Application of Ethics in the Counseling Profession

Applicationof Ethics in the Counseling Profession

Applicationof Ethics in the Counseling Profession

Similarto other professions, counseling is guided by ethical principles thatserve as the basis of determining whether the conduct of individualcounselors is wrong or right. However, ethical principles become moreuseful if the counseling professionals have the capacity to use themto brainstorm different courses of action and select the mostappropriate alternatives. Different ethical principles are formulatedby various professional bodies (such as AAMFT, IAMFT, AACC, and ACA)to guide their members in conducting themselves in the professionalways and uphold ethics in their counseling practices. This paper willapply the ethical guidelines set by the aforementioned bodies inassessing the conduct of a counselor who is romantically attracted toa client, but avoids serious commitments until the until 24 monthsafter the counseling sessions are terminated.

Allcodes of ethics prohibit romantic relationships between counselorsand their clients. For example, AAMFT 1.4 prohibits counselors fromengaging in sexual intimacy with their current customers, their closepartners, and relatives (AAMFT, 2012). AACC 1-130-C is even stricterbecause it prohibits counselors from engaging any activities thatmight invite sexual involvement with their clients (AACC, 2014).These activities include simple engagements, such as questioning thatmight probe the patient into sexual practices and solicitation ofromantic relations with patients. Based on the two codes of conduct,it was unethical for the counselor to mention about a romanticrelationship with the client. Although the counselor requests thedaughter to stay the issue of romantic relationship until thecounseling sessions are terminated, the act of introducing the topicwas unethical in the first place. ACA A.5.a prohibits counselors fromany form of romantic engagement, including electronic orrelationships in person (ACA, 2014).

Thesecond ethical issue is the actual engagement in a romanticrelationship with a relative of a former client. This might appear tobe right from the individual’s point of view, but ethical codes ofconduct proves it otherwise. Nearly all codes of ethics prohibit aromantic relationship between a professional counselor and the formerclient, but some codes allow sexual romantic relationships at aftercertain durations since the termination of the counseling sessions.For example, AAMFT 1.5 allows the professional counselor to engage ina romantic relationship with the former client after 2 years ofterminating the counseling sessions (AAMFT, 2012). This implies thatthe romantic relationship between the counselor and the daughter of aformer client, which occurred after 24 months, would be acceptable.However, other this would be not appropriate in other codes ofconduct. This is because ACA A.5.c would only allow romanticrelationship after 5 years of terminating the counseling sessions,while AACC 1-130-a states that romantic relationship with a formerpatient is completely forbidden and unethical (AACC, 2014 and ACA,2014). This means that the decision on the ethical grounds ofengaging in a romantic relationship the daughter of a former clientwould depend on the code of ethics by used to evaluate the matter.

Inconclusion codes of ethics are important tools that guideprofessional counselor in the practices. Romantic relationships withthe current and the former clients is one of the most pressingchallenges in the field of professional counseling. In the presentcase, the counselor adheres to the code of conduct by avoidingromantic relationship during the counseling sessions, but it would beconsidered unethical to mention the issue of romance with the client.The determination of the ethical grounds of romantic engagement withthe daughter of a former client would depend on the code of conductbeing applied.


AAMFT(2012). Codeof ethics.Alexandria, VA: AAMFT.

AACC(2014). Y-2014code of ethics.Arnold, MD: AACC.

ACA(2014). ACAcode of ethics.Alexandria, VA: ACA.