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Ethical and Legal Codes: Case Study

Case Study

Mark is a licensed professional counselor who has been counseling Paul, who is going through a divorce, for 3 months. Paul has been married for 9 years and two young children: Monica 7, and Jeffrey 3. During his session with Mark, Paul discloses that, after he moved out the family home 4 months ago, he had a brief extramarital affair. Paul also reveals that he has occasionally used marijuana, although he stated that he has never known about the affair or his occasional marijuana use.
During the counseling sessions, Paul expresses remorse over his extramarital affair and talk about how much he misses being with his children. Paul has been picking up the children once or twice a week after he gets off work and spending the evening with them, returning them home at their bedtime. He tells Mark that he is very concerned about his children welfare because his daughter has told him that "mommy has a boyfriend" and that he is "mean" to her and her brother. Although Paul doesn't suspect physical abuse, he thinks this man is being verbally abusive to his children. What Monica has told him has also led Paul to believe that his wife has been drinking alcohol to excess at times. Paul has tried to suggest to Debbie that she seek counseling for herself and the children, but she has told him "you're the one who needs help!" Paul has decided to seek custody of his children.
Mark receives a subpoena from Debbie's attorney. The subpoena requests that Mark appear at a deposition with any and all records related to his client, Paul. Mark contacts Paul to discuss the subpoena. Paul states that he does not want Mark to disclose any information related to their counseling sessions, especially information related to Paul's extramarital affair and marijuana use.

1.give a brief summary of the case, the nature of the ethical dilemma in this case,and the depht and breadth of ethical dilemma (What makes it an ethical dilemma? Who are the parties affected by the dilemma?) . Also give a brief summary of the ACA, plus AMHCA ethical code number and title related to the ethical dilemma.

2. What Potential actions would a professional counselor takes or would have taken--as an ethical counselor, what would you have done differently? Consider which decision-making model you would use and why? How would your actions solve the dilemma?Given the actions you noted above, which do you think is the best solution and why?

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Solution Preview

The ethical issues in this case include: (a) Limits of confidentiality, (b) disclosure of information (i.e., that may cause harm), (c) potential child abuse, and (d) the legal issue of the subpoena. For example, if Paul does not wish his wife to know of his extra marital affair he faces the dilemma of the limits of confidentiality under the American Psychological Association's APA ethical standards-- Standard. 4.02, which states that:

(a) Psychologists discuss with persons (including , to the extent feasible, persons who are legally incapable of giving informed consent and legal representation) limits of confidentially , and (2) use of information through their psychological activities. Basically, as it relates to this case study, this standard cautions psychologists/psychotherapists from promising confidentiality to clients without fully understanding limits to confidentially that may bring adverse consequences.

(b) Paul's request not to have the extramarital made known also presents a dilemma, because revealing the information could cause potential harm to others in this relationship. Standard 3.04 of the APA Ethics Codes mandate that psychologists/psychotherapists are to avoid harm, " Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients; patients, students, supervisee; research participants, organizational clients and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm ...

Solution Summary

The solution examines the ethical and legal obligations in a case study involving infidelity and potential abuse. It discusses the ethical dilemma a counselor encounters in a resolution of the case.