Counseling psychology is the branch of psychology that uses the personal and interpersonal method of relation to diagnose and treat patients in clinical psychology. As a field of psychology, counseling psychology tends to cover issues that fall under human emotions, social, occupational, educational, developmental, and organizational problems. Generally, counseling psychology employs several techniques which include dialogue, cross examination, and professional relationship building in order to diagnose and help people build the right perception of self, develop a sense of well-being, reducing the stress and emotional distress, and treat various crises that might hamper human functioning. As a psychoanalytic practice, counseling psychology deals with less severe disorders like depression, stress and anxiety and in ensuring this, they make use of patient-based theories or humanistic approach as a method of treating patients.
Generally, there are some ethical principles that are set to serve as a guard to the physician/counselor in the discharge of his/her activities. This becomes important in order to ensure a strict patient-physician relationship – one that will be professional and not biased. These ethical principles are established by the American Psychological Association in order to ensure objectivity and create a patient friendly environment for counseling; an environment where the patient can be free to disclose his information without fuss. These ethical principles include beneficence and nonmaleficience, justice, dignity, integrity and fidelity/responsibility.
In the case study given, there are a lot of ethical principles that are/might be under question. Judging by the level of relationship that exist between them, the counselor should not have allowed the neighbor to have registered in her section irregardless of the fact that the time fits into the friend’s schedule I would offer arguments in support of my claim, pointing out the various ethical issues that this might raise and how this is a violation of some of the underlining ethical principles that should serve as a guideline for physicians.
Judging her decision from the perspective of beneficence, the truth is that there is a high probability that she will protect the interest of her friend, only that she might go an extra mile to protect his interest. This might lead to a problem of objectivity as she might be balanced in her judgment. Apart from this, she might be overcome with feelings of attachment which might not allow her relay information that should be normally given to the patient to him because she might not be sure of how he might receive the information.
Furthermore, another ethical principle that could be in question here is integrity and responsibility. The probability is high she would be thorn between her integrity and loyalty to her friend in the case where the friend fails to meet the required qualification. We must take into consideration that no matter how we claim that psychologist should be balanced in their judgments; they are still human and are liable to emotional attachment. She might most likely be forced to leave the realm of professional integrity to do just this one help.
Although it might seem unfair on her part to refuse the neighbor from registering in her session/class, she has the right to do so. She has the right to refuse him on the basis objectivity and close relationship. It becomes almost impossible for cases to arise where she has a conflicting interest. She has the right to refuse him because of multiple relationships – balancing professional relationship with friendship.
Summarily, her inability to see beyond the positives makes her already subjective. I dare to say that she is already being influenced by their relationship. This can be explained by the fact that even if the questions that would be answered are objectives, she still has an influence over the collation of the results and thus could be influenced on her judgment regarding his academic performance.
Pelling, N. Sullivan, B. (2006) “The credentialing of counseling in Australia” International Journal of Psychology, 41.3, pp.194-203
Rosenzweig, S. (1936). “Some implicit common factors in diverse methods in psychotherapy”. Journal of Orthopsychiatry 6: 412–415.