Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Ethical Dilemmas Experienced by Psychological Counsellors Working at Different Institutions and Their Attitudes and Behaviours as a Response to These Dilemmas

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Ethical Dilemmas Experienced by Psychological Counsellors Working at Different Institutions and Their Attitudes and Behaviours as a Response to These Dilemmas

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study is to determine the ethical dilemmas experiencing by the counsellors who work at different conditions and what they do to solve these dilemmas as well as the obstacles they have to deal with while resolving the dilemmas. This is a qualitative study in which multi-state pattern was used. For this research, 40 counsellors were chosen using maximum diversity sampling method. When the findings are examined, it can be seen that psychological counsellors working a universities, schools and private psychological counselling centres experience ethical dilemmas related to "teaching environments", "voluntarism" and "determination of service fee" respectively. The common ethical dilemmas experienced in all institutions were found out as "limitations to privacy", "entering into multiple relations", and "transfer of competences and values". It has been found out that they try to resolve these dilemmas by "taking ethical rules into consideration", "receiving help", "engaging the counsellor in the process", "conducting personal queries", or "trying to stay in legal process". The obstacles to resolution of dilemmas are determined as "political and institutional", "lack of competence in resolution of ethical dilemmas" and "personal reasons". These results have been discussed under the light of literature and suggestions have been provided.

Key Words

Psychological Counsellor, Ethics, Ethical Dilemma, Ethical Behavior, Ethical Attitudes

During the walk of life, it functions as a compass for distinguishing between right and wrong in terms of value definition. In philosophical sense, it is approached as theoretical examination of practical ethics. When other definitions of ethics are addressed, it can be seen that there are some approaches which view it as "the activity of thinking about morals" or "the science of moral action". Some other approaches suggest that ethics is not about ultimate truth or unchanging principles and that it tells the relation of a person with him/herself, and that it is related to the extent to which he/ she takes others into consideration in the sense of a limited but meaningful function (Akarsu, 1998; Pieper, 1999; Semin & Aras, 2004).

In the field of psychological counselling, it can be seen that the concepts of ethics, values, morals, law and professionalism are used interchangeably. Corey, Corey, and Callanan (1998) have defined and concretized these concepts (cited in Erdur-Barker & Çetinkaya, 2007). In a few words, how ethical standards will be turned into Professional behaviour is an essential topic in psychological counselling which deserves more elaboration (Gümüs & Gümüs, 2010; Tastan & Yalçin, 2007). Ethical dilemma is defined as "a situation which is caused by the chaos between two values in a decision-requiring circumstance" or "in circumstances when two or more options are encountered and there is a difficulty in deciding about which one is better; as a result of which the existing necessities cannot be met by present alternatives" (Lindsay & Clarkson, 1999; Noureddine, 2001).

In the literature, experiencing a conflict between suitable ethical standards is shown as the reason of an ethical dilemma during psychological counselling process. In addition, it is stated that psychological counsellors are suffering from ethical dilemmas due to such reasons as the complexity in application of idiosyncratic but tacit ethical standards, some conditions which prevent clear application of standards or situations that include a failure to distinguish between right and wrong and that involve an ethical problem (Ergene, 2004; Gümüs & Gümüs; 2010). In studies conducted abroad (Bodenhorn, 2006; Capuzzi, 2002; Davis & Mickelson, 2003; Hendrix, 1991; Herlihy & Corey, 2006; Knapp & Vandecreek, 2010; Lawrence & Kurpius, 2000; Lazovsky, 2008; Lindsay & Clarkson 1999; Pope & Vetter, 1992; Rae, Sullivan, Razo, & Alba, 2009) it is stated that the most common ethical dilemmas encountered in psychological counselling are privacy, blurriness of boundaries, fuzzy, multiple or conflicting relationships, academic environment, teaching dilemmas and education problems, and colleague behaviours. …

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