Ethical standards and principles are what form the basis of creating and maintaining public trust. They are rules that must be obeyed by counselors in the course of their work. Now in this case study, I am going to assess Jocelyn’s case with relation to the ethical standards to know whether Jocelyn exceeded her bounds of competence and if so, in what respect? What are the legal and ethical issues related to therapist competence? What major factors should be considered to determine your boundaries of competence given your field of study? How do you assess your competence in deciding what to do and what not? Provide an example of when competence may play a role in client care and what would you do in this situation? This is what basically I will focus on.
As far as I am concerned, Jocelyn is acting beyond her competence because when the pastor of her church asked her to address the increasing need of a counselor in her region, she agreed to work as his extension to counsel her neighbors and if need be she would make referrals. This is an indicator that she was determined to give clinical mental health rather than let her neighbors wallow in pain. She intended to this knowing very well that her level of training did not allow her. In fact she had eight more courses before she could go in the field for practice.
The legal and ethical issues that are related to the therapist’s competence are: To be a professional counselor or a therapist you must have a valid license. The clergy are exempted from having it because theirs is a vocational ‘call’. There is a difference between professional counseling and a ‘calling’ and one should be able to draw a line between the two. One is also required to work under supervision of a fully qualified counselor before he/she can go to the field to work alone. (Barbara H. and Corey G. 2005) There are also some major factors that should be considered when determining ones boundaries of competence. First, you should complete your studies and attain the required grade. Secondly, you must have a working experience which is gained after supervised practical sessions and above all, you should have a valid license.
There are various ways to assess your level of competence in order to know what to offer or not. First, assess the problem to see whether it falls under your scope or outside. Second, you should not counsel people if you are not qualified to do so. Like Jocelyn, who had eight more courses before she could have her supervised practical. Third, you should also be able to distinguish between a profession and a ‘calling’ from above. If you have the profession, then you can go ahead and offer mental counseling. Like in this case, for the pastor is not a profession but a ‘call’. Lastly, consider yourself incompetent and unqualified if you don’t have a valid license like Jocelyn. (Corey G. et al, 2006)
Competence may play a role in client care for example when dealing with somebody who is under stress. As a competent person you should be able to approach them well so that they can open up and tell you what really is disturbing them. After that you synthesize all that information to know the root cause. From there, it is easier to know where to start and how to address the problem without referring your patient to other therapists.
To conclude, it should be known that counseling is not something that you can wake up one day and start doing it but it is something that requires seriousness, determination , in depth knowledge and a great deal of practice. It is only after this that you can know the limits of your career.
Barbara H. and Corey G. 2005. Ethical Standards Casebook. American Counseling Association. 6th Edition.
Corey G. et al, 2006. Issues and Ethics in the Helping professions. Brooks/Cole Publication Company,United States.