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Guidance And Counseling: Ethical Standard

Ethical Standards in Guidance And Counseling

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INTRODUCTION

The concept of ethical standards in counselling is mentioned to indicate that there are indeed certain ways of doing things counselling ways which are in line with what is expected of a professional person on the job. What a counsellor says and does in counselling should be fully in line in the provision of the law. A practicing counselor is required to see that all his behaviour within the context of counselling functions are in line with the ethical standards of the profession.

The UNESCO module on guidance and counseling (2000) stated that guidance is a programme of service to individuals based on their needs and influence of environmental factors. Guidance and counseling is a professional field which has a broad range of activities, programmes and services geared towards assisting individual to understand themselves, their problems, their school environment and their world and also to develop adequate capacity for making wise choice on their career.

There is agreement among experts that there are three major components of guidance and counseling. These are educational guidance, vocational guidance and personal social guidance UNESCO module. Under these three major areas, there are several guidance and counseling services such as appraisal, information, placement, orientation, evaluation, referral and follow-up Dengo (2001). Each of these major components of guidance and counseling along with their services address students need, challenges and problems.

THE CONCEPT OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING

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Guidance is all round assistance to individual in all aspect of his or her development. It makes use of the science of psychology to determine the attitude, interest, intelligence, personality and the discipline of the education for providing right and suitable assistance. It has the characteristics of:

  • It is a process of helping or assisting an individual to solve their problems.
  • It help them to identify where to go, what to do and how to do for post accomplishment of their goals.
  • It is a continuous process which starts right from childhood, adolescence and continues over in old age.
  • It is assistance to the individual in the process of development rather than direction of that development.
  • It is a service meant for all: its regular service which is required for every student, not only for abnormal students.
  • Guidance is an organized service not in incidental activity of the school.
  • Guidance is more an art than science.
  • Guidance is centered around the needs and aspiration of students.

In other hand, counseling is guiding and more. It is a way of healing hurts. It is both a science and an art. It is a science because to offer counsel, advice or assistance, the counselor must have the knowledge of the basic principles and techniques of counseling. The counselor must be able to use any of these basic principles and techniques as paradigms in order for him to counsel well. However, it is not enough to use know these basic principles and techniques. The other important aspect is for the counselor to know how to counsel-the art of counseling. This aspect considers counseling as a relationship, as a sharing of life, in the hope that the person who is hurting will be healed. As a relationship, counseling involves the physical, emotional, and psychical or spiritual dimensions. The counselor must have the ability to relate to the counselee in an appropriate physical manner without being too intimate or too close for comfort or being too distant or aloof.

GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING: ETHICAL STANDARD

The word ‘ethics’ comes from the Greek word ‘ethos,‘ which means character and is concerned with exploring the concepts of right and wrong.

The reason for this is that counselling is to some extent a ‘diverse’ profession and due to the differing perspectives and approaches in counselling and psychotherapy, therapists have tended to choose ethical bodies which align themselves to the modality of therapy they practice, and the training courses they have undertaken.

Membership is voluntary although employers would expect that counsellors they employ would be members of an ethical body, students who are in practice should also be members.

Ethical bodies have three main functions:

(1)        to provide information on counselling and psychotherapy services and set standards which give the general public confidence in the profession.

(2)        a route to complain if they feel dissatisfied with the service they have received from a counsellor.

(3)        if the complaint is upheld then a therapist can find themselves receiving a ‘sanction’.

A sanction can be a directive to undertake more training, submit a report to an ethical committee explaining how they have altered their practice so the same problem doesn’t arise again.

In extreme cases, counsellors can be ‘struck off ‘ which means their membership of the organisation is terminated.

Ethical bodies also provide support to counsellors and psychotherapists in form of well-researched information, continued professional development, training courses, and a collective voice when dealing with the government of the day and any legislation they propose.

They also set down the limits of confidentiality which can differ from say that of a doctor. For instance, at the time of writing this guide if a Doctor treats a patient who has a knife or a gunshot wound they would be ethically obliged to report this to the police, a counsellor or psychotherapist is under no ethical obligation to do this.

The legal obligations of your counsellor are covered in the section ‘Counselling & The Law”. Although the BACP is perhaps the most well known from the public’s point of view, there are a number of ethical bodies that issue codes of practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy  in the UK these are:

  • British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
  • British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)
  • College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (CORST)
  • Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA)
  • Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP)
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP)
  • United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • The National Counselling Society (NCS)
  • UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP)

This list is not exhaustive, and it is possible for a Counsellor/Psychotherapist to be a member of more than one organisation.

Ethical Conflict

Sometimes conflicts arise when a counsellor is working on two ethical codes of practice. For instance, the UK the General Medical Council the ethical body for doctors, states: “You should inform the police quickly whenever a person arrives with a gunshot wound or an injury from an attack with a knife, blade or other sharp instrument”

A counsellor working under the BACP code of ethics has no such constraint and may keep the client’s confidentiality. If a counsellor finds themselves working under two conflicting guidelines, the solution is to make a contract with the client which covers all the necessary exceptions to confidentiality. At that point, a client can make an informed decision if they wish to proceed with therapy.

If a counsellor finds themselves working under two conflicting guidelines, the solution is to make a contract with the client which covers all the necessary exceptions to confidentiality. At that point, a client can make an informed decision if they wish to proceed with therapy.

Ethics of Confidentiality

Most importantly, through the years a number of events have shaped the expectations of both professional bodies and the general public to how Counsellors and Psychotherapists manage areas such as confidentiality and how different agencies share information, this is sometimes referred to as a multi-disciplinary approach.

One event in question was the case in the United Kingdom of Victoria Climbie. Victoria was a nine-year-old child who, in 2000, died as a consequence of being systematically abused by her Aunt and Uncle.

Victoria had been seen by a number of professionals both in healthcare and educational settings before her death, who had noted her injuries and failed to act or contact other partner agencies to ascertain the cause of the injuries or to raise an alarm.

Her death shocked the nation and was widely reported in the media at the time, an inquiry in to the failings of the professionals involved in the case was chaired by Lord Lamming and paved the way for an upgrading of legislation known as the Children’s Act which came in to law in 1989 and was revised as a consequence of this case in 2004.

The outcome of the enquiry was that agencies involved in healthcare, work to an accord called the Caldecott principles, which allows professionals to share information, balancing confidentiality, the law and the agencies policy and procedures when making any decision regarding disclosure of information.

IMPORTANCE/BENEFITS OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING PRACTICES IN NIGERIA

There are so many benefits of guidance and counseling, but only few is considered here:

  • It helps to give Students solutions on how to deal with psychological problems which might affect their studies. Via this, the students are able to develop problem solving skills which to an extent helps them deal with particular issues surrounding their lives.
  • Students are guided and counseled on how to cope with different situations facing them in their school life. For instance, on how to relate with their peers.
  • It helps to shape a student’s behavior and instill discipline in students. Students who are guided and counseled in a right way tend to know what to do and how to do such things.
  • Students get to learn how to live in harmony with others in the school community. In so doing, they also learn to appreciate the people around the and come to harmony with their environment.
  • It bridges the gap between the students and the school administration, since can channel their problems through guidance and counseling office.
  • Students get comprehensive pieces of advice on careers, courses and jobs which enables them to have an informed choice on what to do after school.

 CONCLUSION

Numerous professional associations have developed their own Code of Conduct and Ethics. Codes may adopt similar principles whilst also covering behaviours specific to an area of counselling. Professional counselling organisations provide Codes of Conduct and Ethics to members and the inability to stick to these Codes may result in removal of membership. In summary:

  • Firstly, ethics determine choices and underpin actions,
  • Secondly, counsellors by nature and duty of profession are to act in an ethical manner,
  • Thirdly, good ethical conduct is grounded in an understanding and awareness of ethical codes, a desire to do the right thing and a basis of sound moral principles.
  • Fourthly, individualism is to be tempered against legal and ethical codes, as well as expectations based in culture and society.

GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING: ETHICAL STANDARD

REFERENCES  

Ekanem, I. B. and Eneh, G. A. (2005). Introduction to theory and practice of guidance and counselling. Uyo: Inela Ventures.

Obi, F. C., Onuorah, A. E. and Ugwu, I. U. (2001). Programme of guidance and counselling activities for post-primary school in Enugu State. Enugu: The Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) Enugu State Chapter.

Odo, J. O. (2001) Supervision of guidance and counselling activities in Nigeria schools. Enugu: Dulacasco Ltd.

Onuorah, A. E. (2008). The state of guidance and counselling in Enugu State. Journal of Qualitative Education, 4 (4), 194-198.

Oyem, S. D. (2011). Career development. Calabar: University Press.

Shape, B. L. (2006). Career guidance and occupational choice. New York: Bent Publishers.

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