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My Values

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Self Reflection: How My Values and Beliefs Affect Who I Counsel Values are deeply held opinions or beliefs that an individual deems as appropriate. Values can be accumulated from our childhood based on the various teachings and observations from our parents, teachers, pastors and other influential individuals in our lives. Ethics and values are about the choices made – or failed to make, and becoming aware of our thoughts and of our abilities to make informed, intelligent decisions, as well as our belief system. I am aware that my values and beliefs are a result of the choices that I make, and will have consequences, both for me and for others. I realized I made decisions of where to live, how to spend my time, whom to associate with, whom to believe, or not believe. I am constantly faced with choices that affect the length and quality my life. Regardless of where life may lead me, my personal beliefs and values go with me; however, I must be careful not to impose those beliefs on clientele when providing therapy.

When working with clients, integrity and concern for their welfare are essential. I know it is vital that I don’t judge others and treat them as individuals while encouraging them to successfully define and achieve their own goals. I realize that I have a tendency to stereotype people based on my past experiences on what I had heard from others or was taught. I realize that this is not a constructive way for me to be, and will definitely not benefit anyone I may come in contact with. I have a strong religious background and it will be a challenge for me to respect an individual’s cultural background and beliefs that differ from mine. I believe it is important for me to be responsible, professional in my behavior, respectful, and yet maintain a high level of honesty while supporting clients. It will be helpful for me to become acquainted with the American Psychological Association (APA) Code of Ethics so I can and abide by those guidelines when it comes to respecting the rights of clients. Moreover, this will help me avoid imposing my belief system on them. Discussion

There are a vast number of ethical and legal issues when it comes to counseling and working with clients. It is important to be sincere, genuine, patient, nonjudgmental, understanding, and possess strong interpersonal skills, yet be flexible when working with clients. In the mental health field, an individual’s background, beliefs, and gender are important; thus, may influence their confidence in the type of counselor they prefer to have in treatment. The APA (2002) Ethical Principle D: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity, affirms that psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of individuals, or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making. According to Welfel (2010) age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status when working with members of such groups.

It is important for psychologists to try to eliminate any biases based on those factors, and avoid participating in or condoning the activities of others based upon such prejudices. The Code of Ethics acknowledges that counselors are to explore their own cultural identities and how these affect their values and beliefs about the counseling process (APA, 2002). Another area of concern for me is not to violate client’s rights, or overstep any boundaries. Since there are so many different cultures in this country, I feel it becomes unavoidable not to come in contact with multiple people from multiple backgrounds along with their multicultural issues. I think all multicultural groups should have access to the kind of counseling, which honors their ethnicity, speaks their language, and treats them the way they would be treated among their own ethnic group. Even if this requires additional training for a therapist, I think it will be beneficial for the sake of the client.

I know it is important to abide by the APA Code of Ethics, inform clients of their rights, retain confidentiality, maintain adequate training, and seek consultation from my peers and supervisor (Davenport & Pipes, 1990). When providing treatment, I will need to be careful not to violate any client boundaries, remain professional, and not cross over into any questionable territory. Another ethical concern is dual relationships. For example, in a small town, chances are the counselor will know the client they are counseling. In a small town, everyone seems to know everyone, and since I come from a close-knit family background, and believe that it is important to keep family together, I have become even more aware of the client/counselor relationship and the overall purpose of confidentiality; thereby, being careful not to disclose information to anyone, even a friend or relative. In the mental health field, I know it is important not to violate a client’s rights, or overstep any boundaries.

One of the fears I have is not being aware of all the legal practicalities I need to know so I am not overstepping any client boundaries. When probing the gray areas of counseling, I believe there is a fine line to be drawn when adapting the necessary interventions a client may call for in order to deliver effective treatment; nevertheless, a therapist needs to be careful not to violate any client boundaries. When it comes to disclosing personal information, I prefer to remain professional and let my clients know as little as possible about my personal life. I think it will be imperative for my clients to know my qualifications and education because it may affect the quality of treatment they are given. Competence can become an area of concern when it comes to a client receiving proper treatment. I think when it comes to competency, having adequate training is needed for the welfare of the client.

After preparing an assessment of the needs of the client, I would try to do some additional research to find a plan that may benefit them. In addition to this, having adequate supervision, and making sure the client is aware of my training is necessary and essential to their treatment process. If I discovered that I fell short and their needs exceeds what I am qualified to do, I would let the client know, discuss my concerns with a superior, and possibly refer them to another counselor who is more qualified to provide proper treatment. When working with clients, integrity and having purpose and meaning in their lives are important. I believe it is important for me to be respectful, responsible, and professional in my behavior; yet, maintain a high level of honesty while supporting clientele. Regardless of my values, I know it is vital that I do not judge others, but respect their beliefs.

Sometimes I have a tendency to go above and beyond the call of duty because I want to see everyone succeed, but I know it is imperative to remain in the realm of what a therapist should do when counseling clients. Furthermore, in order to be able to work with clients with different values and cultures from my own, a counselor needs to develop sensitivity to their values and differences, which are a very important issue in the counseling process (Kelly& Strupp, 1992). This view has been held by Bell (1996), who argues that it is important for a counselor to be mindful of the client’s values and to look at how psychological problems are treated within other cultures. In this regard, Propst (1996) argues that counselors’ sensitivity to clients’ values can be decisive to the success of the therapy, since the counselors’ competence in communicating within the clients’ value framework influences the final result for the clients. I am mindful that I need to be careful so my beliefs and values do not interfere when counseling people.

As a counselor, or therapist it is significant not to impose my values on clients, but this does not imply that I should decline to discuss values, ethics, or my point of view as long as it does not intervene with the counseling procedure. Nor does it mean that I may not be able to express my values because a client may request how I feel about a specific subject. There may be times when it is necessary for a client to be cognizant of my values or beliefs, and how I stand on certain ethical matters. I think being honest with the client means that I may need to express my values and beliefs. When counseling, if therapists believe that acknowledging their values may improve the counseling relationship with their client, it is beneficial to act thusly. Nevertheless, such values should be distinctly labeled as their own or perhaps sometimes as society’s in general.

When values are openly expressed in this way, there is no coerciveness about them (Patterson, 1986). I do not believe that I would openly impose my values on clientele because the effect will be clearly a conflict of interest, which I desire to avert. Besides, by imposing my values and beliefs on clients can make them experience a sense of guilt and become uncomfortable. The therapist should not impose their beliefs, value system, or philosophy on clients (Patterson, 1986). Yet, it has been noted the therapist cannot avoid communicating their values to the client through the acceptance of an ultimate goal toward the therapeutic process (Patterson, 1986). The immediate goal of counseling is the continuing process by which clients achieve goals and become a more self-actualizing person. The self-actualizing individual is autonomous, independent and responsible.

Therefore, the client is respected and given responsibility in the therapy process and should make their own decisions. Clients have the right to personal freedom, independence and dignity (Welfel, 2010). I know that I need to be careful not to solve a client’s problem for them. I am aware that a client’s individuality should be fully respected. Clients should not be controlled, dominated, manipulated, coerced or indoctrinated. People are entitled to make their own mistakes and learn from them. It is important to establish an agreement between the client and therapist regarding the relevance of values and religious issues during the counseling process. There is a possibility that the counselor’s values influence those of the client (Corey, 1996). Moreover,

it is possible that the client can become converted into the counselor’s set of values. For this reason, a problem may arise when my values and beliefs differ from a client’s. Furthermore, I am mindful that I should not impose any of my beliefs and values on clientele. I realize that in order to maintain a sense of professionalism, I need to be able to relate to clients whose values and beliefs are different from my own as well as develop sensitivity to their psychological needs. Another resolution to avoid imposing my values on clients is to ensure that clientele and myself come from the same values, background and culture (Zain & Varma, 1996). In most instances, it is probably unlikely that this will occur. Since acquiring a client’s trust can sometimes be a difficult process, it is important for me to be realistic, I will not always get a client with the values I want.

According to Beutler et. al. (1991) when a client-counselor relationship is mismatched, it is best to strive for a collaborative, caring, supportive and respectful relationship that is based on the client’s values (Beutler, et. al. (1991). If consideration is given to a client’s cultural values, it is important that I am able to communicate adequately within the client’s value system. According to Bergin et. al, (1996) it is important that this is done with sensitivity and in a manner acceptable to the client involved. As stated by Hays (1995), the extent to which counselors can acknowledge alternative styles, views and behaviors, depends on the flexibility of the counselor’s viewpoint regarding lifestyles.

Counseling which takes client’s values into consideration is more successful in the process, outcome, and assessment of therapy, and also leads to a better client-counselling relationship (Kelly &Strupp, 1992). It is also important for me to be aware of my own values and prejudices as well as understanding the values and beliefs of clients. I understand the importance of being sensitive to a client’s values and way of life. I plan on obtaining additional training in terms of working with individuals from diverse cultures by taking extra classes, workshops, or even learning another language that may benefit the client, therapist relationship.


I will continue to value trust, loyalty, commitment, integrity, and respect for one another. According to the APA (2002) Code of Ethics, Section C: Professional Responsibility, C.2.D., it is important to monitor a counselor’s effectiveness and take steps to improve whenever necessary (Welfel, 2010). I value ongoing education, being in the company of people from diverse backgrounds, and obtaining as much information as possible to help me reach a better understanding of other cultures. Moreover, I will endeavor to be the most effective counselor by respecting my client’s beliefs and value arrangement. A personal and professional strength that I have is listening. I recognize when to be quiet and how to be attentive to an individual’s need. Also, I feel I have a wide variety of experiences, both positive and negative, when it comes to working with people, and I know I can maintain an objective point of view. I am non-judgmental and a firm believer that all people can be helped, and construct positive changes in their lives regardless of their age, gender, culture, or nationality.

I am concerned in seeing every client of every age succeed in their personal, scholastic and vocational life. Being respectful and keeping a high level of honesty is also important when supporting clientele. I know it is imperative that I don’t judge clients and treat them as individuals, while at the same time encouraging them to successfully define and achieve their own goals. I think because of my values and beliefs, I am able to empathize with clients and rationally and emotionally relate to their points of view. By seeking to understand the APA Code of Ethics, this will also help to lessen my chances of not imposing my values and beliefs on a client. Counselors are to encourage client growth and development in ways that foster the interest and welfare of clients and promote formation of healthy relationships. I think counselors should actively attempt to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of the clients they serve.

Counselors also explore their own cultural identities and how these affect their value and beliefs about the counseling process (Welfel, 2010). I feel all people should have access to the sort of counseling that respects their values and beliefs, and treats them the way they would desire to be treated among their own cultural group. Even though I have a strong religious background, it will be a challenge for me to respect an individual’s cultural background and beliefs. Nevertheless, I believe it is important for me to be responsible and professional in my behavior, be respectful, and yet maintain a high degree of honesty while supporting clientele. It will be helpful for me to become familiar with the APA Code of Ethics and to adopt those guidelines of respecting the rights and dignity of people and not imposing my belief system on them.

I am aware that I will continue to be faced with choices that affect the length and quality my life. Therefore, my values and beliefs can affect the way that I counsel clientele. When working with diverse clients, integrity and concern for their welfare is essential. I believe that, overall, people are important and deserve to have their values and beliefs respected, even if they differ from mine. Even though I am still under construction when it comes to developing my potential as an effective mental health professional, in my own way, I wish to make the world a better, healthier place for all people.

American Psychological Association.(2002) Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Retrieved June 12, 2014 from http:// www.apa.org/ethics/code 2002.html Bell, E. (1996). Counseling In Further and Higher Education. Buckingham: Open University Press. Bergin, A.E., Payne, R.I., & Richards, P.S. (1996). Values in Psychotherapy in Shafranske,. Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology, 20 (111). Beutler, L.E., Clarkin, J., Crago, M., & Bergan, J. (1991). Client-Therapist Matching in Synder. Handbook of Social and clinical Psychology: The Health Perspective. Davenport, D.S., & Pipes, R.B. (1990). Introduction to Psychotherapy: Common Clinical Wisdom. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Hays, P.A. (1995). Multicultural Applications of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 26 (309), 309 – 315. Kelly, T.A., & Strupp, H.H. (1992). Patient and Therapist Values in Psychotherapy:
Perceived Changes, Assimilation, Similarity, and Outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical psychology, 60 (1), 34-40. Patterson, C.H. (1986). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy (4th ed.). New York: Harper and Row. Propst, L.R. (1996). Cognitive-Behavior Therapy and the Religious Person in Shafranske, E. American Psychological Association. Welfel, E.R. (2010). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy: Standards, research and emerging issues (4th ed., p. 61). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Zain, A.M., & Varma, S.L. (1996). Cognitive Therapy in Malaysia. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 10 (4), 305-307.

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