As a future marriage and family counselor, it is important to have a plan for continued professional growth as well as an understanding of the required counseling dispositions. Additionally, it is considered good practice for professional counselors to join a professional counseling organization. Research a professional organization that you might join such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), your state’s counseling association, or another relevant professional organization.
Write a 1,200–1,750-word paper in the third person about the ethical and legal considerations of the developing counselor to include professional organizations and a plan for continued professional growth. Include the following in your paper:
Ethical and Legal Viewpoint
Volunteering work refers to services that are offered by the counselor to the community of their own free will and without expecting any form of payment. Such activities by counselors may include visiting prisoners or checking up on those in mental and rehabilitation centers. Services that are offered voluntarily by the counselor are also termed as pro bono work. Voluntary work comes in handy to a developing counselor since they need constant practice. The addition workload from pro bono work may be tiring, but valuable experience and different methods to solve counseling problems are gained (DeAngelis, 2016). A counselor ought to uphold certain standards when offering voluntary services. The first standard is empathy. Empathy refers to the act of trying to identify or understand feelings and emotions belonging to someone else. Counseling a client without being empathetic cannot work. By being empathetic, counselors can handle their clients compassionately and as worthy. Empathy is sure to follow when a client is treated with dignity. The second standard to be upheld in pro bono work is being authentic and embracing each client’s different cultures—there many different and diverse cultures around the world, each with traditions they observe. The counselor should show that they respect the culture of each client they counsel. In a society with a population of diverse cultures, counselors can also help members settle socially, given they can understand different cultures.
Objectivity refers to conducting a counseling session free of any bias. Bias can occur whereby the counselor resorts to using an existing narrative about the client or his community whenever they encounter an unexplained issue. A developing counselor needs to develop ways to maintain objectivity. One way can be learning of biases and prejudices that have existed in the past to avoid referring to them during counseling. A developing counselor should also ensure they have a strong moral and ethical fabric and can trust themselves to always take the right action.
Self-disclosure refers to when someone gives out personal information about themselves to another person. Depending on the counseling session’s nature, the counselor may need to share personal information about themselves to the client. This may help gain the trust of a client and also showing some form of alliance during therapy. A client may be more willing to share more insight once the counselor does so about themselves. At other times, the counselor may feel tempted to share personal information to show some form of solidarity with the client. This disclosure, however, should be used sparingly. If the counselor gives too much or keeps giving personal information, the counseling session may start to seem as if it is about the counselor (AACC, 2018). The client may thus lose focus and any hope of getting help. A counselor should always remember self-disclosure as one tool in a box with many tools. Self-disclosure can also be used to correct the client when they make a wrong assumption about the counselor. The assumptions may result from non-verbal disclosure, which may unintentionally reveal information. Items such as clothes, a wedding ring, or even a counselor’s office may disclose the counselor’s personal information to the client.
Like all other professionals, a developing counselor needs to take care of their bodies to continue performing at the highest level. Health and being well stems from getting the basics right. A counselor should ensure they use a schedule to plan their daily activities, especially if one has a family. This schedule will help allocate sufficient time to office duties and to personal time. This should be balanced to ensure one does not suffer a burn out over time. During personal time, the counselor can have a healthy meal, exercise in the gym, and even get enough sleep. There is also valuable time spent with the family to unwind from daily office work and manage stress levels. A healthy counselor enjoys success in their career.
In practice, counselors interact with people with different spiritual beliefs and practices. They need to incorporate these beliefs into practice without compromising their own spirituality. To do this, counselors need to expose themselves to different spiritual beliefs prior to beginning practice. This can be done through attending spiritual gatherings and watching or listening to spiritual and religious material on audiovisual multimedia such as movies, documentaries, and sermon podcasts. Also, counselors need to develop complete self-awareness of their spirituality and beliefs and how these might affect, or might be affected by their work. As spiritual autobiography will help a counselor understand their spirituality while a spiritual referral network will be used by the counselor to ensure their clients get the best specialized spiritual care when necessary. Moreover, they can utilize a spiritual, faith, or moral development model to analyze their personal history and spiritual growth and how this influences their psychosocial functioning (Suarez, Hull, & Hartman, 2016). Proper personal understanding ensures that the counselor knows how to cater to the spiritual aspects of a client without harming their own beliefs.