Ethical And Legal Issues in Counselling

July 18, 2022

Ethical And Legal Issues in Counselling

When we hear ethical and legal issues in counselling, we hardly feel this is required but in reality, this is the most critical part of counselling. Ethics and legal indicate moral and legal principles that control or influence a person’s behavior. According to Akinade (2005) ethics are normative in nature and focus on principles and standards that govern relationships between individuals, such as counselors and clients. The Ethics code provides a common set of principles and standards upon which counselors build their professional and scientific work. 

The legal issues in counselling are the result of unethical behavior or a perceived misconduct. If any counsellor practices any illegal work or unethical practice, they have to face some serious consequences of legal rights as every counsellor has certain boundaries and limitations to their expertise and knowledge. 


Some of the general principles of ethics are: 

Counsellor must always respect people’s rights and dignity: 

The dignity and worth of all people should be respected by counsellor along with people’s privacy, self-determination and confidentiality. Despite of cultures, religions, sexual orientation, disability, language barrier a counsellor have to be impartial. 


Counsellor’s personal moral values:  

Personal moral qualities are of the utmost importance to clients. Personal moral values of any practitioner must include- Integrity, Empathy, Resilience, Fairness, Wisdom, Humanity and Courage. 


Confidentiality Limitations: 

Any child abuse suspected must be reported 

Threats and other’s harm should also be reported. 


Client’s Rights: 

Client should be informed about their relationship with counselor and what they are entailed for to make autonomous decisions. 


Obligations to Warn and Protect: 

It is the obligation of the counselor to warn the related people/ family members. A few examples are given below-  

Incest and Child abuse.  

Serious danger to others: e.g., in the case of an HIV-positive client. This as a new standard was added in 1995 to the ACA code of ethics.  

Runaway plan of a child client must be reported to the parents.  

Students’ violation of confidentiality.  

Harm-to-self. Most suicides can be prevented if we learn to recognize, evaluate, and intervene effectively in crises situations. 


Confidentiality must be discussed, as the client must also have access to the records of his/her confidential information shared with their counsellor. 

Also, ethical and legal issues involve two most important aspects: 

Professional relationships with clients. 

Professional responsibilities. 



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