Professional Identity and Ethical Decision Making
This first unit introduces the philosophical roots that serve as the
foundation of ethical practice and behavior in the field of counseling.
The concepts of ethics, morality, the law, professionalism, and best
practice are defined as key aspects of a model that can be used to guide
professional practice. Codes of ethics and legal standards are the
guidelines professional counselors consult in order to make sound
decisions when difficult issues arise in the practice of counseling.
Professional identity is also grounded in philosophical underpinnings
as well as its developmental evolution. Ways in which counseling varies
from other mental health professions are highlighted, providing a way
for learners to discern the framework of this profession. Credentialing,
licensing, accreditation, and associations are key aspects of this
The discussions and additional readings presented in this unit address
the topics of professional identity and decision-making models. These
learning activities will provide the foundation for considering the many
legal and ethical issues that will be explored throughout the course.
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
1. Analyze the effectiveness of decision-making models in addressing
ethical issues in a specific counseling setting.
2. Articulate personal beliefs to create an awareness of how these
beliefs may potentially impact the counseling relationship.
Learning Activities Studies
Use your Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in counseling text to
complete the following:
• Read Chapter 1, “Introduction,” pages 2–24.
• Read Chapter 2, “Professional Identity of Counselors,” pages
Use the Library to read at least two of the following:
• Calley’s 2009 article, “Promoting a Contextual Perspective in the
Application of the ACA Code of Ethics: The Ethics Into Action Map,” from
Journal of Counseling & Development, volume 87, issue 4, pages
• Garcia, Cartwright, Winston, and Borzuchowska’s 2003 article, “A
Transcultural Integrative Model for Ethical Decision Making in
Counseling,” from Journal of Counseling & Development, volume 81, issue
3, pages 268–277.
• Frame and Williams’s 2005 article, “A Model of Ethical Decision
Making From a Multicultural Perspective,” from Counseling and Values,
volume 49, issue 3, pages 165–179.
• Cottone’s 2001 article, “A Social Constructivism Model of Ethical
Decision Making in Counseling,” from Journal of Counseling &
Development, volume 79, issue 1, pages 39–45.
Read the following reserved reading by clicking on the linked title:
• Herlihy and Corey’s ACA Ethical Standards Casebook, pages 14–16.
Discussion 1: 1 page needed with 2 references.
The profession of counseling is distinguished from other helping
professions by its distinct set of underlying philosophical beliefs.
Your Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in counseling text
identifies four of these beliefs on pages 26–27.
1. Describe your own view of each of these beliefs and discuss how each
one will be important to your work as a professional counselor. Provide
specific examples to illustrate your ideas.
2. Identify any other beliefs you hold that will help to form your own
Discussion 2: 1 page needed with 2 references.
Decision-Making Models and Ethical Issues
Various decision-making models have been proposed in the field of
counseling to assist in the resolution of ethical issues. Review two of
these ethical decision-making models. You may include the model
presented on pages 14–17 of your Ethical, Legal, and Professional
Issues in Counseling text, the models described in the additional
readings, or a model presented in another counseling text or article
from the professional counseling literature. Discuss the following:
1. What are some of the advantages and limitations of using a
decision-making model when addressing ethical issues that may arise in
2. Compare and contrast the key elements of the two ethical
decision-making models you have reviewed. Which one may be more
effective for addressing ethical issues that will arise in the
counseling settings where you will be working?