Vistas Online 2012

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.


Examining Counselor Educators Use of Impairment in Gatekeeping Terminology

Kathleen Brown-Rice


The American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics (2005) utilizes the term impairment to classify any physical, mental, or emotional problems that would impede a counselor or counselor-in-training from providing professional services when such impediment would likely harm a client or someone else. However, whether impairment is the correct term to use has been questioned (Elman & Forrest, 2007; Falender & Shafranske, 2007; Forrest, Elman, Gizara, & Vacha-Haase, 1999; Oliver, Bernstein, Anderson, Blashfield, & Roberts, 2004; Shen Miller, Forrest, & Elman, 2008). In particular, counselor educators may be exposing themselves and their institutions to potential legal risk by utilizing impairment in gatekeeping procedures (Falender & Shafranske, 2007). The term impairment is utilized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (1991) when defining an individual with a disability. Therefore, when a counselor educator uses the term impairment to describe a student’s deficiency, this use may inadvertently open the door for ADA accommodations or the student may be able to argue that the counselor educator knew the student had a disability and the counselor educator should have made proper accommodations (Falender & Shafranske, 2007). The purpose of this article is to examine counselor educators’ utilization of the term impairment in gatekeeping by describing the intent of gatekeeping and remediation, exploring the suitability of the use of impairment in gatekeeping terminology, and providing alternate language.

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