VISTAS Counselor Education and Supervision

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

The Confidentiality of a Confession: A Counseling Intern s Ethical Dilemma

Erin G. Constable, Tara B. Kreider, Tom F. Smith, and Zachary R. Taylor


This article explores the case of James, an intern at a university’s counseling center (see Appendix). It is there he learns that his client, Lisa, a 21-year old Latina student, possibly contributed to the death of her mother’s partner who had been physically and sexually abusing her when she was 7 years old. In complex situations such as this, the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Ethics Committee recommends that counselors explore professionally accepted decision-making models and choose the model most applicable to their situation (Kocet, 2006). According to Welfel (2010), the failure to do so presents an ethical problem in itself, given the greater risk to the public when a professional relies on his or her intuitions alone. For this case we have chosen Welfel’s (2010) ethical decision-making model because it incorporates the standards and ethical principles of the counseling profession, promotes analysis that is grounded in the overarching moral vision of the profession, and emphasizes counselor reflection in the decision making process. Such reflection increases a counselor’s competence to make future ethical decisions, deepens their sense of ethical sensitivity, increases their competence to make future decisions, and can safeguard future clients from harm. Also, given James’ limited experiences with diversity, we have chosen elements of Garcia, Cartwright, Winston, and Borzuchowska’s (2003) Transcultural Integrated Decision-Making Model to enrich James’ cultural awareness throughout the decision-making process

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