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Title: Ethics and Ethical Decision Making Amongst Novice Counsellors in Practice
Authors: Babre, Tanuja
Keywords: Centre for Human Ecology
Aparna Joshi
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: TISS
Abstract: Ethics and ethical decision making in the field of Indian psychotherapy is an under-researched area. The lacuna of training and knowledge of ethics and ethical codes has direct implications for counseling and psychotherapy practice. In order to respond to this perceived gap, the current study ‘Ethics and Ethical Decision Making Amongst Novice Counsellors in Practice’ aimed to explore novice counsellors’ understanding of ethics in counselling and the process of resolution of ethical dilemmas. A qualitative research design was used to develop a comprehensive and detailed understanding of ethics and ethical decision making in practice. In depth interviews were conducted with 10 novice counsellor and the data was analysed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed that the counsellors’ training in ethics at their masters level was uneven, ranging from full-fledged courses in ethics to being exposed a single chapter during the curriculum. Counsellors defined ethics as codes or rules, which helped them, decide what the right course of action was. Ethical dilemma was understood as a context in which there was ambiguity in the counselors’ role and a concern of causing harm to the client was involved. The most commonly cited ethical dilemmas were dilemmas involving issues of confidentiality, followed by issues related to client autonomy and boundaries and dual relationships. The process of ethical decision making is not a step wise, well delineated process. Counsellors often rely heavily on their personal and professional values to resolve ethical dilemmas. These values are in turn affected by multiple sources such as role models, organizational philosophy; life experiences etc. The counselors who had some exposure to training in ethics were better able to articulate the ethical principles and dilemmas. These findings point out to a dire need to integrate issues of ethics in the counseling curriculum , to carry out extensive research in this area and also to develop culturally revenant ethical codes and monitoring mechanisms for counseling practice.
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