Wyoming Chemical Abuse Research Education

 WyoCARE CEU E-Course
Ethics and the Self

CEU’s available from Johnna Nunez, Ph.D., LPC, NCC

My teaching philosophy is one that allows me to offer information as a guide, but also one that allows the learner to experience what they can and need from the experience. I am quite mindful that sometimes modalities of teaching can actually limit the amount of information learned or even experienced. So, please feel free to complete the information that has been provided, but do not feel pressure to stop there. Learning about ethics, exploring and being present with your own self-awareness are vital factors in growing both personally and professionally.
This completed course offers 8 contact hours

Please take a moment to close your eyes and relax. While you are relaxing, let yourself go back to the best decision that you feel you have ever made. Be with this experience and make a mental note of how it felt, what you did, who was involved, etc. When you have given yourself adequate time to do this, open your eyes and make some brief notes about re-experiencing your best decision ever.
Now, do the same thing for the worst decision that you have ever made. In the worst decision experience what did you not have that would have been helpful to know while making this decision? Now take out your paper and jot down a few ways in which these experiences (best decision and most challenging decision) were different.

How we choose to make decisions is strongly linked to the ethics and morals that we hold both personally and professionally. To begin, let’s take just a moment to remind ourselves about ethics and the responsibility that professionals have to uphold and maintain high standards of ethical practice. The article provided in the following link, ethics 9 values of master therapists 2005 t.pdf , is an example of a research based article that highlights the importance of nine ethical principles. This article is directed mainly toward counselors. However, these concepts can be geared toward any practice of a professional nature where services are provided to clients.  Please take the time to ponder the questions about the article below.

Post Article Questions:
Were these principles a reminder or was this the first time that you have heard about or read about these nine core principles? This article may be a reference to use or share with other professionals that you know as a way of furthering our discussions about ethical practices and standards in helping professions. Please feel free to use it to benefit our professions as well as the services that we provide.

Now, I would like you to get a pencil and a scrap paper to write on. Please take just a brief moment (no more than 5 seconds) to count the number of “T’s” in the following statement. Write your number down on your scratch paper when you are done. Please take no longer than about 5 seconds to look....


Now, how many “T’s” did you find?
There are actually 10. Did you find them all? I venture to say that you did not find all 10. Most people don’t see them all. So, sit for a brief moment and ponder why you did not see all 10 of the “T’s”. …

This example is a great METAPHOR for ethics and the self. You see, if you were rushed and tried to count the “T’s” you most likely did not get the correct number. How can your level of activity or speed at which you address issues impact you in other situations?

Making ethical decisions when it comes to professional practice and clients can definitely be impacted by the speed in which we make decisions. Other barriers to making good decisions could be things like working in isolation. When a person works in isolation, they do not know to look outside of their current knowledge base to make decisions. This can be a problem solely because the person is not aware of an issue, or they are not sure what they are missing out on as they have been cut off from others. So, one way to help make ethical decisions is to consult, consult, and consult. I really did mean to write consult down three times. This is important because speaking to three different entities will allow for a more holistic view of the situation. Speaking to an odd number of folks (more than 1) is crucial. For instance, if you consulted with one person and they shared their views about a situation and then you acted on the matter in which you consulted with that discussion in mind. The situation may work out if you handle it in this manner. However, in the helping fields it is usually common practice to choose to error on the side of safety. So, if I ask an odd number of people and at least two of them tell me similar views that match with mine, I feel more confident about the decision than if just one person gives me feedback, especially if the situation is a very critical situation.

However, I am also mindful that sometimes others are not around and we do have to make decisions in a vacuum. That can be fine, but if we are always making decisions in a vacuum, there is a great deal of room for mishaps. So, please reach out, set up a support network that can be used for professional consultation as well. Another barrier can be if you are isolated you are also not aware of new practices and you may not even know what resources to look for when it comes to getting support or practicing ethically.

Other barriers to making sound ethical decisions can stem from personal concerns around not knowing what to do. These types of barriers are very much fear based and can cause a person to hurry to get something done out of discomfort, a person can feel embarrassed to not know and this fear may limit them from feeling comfortable enough to ask for guidance or seek consultation. Fallibility and humility truly can be a huge barrier in the ethical decision making realm. So, please remember that no one is perfect and that we all need to have others to support us and to help us continue on a path of learning. This ethics accepting fallibilty for ethics events.pdf link will take you to the next article discussing ways that professionals can hold themselves accountable for very minor infractions or issues that would benefit from attention and further healing.

Post Article Questions:
Did you resonate with Thomas, Marianne, or Burton?
What instances have occurred in your work that might have been handled differently on your part now knowing what you know?

Having a method to help each of us while we make decisions is important for professional support and growth as well as for purposes of documentation. Knowing the manner in which we gather information, file information, retrieve information and share information is about personal awareness as much as it is about making a decision. There are many decision making models out there and the following links will provide you with some information about making decisions as well as different models.

Ethical Decision-Making Models.pdf
Social Constructivism Model of Ethical Decision Making in Counseling.pdf
decision making model.pdf
The Importance of Time in Ethical Decision Making.pdf
Teaching Ethical Decision Making-Dual Relationship.pdf

Post Article Questions:
What questions came to mind for you after you read these articles? So, to practice some of what we have learned in this e-course, who do you have that you will seek consultation about these questions? Maybe you will email WyoCARE at wyocare@uwyo.edu; email me at jnunez@uwyo.edu or maybe you can go to a colleague or supervisor about your wonderments in reference to decision making models.

How do you make decisions? What model do you use? How do you know this?

Understanding that ethical decision making is as much about knowing ourselves and being aware of our strengths and weaknesses as it is about the decision itself, it is important to remind ourselves that it is each professional’s ethical responsibility to maintain health, balance, and to continue to challenge ourselves to grow and learn both personally and professionally. If we are not in a healthy space, we are not able to be effective with our clients and we may potentially be doing harm to them because of our lapse in health. There are many impairment inventories out there that can be used to help us see if we are working in an unhealthy way. For many professions there is what we call compassion fatigue. The following links provide you with a brief assessment for compassion satisfaction and fatigue scales cfselftest.pdf. And this link, lifestresstest.pdf, will provide you with another inventory about life stress. These two inventories can help you see if you need to take some action on your own personal self-care.

The following articles will provide you with information about keeping ourselves well, wellness in the context of a holistic model, and spirituality as part of wellness so we can support a mind-body-spirit connection.

*(Scroll down through the first two pages until you reach the beginning of the article)*
ethics keeping ourselves well cummins 2007.pdf
ethics wellness and holistic flow model 2005.pdf
ethics wellness in community settings 2007.pdf
ethics wellness spirituality cashwell 2007.pdf

Post Article Questions/Activity
For the final activity of this course, I ask that each of you take some time and complete a person wellness plan. Have this plan include at least one major area that you would like to put more energy toward. Write or Type this area. Now, write three goals for you to work on under this area. Finally, who are you going to invite to help you be accountable with the goals for this change? And, how are you going to celebrate your change?
Remember, the lifestyle change you have committed to will bring positive growth to you and that in and of itself is a reward. However, we want to reward yourself for making the decision to realize that you deserve more. Maybe I should say that you deserve different and better.

One more article for your own knowledge and experience. This article is shares how ethical sanctions can impact a counselor or professional. Use this article to remind yourself why taking the time in the beginning to seek consultation and make sound ethical decisions really is the best policy ethics_sanctioned_professional_ethics final for journal submission.pdf.

Thanks so much for taking the time to find out what this brief e-course is all about. Ethics in professional environments span to encompass a great deal of information and situations. With ever growing techniques, client needs, diagnosis, accountability and a variety of other areas of change it is always important to stay informed, stay connected, and stay healthy!


Bottorff, N., Jennings, L., Mussell, M., Sovereign, A., & Vye, C., (2005). Nine Ethical Values of Master Therapists. Journal of Mental Health Cousneling, 27(1), 32-47.
Boland-Prom, K., & Anderson, Sandra, C. (2005). Teaching Ethical Decision Making Using Dual Relationship Principles as a Case Example. Journal of Social Work Education,41(3), 495-510.
Carney, Jolynn, V. (2007). Humanistic Wellness Services for Community Mental Health Providers. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 46, 154-171.
Cashwall, Craig, S., Bentley, Paige, D., & Bigbee, Amy, (2007). Spirituality and Counselor Wellness. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 46, 66-81.
Cottone, R., Rocco, & Claus, Ronald, E., (2000). Ethical Decision-Making Models: A review of the literature. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 275-283.
Cottone, R. Rocco (2001). A Social Constructivism Model of Ethical Decision Making in Counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 79, 39-45.
Cummins, Paige, N., Massey, L., & Jones, A., (2007). Keeping Ourselves Well: Strategies for promoting and maintaining counselor wellness. Humanistic Counseling and Educational Development, 46, 35-49.

Douglas, Kristin, I. & Warren, J. (2009). Falling from Grace. Submitted for publication.

Frame, Marsha, W., & Williams, Carmen, B. (2005). A Model of Ethical Decision Making From a Multicultural Perspective. Counseling and Values, 49, 165-179.
Lowenstien, T. (1995-2009). Life Stress Test retrieved from www.stressmarket.com on July, 10, 2009.
Monteverde, S. (2009). The Importance of Time in Ethical Decision Making. Nursing Ethics 16 (5), 613-624.
Purdy, M., & Dupey, P. (2005). Holistic Flow Model of Spiritual Wellness. Counseling and Values, 49, 95-106.
Stamm, Hudnall, B. (1997-2005). Professional Quality of Life: Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue. Retrieved from www.isu.edu/~bhstamm on July 10, 2009.
Welfel, Elizabeth, R., (2005). Accepting Fallibility: A model for personal responsibility for nonegregious ethics infractions. Counseling and Values, 49, 120-131.

Recommended Readings

American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA code of ethics and standards of practice. Alexandria, VA: Author.
 Baldwin, C. (1990). Life’s companion: Journal writing as a spiritual quest. NY: Bantam Books.
Herlihy, B., & Corey, G. (2006). ACA ethical standards casebook (6th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

TAKE THE QUIZ (microsoft word document)