When you’re a therapist, your clients will tell you about their struggles and challenges. You are privy to information that they might not tell anyone. They may tell you secrets that they don’t disclose to their loved ones. There will be times where you are mandated to breach confidentiality because you have to report abuse or dangerous situations that are occurring. You are a mandated reporter, and that’s necessary. You are obligated to a professional code of ethics, and that’s something you’ve committed to doing – reporting situations where a person intends to harm themselves or others. There are ethical issues in counseling that will inevitably impact your career. Let’s look at them in this article.
When to report
There are clear cases when you need to report dangerous situations. One of those incidents is when it involves child abuse. If a client states that they’re harming a child physically, emotionally, or sexually, that’s an instant case of mandated reporting. It’s not something to waver about, but it needs to be acted upon so you can keep that child safe. If a person tells you, they intend to harm themselves or take their life, and you need to call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room — your client’s safety matters along with the safety of those who are innocent.
What Are The Ethics in Therapy?
There are fundamental ethical guidelines to know as a therapist.
One of the things to consider is the difference between ethical and unethical behavior. These standards are developed by organizations such as the American Psychological Association. There is a level of professional conduct that a therapist needs to assume when it comes to seeing patients. One of the most important things to remember when you are seeing clients is to have appropriate boundaries. Your clients are not your friends. These are people you are treating for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Here are things that a new therapist should not do.
- Don’t hang out with your clients after work
- Do not make advances on clients or ask them out on dates
- Don’t have romantic relationships with your clients
- Don’t have intimate connections with your clients
- Don’t have playdates with your client’s children
Having a code of ethics is extremely important. You went into this field because you wanted to help people. And you know that your intentions are good. However, everyone is flawed. We all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are at the detriment of others. However, not only do good therapists make mistakes, sometimes they go too far and hurt their clients. Whether that’s intentional or not, ethics in counseling is a way to keep mental health professionals in check.
A code of ethics matters
Every professional counselor has an obligation to the public to protect them and do no harm. It’s vital that therapists and counselors stick to their morals, and remember why they’re working with clients. The goal of therapy is to help people. If you’re hurting your clients by the actions you take, then you’re not living up to a professional mental health provider’s code of ethics. There are many resources and sites that counselors can turn to for a code of ethics. Here are some ways to find them:
- Ethical standards defined by professional organizations and associations
- Federal and state laws
- Policies and procedures created by the state boards of education
These are a few of the places that counselors and therapists can find codes of ethics. If they’re able to turn to these resources, they will be confident that they’re treating their clients with respect and abiding by the laws of the state as well as federal regulations. Associations such as the American Psychological Association will have a high standard that therapists will abide by, and help guide them to treat them clients ethically.
Seeking ethical treatment
If you want to see a therapist who treats you with respect, make sure that they’re abiding by a moral and ethical code. You can ask them what they use as a standard of ethics. As their client, you deserve to know. Whether you’re working with a therapist online or in your local area, make sure your therapist cares about you and is treating you ethically.
This is a featured post by site sponsor Better Help.
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