An Ethics Quiz for School Counselors. (Special Issue: Legal and Ethical Issues in School Counseling)

Article excerpt

All practicing counselors, including those in schools, are encouraged to review the contents of the professional codes of ethics that apply to them and to consult ethical standards documents when ethical dilemmas arise (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 1998; Cottone & Tarvydas, 1998; Gladding, Remley, & Huber, 2001; Herlihy & Corey, 1996; Huey & Remley, 1988; Madden, 1998; Remley & Herlihy, 2001). School counselors who know their codes of ethics are in a much better position to conduct themselves in an ethical manner.

The language in codes of ethics is aspirational in nature and quite often is broad in order to cover many possible situations. However, the words, phrases, and sentences in ethical standards documents can be helpful to counselors and are an excellent beginning point of reference when a school Counselor is trying to decide a course of action in a difficult situation. The law of malpractice requires a school counselor to act as a reasonable counselor would in a similar situation (Remley & Herlihy, 2001). Legal standards represent the minimum behavior society will tolerate of a professional. On the other hand, best practice in school counseling would include a purposeful adherence to professional ethical standards. As a result, school counselors who practice ethically seldom lose a counseling malpractice law suit and are able to defend any of their actions that might be questioned.

School counselors could possibly have a number of ethics documents with which they have agreed to comply. For example, a school counselor who is a member of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA), who is certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), and who is licensed by his or her state counseling licensure board has agreed to abide by four separate sets of ethical standards. Fortunately, there are few conflicts among the many codes of ethics that have been promulgated by counseling groups, and most codes cover the same basic, counseling-related issues. However, there are some variations in the different counseling ethical standards documents as the quiz in this article demonstrates.

It is impossible to review all codes of ethics to which school counselors might subscribe. As a result, we have chosen to apply the Ethical Standards of School Counselors (American School Counselor Association, 1998) and the Code of Ethics (American Counseling Association, 1995) to situations often faced by school counselors. The ACA code was created to cover counseling that takes place in all settings. Therefore, the ACA standards do not address in a detailed manner some of the issues important to school counselors such as counseling minors; consulting with parents, guardians, teachers, and administrators; and working within a school environment. The ASCA standards were developed by school counselors for school counselors to help them address issues that may be unique to the school setting. Both standards would most likely be referenced in the event a school counselor was accused of wrong doing, so it is important for school counselors to be knowledgeable of both the ASCA and ACA ethical documents.

This quiz is intended to stimulate school counselors to evaluate their own knowledge of codes of ethics to which they should adhere and to test their ability to apply the codes' sections to actual practice. Counselor educators who prepare school counselors and those who instruct practicing school counselors in the area of ethics are invited to use the quiz in this article as a teaching tool.

For this quiz, we chose real situations that are experienced by school counselors on a daily basis, many of which have been explored in recent counseling literature. Counselors who wish to explore the situations presented in more depth may wish to read the recent articles and books referenced that explore each of the difficult issues in detail. …