Cultural Diversity & Ethical Boundaries: Coping with the Challenges
Multicultural and Diversity Issues
Following are a few more examples of ways in which issues of culture, diversity, and social justice are addressed in the new 2005 Code. The title of Section A.1.d. was changed from “Family Involvement” to “Support Network Involvement” and revised wording in the section broadens the concept of family to include any person from the perspective of the client who plays a central role in that person’s life. This can include individuals such as a religious or spiritual leader, friends, or family. Another culturally relevant example contained in the 2005 Code is the new Standard A.10.e., Receiving Gifts, which states “Counselors understand the challenges of accepting gifts from clients and recognize that in some cultures, small gifts are a token of respect and showing gratitude” (p. 6). According to Glosoff and Kocet (2006), counselors must also be aware of and sensitive to cultural meanings of confidentiality and privacy and how these issues may be viewed differently depending on the cultural worldview of the client (see B.1.a., Multicultural/ Diversity Considerations). Another central facet of counseling that is multicultural/diversity sensitive takes into account the cultural ramifications of labeling clients with an inappropriate diagnosis or as having pathology. Eriksen and Kress (2005) challenged traditional notions of what abnormal behavior is and who decides the criteria that determine whether or not a client has a mental disorder. They purport that inappropriately diagnosing a client can have a negative impact on client well-being and can lead women and people from marginalized communities to feel disempowered and actually feel harmed. The 2005 Code addresses this issue in the new Standard E.5.c., which directs counselors to “recognize historical and social prejudices in the misdiagnosis and pathologizing of certain individuals and groups and the role of mental health professionals in perpetuating these prejudices through diagnosis and treatment” (p. 12). There are also additional sections of the 2005 Code that address multicultural/diversity in the areas of supervision, research, and counselor education.
It is recommended that practitioners contact the ACA Ethics Committee for a formal interpretation of the 2005 Code by submitting a scenario and questions about specific standards to the ACA Ethics Committee staff liaison. This is one more step toward achieving ethical clarity. As stated by Herlihy and Corey (2006), “Resolving the ethical dilemmas . . . requires a commitment to questioning your own behavior and motives. A sign of your good faith is the willingness to share your struggles openly with colleagues or with fellow students” (p. 257). As they maneuver through the multiple layers of information and complexities inherent in most ethical situations, counselors must continually evaluate, study, consult, and reflect on the response that seems to fit the “best practice” standard and takes into account the cultural and contextual information in the dilemma.
It is important for all practitioners to know that they have trusted colleagues, supervisors, and the profession itself to provide guidance, empathy, and support through even the most difficult and emotionally challenging situation.
Reflection Exercise #8
Ethics CEU QUESTION 15