Wellness Articles - Wyoming Counseling Association

Jane Warren
Amanuel Haile Asfaw
Avis Garcia
University of Wyoming
Professional Studies Department
Counselor Education Program
Jane Warren-University of Wyoming-Department of
Professional Studies - Counseling program
Amanuel Haile Asfaw- University of Wyoming-Department
of Professional Studies - Counseling program
Carrie Ahls - University of Wyoming-Department of
Professional Studies -Counseling program
Johnna Carlene Nunez -University of Wyoming-Department
of Social Work program
Jennifer Weatherford -University of Wyoming-Department
of Professional Studies-Educational Research program
Noor Syamilah Zakaria - University of WyomingDepartment of Professional Studies - Counseling program
Ice breaker-Your most difficult ethical
challenge this last year
Ethics in counseling
Ethics challenges in rural settings
Our research
Relevance of our research
Apply to your own wellness
Apply to your ethical challenge
Imagine for a few minutes your most difficult
ethical challenge you had this year
What made it difficult?
What did you do?
Share your insights with someone next to
Brief discussion…
Professional—to profess to do (Ponton & Duba,
Ethics make a profession, a profession…
Counseling defined (ACA)
Counseling is a professional relationship that
empowers diverse individuals, families, and
groups to accomplish mental health, wellness,
education, and career goals.
…..a basic framework and that each participating
organization is welcome to add a statement that
fleshes out the particular specialty or area of focus.
ACA Codes-APGA-1961-Ist codes
5 revisions since 1961 ( every 7-10 years)
March 2014 most recent changes
Section A: The Counseling Relationship
 Section B: Confidentiality and Privacy
 Section C: Professional Responsibility
 Section D: Relationships With Other Professionals
 Section E: Evaluation, Assessment, and
 Section F: Supervision, Training, and Teaching
 Section G: Research and Publication
 Section H: Distance Counseling, Technology, and
Social Media
 Section I: Resolving Ethical Issues
1. Sets forth the ethical obligations of ACA members and provides
guidance intended to inform the ethical practice of professional
2. Identifies ethical considerations relevant to professional
counselors and counselors-in-training.
3. Enables the association to clarify for current and prospective
members, and for those served by members, the nature of the
ethical responsibilities held in common by its members.
4. Serves as an ethical guide designed to assist members in
constructing a course of action that best serves those utilizing
counseling services and establishes expectations of conduct with a
primary emphasis on the role of the professional counselor.
5. Helps to support the mission of ACA.
6. The standards contained serve as the basis for processing
inquiries and ethics complaints concerning ACA members
Professional values are an important way of living
out an ethical commitment. The following are core
professional values of the counseling profession:
1. enhancing human development throughout the
life span;
2. honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural
approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential,
uniqueness of people within their social and cultural
3. promoting social justice;
4. safeguarding the integrity of the counselor–client
relationship; and
5. practicing in a competent and ethical manner.
Research has identified:
 dual relationships,
 multiple roles,
 unique community standards,
 isolation,
 lack of access to training and supervision,
 given cases for which they are not prepared,
 role conflicts,
 inconsistencies,
 idiosyncratic choices in such ethical practices as
confidentiality and informed consent,
 burnout/self-impairment.
Strom-Gottfried (2003) Social Workers (NASW)-Of 267 adjudicated cases, 107 involved sexual
activity, 77 involved dual relationships, 70
involved other boundary violations, 55 involved
failure to seek supervision, 41 involved failure to
use accepted practice skills, 34 involved fraudulent
behavior, and 33 involved premature termination.
Trigg and Robinson (2013) found the most
frequent ethical violations were “practicing outside
of the scope of one’s training and experience and
practicing while impaired due to substance use or
mental health matters” (p. 28), violations of
professional boundaries (both nonsexual and
sexual), and breaches of confidentiality.
If there are ethical challenges in rural
settings and research shows ethical
errors occur, what might be the ethical
challenges as reported by counseling
practitioners in one rural state?
What would counseling practitioners in
one rural state want for ethics training?
Let’s ask the practitioners!
Through an exploratory survey in 2012 of a
representative sample (n=316) of licensed and
certified counseling and social work mental
health professionals (N=1,324) in Wyoming
ethical issues and training needs were
identified by the providers. The intended goal
was to obtain direct feedback about ethical
issues and ethical training needs from
practitioners themselves who work in rural
A brief demographic questionnaire
Two questions:
The most difficult professional ethical dilemma or
situation I have encountered in the last two years has
Two primary ethical trainings I would find to be
most helpful in my practice are: self-care, boundaries,
rules and regulations, malpractice, supervision,
professional competency, risk management, end of life,
suicide, duty to warn, confidentiality, diagnosis,
spirituality, multicultural topics, and other.`
316 (27%) responded to the survey—**our distribution results of the
survey sample (see Table 1-oour results) closely approximated the
(12/29/ 2011 distribution of licensing and certification in the state…)
CAPA- 23
CAP- 62—3% (3%)
PAT- 13
LAT- 134-7% (3%)
CSW- 89
PCSW- 109
LCSW- 493—30% (29%)
PMFT- 16
LMFT- 93—5% (4%)
PPC- 168
LPC- 756—46% (47%)
CMHW- 18—.09%
1974 in total
Three primary ethical issues:
Dual relationships (19%)
Confidentiality (19%)
Competence (17% )
Two additional findings regarding ethical
dilemmas encountered were professional silence
and supervision representing 10% and 9%,
Three primary ethical training needs:
Boundaries (12%)
State Rules and Regulations (12%)
Supervision (10%)
One respondent stated, “I think in our state it is
more difficult to maintain professional
boundaries because of the closeness of our
communities. For instance, in my neighborhood I
am surrounded by former clients as neighbors.”
Ethical issues:
Dual relationships (19%)
 Confidentiality (19%)
 Competence (17% )
 Boundaries (12%)
 State Rules and Regulations (12%)
 Supervision (10%)
Counseling relationship (A. 5. Prohibited Non
Counseling Roles and Relationships-Managing
Boundaries )
 Virtual relationships
 Confidentiality
 Competence
 Impairment
 Monitor effectiveness
 Consult on ethical concerns
 Continued Education
 Obtain ethical supervision (online and in person)
Educate about rules and changes in codes
Provide more training for supervisors and
Increase boundary education on all levels
Identify the many challenges, choices, and
requirements in confidentiality
Understand the ethical issues faced by rural
practitioners may be different than urban—and
design programs accordingly.
Promote dialogue among practitioners about
ethical challenges and actions
Encourage compassion for practitioners
Promote wellness for all counseling
Inform Licensing Boards
Make Continuing Education Relevant
Listen to Practitioners
Missing: Multicultural needs (last item
mentioned for training)
What have you learned and what might you do
now differently, if anything?
Harrison, R. L., & Westwood, M. J. (2009).
Preventing vicarious traumatization of mental
health therapists: Identifying protective
practices. Psychotherapy Theory, Research,
Practice, Training, 46, 203-219. doi:
Maltzman, S. (2011). An organizational selfcare model: Practical suggestions for
development and implementation. Counseling
Psychologist, 39, 303-319. doi:

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