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Legal and Ethical Implications of Counselling Children

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Read the following scenario and when you have done this please comment on what you think are the ethical (300 words) and the legal (300 words) issues are that to be considered when working with Jenny, a seven year old girl.

Jenny is referred to you because she is profoundly "depressed". The referral letter from the GP (which arrives in the mail) also gives the following information about her mother Jane.
- A long history of contact with Mental Health Services
-History of horrific child sexual assault by a family member
- Client reports that this occurs occasionally
- Long history of self harm and suicidal ideation
-Dissociative presentation in the nature of;

1 Appearing to be distant and absentminded during sessions
2 Has reported that she's found herseif in places she does not remember going to and done things that she can't remember such as painting pictures and planting out garden beds
3 Purchased things she can't remember buying such as badly matched clothing for her children
4 Has reported that she hears voices

It has been observed that as a mother she is cold angry and withdrawn both socially and emotionally.

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RESPONSE:

SCENARIO

Read the following scenario and when you have done this please comment on what you think are the ethical (300 words) and the legal (300 words) issues are that to be considered when working with Jenny a seven year old girl.

Jenny is referred to you because she is profoundly "depressed". The referral letter from the GP (which arrives in the mail) also gives the following information about her mother Jane.
- A long history of contact with Mental Health Services
-History of horrific child sexual assault by a family member
- Client reports that this occurs occasionally
- Long history of self harm and suicidal ideation
-Dissociative presentation in the nature of;

1 Appearing to be distant and absentminded during sessions
2 Has reported that she's found herseif in places she does not remember going to and done things that she cant remember such as painting pictures and planting out garden beds
3 Purchased things she can't remember buying such as badly matched clothing for her children
4 Has reported that she hears voices

It has been observed that as a mother she is cold angry and withdrawn both socially and emotionally.

RESPONSE:

Both while working with Jenny and her mother, counselors must take into consideration codes of ethics (e.g., informed consent, privacy, confidentiality, limited confidentiality, safety of the client, to name a few), applicable statutes, and policies of their local mental health and professional agencies and their individual organization. Given this type of balancing act, it is not surprising that mental health counselors/psychologists often face ethical dilemmas related to maintaining the confidentiality of client information. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/pg_8)

The issue of trust and confidentiality in counseling is complex. Mental health professionals have the ethical obligation to respect the privacy of minor clients and maintain confidentiality. This obligation is often in conflict with laws related to minors, such as Jenny, because parents have the right to know about most treatments and to decide what is in the best interest of their children. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/pg_8).

Code of Ethics is intended to guide professional behavior. One example of a code of ethics is the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the American Counseling Association (ACA, 1995, as cited in http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/print), which help mental health counselors manage privacy and confidentiality in their counseling relationships. Counselors can also look to moral principles or "shared beliefs or agreed-upon assumptions that guide the ethical reasoning of helping professionals" (Remley & Herlihy, 2001, p. 3, as cited in http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/print) which the codes of ethics is based. The moral principles most often cited in relation to ethical practices of counselors include the following:

* Veracity or telling the truth
* Justice or fairness
* Nonmaleficence or doing no harm
* Beneficence or doing good
* Autonomy or respecting free choice
* Fidelity or keeping promises http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/print

Informed Consent is another ethical issue to consider. With so many stipulations and exceptions to confidentiality and privilege, it is critical that mental health counselors engage in effective informed consent practices with their clients and significant adults. Informed consent, as an ethical principle, rests primarily on meeting the moral/ethical principles of autonomy and fidelity. The ethical principle of autonomy mentioned above is consistent with counseling principles that require counselors to respect their clients as capable individuals who have the right to make choices regarding entering into counseling and being actively involved in the counseling process. Fidelity, in addition to the traditional definition of keeping promises, means that counselors create "a trusting and therapeutic climate in which people can search for their own solutions, and taking care not to deceive or exploit clients" (Herlihy & Corey, 1996, pp. 4-5, as cited in http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KOC/is_1_6/ai_93700936/print). Adherence to the moral principles of autonomy and fidelity fit well with the idea that clients have the right to actively participate in setting their goals for counseling and to make informed choices about the direction of their treatment. However, since Jenny is only 7-years old, this will mean allowing Jenny the freedom to discuss things that are on her mind, and you ...

Solution Summary

Based on the scenario, this solution discusses the ethical and the legal issues that to consider when working with Jenny, a seven year old girl. Supplemented with one article on privacy and confidentiality.

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