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Ethics in Counseling with Couples

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-What is your responsibility in this case? From an ethical and legal standpoint, how you would handle the disclosure about the wife's affair? Refer to specific legal and ethical standards to support your decision.

-How would the counselor's values, beliefs, and biases affect your reaction to this disclosure, any decision you would make, and the future work with this couple?


You have been working with a couple for three months to address the many arguments they have been having about several issues: money, intimacy, responsibilities around the house, and so on. Both the wife and husband say they are committed to their marriage and want to work through their problems.

Last week, the wife attended the first half of the therapy session alone because her husband had been given a last-minute assignment at work and was going to be late. During this time, she disclosed that she has been having an affair for the past six months and that this has really been the source of her distress in the marriage. She admitted that she has not made any decision as to whether she will end the affair or whether she will leave her husband, saying that she was hoping the counseling sessions would help her make up her mind.

She wants you to keep the information about her affair confidential and says she will tell her husband when she is ready. In the meantime, she wants you to help them communicate better and try to reclaim the good feelings that they used to have together.

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Solution Summary

This solution discusse ethics involved when counseling with couples. A case study is presented to address issues of counselor's values, beliefs, and biases, and decisions when working with couples. The ethics of disclosure and confidentialy are examined as related to couple counseling.

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Ethics and confidentially in counseling with couples

? From an ethical & legal standpoint, how you would handle the disclosure about the wife's affair? Refer to specific legal and ethical standards to support your decision.

Therapists counseling with couples must comply with the mandates of law, but follow the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT, 2001) Code of Ethics. In establishing its principles, the AAMFT states its support of legal mandates for the reporting of unethical conduct. The primary principle is focused on ensuring appropriate services, and to advance the welfare of families and individuals. However, the following principles (paraphrased here) apply to the issues of confidentiality when counseling with couples.

Principle 1.2 requires therapists to obtain appropriate informed consent. Informed consent constitutes the following guidelines for therapists to follow: (a) the person must have the capacity to consent, (b) he or she must be ...

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