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Cultural Diversity & Ethical Boundaries: Coping with the Challenges
Ethics and Cultural Diversity continuing education psychologist CEUs

Section 15
Ethical Challenges with Diversity Issues

Ethics CEU Question 15 | Ethics CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents
Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

Multicultural and Diversity Issues
An ethical mandate for counselors is being a culturally competent practitioner, which means demonstrating awareness of diverse cultures (recognizing both our own and others’ cultural identities), acquiring and using knowledge about others’ cultures, and incorporating counseling skills in a culturally respectful manner (Eriksen & Kress, 2005; Frame & Williams, 2005; Welfel, 2006). Throughout the 2005 Code, particular attention was paid to ensure that multicultural and diversity issues were incorporated into key aspects of counseling practice. For example, Section A.2.c., Developmental and Cultural Sensitivity, addresses the significance of counselors communicating in a manner that can be understood by clients as developmentally and culturally appropriate (ACA, 2005, p. 4). Section C.5., Nondiscrimination, has been expanded to include not only issues identified in the 1995 Code (age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status) but also the concern that discrimination not take place based on other key aspects of a person’s identity such as “spirituality, . . . gender identity, marital status/partnership, language preference, . . . or any basis proscribed by law” (ACA, 2005, p. 10). This section of the code illustrates the profession’s more inclusive way of defining multiculturalism.

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.

Conclusion
It is critical, in fact it is an ethical obligation, for counselors to thoroughly review the entire 2005 Code to understand how to apply the new Code to their day-to-day practice. No code of ethics can address any and all situations that counselors may face. Consulting with ethics experts in the field should be an ongoing part of one’s professional development.

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.
- Cottone, Rocco, & Ronald Claus; Ethical Decision-Making Models: A Review of the Literature; Journal of Counseling & Development; Summer 2000, Vol. 78, Issue 3.
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

Personal Reflection Exercise #8
The preceding section contained information about ethical challenges with diversity issues.  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Ethics CEU QUESTION 15
The Code of Ethics broadened the concept of family to include what? Record the letter of the correct answer the Ethics CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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