Counselor Ethical Boundaries and Practices


Directions: Consider yourself as a future counselor as you write. Provide a thoughtful response to each of the following sections, including specific, concrete examples to illustrate your ideas. Use the headings given below to separate each section of your paper.

Section 1: Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships

In 500-750 words, outline a series of criteria and describe how you would integrate this criteria into an ethical decision-making model to determine whether or not a particular boundary-crossing or dual relationship is ethical and appropriate. Present examples of how you would apply this criteria to at least four counseling situations in which you believe the dual relationship issues are complex and ambiguous. For example, do not use the clear-cut examples of sexual relationships with current clients or fraudulent billing for services. In addition, examine these issues in terms of former clients. Do the ethical issues (and your opinion about appropriateness) change, depending on how long after the termination of therapy a dual relationship is initiated? What are the key ethical dimensions that might change, after the termination of therapy? Present an example of a situation that you believe would constitute a boundary violation with a current client but that might be acceptable with a former client.

Section 2: Development of Your Thinking about Ethics

In 500-750 words, clearly describe what you consider to be the most important developments in your thinking about ethical practice that have occurred during this course. This may include areas in which you have clarified your views and beliefs, modified your thinking on a given issue, gained new insights, or acquired a new perspective.  It may include issues whose complexity you now appreciate more fully or difficult issues that you now understand you must grapple with, as a counselor. What have you most learned about yourself and/or about what constitutes becoming an ethical practitioner and how has your thinking about ethics and legal issues changed?  Be sure that you include specific examples to illustrate general statements.

Writing Suggestions

1)      Writing resources: Review the following resources to assist you in completing this assignment:

a)      Refer to the “GCU Academic Writing Guidelines Resource”.

b)      Refer to the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, read the style guide, and use the templates for this course.

c)      Refer to the GCU library and review the tutorials for quick tips and resources. The GCU library can be accessed through

d)      Refer to the Center for Learning & Advancement (CLA) which provides online tutoring as well as webinar workshops.

2)      Use of examples

a)      As you develop your ideas, use clear examples to illustrate your point. Draw upon personal examples, use cases, and apply ethical principles to practical work settings.  Tie your examples into the point you are making, but avoid giving too many details or getting lost in the personal example.

3)      Creativity and depth of thinking: Write a paper that reflects your own uniqueness and ideas rather than merely giving a summary of the material in the book.

a)      Do not make your papers mere summaries; rather focus on a clear position that you take on a specific question or issue.

b)      Approach the material in an original way.

c)      Focus on a particular issue or topic that you find personally significant.  Since you have choice in what aspect to focus on, select an aspect of a problem that will allow you to express your beliefs.

d)      Show depth in expanding on your thoughts.

4)      Integration and application: This paper should emphasize an application of ethical principles and ethical reasoning to counseling practice.

a)      Demonstrate that you know the material or the issues involved through an integration of the codes and the readings, accurate understanding of readings, critical evaluation of videos and readings, and ability to apply both readings and videos to practical situations.

b)      Apply your ideas to specific populations that you expect to work with—both in counseling and noncounseling situations. You may want to apply parts of your paper to teaching, working with the elderly, working in corrections, working with adolescents, etc.

c)      Make your paper a personal and meaningful experience by showing how you would apply ethical reasoning to dealing with ethical dilemmas.

d)      In writing about ethical issues, be sure to zero in on a specific message. Read what the question is asking and write directly to that specific question. What do you most want to convey?

e)      In writing about a case, be sure to show that you can apply ethical principles and your knowledge of the ethics codes in discussing a case given in the Issues and Ethics book.

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