Introduction). James must examine the ethical codes and state laws to see if Lisa’s past actions warrant breaking confidentiality and the counselor-client trust. Confidentiality - Since “trust is a cornerstone of the counseling relationship” (ACA, 2005, Standard B. Introduction) and “confidentiality belongs to the clients” (AMHCA, 2000, Principle C.3), James would need strong reasons to disclose without Lisa’s consent. According to ACA Code of Ethics (2005) counselors are required to break confidentiality only “to protect clients or identified others from serious and foreseeable harm or when legal requirements demand that confidential information must be revealed” (Standard B.2.a). AMHCA’s (2000) ethics code states, “the protection of life, as in the case of suicidal or homicidal clients, exceeds the requirements of confidentiality” (Principle 3.C). James must also decide if there is a conflict between the codes and his state’s legal code. If there is a disagreement, the ACA (2005) ethics code urges James to commit to the ethical codes and actively work to bring the conflict towards a resolution (ACA, 2005, Standard H.1.b). Mmental health service providers are required to break confidentiality if there is evidence of child or vulnerable elder abuse or if the client communicates an explicit, immediate, and serious danger to self or to identified others. The ethics and legal codes require that James ascertain whether Lisa constitutes an immediate risk to herself or others. Cultural Competency- The ACA (2005) and AMHCA (2000) ethics codes ask that counselors be able to respect diversity and work with a wide variety of individuals (ACA, Preamble; AMHCA, Principle 2.E). Counselors must also be able to clearly communicate to all their clients, regardless of race or culture (ACA, 2005, Standard A.2.c). The client’s confidentiality and right to privacy is in danger if the counselor is unable to communicate in a cross-culturally sensitive manner (ACA, 2005, Standard B.1.a). According to the codes, counselors must ensure that they work competently across cultures with their clients (ACA, 2005, Standard A.2.c; AMHCA, 2000, Principle 1.E.). Since the ethics codes direct counselors to serve their clients within the boundaries of competence, counselors with multicultural
competency issues must learn the necessary skills and knowledge needed, before working with diverse clients (ACA, 2005, Standard C.2.a; AMHCA, 2000, Principle 7.C). Step Five: Search the Ethics Scholarship James’ fifth step is to consult the professional literature as it pertains to his ethical dilemma. A review of the literature provides more specific and concrete thinking about confidentiality, conflicts in the ethics codes and laws, and diversity than can possibly be covered in the ethical codes alone.