Ethical Principles and Issues within Addiction Counseling
Addiction counselors have many ethical and legal considerations in when providing services to substance abusers. There are ethical principles that including justice, autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and fidelity. Along with these principles there are federal and state regulations when providing services. As an addiction counselor there should be ethical guidelines to follow with informed consent, compensation, confidentiality, and collection and protection of data. Furthermore, addiction counselors must avoid coercion, provide alternative treatment options, protect vulnerable ...view middle of the document...
These principles are justice; autonomy; beneficence; nonmaleficence and fidelity and help in clarifying and resolving conflicting issues which substance abuse counselors face daily and which may not be adequately addressed in the guidelines. This paper will present the terms of the principles and the ethical issues that counselors undergo.
There are clients that place great demands on a counselor’s resources that other clients may not be needy about. This can be an ethical issue and the counselor should be able to clearly justify proper actions. Counselors need to recognize and accept that bias is normal and that there will inevitably be those who may be regarded as ‘favorite’ clients and others with whom they will instinctively prefer to limit contact. However, personal issues and personality conflicts cannot stand in the way of working with clients. In order to practice within the principle of justice it is important to avoid allowing personal prejudices to interfere with the client /counselor relationship and to ensure that no client is discriminated against or denied access to treatment that other clients have. There should be a concise understanding of the concept of counter transference, which refers to the conscious or unconscious reactions to what the client may present in treatment. Counter transference can involve either being overly involved in caring for the client or being repulsed by the client’s needs, even resulting in the counselor becoming frustrated or getting into arguments and power struggles with the client, and so obviously has an impact on the counselor’s impartiality. However, by understanding that these feelings are often a part of the counseling process, the counselor may be able to overcome them, using his own reactions to provide him with an understanding of the reactions the client induces in others. If the addiction counselor was to failing this, a consultation with a supervisor may be necessary. Although it may be difficult for a counselor to treat everyone impartially there are safeguards that can be instituted to ensure an equitable level of service. Standards can be set in place which require every new client to receive an intake interview within 24 hours, for example, or an agency can work towards clarifying its criteria for services so that they are weighed more heavily on objective information rather than on the personal impressions of a substance abuse treatment counselor. These types of policies can help ensure a general level of fairness, regardless of a counselor’s personal feelings.
The principle of autonomy is one which addresses the concept of independence, or the individual’s freedom of choice and action. This principle respects the unconditional worth of the individual and promotes self-governance, self-determination and self-rule. Autonomy also encompasses the client’s voluntary commitment to participating in the counseling sessions, although, in the case of substance...