When we hear about what another counselor did and make a judgment based on our emotional reaction, there is a tendency to say that the counselor did something unethical. Often if we look at it carefully, we find that we object to the behavior on the basis of our own standards of conduct or morals. Taken to the next step, when compared to the NAADAC Code of Ethics there might not be a principle that describes the behavior. An attorney recently said that Codes of Ethics and laws are written because someone did something that caused problems and an ethical standard or law was written to hopefully prevent another person doing the same thing. When an ethical complaint is sent to NAADAC, the counselor’s behavior is evaluated by the Code of Ethics. Beginning with this post, each principle from the NAADAC Code of Ethics will be reviewed. A situation will be described for the reader's consideration. Please read the scenario and decide whether or not the cited principle applies.
Principle 1: Non Discrimination. I shall affirm diversity among colleagues or clients regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic/racial background, religious/spiritual beliefs, marital status, political beliefs or mental/physical disability.
This statement includes many of the characteristics exhibited by clients and co-workers. Under this standard, do we also include freedom of choice? Do we honor the right to participate or not participate in an activity? A situation which made some of us think about this principle was a supervisor’s requirement for all counselors in an agency to participate in a therapy group led by her. Two counselors refused to participate because they thought an in house therapy group for counselors was a breach of boundaries. If a counselor who worked in this agency consulted you, how would you approach the problem?