are required by the ethical code to develop and monitor their practice skills in accordance with the code. They are supposed to realize that their work is limited in a number of ways in order for the necessary precautions to be taken (Tribe and Morrissey 2005: pp 222).
The third principle focuses on responsibility for example the practitioners are expected to be trustworthy and of good reputation in all their practice. The community and clients are supposed to trust them because of these virtues. They are supposed to offer the best service to all their clients. Besides that they are required to act and behave appropriately in order for some ethical conflicts and dilemmas to be resolved well. Finally they are supposed to show the highest level of integrity. For instance they are supposed to ensure that their practice is professionally supervised. On addition to that they are supposed to be in a position to ensure the health of their mind and be able to control their personal stress. Effective services have to be accompanied by accuracy and honesty. All clients have to be treated fairly and in a straightforward manner in accordance to their professional commitment. Clients are not to be exploited through their professional relationships.
The importance of the code of ethics
The above four principles entirely seek to protect the clients and patients of counselors and psychotherapists. Clients are supposed to explore the professional relationship offered by the practitioner in developing resourceful and satisfying ways of living. This relationship can only remain meaningful and essential when confidentiality is exercised. There are many theoretical approaches which can be employed by practitioners during their professional practice. The relationship which is developed between the practitioner and client usually reveals unequal powers and knowledge between the two parties and because these powers can be used to exploit the client the ethical code was developed. The ethical code basically protects the client and ensures the practitioner remains aware of the possible misuse of the power and knowledge at their disposal. This is the reason why counselors and psychotherapists have to abide by the provisions in the ethical code (Miller 2003:277).
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The code of ethic is also used to promote maximization of this practice. Besides that it is used to maintain and establish the ethical provisions or standards in order to protect and inform all people who are in need of this kind of services. There are a number of associations in different countries which governs the codes of ethics. Therefore all members of these associations are required to fully adhere to the regulations and provisions of their ethical code. The associations usually check if their members have complied with the codes provisions through a team of Compliant Committee who solve all raised complaints. Practitioners are expected to follow a given examining procedure in their practice. The code ensures that the practitioner fully promote and regard the fundamental rights of their patients. Through the code the dignity, belief and rights of clients are respected. Besides that the patient’s rights to confidentiality, privacy, autonomy and self determination are greatly respected by the practitioner.
The code has made it possible for the client to receive quality work because they are required to show high levels of competence in all their professional practice. The client is further advantaged because the practitioner is only required to use techniques which they have experience in and are also qualified to. Besides that they are required to be cautious about their professional boundaries thus the client is not exploited. The code of ethics basically emphasizes on ethical awareness and as a result practitioners are required to make ethical decisions by employing systematic decisions. The practitioners are accessible to recommended procedures through the code. The client is fully covered and represented through the code.
The role and significance of ethics professional practice and record keeping
There are ethical codes which govern record keeping. There is a great need for systematic documentation in counseling and psychotherapy. This is because confidentiality of the highest standard is required. Well written documents or records are very useful in protecting the practitioners against false accusations. At times many crimes are committed by clients and if the practitioner fails to keep a record of whatever happened they may be sued for illegal practices through false allegations. Besides that proper recorded documents are essential for proper treatment plans, correct diagnosis as well as clinical interventions. In case of a lawsuit a well documented record can be used by the supervisor to demonstrate good faith and professionalism in assisting the client in question. Therefore it is very important for trainees and students to be effectively taught on maintenance of succinct, accurate and germane records. There many complex issues which can be effectively dealt with by using a properly kept record (Luepker and Norton, 2003: 112).
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It is very important for routine collaboration of trainees and students on record keeping. This is essential because it helps practitioners to a very great extend. This training is important for proper management skills which require appropriate recording of the patient’s documents. By using recorded information practitioners and supervisors are able to identify the problems and progress of the patient. This information is beneficial for development of appropriate objectives and goals for the necessary therapy. Review of practitioner’s records improves supervision because the supervisors are able to indentify some of the problems. The client has some communication laws which allow him to choose if his records can be used in court or no. therefore proper recording is of great benefit to this professional practice.
The underlying tenets and relevant codes of ethics
Ethical awareness is an active process which is mostly continuous. Personal responsibility and frequent questioning characterizes it. Personal responsibility can greatly be hindered by the many challenges which characterize this practice. Therefore it is important for a practitioner to continue being alert and mindful of the ethical implications which may result. Awareness of the legal standards and awareness of ethical codes is extremely important. The set standards and codes are meant to inform the necessary parties. Therefore this code can never prevent the many challenges which arise as well as the resulting complex situations. The clients and practitioners are unique in their own aspects as well as the underlying situation because it keeps evolving. The set standards and codes identify some methods and approaches which are considered to be ethical though they don’t mention the specific method or approach to be followed. Despite the fact that the existing practitioners are competent and committed to the required ethical behavior it is important to realize that they are bound to make some mistakes.
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A research which was carried out on ethical decision making process indicated that most ethical decisions which are made have low personal components. Due to the expansion of the field there is need for additional content models. Some of the models which can be of great benefit are those which promote moral sensitivity. Also a model which reduces client circumstances objectification can be very beneficial. Ethical decisions are usually based on the available ethical principles. Therefore ethical decision which receives much support from a number of the outlined principles with no contradiction is considered suitable for the underlying situation. Practitioners often come across situations which cannot be resolved by many of the existing principles therefore they are usually forced to make decisions basing on a relevant principle. A course of action that may be followed by a given practitioner usually does not become unethical if that is not what many practitioners would have settled for.
One of the obligations which all practitioners have is to critically look into the circumstance with a lot of caution and appropriately settle for a decision which they will be accountable for. Ethical issues can be appropriately solved if the practitioner is trustworthy and honest. Therefore practitioners who possess this quality usually make decisions in accordance to the bestowed trust. Such practitioners always keep the acquired information confidential in respect to the clients gained trust. Practitioners also put a lot of emphasis on client’s personal initiative in participation during the psychotherapy and counseling sessions. Practitioners usually ensure accuracy in displayed or advertised information by giving relevant and adequate information in order for them to respect the client’s autonomy. Suitable ethical decisions are those which are aimed at promoting the well being of the client. Despite the ethical decision reached at the practitioner should ensure that the client is not harmed. The code of ethics was primarily made to ensure the safety of the client (Horton and Feltham 2006, 181).
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