Analysis Of Counsellor Ethical Guidelines: Five Moral Principles

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In any field of services there would be some sort of either oral or written form of guidelines or ethics when it comes to assess the situations based on an individual’s reaction or perceptions. Ethics is describe as a philosophical discipline that concerned with the human conduct and moral decision-making. Therefore it comes to no surprise that in the field of counselling, a guideline must be formed. In Malaysia, the code of ethics for counsellors to act upon their practices were formed in the year 1998 labeled as ‘counsellor Act 580’ (Act, C.,1998). In Britain and United States, they have the British Association for Counselling (BAC) and American Association for Counselling and Development (AACD) respectively (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc, 2018). There are five moral principles based on Kitchener (1984) theory comprising of fidelity, autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc, 2018).

There is a research to investigate the relationship between “benevolence” and different culture among trainee counsellors. The research also tries to investigate the relationship between “respectfulness” and different culture among trainee counsellors, and to investigate the relationship between cultural differences and morale application among trainee counsellors. Lastly, to investigate the use of “benevolence” and morale application among trainee counsellors (Ghazali, N. M., etc.). The instruments used to measure the variables are by using the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS), Multicultural Attitude Scale (MAS) and Vision of Morality Scale (VMS). The findings show that the virtue ethics (benevolence and respectfulness) on counselling morale application is important in making decision among counsellors in counselling process (Ghazali, N. M., etc.).

Fidelity principle requires the counsellor to show loyalty, honoring commitments and quality. Based on the ACA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (2015), fidelity can be a form of professional responsibility. A counsellor must not practice beyond their own capabilities and understanding to avoid malpractice and misjudgments of diagnosis of client’s needs (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018). The counsellor should undergo a continuous education to maintain their professional competencies. As being a counsellor is being human that makes errors doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own disadvantages and weaknesses thus the said individual should refrain from offering any more professional services until they have deal with their problems or situations accordingly (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018).

The aim of the author for a study was to develop a continuous professional development training module based on multicultural counselling competency for professional counsellors in Malaysia (Aga Mohd Jaladin, R., etc., 2019). The research methodology of this study have three phases which at first the participants will undergo a training need assessment by using a survey method. Then, the participants will create a module design and describe its development. Lastly, conducting a module evaluation by using an experimental design. The author uses the Multicultural Counselling Competency Survey-Malaysian Counsellor Edition questionnaire to collect data from 116 professional counsellors from various work settings (Aga Mohd Jaladin, R., etc., 2019). The findings of this research study implies that the continuous professional development training module is necessary for enhancing multicultural counselling competency of Malaysian professional counsellors (Aga Mohd Jaladin, R., etc., 2019).

There is also a study that tries to identify the knowledge pattern of counsellor ethics in Malaysia and the differences in the adaptation of knowledge based on the demographic factors like age, gender, experience and counsellors’ qualification. It is a quantitative study that uses descriptive study design. There were a total of 355 counsellors participated in this study (Rani, N. H. M., Jaafar, W. M. W., etc., 2017). The study instrument adopted is Ethical and Legal Issues in Counselling Questionnaires-Revised (ELICQ-R). The findings of the ethics knowledge of counsellor is at moderate and high level. The findings also shows that there is a significant differences between counsellor qualification and the counsellors’ ethics knowledge in Malaysia. Moreover, there is no difference in the ethics knowledge based on the demographic factors like age, gender and the experiences of the counsellors in Malaysia (Rani, N. H. M., Jaafar, W. M. W., etc., 2017). Overall, counsellors in Malaysia still have to increase their ethics knowledge so that they can deliver an effective counseling service to clients. The emphasis on ethics courses in the counseling program also has to be enhanced so that ethical counsellors can be produced in the future. Other than that, high ethics knowledge can help counsellors in behaving ethically (Rani, N. H. M., Jaafar, W. M. W., etc., 2017).

Autonomy principle focuses on the counsellors to address the concept of independence. This concept may be a two-way situation where by the counsellor should advise client that they have the power to decide for themselves (if it is a mild case) and counsellors should only be a voice of reason or guidance so that the client can fulfil his goals (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018). According to the ACA (2015), a counsellor should not discriminate the client based on their age, culture, skin color, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic and marital status (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018).

They are increasingly needed not only in public and private institutions but also in the events of natural disaster and tragedy that happens in the country like the tsunami incident on 26th of December 2004, the major flood in Kelantan in 2014, and the flights of MH370 and MH17 crash incidents in December 2014. They must also work around various groups such as children, school-going students, people with disabilities, single mothers, teenagers, university students, parents, spouses, and workers (Rani1a, N. H. M., etc., 2017). That being said, they must offer their services in an ethical manner and avoid committing any unethical behavior. These ethical codes and principles can guide counsellors in practicing counselling services (Rani1a, N. H. M., etc., 2017). If there are a few situations where the clients would want to terminate the services thus a counsellor must oblige and begin the process of termination accordingly.

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Counsellors must have the value of justice by treating everyone as equal to avoid any discrimination that would result in the risk of diagnosing the clients. At any given situation, counsellors must also take appropriate actions should there are reasonable doubts of other counsellors not acting in an ethical manner. In any legal investigations, a counsellor must cooperate with the proceedings and requirements as required, for example, by the ACA Code of Ethics Standards of Practice (2015). Even so, it must only be based on the selected jurisdiction over those charged with violations and only then the client’s background information shall be released to the authority (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018).

There is a study investigating on Malaysian counselors’ self-perceived Multicultural Counseling Competence (MCC) and its relationship with clients’ satisfaction. A total of 104 participants (52 counselor-client dyads) completed the survey. Of the 52 dyads, 26 were registered and licensed counselors in Malaysia (professional counselors) and another 26 were internship students (paraprofessional counselors). The findings shows that there was a significant positive relationship between counselors’ MCC and client satisfaction and there was also no significant differences between professional and paraprofessional counselors on MCC and client satisfaction (Siok Ping, V., & Mohd Jaladin, R., 2017). Multicultural theorists suggest that before one attempt to learn about the other, one must first learn about themselves to in order to avoid assuming that their clients see and experience the world as they do (Pedersen, 2001). Attaining MCC requires that one choose interventions that are respectful of a cultural group’s intact beliefs and values (McCormick, 1996; Morissette & Gadbois, 2006).

If the counsellor fails to implement an appropriate amount of degree of self-awareness, it will increases the risk of a number of cultural transgressions within the counseling relationship, such as ethnocentrism and racism (Siok Ping, V., & Mohd Jaladin, R., 2017). The author also mentioned that the counsellors in Malaysia usually rely on counseling model or theories, strategy or technique that originated in Britain and United States but work with clients who are culturally different. Moreover, many counselors are trained outside the country because it is important for counsellors to have some creativity in the adaptation of knowledge, skills, and techniques learn in order to contribute to the sensitivity and efficiency of services provided. Any model or theory, technique or strategy can never be wholly imported from another culture with expectations of similar results; culturally appropriate modifications will always need to be made (Siok Ping, V., & Mohd Jaladin, R., 2017).

Non-maleficence principle describe that a counsellor is an individual that do not cause harm to others. A counsellor must show the role of a nurturer and listener. According to ACA (2015), a counsellor should also avoid causing psychological harm (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018) that could risk the ongoing treatment. It is critical for the counsellor to ensure that information obtained from doing any research studies are kept as confidential unless there is a court order for it to be released. Counselling service is regarded as a fundamental service essential for the human beings to achieve their goals. As professionals, counsellors may face many difficulties in addressing professional issues and ethical dilemmas in their professional practice to handle a few sexuality cases. There is a research study conducted to achieve its main objective, which is to explore the competency of Malaysian counsellors in the aspects of knowledge, skills and attitude (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018a). The author used an in-depth interview method through the purposive sampling technique to obtain information. This research included 15 participants who were made up of registered counsellors and have experience in conducting counselling sessions involving gay and lesbian clients (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018a). The data was analyzed by studying the transcriptions of interview recordings and identifying the themes that emerged based on the research objectives. The findings shows the lack of knowledge and understanding of gay and lesbian people, information regarding gays and lesbians, application of definitions or terms, basic counselling skills, communication skills, openness attitude, and unconditional acceptance attitude. It is hoped by the author that the results of this research would provide guidance for counsellors, especially for counselling involving gays and lesbians (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018a).

Another research study conducted was to achieve its main objective of addressing counsellors’ obstacles and challenges in counselling gay and lesbian clients in Malaysia. This study used in-depth interview method through a purposive sampling technique. It involves eight study participants comprising of registered counsellors that have conducted counselling sessions with gay and lesbian clients (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018b). The data were analyzed by studying the transcription of recording interview and identifying the themes emerged based on the objective of the study. The findings demonstrated five emerging themes pertaining to the obstacles and challenges of counsellors in counselling gay and lesbian clients such as the counsellors’ expertise limitation, the transparency issue, the client’s referred issues, the counsellors’ value and the absence of reference model (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018b). The findings of this particular study provided knowledge and understanding to all parties on gay and lesbian issues in Malaysia regarding the kind of ethical practices of counselling services. It helps the counsellors to understand, be more prepared and to improve on their counselling services in a better and competent way (Jamal, S. H., Amat, S., Subhi, N., & Ghazali, M. F. M., 2018b).

Lastly, beneficence principle shows that counsellors will always look out for the welfare of their clients needs and expectations. The counsellor act as a proactive agent and preventing any harm when possible. This is somewhat similar with non-maleficence principle but the different would be that this act would ensure that any given information by the clients shall be kept as confidential especially during group work therapies (Ahmad, Dr Z. A., etc., 2018). The author conducted a study that aimed to explore how school counsellor in Perak, Malaysia define and execute ethical practice in counseling. The research design is a case study which involves three school counselors (Har, N. Y., & Jusoh, A. J., 2015). All of the data was collected through various interviews and was analyzed by using qualitative methods. The results from the data showed that the participants of this study all agreed that a counsellor should have one or a few recognized qualifications before they may do counseling to a client (Har, N. Y., & Jusoh, A. J., 2015). The findings also show that counsellors often face a few conflicts with the school especially when it comes to the ethics of confidentiality, which enables them to provide information that involves client privileged communication. Overcoming this issue, the three participants were found to comply with the procedure such as attending informed consent seminar or workshop before conducting counseling sessions with clients (Har, N. Y., & Jusoh, A. J., 2015). The findings of the study also found that the participants will manage client cases categorically by type: mild, simple or serious. It is stressed out that the personality of a counsellor plays an important role in determining the effective practice of counseling ethics (Har, N. Y., & Jusoh, A. J., 2015).

A guideline or code of ethics for any standards of practices must be prioritize to ensure a positive result of outcomes. In the Malaysian counsellors’ code of ethics mentioned that should a counsellor in any situation has been convicted or charge upon that involves fraud, dishonesty or moral depravity will be, “…order the name of the registered counsellor to be removed from the Register.” (Act, C., 1998). This is covered under the disciplinary committee. Furthermore, there are three more type of situations that have shown to be the consequences of these actions such as the convicted counsellor will heed the order that the name of the registered counsellor is to be suspended from the Register for a period not exceeding two years; the order that the imposition of a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit; and the order that the registered counsellor to be reprimanded (Act, C., 1998).


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