What Is Ethical Practice in Counselling?

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Part A: What is ethical practice in counselling? How is this reflected in the skills, competencies and qualities of an effective counsellor? The following essay has been written in order to discuss ethical practice in counselling and how this is reflected in the skills, competencies and qualities of an effective counsellor. This essay will look in detail at what makes an ‘effective’ counsellor and their seven key competencies, before moving onto ethical behaviour where the concentration will be on the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) ethical framework. Finally, the essay will look at unethical behaviour, and how many rules and guidelines are open to interpretation by the counsellor. There are a number of different views on what makes a counsellor effective, for instance Ivey, who identified a set of core skills that are necessary for counselling and that can be acquired through systematic training. Unfortunately this concept has severe limitations in the context of understanding the activities of counsellors and psychotherapists as many of the counsellors essential abilities refer to internal, unobservable processes. Others such as Crouch (1992) and Larson et al were more focused on the broader concept of competence, and it is here that this essay will focus on. The competence approach focuses on the belief that you cannot just focus on the skills of a professional, but you must also take into account their internal qualities. There are seven distinct areas of competence that are taken into account when defining the effectiveness of a counsellor. Firstly, personal beliefs and attitudes, which are used to assess a councillor’s capacity to accept others, measure their belief in a client’s potential to change, have an awareness of ethical and moral choices, and a sensitivity to values held by client and self. Secondly,

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