Ethical Dilemma's regarding councling

Essay by PondscumUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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Reporting abuse frequently becomes an ethical dilemma because of complex interactions among several factors. These factors include diverse professional contexts, legal requirements, professional-ethical standards, and the circumstances of suspected abuse. The reporting dilemma also reflects the fact that breaching confidentiality and breaking the law both constitute unethical behavior. The problem of child maltreatment has reached epidemic proportions with nearly 1.9 million reports received for investigation on approximately 2.9 million children who were the alleged subjects of child abuse and neglect in 1992 (US Department of Health and Human Services). These figures may well represent the "tip of the iceberg" as many cases are never detected, especially when taking into account unreported allegations and instances of marginal physical abuse, psychological maltreatment and neglect. Mental health professionals who are identified as mandated reporters make many of these reports (i.e., psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, marriage, family and child counselors and licensed clinical social workers).

Mental health practitioners, like many health providers, must adhere to legal reporting requirements related to the performance of their work. Mandates exist in many states to report elder abuse, spouse abuse and dangerous threats and behaviors. These legal requirements are mandatory and, in many states, a practitioner can be charged with a crime if they fail to report. Ethical issues, on the other hand, reflect standards of performance and practice that are usually identified by professional organizations and often provide guidance to licensing bodies. Failure to adhere to those standards can result in loss of license and/or expulsion from a professional organization.

Ten women are meeting together in a group setting mandated by court for anger management and one woman talks about her panic attack when she got angry; "...and he was driving me nuts, so I slapped him and then threw him the corner. He chilled...