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.