Nina, a second- generation Latina student in the high school, has been referred to you, the school counselor, because she has been sleeping in class for the past two weeks. You know Nina, but have not met with her individually for counseling until now. During your initial meeting with Nina, she tells you that she is just tired because she has to stay up late to take care of her younger brother while her mother and stepfather are working. In a subsequent session, Nina tells you that the real reason she is so tired is because she is afraid to go to sleep at night. On further questioning, she reveals that her stepfather has been touching her in ways that make her uncomfortable and that during the past month he has been coming into her room at night. She insists that he has not done anything except touch her in 'an embarrassing way'. She now keeps her door locked at night and stays awake as long as she can, until she is sure that her stepfather has gone to bed.
- What are your responsibilities to Nina?
- What are your legal and ethical responsibilities in this situation?
- What would you do in this situation? What considerations should you keep in mind?
- What factors make this situation challenging?
1. Your responsibility to Nina, as her school counselor is to keep her safe, first and foremost. She needs to be told from the beginning and from the first session that what she talks about with you is between her and you, unless she says she is in danger or does not feel safe at home or is hurting someone else. She needs to understand that your role is to be someone she can talk to but to make sure she is safe and the minute she says she is scared or feels unsafe, you legally need to take the proper precautions.
2. Your legal and ethical responsibility is to break confidentiality by calling child services and/or the ...
A case study revolving around ethical dilemmas of a school counselor and a student who reveals sensitive information about her home situation.