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An Ethical Dilemma in Counseling: Deciding Between Two Rights

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Essay title: An Ethical Dilemma in Counseling: Deciding Between Two Rights

An Ethical Dilemma in Counseling: Deciding between two rights

Ethics, considered the study of moral philosophy, is a broad way of defining human duty, right and wrong; essentially, it is more expansive than simply applying a principle. Dilemmas are situations that require a choice between options appearing uniformly favorable, unfavorable or mutually exclusive. Naturally, an ethical dilemma can place a professional counselor in a precarious position, thereby compromising the effectiveness of the therapy, the trust in the client-practitioner relationship, and the counselor's professional standing. Trying to determine the "most" right choice for a particular problem is of the utmost importance. Consider the following hypothetically complex ethical dilemma posed to a licensed professional counselor in the Christian Community.

A Christian Counselor at a local church works with a married couple concerning their troubled sex life. The husband requests a confidential private session; during the first session, he starts to reveal his repressed homosexual desires. In later private sessions, he admits to frequent rental of homosexual pornography, engagement in unprotected sex while frequenting area brothels, and exorbitant spending of family funds to support this "shameful" habit. His current concern is not so much whether or not he is a homosexual; he seeks advisement to embrace his "real" homosexual self, and ultimately, he desires to divorce his wife to live an alternate lifestyle.

Several factors arise for the counselor in attempting to provide ethical services to this client. Initially, the counselor needs to identify the dilemmas and differentiate between moral, legal, or purely ethical issues. Obviously, for a practicing Christian Counselor the religious/moral beliefs may automatically influence his approach. Additionally, the counselor should not only evaluate the ways in which the husband's decisions affect the troubled marriage, but should acknowledge the possibly detrimental health-related hazards and financial risks being introduced into the marital relationship. How does the counselor protect the confidentiality of the married man (even within the church), how does this revelation flavor the counselor's private sessions with the wife? How can he, as a Christian (i.e. of Baptist Faith), not proselytize against divorce and homosexuality? What are the issues posed by a "dual/multiple relationship" with both clients and the counselor being

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