My scenario is about a young Mexican woman who claims that she contributed to a death of someone who abused her for years as a child. I have to be careful about this complex situation because according to the Ethics Committee, they recommend that I should explore a skillfully accepted decision-making model and apply the model that is most relevant to my particular situation. Failing to follow the model is an ethical problem in itself; for the reason being that I would creating a greater risk to the public if I were to rely on my own intuition alone about the situation.
In my situation, I will be integrating Welfel’s ethical decision making model to come up with a final decision. First, I am going to recognize that there is an ethical dilemma. This first step centers on my capability of developing ethical sensitivity and is certainly a skill that I will have to develop with time and practice. Becoming ethically sensitive means that I must adjust my mind to notice ethical dilemmas rather than assuming that I will simply recognize one.
If I wasn’t ethically sensitive, then I risk arriving at an unethical conclusion, which can ultimately jeopardize the well-being of my client (Welfel, 2015). This situation puts my sensitivity to a test and I have determined that an ethical dilemma has approached. Next, I will be jumping into the ethical decision-making process. Step two is about identifying relevant facts and the stakeholders. At this point I will have to begin by classifying and organizing all the information that I have collected about the case, including any cultural aspects.
Categorizing all of the information is going help me determine if I have enough information or if I am going to have to acquire more. Furthermore, I need to make sure that | have an understanding of myself and my client’s sociocultural factors that are presented in the situation (Welfel, 2015). Step three consists of defining the central issues and the available options. Therefore, after gathering all of the relevant facts and stakeholders of the situation, I must confirm that cultural information is interpreted into my concerns of the dilemma.
Given the circumstance that the abuser is absent and there is no known pending threat of abuse in the present; the American Counseling Association (ACA) codes states that I shouldn’t break my client’s confidentiality to disclose her childhood abuse (Welfel, 2015).. My main concern at this point now is whether or not there are legal requirements to disclose any of my information I have gathered. I have to avoid restricting any possible outcomes and must think through all of my available options.
My options that I have concluded are: calling the police, encouraging my client to tell the police, maintaining confidentiality and tell no one, inform only my supervisor, or wait for a few more sessions to see if there’s more information I might need before proceeding on my decision. Step four consists of referring to professional standards, guidelines, and relevant laws. Applying step four can help narrow my options down and guide me with my work.
Professionally, I should consider other ethical codes in such areas like the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologist’s and Code of Conduct or the American Mental Health Counselor’s Association (AMHCA) Code of Ethics (Welfel, 2015). My primary responsibility is to my client. I built trust between me and my client. Therefore, I must examine the ethical codes and state laws to see if her past actions permit breaking confidentiality and trust. Confidentiality belongs to the client and trust is a foundation of the counseling relationship.
According to the ACA Code of Ethics, I am required to break confidentiality only to protect the client or others from serious and predictable harm or when legal requirements demand the information. For that reason, I would need a strong reason to disclose without my clients consent. I will now come to the conclusion that the ethics and legal codes require that|| determine whether my client constitutes an as immediate risk to herself or others (Welfel, 2015). Step five requires me to search for ethics scholarships that relates to my dilemma.
Doing this provides more concrete and detailed thinking in regards to confidentiality and struggles in the ethics codes and laws alone. The requirements and obligations concerning to when confidentiality should be broken can be discussed extensively in the counseling literature. For example, I can find a decision-making model that is designed to address specific dilemmas linked to confidentiality could help me tremendously (Welfel, 2015). Step six includes applying ethical principles to the situation.
At this point I am going to apply the essential ethical principles to my decision-making process that supports the relevant ethical codes to the situation. The five ethical principles consist of respect for: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice and fidelity (Welfel, 2015). These principles provide me with a framework for examining my work with the client. Furthermore, applying these principles to my current situation allows me to gain additional clarity about the ethics of each of the options that I came up with earlier in step three Step seven is when I consult with a supervisor and respected colleagues.
This step is an important engagement for all counselors because colleagues and supervisors provide an objective perspective about the situation. Consultation also helps me summarize what perceptions I have gained so far in the process. Most importantly, this step will help me process through my choices through feedback on what the most ethical choice is (Welfel, 2015). Step eight helps me deliberate and decide between my options. After working through Welfel’s model carefully, I will now sort through all of the gathered information and prepare for implementation.
This step links all of the pieces together and may be difficult to do, but I have to do it by myself. I need to recognize my moral obligation to the profession and most importantly to the client. After working through the decision making process, I have concluded that I have no good reason to break my client’s right to confidentiality in this particular case. After reviewing the professional standards and codes, I am only required to break confidentiality according to ACA, when there is severe and predictable harm or when legal requirements demand it, which in this case there isn’t (Welfel, 2015).
Next, step nine requires me to inform a supervisor, implement and document decision-making process and actions of my concluding decision. However, I may choose to discuss with colleagues or review relevant literature and codes again before implementing a final decision. Now I need to document my decision and discuss the process on how it was implemented (Welfel, 2015). This specific situation requires me to discuss the conversations I had with the client and supervisor. Step ten is the last step of the process and is certainly one of the most crucial steps to remember because it requires me to reflect on the experience.
The reflection step allows me see where I could have handled the situation differently, which will benefit me the next time I am faced with a similar circumstance. Overall, reflecting increases my ethical sensitivity for when future ethical dilemmas arise. And even though the process seems difficult and tricky, in the end I will be able to see who I have become after the whole process. I am now in a position to think more clearly about ethics and dilemmas in the future which is one of the greatest benefits from the whole experience (Welfel, 2015).