Counselor Education 612

COED 612: Professional, Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling

Credit Hours: (3)

This course is designed for mental health practitioners involved in the helping professions. An introduction and overview of the counseling profession is presented including and examination of legal and ethical issues.  Material discussed in class is applicable to counselors in training in all settings.


Detailed Description of Content

1. The Counselor as a Person and a Professional

            a. personal characteristics of the effective counselor
            b. the counselor as a professional identity and ego state
            c. transference and countertransference and the function of role definition and ego integrity
            d. personal impairment and professional functioning
            e. the stress and distress of managing helping roles and interpersonal relations
            f. the ethical and legal consequences of personal incompetence and professional malpractice

2. Values in the Helping Relationship

            a. theory, practice and clinical experiences
            b. values, morality and personal philosophies of counseling practice
            c. relating philosophy, theory, clinical experiences into ethical and competent practice and effective personal living

3. The Client/Therapist Relationship

            a. dimensions of unethical behavior in the client-therapist relationship
            b. malpractice issues in the helping process
            c. the concept of dual relationships in the helping process

4. Overview and Introduction to Key Concepts and Ideas Related to the Ethical and Legal Practice of Counseling

            a. concepts of ethics, values-morality, law
            b. the process of making ethical decisions
            c. ethical codes and standards of professional practice in counseling
            d. limitations of ethical standards
            e. conflicts and convergence of law and ethics
            f. the role of the counselor in a cultural diverse and changing society

5. The Counselor, Laws and Ethical Codes

            a. ethical codes of helping professionals
            b. regulation of the mental health, school and student development counselor
            c. protecting confidentiality
            d. avoiding civil and criminal liability
            e. documentation of treatment/services and outcomes

7. Ethical Concerns in Diverse Employment Settings and Roles

            a. ethical and legal issues in school counseling
            b. the private mental health counselor
            c. legal and ethical foundations of student development and student personnel services

8. Special Considerations of Ethical and Legal Issues

            a. multicultural counseling
            b. consultation
            c. marital and family therapy
            d. group counseling and guidance


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture, individual projects, videotaped materials, and small group projects and presentations. Simulated role play and analysis will also be used.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

The course is a seminar which presents a survey and overview of ethical and legal issues in the behavioral science helping professions. Ethical, legal and standards of practice principles and issues are examined in consideration of ethical codes and standards defined by various professional associations, statutory professional definitions, legal precedents, professional regulations and the current professional literature. The objective of the course is to provide students with: (a) knowledge of the scope and standards of counseling practice, (a) guidelines for the thoughtful resolution of ethical conflicts and dilemmas, and (c) information for ethical decision-making and the thoughtful and skillful practice of professional counseling in diverse settings and roles.


Assessment Measures

1. Objective Testing: 60%

            a. two intermediate test 40%
            b. final examination 20%

2. Class Participation and Attendance 40%

            a. two small group "issues resolution" projects
            b. two written abstracts
            c. regular class attendance


Other Course Information



Review and Approval
April 1999 Revised