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Locating and Integrating State Laws and Ethical Codes

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Promulgating a code of ethics is one way that a group of practitioners can establish their professional status. Codes of ethics serve a number of other important purposes as well. Most fundamentally, they exist to protect and promote the welfare of clients(Herlihy & Remley, 2014). As a counselor our number one task is to protect the clients, by using the proper tactics to provide the best service to them. There are a number of resources to be used when acknowledging the ethical standards of mental health counseling. The main sources that will be focused on are; ACA Code of Ethics, and the American Mental Health Counseling Association. These two source give in depth rules and regulations as to how a counselor should conduct themselves in a professional setting. Locating Ethical Standards and State Laws

The mission of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity (American Counseling Association, 2014). The ACA website can be found on the world wide web at www.counseling.org. This website gives insight on the latest information on the counseling profession, help find counselors, displays the code of ethics for counselors, and other educational resources. It also give counselors the opportunity to seek employment as well. The latest version of ethics from the ACA is the 2014 version and took the place of the last version in 2005. The American Mental Health Counseling Association is another resource that can be used for the counseling community.

This nationwide database and information can be found on, www.amhca.org. Not only does this website display the standards and code of ethics for the mental health counselor, but it also assists the counseling individuals throughout professional development. The current version of the ethics/standards of the AMHCA, was developed in 2010. The version is the most recent and the hasn’t been any revisions since 2010. Locate the Laws Regulating the practice of counseling in your state. Laws for practicing counseling can differentiate from state to state. In case, the focus would be in the state of Alabama. The Alabama Counseling Association has been in place for Alabama counselors since 1966.

The website to find all of their information is www.alabamacounseling.org. You can find all the laws, ethics and standards for this state on this website. Any new laws and/or pending legislature can be found through the professional link on the Alabama counseling website, . You can easily stay informed about proposed changes to the current state laws for counseling by visiting this website and getting to know the bylaws, policies and procedures. Locating and Integrating State Laws and Ethical Codes Interactive A 16-year-old you are seeing for counseling has disclosed that she’s been sexually intimate with her 22-year-old boyfriend and does not want you to tell her parents. Legal

A client you worked with three years ago, and for whom you feel some attraction, has asked if you’re available to have dinner. Legal
A client who is going on a business trip for six weeks has asked to continue counseling sessions via email and Skype. Legal
One of the partners seeing you for couples counseling has asked you to speak with his individual therapist regarding your observations about the couple’s relationship. Legal
The parents of a child you’ve been working with send you a $200 gift certificate in appreciation of the excellent progress their child has made. Legal

With the questions asked from the interactive section, all questions can be considered both ethical and legal responses. As counselors, we have to be sure that we are making the proper decisions that are meeting the needs of the clients and not for personal gain. Herlihy and Remley states, “But counselors, like other professionals, could use their power they have in professional counseling relationships to meet their own personal needs rather than the needs of their clients. (2014). We have to take knowledge that clients are in a very vulnerable state and that point does not need to be taken advantage of.

It is a counselor duty to recognize the legal right as a counselor and the rights of their client. Practicing the proper ethical standards and laws, should be visible in the methods that are being used during counseling. As a counselor, the knowledge of being able to recognize ethical and legal issues should be displayed on a day to day basis in the professional environment. In some cases, if a counselor is unsure as to what’s ethical and lawful towards a client, seeking legal advise would suffice, to provide adequate services as well.

Overall, a counselor’s judgment and decision making skills have to be at a level that can handle any situation that occurs. Not all cases will be easy, there will be some issues that can possible put counselors in an unethical/unlawful positions. They are held accountable for making professional decisions that are sound and reasonable, given the information they have available when they make such judgment(Herlihy & Remley, 2014). So in seeking ethical standards and state laws, be sure to access all state and national rules and regulations, by visiting either the National American Mental Health Association, the Alabama Counseling Association and other informational websites that that will give the proper information and will keep you updated on all current laws and well.


Alabama counseling association . (2004). Retrieved from http://www.alabamacounseling.org American mental health counseling association. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.amhca.org/ Herlihy, B. & Remley, T. (2014). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling. (4 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, Inc.

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