Because the practice of Counseling often involves situations which require competence at making correct ethical decisions, the Ethics Committee of the American Counseling Association has published A Practitioner's Guide to Ethical Decision Making. This document was designed to provide professional counselors with a necessary foundation for making sound ethical decisions
Addressed by the publication are both guiding principles – universally valuable in ethical decision making – and a working model that can be employed by professional counselors as they confront ethical questions in their practice.
The Guide opens with a review of Kitchener’s five moral principles – autonomy, justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and fidelity – that are seen by many as the cornerstone of ethical guidelines. These principles provide an absolute against which counselors can explore an ethical dilemma, thereby gaining a better understanding of conflicting issues.
Counselors must strive to make sound ethical decisions. However, determining the appropriate course to take when confronted with a difficult ethical dilemma can be a challenge. So, along with the five moral principles, the Guide includes a synthesis of the work of Van Hoose and Paradise (1979), Kitchener (1984), Stadler (1986), Haas and Malouf (1989), Forester-Miller and Rubenstein (1992), and Sileo and Kopala (1993), presenting a sequential, seven-step, ethical, decision-making model that is comprised of the following: (1) identify the problem; (2) apply the ACA Code of Ethics; (3) determine the nature and dimensions of the dilemma; (4) generate potential courses of action; (5) consider the potential consequences of all options and then determine a course of action; (6) evaluate the selected course of action; (7) implement this action.
Conceptually grounded in the five moral principles, this model is comprehensive, yet straightforward in its approach to ethical decision-making. Thus, while theoretically grounded, it is...