Leah is a 15 year-old who her mother has seek counseling for at a community center. Both Leah and her mother were present during the intake session with the counselor Carmen. After explaining confidentiality and also parental rights to both Leah and her mother, they both agreed on Carmen discussing general information about the counseling sessions to the mother and Leah is free to discuss any aspects of the sessions with her mother. A few weeks into counseling however Leah revealed to her counselor she is in a relationship with an 18-year-old boy and does not want her mother to be aware of her relationship. Carmen explained to Leah that as a counselor she has legal obligation to report any sexual relationship between a minor and an 18-year-old which is considered to be a legal adult.
Counselors at times find themselves stuck between making decisions that are morally right or ethically right. Whichever route that is taken ethical or legal, the ultimate goal of a counselor is to do what is best for the client. Kitchener (1984) argued that “in the absence of clear ethical guidelines, relying on personal value judgments was not adequate because not all value judgments are equally valid”. She believed that all counselors should develop a deeper understanding of ethical decision making. It’s understood that values, clinical orientation, personal characteristic, ethical training and experience affect the choice of action made by a counselor (Cottone & Claus, 2000). Although we learn from our experiences and have different values, our decisions as counselors should not only be based off our values and experiences. When making decisions we have to look at the ethical and legal side, and take the route that would best benefit our clie...
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... to work out a plan on how to talk to her mother about it. For example, maybe listing the pros and cons of her telling her mother and what might be the long term consequences if she were to still be against Carmen mentioning her relationship.
I think helping Leah understand why it will be important for her to talk to her mother even if she thinks her mother will not approve could be beneficial, while also talking through with her about the best case scenario of her mentioning that relationship to her mother. Maybe she is afraid of telling her mother alone Carmen might suggest her mother coming in one of the session and they can work through it together or perhaps coming up with a plan for her to talk to her mother alone. If Leah however still persist on not wanting her mother to know, from a legal and ethical perspective the best action would for Carmen to report.
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