The more I keep thinking…

I stayed pretty busy today doing homework but unfortunately all of my homework had to do with the ethics of counseling, so it didn’t help keep my mind off Wednesday. I know I am ruminating, and yet, here I am. It is problematic, I know, but it has led me to a new realization. Much of Ls behavior Wednesday was not just irresponsible but also unethical.

Confidentiality is taken very seriously in the ACA Code of Ethics used here in America. The code states that counselors, “respect and
safeguard the client’s right to privacy
and confidentiality.” When L made mention of the email I sent her and the conversation we had privately beforehand, she broke my confidentiality within the group. At the time I was more upset about what she said about J and the implications she made about me. But, in hindsight, I am more worried about her lack of understanding of the ethical code which governs the profession.

It isn’t just about the breach of confidentiality. The code regards trust as the cornerstone of the counseling relationship. For her to intentionally, or not, sabotage the trust I had in J because L had her feelings hurt was also unethical. Along with the fact that the code compels counselors to “act to avoid harming their clients […] and to minimize or to remedy
unavoidable or unanticipated harm.” In this particular instance she went into our conversation triggered and she has made no such attempt to remedy any harm she has caused. I was the one to apologize to her for questioning her motives because I felt bad that I hurt her; however, I was not in the wrong for questioning the things I questioned. They were valid questions which, had she the maturity to handle our group, she would have navigated with much more professionalism. Instead, she tried to throw me under the bus. I can’t help but wonder if she is self-reflective enough to even see that she was triggered and intentionally causing harm.

I thought about raising these issues with J and with L’s supervisor but then it occurred to me that I might be considered “aggressive” again, like when I was going through everything with C. Why is it that when a person with a mental health diagnosis advocates reasonably for herself and her rights, she is pathologized? I can’t say with certainty that this would happen but based on everything I’ve experienced so far… I’m not willing to take the chance. So, I just have to stuff it and accept that I experienced poor, unethical counseling.

8 Thoughts

  1. “Why is it that when a person with a mental health diagnosis advocates reasonably for herself and her rights, she is pathologized?” The answer is often power, transference, and/or insecurity. Pick one or pick them all. You have a reasonable complaint.

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  2. It’s really unfortunate that when poor practice happens, more often than not the clinician wins and the client loses. Perhaps you could raise it with L’s supervisor and frame it as these things seem like areas for improvement that could hopefully be followed up in supervision, or something else that no one could possibly interpret as “aggressive”. So frustrating when things are set up so that actually sticking up for yourself is probably going to come back and bite you in the butt.

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    1. I thought about doing that because I know there isn’t any reasonable recourse, no resolution for me. But you are right it could at least be approached as a growth opportunity. I’m afraid even then though it will come across as me overstepping. Even though I think consumers have a right to offer feedback on services provided.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think people with so called mental health issues are more likely to notice they are being invalidated and the system itself it at times geared that way. I heard an interesting thing on so called bi polar disorder the other day, the person talking said those who suffer from this disease were more likely to question the status quo and look for innovations, maybe its not a disorder at all but a more clear way of seeing that gets rejected in a society concerned with so called rational ‘order.” Just a thought.

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  4. This is a tough situation for you to be in, and I know you’re especially sensitive to these missteps because you’ve had this happen with previous relationships like C. So of course, it must feel like there’s no way to win, because of the way that one ended. You are right that your feelings for valid, and you are right that the way that it was handled was poor. I think Ashley has a point that it could be useful to address the situation with her supervisor. Planning out a script to use beforehand might help assuage your concerns it will be perceived as aggressive. Maybe there is someone you could discuss it with and find a best, most neutral way to phrase your concerns. Good luck xx

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    1. I think I will discuss it with J first, even though I’m currently sort of distrustful of her as well. I can’t know if that distrust is misplaced or not until I ask her personally. I figure I will raise the rest of the L issues then and ask her if it would be possible to discuss with L’s supervisor and what the best way of doing that might be. I just cant handle that my hands are tied in this.

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  5. I believe that people like her should be called out, whether or not that makes you look like the bad guy. By getting away with something like this, she won’t learn or grow, and will likely cause more harm to others in the future. Just a thought.

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