Ethics and Boundary Issues

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Ethics and Boundary Issues

In this paper, I am going to describe some ethical issues relating to boundary issues in the case studies. Then, I will describe a decision-making model, and how I would utilize the model. At the end of the paper, I will describe one way these dilemmas could have been avoided.

Ethical Challenges Related to Boundary Issues

In the Couple Counseling case study, Aliyah has to decide whether counseling a married couple fails within the areas that she is trained to provide services to. Should she refer the client to someone that specializes in marriage and family therapy or counsel the client under supervision? It is important to consider whether Aliyah would do any harm by counseling the couple because it would then be a boundary violation (Remley & Hemlihy, 2014). It is crucial to be able to distinguish between areas you are not able to give services to, and those that you can counsel with supervision.

In the I’m Stuck case study, the professor in a graduate counseling program has to be able to help a student learn how to counsel diverse populations effectively without forcing Larissa to give up her personal beliefs. Another important point is to make sure Larissa does not impose her personal values on the client. Larissa needs to be able to put her personal values aside when she is counseling a gay, lesbian, or transgendered client.

In the Disposing Unhealthy Beliefs case study, the dilemma is whether Gina should focus on helping fix Carl’s irrational thought processes regarding religion or to steer treatment interventions away from religion to avoid imposing her values on Carl. However, I think in order for treatment to be effective, his thought processes about religion might need to be addressed because of his background. It is important to meet Carl’s needs and addressing the religious component might be helpful as an intervention for his addiction. When we utilize a boundary crossing, we do that to meet the client’s needs (Remley, 2014).

Ethical Decision-Making Model

The decision-making model that I chose for this paper is the rational model. I would use this model because the counselor evaluates what the best course of action is by looking at the advantages and disadvantages (Garcia, 2003). I like this model because I want to make logical decisions when I am analyzing an ethical dilemma. This model avoids using emotions to make decisions and emphasizes the importance of using logic and solid reasoning. This model provides structure in that it gives a list of steps that should be followed, which makes it easier for the counselor.

How I might Address these Dilemmas Using the Rational Model

I would address each of the ethical dilemmas by putting each of them through the 7 steps of the rational model. By using this method, I should be able to come to a logical conclusion on what should be done. I would use this model to analyze what would be reasonable for a counselor to do in each situation.

How can these Dilemmas be Prevented?

Remembering to place our personal beliefs outside of the counseling session can prevent these dilemmas. The ACA (2014) states that it is important to be mindful that we do not impose our values onto the clients (ACA, 2014). Regardless of the scenario, it is unethical to impose our will on the client and possibly alienate them from attending counseling in the future. It also deviates from the client’s counseling goals, and they deserve to have a voice as to what goals they want to achieve while attending counseling. The client could also begin to feel like they are not being heard and stop disclosing important information to the counselor.

In conclusion, this week I got to analyze ethical dilemmas related to boundary issues. I was able to reflect on which decision-making model I would use and justify why I chose this model.


American Counseling Association. (ACA). (2014). 2014 Code of Ethics. Retrieved from:

Garcia, J., & Cartwright, B., & Winston, S., & Borzuchowska, B. (2003). A transcultural integrative model for ethical decision making in counseling. Retrieved from: Walden Library.

Herlihy, B., & Corey, G. (2015). ACA ethical standards casebook (7th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Remley, T.P., Jr.,& Herlihy, B. (2014). Ethical, legal, and professional issues in counseling (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "Ethics and Boundary Issues," in, July 11, 2017, (accessed August 13, 2022).