chapter  14
28 Pages

Ethical and Legal Issues for Professional School Counselors

From this perspective, Remley and Herlihy (2001) maintain that school counselors look to moral principles or “shared beliefs or agreed-upon assumptions upon which codes of ethics are based” (p. 3). The moral principles most often cited in relation to ethical practices for professional school counselors include the following:

• Veracity: Telling the truth, but only to necessary parties with a vested interest in the counselee (e.g., no gossiping about student or parental issues to other school personnel)

• Justice: Fairness, especially as it pertains to today’s increasingly diverse populations within the school (e.g., making all advanced academic opportunities available to all students, not just those with high academic aspirations)

• Nonmalfeasance: Doing no harm (e.g., confi dential information should not be shared, and conversations about others’ private lives or about events inside or outside of the school should not be tolerated)

• Benefi cence: Doing good (e.g., helping counselees and families gain something positive from the counseling experience; knowing appropriate referral sources in the community; communicating information on a consistent basis using all forms of media, including emails and school websites)

• Autonomy: Respecting freedom of choice (e.g., understanding that students will not necessarily accept their counselors’ suggested assistance regarding personal, social, academic, or career options and that they sometimes overestimate or underestimate their potential or abilities as well as not having the knowledge to seek out the appropriate resources)

• Fidelity: Keeping promises; always following through on agreed-upon actions and contractual agreements (e.g., following through on documentation from local community agencies, colleges, and universities; student eligibility for extracurricular activities; or college or employment recommendations)

Currently, little empirical evidence is available on the ethical dilemmas faced by school counselors. However, professional school counselors face a variety of issues that can have an impact on their professional identity and ethical responsibilities. This is particularly true when they are responsible to the fi ve different entities mentioned above: students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the greater community, including the school board and central administration.