Ethical Dilemma Essay in Counselling

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Life is a journey that reflects an individual’s experiences, choices, decisions, and mistakes. However, the past is not what defines a person, it is the personality that an individual has developed and the lessons that life taught to become what they are today. Humans, unlike other creatures, are intelligent with a gift of metacognition, if used righteously can make wonders in overcoming daily hitches in life. We must find ways and strategies to overcome them healthily with the consideration of differences in individuals, situations, cultures, and society. Every aspect of life and the problems associated with it holds interrelated connections which requires a general code of conduct to minimize the harm and hurtfulness to others. This universal code is namely known as ethics (rules, norms, morals, and regulations).

This assessment is based on a current ethical dilemma in Maldives and the strategies used by a counselor to overcome the situation. The process of decision-making in this crisis will be focused on an ethical perspective.

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The dilemma – James VS Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown, 58 years old is a successful businessman in Maldives. He owns a famous business and with his wealth, he has influential control over politics. At age 55 he handed over the responsibilities of his business to his one and only child James when he was 27 years old with 15% of the company share. Over the past few years, James has mastered the art of business and has doubled the company’s profit. James also became famous and had influential power in the government sectors. James feels like he owes at least 75% of the business now as he is the only one maintaining the business now. On the other hand, his father denies and is not willing to give him further than what he has given as he fears that James might abandon him from the business.

The heightened stress and tension of the demanding company and the fight for a better position in the business share have provoked traits of depression which led him to seek help through counseling. The counselor has an impression that James might forge and take over the business. In one of the sessions, James admitted that he might have to take fraud action to get hold of the business. He also confessed that he has almost finished with the documents and will be legally binding the agreement. He also believes that his actions will benefit the company as he will be motivated to work even harder to reach as far as he can to extend the business.

One of the qualities of a counselor is to have an empathetic understanding, which provides insight into the client’s issues. However, the counselor should not attach in any way to the client either emotionally or physically. The number one priority of a counselor must be to follow the code of ethics to avoid unnecessary conflicts or problems and to resolve ethical dilemmas. Lindsay, 1999, defined an ethical dilemma as a situation encountered as a result of confusion between two or more outcomes or options. In this situation, it is difficult to decide and choose an option for the betterment as the existing provisions cannot be met by present replacements (as cited in (Akfert, 2012)).

As a counselor, it is always important to analyze the situation before making a decision. The process of ethical decision-making is a collaborative procedure between the client and the counselor (Gerald Corey, 1998).

1. Identifying the problem

To identify a problem, the first step is to gather information through different sources as much as possible. The information being collected must be precise and unbiased, therefore source of information should be reliable and authentic. The counselor should know to filter the enormous chunks of information provided through the sources and in case further elaboration is needed, the counselor will use different techniques such as probing questions to dig deeper into areas of focus.

2. Identifying the potential issue/dilemma

This stage greatly focuses on the pillars of ethical principles (autonomy, trustworthiness, non-maleficence, and justice) to confront the dilemma to ensure the welfare, responsibilities, and the rights of people involved.

The counselor must be aware of self and competency. It is vital to keep in mind to seek help when needed or when in confusion to avoid being biased and to overcome personal influences such as beliefs, morals, culture, etc. The counselor must at all times abide by the ethical guidelines in dealing with any situation.

3. Refer to ethical codes

As a counselor being on the right track needs time constant cross-checking with the code of ethics for similar problems to be reviewed as guidelines in reaching a positive, unbiased outcome (Miller, 2016).

4. Becoming aware of the law and regulations

A dilemma not only creates tension between the involved circle, but rather it also creates solidity for the counselor. At this point, the counselor needs to gear up in the area of law regarding the case. It is important to understand where the problem stands in law and consider the possible consequences. This includes checking for any laws and regulations bearing the situation, federal laws that apply to the dilemma, and the laws, strategies, and rules relating to the counselor’s workplace.

5. Obtain consultation

In other words, this stage prepares the counselor where and how to seek help regarding the case. The counselor should be fully aware of the procedure and the steps to be followed in case help may be needed.

6. Possible causes of action

Guiding people through their difficult times is not an easy task, it is risky and needs preparations in advance. In this stage, the counselor identifies ways to invent possible causes of actions to be justified and tested in reality. This includes methods to analyze the ethical responsibilities and their result. Through various interactions, the counselor is familiar enough with the client to fully understand the client. Based on the situation and the client, the counselor involves the client in discussions regarding the possible actions. If the client is not in such a situation, the counselor needs to have strategies planned for carrying out courses of action.

7. Enumerate the consequences of various decisions

This stage is based on estimating the possible consequences for each possible cause of action and ways to implant the actions. With a thorough analysis, the counselor decides whether or not to involve the client in discussions regarding the implications. This stage also allows the counselor to be mindful of the ethical principles and to build a framework to be used in the evaluation of consequences for the actions. It is important to study the consequences of the action on the client, the counselor, the profession, and others involved in the dilemma.

8. Decide on the best cause of action

This is the last stage of the ethical decision-making procedure. The long journey of planning has come to an end by finalizing the best possible decision to be used in the dilemma. However, it is important to articulate an action plan to be implanted with feedback from superiors or colleagues. The counselor also needs to have a backup plan in case additional actions are needed.

The procedure for ethical decision-making has been discussed and fully understood. According to the American Counseling Association after outlining the procedure the counselors are projected to be involved in a cautiously valid ethical decision-making process. The process will be discussed in the previously discussed case of James VS Mr. Brown. This process involves four steps.

1. Understanding the situation

  • List of relevant facts
      • Unjust company shares.
      • More responsibility compared to the authority.
      • Forgery.
      • Fraud.
      • Illegal actions against the law.
    • Ethical concerns and the result

Forgery, fraud, and illegal actions against the law raise ethical concerns as they affect the imparts of harm to the client which may result in legal actions by law and also harm the third party.

The resulting harm may include a long period in jail.

    • Stakeholders
        • James, Mr. Brown, and the company.

2. Major ethical dilemma

Informing Mr. Brown about James' unlawful acts.

3. Analyzing alternatives in step 2 in an ethical manner

    • a. If action is taken for step 2, who will be harmed?

James, because Mr. Brown might report the case to the police or he might abandon James from the business share and family problems may arise resulting in a long-lasting conflict.

    • b. If action in stage 2 is not taken, who will be harmed?

Mr. Brown, because through illegal procedure his business Is being ripped away from him. He will lose what he has gained all his life.

    • c. Which option (a or b) will result in the least harm?

Option ‘a’ will have the least harm.

    • d. If action in step 2 is taken who will benefit?

James will benefit, even though it may seem like an unjust decision for now, but it will in the long run allow him to think rationally about the wrongdoings he has committed and their possible effects.

    • e. If action is not taken, who will benefit?

James, as his dream of having the majority of business share came true.

    • f. Which option (d or e) holds the maximum benefit?

Option ‘d’ will result in maximum benefit.

    • g. Rights and duties of stakeholders.

Dealing with a dilemma is not an easy task. It often involves the rights and duties of several individuals, which need to be considered and analyzed in advance to avoid harm and minimize the impact.

It is the right of Mr. Brown to be aware of his son’s decision to change shares and provide an understanding of James' expectations. On the other hand, James deserves what he claims but by proper means. Mr. Brown must be fair and just by all means to James and trust him the way he merits to be trusted. At the same time, James must respect his father’s decision and should try to come to an understanding between both of them by other means rather than illegal actions. James needs to analyze the cause of his father’s decision with empathy to deal with the situation healthily. The following are the steps to overcome an ethical dilemma (Atiqah, 2017).

4. Concluding a decision and developing a plan

    • a. Defensible ethical decision

Sealing a decision and implanting a plan need defensible strategies and ethical decisions to be referred. This step requires to identify the best response in step 3 to support the counselor’s response. The counselor needs to add arguments to justify why the counselor chose to make that decision with the help of ethical principles.

The decision the counselor took in this case is to inform Mr. Brown about the forgery and illegal procedure James has chosen to change the share.

    • b. Specific steps to implant the decision in step ‘a’.

The counselor needs to find ways to approach Mr. Brown, without startling him which may trigger a bad impact on the whole situation. The counselor can try to manipulate him to understand the situation James is in by creating empathetic and a thoughtful tactic. At the same time, the counselor needs to change the irrational thinking of James and replace it with a positive approach, which will help James to understand the situation in a broader perspective leading to cooperativity.

    • c. Affects on stakeholders by these actions

The effects of decisions may be traumatizing for both stakeholders. James may feel betrayed by the counselor and may have negative outcomes such as using the powers he has through the government or may dip into depression and other associated risks. On the other hand, Mr. Brown may completely lose his trust in James, resulting in complete neglect, and may abandon him from business share. There are also possible family conflicts that may long last if not taken appropriate measures.

    • d. Long-term changes for prevention

This stage may include trust building between both of them and having an empathetic understanding with one another. In case of a conflict or disagreement, consider involving a third party for guidance.

    • e. Avoiding the dilemma

This dilemma could have been avoided in the initial stage if Mr. Brown understood and considered James' feelings, thoughts, and concerns leaving his egoistic nature.

In the case of James VS Mr. Brown, the counselor chose to inform Mr. Brown about the forgery, fraud, and illegal documentation process to change the business share. In doing so, the counselor has analyzed, evaluated, and prepared action plans guided by an ethical framework to minimize the impact on both the stakeholders and the counselor.

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Ethical Dilemma Essay in Counselling. (2024, February 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
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