Presentation on theme: "Ethical/Legal Issues & The Professional School Counselor"— Presentation transcript:
1 Ethical/Legal Issues & The Professional School Counselor Edward A. Wierzalis, PhD, NCC, ACSUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte
2 What does it take to be an ethical person? What does it take to be an ethical professional?What does it take to be an ethical professional school counselor?
3 Agenda Ethical Counselor & Ethical Standards Confidentiality& Privileged CommunicationDevelopmental ConsiderationsEthical Obligation to StudentsLegal Obligation to ParentsSuggestions for working with Parents & StudentsOther SuggestionsEthical Use of Information TechnologyEthical Considerations Using Social MediaRecommendationsDiscussion: What are some of the issues?Steps for making Ethical DecisionsWeb2.0 ToolsResources
4 The Ethical CounselorThe ethical counselor demonstrates the importance of the rights of the student by providing the student with informed consent, establishing confidentiality, and maintaining a professional relationship.Appreciates the power of the counseling relationshipIs aware of the boundaries and limits of their own competence and trainingMaintains professional growth, accurate knowledge, and expertise
5 Ethical Standards Ethical standards serve three purposes: - to educate members about sound ethical conduct- to provide a mechanism for accountability- to serve as a means for improving professional practiceProfessional organizations and credentialing organizations:ACA, ASCA, NBCC, CACREP, LPC (NC)Ethical principles do not define behavior; they are the basis for behavior.
6 Confidentiality Students have an ethical right to confidentiality [students own the information shared and it is only entrusted to us]Counselors solicit private information from students only when it is beneficial to the counseling process [not out of curiosity].Exists for the benefit of the student even though he or she may be a minorIs acting in “good faith” for the betterment of the student (Mitchell, Dique, & Robertson, 2002 p.158)Requires that counselor’s carefully consider when it is appropriate to disclose informationDelineates the counselor’s position as different from that of a teacher or administrator (Mitchell, Dique, & Robertson, 2002 p.158)
7 Confidentiality Boundaries must be clarified to parents and students Students should be informed about when confidentiality must be brokenDisseminate information in student handbooks that are distributed to parentsPresent information regarding confidentiality in a general format i.e. classroom guidance and large groups
8 Confidentiality & Privileged Communication Privileged Communication: the privacy of the counselor-student communication.- The privilege belongs to the student[and the parent/guardians], who always has the right to waive the privilege and allow a counselor to disclose.[ never disclose without informing the student first]
9 Confidentiality & Privileged Communication A counselor can request that disclosure not be required when the release of confidential information may potentially harm a student or the counseling relationship (ASCA, A.2.g)
10 Limits to Confidentiality DUTY TO WARN: ASCA A.2.f; A.7.a; A.7.b; A.7.cthe general requirement that counselors keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the student or others.contagious and potentially fatal diseases [“justified disclosure” not “should” but “must”]Other situations that constrain the limits of confidentiality:- consultation- group counseling- family or guardians- releasing information to other groups[military, insurance]- court proceedings- school environs [with discretion and when essential]
11 Developmental Considerations Consider the competency or developmental age of the studentAge of the student is the most significant variable in dealing with confidentiality (Isaacs & Stone, 1999)Adolescents between the ages of 11 & 14 vary in their understanding of their rights and issues (Gustafson & McNamara, 1987, p.158)Identify the developmental benchmarks used by school counselors (Isaacs & Stone, 2001)
12 Ethical Obligation to Student Professional School Counselor:Promotes the welfare of individual studentsIs well informed regarding a student’s rights (laws, regulations, policies i.e. FERPA, HIPAA –PHI, ADA)Always informs the student before releasing any informationReports any form of suspected abuse and assists other staff members in reporting such abuseUnderstands that any inappropriate relationship is consider a grievous breach of ethics
13 Legal Obligation to Parent Professional School Counselor:Has a legal obligation to the family and guardians and an ethical obligation to students (Schmidt, 2003)Uses their professional judgment as to what is“appropriate” inclusion of parents or guardians (McCurdy & Murray, 2003, p.396)Parents or guardians have the legal right to know the content of counseling sessions with minors (Remley, 2003)The presumption of confidentiality may directly contradict state laws (Mitchell, Disque, & Robertson, 2002)
14 Suggestions for Working with Parents If the student does not trust the counselor’s commitment to confidentiality, the child may not share honestlyExplain the Ethical Code(s) to parents and your obligation to abide by these principlesClarify that it is not the counselor’s job to be an informer between parents and the childSuggest parents themselves ask the child about the desired informationDiscuss different approaches parents might employ with their children
15 Suggestions for Working with Parents & Students Suggest parents and the child meet together with the school counselorInform the student of their parent’s inquiry and suggest ways to talk to their parentsPrepare the student to take the lead in sharing information with parentsConsider cultural differences and the role of parents and family (Lawrence & Robinson Kurpius, 2000, p.133)
16 Other suggestionsEnsure periodic updates of state laws and district policyConsider action on a case by case approachMake no assumptionsAlways err in the best interests of the studentPractice within the limits of your abilitiesKeep accurate and objective records of all interactionsMaintain adequate professional liability insuranceRecognize how your own values and beliefs may influence your perception of students behaviorEstablish a network of peers to consult; both school and non-school
17 Ethical Use of Information Technology in School Counseling Necessity for Technology- Information & Resources [career, college….]- Communication & Collaboration- Interactive & Productivity Tools [data analysis…]- Delivery of services: Most controversial and source of most ethical issues.* confidentiality* boundaries* electronic files and information [FERPA]* s [always there]
18 ASCA Code of Ethics A.10. Technology Professional school counselors: b. Advocate for equal access to technology for all students, especiallythose historically underserved.c. Take appropriate and reasonable measures for maintaining confidentialityof student information and educational records stored ortransmitted through the use of computers, facsimile machines, telephones,voic , answering machines and other electronic orcomputer technology.d. Understand the intent of FERPA and its impact on sharing electronicstudent records.
19 NBCC & NCDA Standards relevant to School counseling Practice Be able to ensure that the Web-based service is appropriate for a given studentSafeguard student confidentiality in Web-based communication through encryptionEnsure that Web-based services are available to students with disabilitiesDisclose the nature of student information that is electronically stored, including the length of time it will be maintained before being deletedAssure that Web sites linked to the school counseling program are ethical, professional, and provide appropriate and current information
20 Ethical Considerations when Using Social Media Social Media: cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, s, etc.Concerns:- unintentional self-disclosures & privacy- compromising professional relationship- “befriending” – professional boundaries- blurring the lines between acceptable and riskypersonal and professional behavior- breach of “confidentiality”- multiple relationships“e-professionalism” : professional attitudes and behaviors displayed via online personae.
21 Recommendations Final words to guide professional school counselors: always document in writing what you did and why you did it [document, document, document]if you did not follow a policy, document why you did not (e.g. not calling the parent because it was handled as an abuse case; with held information to protect confidentiality…)know federal, state, and local laws, regulations, policies, and guidelinesconsult with a colleague or supervisor when you have questions or doubtsconsult with an attorney when appropriate [district; state and national association]know the ethical code(s) that frame your actions and decisions
23 What are Some of the issues…. Sexual activity: is it noted as potential harmful behavior? depends on age? parent contact? confidentiality?A student not assigned to you shares personal information and continues to come to you because they are not comfortable with assigned counselorBefriending students via personal social media networksStaff/colleagues (principal, teachers) asking about confidential information…what needs to be shared while still protecting the student’s right to confidentiality?
24 What are Some of the issues… Administration not wanting you to document particular situations [notes, database, etc.]Student reports, in a candid conversation about their past, thinking about suicide years ago but has no thoughts currently. Do you contact the parent?District or administration requesting that you share your notes or documents on a student….Any others………..?
25 Steps for making Ethical Decisions Identify the problemApply the ASCA and ACA Ethical Codes and the LawConsider the student’s chronological & developmental levelsConsider the setting, parental rights, & minor rightsGenerate potential courses of actionConsider the potential consequences of all options and determine a course of actionEvaluate the selected course of actionImplement the course of action
26 Web 2.0 Tools for School Counselors Weebly:Weebly is a tool that lets you create a dynamic website for your school counseling program with ease.Glogster EDU:Glogster EDU is a creative expression platform that allows you or your students to create a GLOG, or online multimedia poster. How about having students in individual or group counseling create a GLOG for self-expression? You can even create a GLOG for your school-counseling program’s website!
27 Web 2.0 Tools for School Counselors Poll Everywhere:How about jazzing up your next guidance lesson with a poll that students can complete in real time, via the web or even their cell phones! The polls can be embedded into a PowerPoint or a Prezi.Scribble Press (free):iPad Apps for School CounselorsA story creation app that contains pre-made stories. Students fill in the blanks with their information. A great individual counseling resource
28 ResourcesACA Code of Ethics (2005). Retrieved June 6, 2006, fromBloom, J., & Walz, G. (2000). Cybercounseling and cyberlearning: Strategies and resources for the new millennium. Alexandria, Virginia: American Counseling Association.Carey, J., & Dimmitt, C. (2004). The web and school counseling; Computers in the Schools, vol.21, no3/4, pp : The Haworth Press, Inc.Carlson, L.A., Portman, T.A.A., Barlett, J.R. (2006). Professional school counselor’s Approaches to technology. Professional School Counseling, v9, n3, p , Feb. American School Counselor Association.Hayden, L., Poynton, T.A., & Sabella, R.A. (2012). School counselor’s use of technology within the ASCA national model’s delivery system. Journal of Technology in Counseling, vol 5, issue 1, June.
29 Issacs, M. L. & Stone, C. (2001). Confidentiality with minors: Mental health counselors’ attitudes toward breaching or preserving confidentiality. Journal of Mental Health Counseling. 23/4, ppLawrence, G., & Robinson Kurpius, S.E. (2000). Legal and ethical issues involved when counseling minors in nonschool setting. Journal of Counseling & Development. 78, pp American Counseling Association.McCurdy, K.G., & Murray, K.C. (2003). Confidentiality issues when minor children disclose family secrets in family counseling. The Family Journal: Counseling & Therapy for Couples and Families. Vol. 11, 4 OctMitchell, C.W., Disque, J.G., & Robertson, P. (2002). When parents want to know: Responding to parental demands for confidential information. Professional School Counselor 6:2 Dec . American School Counselor Association.National Board for Certified counselors. (1997). Guidelines for the new world of webcounseling. NBCC NewsNotes, 14(2), 1-2. Retrieved June 6, 2006, from
30 Remley, T. P. , Hermann, M. A. , Huey, W. C. (Eds) (2003) Remley, T.P., Hermann, M.A., Huey, W.C. (Eds) (2003). Ethical and legal issues in school counseling (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.Stone, C. (2005). School counseling principles: Ethics and law. Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor AssociationThe WebCounseling Site. (2006). Retrieved June 6, 2006, from
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