Counseling Ethics versus Religous Beliefs | INFJ Forum

Counseling Ethics versus Religous Beliefs

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    The two prominent agencies in the United States in regards to licensing for therapy and counseling are the National Association of Social Workers and the American Counseling Association. When it comes to the issue of diversity these agencies have a clear code of ethics based upon the prevailing scientific evidence of the time.

    However, an increasing number of cases of social work and counseling students who have religious beliefs which cause them to hold views of sexual orientation that oppose the scientific consensus are suing their universities on the grounds that their freedom of speech and religion are violated by being upheld to the codes of ethics of these professions.

    Take for example the most recent case of a Georgia Graduate Student in a Counseling program, who argued that homosexuality is a result of "identity confusion" and a "personal choice" as opposed to the NASW's and ACA's view that it is innate. After allegedly attempting to persuade other students to her views and proclaiming interest in conversion therapies that are widely discredited by the scientific community, the University insisted that she take part in a remediation program. The program included sections to improve her writing skills, 3 workshops on diversity, a monthly meeting to discuss her research into LGBT groups, and increased exposure to members of the LGBT community including a suggestion that she attend Augusta's gay pride. She was informed that if she failed to complete the remediation then she would be dropped from the program. Through e-mails, the faculty encouraged her to accept other views as equally valid to her own and raised concerns that she would not be able to assist gay and lesbian clients as a counselor by choosing a view that was contrary to the ethical standards of the profession. She has chosen to sue the University on grounds that her freedom of speech and religion have been violated and that she is being forced to give up her Christian beliefs in order to stay in the program. She has yet to work with any clients, and as such, she argues there is no evidence that she cannot provide adequate care to members of the gay and lesbian community. At least 5 other cases such as hers have appeared in the last few years as a result of the clash between the code of ethics of counseling profession and religious beliefs held by those students.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/georgia-st...sensitivity-training/story?id=11261490&page=1

    This of course leads to several interesting questions....

    Should people, knowing that these professions have codes of ethics that may contradict their religious beliefs, choose schools which seek to enforce them?

    Should these people be upheld to the professional standard that practice must follow evidence and as such, that the current evidence suggests that sexual orientation is not something that should be treated as a character flaw or disorder?


    Should the standards of ethics be changed to incorporate competing religious views which are largely not based on peer reviewed evidence, but which are important to the individuals who hold them?


    Does the Constitutional protections of individual speech and religion extend over that of organizational responsibility to provide competent and professional care in accordance with their own code of ethics?


    Can an individual who holds the views that homosexuality is a sin, identity confusion, a personal choice/lifestyle, or something that needs to be changed; provide professional and competent care to members of the lesbian and gay community? Should such people be allowed to hold a counseling or social work license? Are such people obligated to refer clients of the lesbian and gay community to counselors who hold different views?
     
    #1 Satya, Jul 28, 2010
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  2. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    to prevent potential discrimination we should discriminate, hmm.....
     
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    #2 Barnabas, Jul 28, 2010
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  3. OP
    Satya

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    Interesting opinion. However, you missed the point entirely and you didn't really answer any of my questions. This has nothing to do with discrimination, it has to do with adhering to the ethical standard that practice must be based on evidence. But since you brought it up...

    Why not discriminate against those who are taking part in a profession that bases its practice on scientific evidence but who refuse to adhere to the results of that evidence? What is counseling if it isn't based on scientific evidence? Why shouldn't the code of conduct discriminate against those who would not base their practice on scientific evidence? Do you think that practice that is not based on scientific evidence could be considered competent and professional care? When working as a counselor, should a person's religious beliefs take precedence over the scientific evidence?
     
    #3 Satya, Jul 28, 2010
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  4. Barnabas

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    Counseling is not hard science like math or physics, it is dynamic and changing much like psychology and sociology, choosing to put stock in one theory or another should not be reason enough to to refuse a license. Secondly evidence does not equal truth, evidence at one time stated that man could not fly, all ailments were caused by an imbalance of of bodily fluid and that the earth was flat.

    You assume that your evidence is also the only evidence out there, studies and research have shown that it is plausible that significant trauma can indeed cause confusion of sexual orientation, especially when the trauma comes at a young age.

    With that being said, FCC has a large and successful counseling program which has sent people into both the religious and secular fields of counselling and shown them to be confidant.

    Finally the patients care should be the first and foremost thought in the counselor's mind, he or she should be making all decisions with the patients best interest in mind, not on what is based on evidence or believed to be true.
     
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  5. KazeCraven

    KazeCraven Graduated from Typology : May 2011
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    I think that in working within a system, one must agree to the rules set by that system unless that system is engaging in illegal acts. An example that comes to mind (though may be of an entirely different nature) is of who is allowed in the Boy Scouts. If I recall correctly, there is an expressed ban on homosexuals being allowed to become Boy Scouts because that organization is a private organization that can let in who it pleases.

    In this case, anyone who gets involved in these organizations is free to seek evidence for the effectiveness of conversion therapy, but as these codes (I assume) were available from the start, the person must either compromise her beliefs or choose not to attend these schools in the first place. I could argue that my moral code does not allow me to betray my roommate if he is cheating within the confines of our dormitory, but the honor code explicitly states to do so (and all students are told this upon entering the university).

    In general, I think where we draw the line regarding free speech is at the point that it causes harm to others. In this case, the conversion therapy is arguably just as wrong as psychological studies which do not adhere to codes dictated by NSF.
     
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  6. OP
    Satya

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    Science is evolving. But counseling has become considerably more based on evidence and the code of ethics of that profession call for members to practice based on the best available evidence as opposed to whatever their whims or particular beliefs may be. As such, should legitimate studies not be done to provide a basis by which to propose alternative theories?

    I never assumed anything of the sort. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality provides a great deal of evidence to oppose the current scientific consensus and which point out several disparities faced by the homosexual community. However, they have failed to provide credible evidence, are notorious for cherry picking data out of context, and do not submit their research for peer review. Recent studies of the Pacific also support trauma theories. However, this evidence does not account for why 30 years of research have shown that homosexuals can lead just as functional and happy lives as heterosexuals and it only suggest that gays and lesbians as a population are more likely to have been sexually abused. However, of the entire population of people who have been abused, most are heterosexual, rather than homosexual, and so that evidence does not indicate why they have not turned homosexual as a result of their abuse. As such, it does not indicate whether or not the homosexual population is simply more prone to abuse.

    I didn't ask about "confidence", I asked about "competent". And I would need to see the data to determine whether or not that were true.

    Interesting opinion. However, that is like saying a medical doctor should prescribe ginseng for breast cancer because the patient feels that herbs are a cure all for everything. The fact of the matter is that the counselor is the educated professional, and if they do not provide care based on evidence, then they are little more than a quack who is acting on whims, rather than what is truly in the best in interest of the patient. However, you are entitled to your opinion in this matter.
     
    #6 Satya, Jul 28, 2010
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  7. Kgal

    Kgal Magic Star Dust
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    I began the Masters of Social Work program in a small town university deep here in the bible belt back in 2007 at age 51. My previous bachelors degree was in Chemical Engineering - tho I had not worked in engineering for almost 25 yrs. I had veered off into business and accounting and other entrepreneurial ventures. I wanted to help people and my goal is to become a counselor eventually.

    Maybe I was na
     
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  8. OP
    Satya

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    Interesting. The Boy Scouts as an organization are allowed to deny leadership positions and membership to those who they feel do not represent the values or standards of their organization. This could indeed be a sufficient Supreme Court precedent to argue that Universities and Counseling organizations are similarly justified in denying degrees or licensees on the basis of people failing to represent the values and standards of the code of ethics held by those organizations.
     
  9. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    Science is evolving. But counseling has become considerably more based on evidence and the code of ethics of that profession call for members to practice based on the best available evidence as opposed to whatever their whims or particular beliefs may be. As such, should legitimate studies not be done to provide a basis by which to propose alternative theories?

    Once again there is evidence to support the theory and further engage in research on the relation between abuse the gender confusion.

    I never assumed anything of the sort. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality provides a great deal of evidence to oppose the current scientific consensus and which point out several disparities faced by the homosexual community. However, they have failed to provide credible evidence, are notorious for cherry picking data out of context, and do not submit their research for peer review. Recent studies of the Pacific also support trauma theories. However, this evidence does not account for why 30 years of research have shown that homosexuals can lead just as functional and happy lives as heterosexuals and it only suggest that gays and lesbians as a population are more likely to have been sexually abused. However, of the entire population of people who have been abused, most are heterosexual, rather than homosexual, and so that evidence does not indicate why they have not turned homosexual as a result of their abuse. As such, it does not indicate whether or not the homosexual population is simply more prone to abuse.


    Abuse does not effect everyone the same way, and I do not believe that abuse is the only reason that homosexuality exists, nor did I say that Homosexuals cannot lead confident and competent lives. However 1 in 6 suffer from abuse during there youth, 4 in 6 in the homosexual community suffer from abuse in there youth.

    It is plausible to say that this abuse may or may not lead to gender confusion.

    I didn't ask about "confidence", I asked about "competent". And I would need to see the data to determine whether or not that were true.

    edited last statement to fix the error, it was supposed to be competent not confident.

    secondly, you post alot of weasel words to ask data. If your going to claim that there is no legitimate link so far as evidence is concerned between gender confusion and then show us the data. I would happily show you FCC's track record if it wasn't 11:00 at night(meaning I don't have access to it).

    Interesting opinion. However, that is like saying a medical doctor should prescribe ginseng for breast cancer because the patient feels that herbs are a cure all for everything. The fact of the matter is that the counselor is the educated professional, and if they do not provide care based on evidence, then they are little more than a quack who is acting on whims, rather than what is truly in the best in interest of the patient. However, you are entitled to your opinion in this matter.

    It is the difference between giving the patient the choice of remaining in the condition they started in or giving the them the option of an untested surgery.
     
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  10. OP
    Satya

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    Would you mind posting this evidence?
    Please post your source of the bolded above.

    It's plausible, but is it credible? Over 30 years of scientific evidence has indicated that sexual orientation is something that should not be changed. If people have trauma, then their trauma should be treated, not their sexual orientation. If their sexual behavior or identity changes as a result of treating their trauma, then so be it, but the basis of their treatment, by most credible research, should not be their sexual orientation.

    Certainly.

    http://www.sexualwholeness.com/isw/resources/7592/haldeman1994.pdf
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/9/11/ABSTRACT /PREPUB/ABSTRACT/PREPUB/COMMENTS/abstract/
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...serid=10&md5=dd02e6d2330545e5427e34c70995d6f7
    http://www.bprcem.com/article/S1521-690X(07)00033-4/abstract

    And of course, the American Psychological Association's position on sexual orientation, which has evolved considerably since homosexuality was removed the the DSM as a mental disorder back in the 70's.

    http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx

    In any form of treatment, there are two goals of equal importance. The first is to cure the disease/disorder and the second is to see to it that the patient comes to no harm. Doctors are required to take an oath called the Hippocratic Oath that they will cause no harm to a patient and the Code of Ethics of the counseling and social work professions holds practitioners to the same standard. There is sufficient evidence that conversion therapies are in fact harmful to many of those they attempt to change, in some cases leading to suicide. That alone calls into question the efficacy of the practice. Your suggestion above ignores a very basic tenet of treatment. What is in the interest of the patient is not just to cure them, but to not cause them harm.

    Furthermore, there is no credible evidence to support the idea that conversion therapy succeeds in the first goal of changing sexual orientation. To the contrary, the best evidence put forth by organizations like NARTH has been found to be methodologically flawed and of little scientific use.

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119400354/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    So regardless of whether the therapy might be helpful for some, it is harmful to others, and is therefore unethical to use. As I said before, if an individual has trauma that needs to be treated, then it is their trauma that should be treated directly, not their sexual orientation.
     
  11. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    Like I said, it's late and I can't get to a lot of the info as I don't keep it ready on hand, however before the night is over I'd like to end my part of this little debate in agreement. I've set one part of your quote in bold, that is where where in agreement. I also think we may be on different pages in this discussion, but that can wait for tomorrow.

    I'll try to dig up some info tomorrow on the stats and data, poke a few of my counselling major friends for info.
     
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  12. OP
    Satya

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    I look forward to seeing you data. Particularly the source that supports the idea that 4 out of 6 homosexuals were sexually abuse. I would love to see the study which argues that 67% of homosexuals were sexually abused.

    I've read rampantly anti-gay literature that hasn't even claimed a percentage that high.
     
    #12 Satya, Jul 28, 2010
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  13. OP
    Satya

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    Woo Hoo! YESssssss.:high5:
     
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  15. eidelweiss

    eidelweiss Regular Poster

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    I think it's unreasonable for people to make a lawsuit saying they can't give services or types of services to people in a career where it is expected and acting like it's their constitutional right.

    Another example of this is anti-abortion pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill or even birth control.

    See link:http://www.womensenews.org/story/the-courts/010424/suit-claims-using-birth-control-pills-abortion

    I have read a book written by Dr. Nicolosi (head of NARTH) about how to keep your son from being gay, and most of the problem with the entire book's argument was that he acted like wanting to be a different sex/ being effeminate is the same thing as homosexuality. It's not. Some straight men are effeminate as boys. My grandad used to play with dolls, and he's straight. My friend was percieved as effeminate as a boy is a total stud and not gay.

    In these kinds of jobs, there's a code of ethics to uphold or even a national certification you have to pass that also has the same sort of expectations. If you can't meet the expectations in a field where the expectations are so clearly spelled out, get a different career or let yourself grow. Don't sue; it's your own problem if you chose that career.

    There needs to be a code of ethics for counselors, I went to the pastor at my parent's church who had a degree in counseling who did not help me at all in a very difficult patch where I was being threatened to be thrown out of school over who my facebook friend was! He saw my parents first, who painted the situation with me as a manipulative, lying, person and he never met with me alone and did not take me seriously.

    I have had good religious-based counseling before with my campus minister. But it's hard for me to trust these kinds of people now because their beliefs (adult children must obey their parents) and expectations (such as abuse of any sort does not happen in 'good christian families;) cloud their judgement. At least they did in the case with that pastor.

    Counselors are supposed to listen, not dictate, for God's sake! And gay people are just like the rest of us heterosexuals or bisexuals or transsexuals or whatever, they just like strawberry ice cream instead of our vanilla.
     
    #15 eidelweiss, Jul 29, 2010
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  16. just me

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    Personally, they would not get me to do the things they required either. "Licensed" by the state is one thing. Religious people have inhouse counselors, too. I would simply offer my counseling to be had at my church by those hired to do so within my own beliefs rather than sue.
    Now, should they be closeminded and not accept that, a lawsuit may be a way to "save" others from exposure to things they need not be exposed to. Can't help but wonder how those scientifically inclined people would feel if they were told they had to attend church seminars and the likes.....
     
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  17. just me

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    Taken out of context, but I agree wholeheartedly.

    But who, what, where, when, and how?
     
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    Satya

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    I imagine if scientifically inclined people chose to go to a religious school then they wouldn't have anymore grounds to argue against the religious teachings of that school than a religious person has going to secular university which bases its teachings on science. Do you disagree? If I chose to go to a Catholic University, could I sue that school for discriminating against my beliefs when they compel me to accept the values and standards of that University?

    I love turning the tables justme.
     
    #18 Satya, Jul 29, 2010
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  19. just me

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    I have noticed and am getting used to it and actually expect it of you. I also do not have a problem with it. However, your stipulations are too overbearing at times. Life circumstances often offer more choices than you offer. If I step outside of your designated boundaries, is it unfair of me? I am not arguing but rather just sharing my thoughts.

    Rules generally become known through experience. I have a credit card, for example, that charged me $39.00 for being two days late on a payment. Most places I deal with have more tolerance and I never would have known the rules had I not been late two days. They do not even offer a grace period. I do not think they are being fair so I will place my balance on a more fair institution. I received a ten percent discount on something I wanted buy opening that card. Maybe its use is over for me.

    I have to say there are so many Christian schools nowadays precollege it amazes me. Not everyone can afford to send their children there, so some have to go into the public school system. The "state" or government charges taxes and most property taxes seem to go to the board of education. The same people that pay for their higher taxes that can afford to send their kids to private schools still have to pay the same taxes, yet most if not all that money they spend to send their children to private schools is not tax deductible. I feel the "state" to be biased. When I see, through business associations, how much of those school taxes are wasted each year it makes me sick to my stomach so many people are taking advantage of the system. Guess I am noncomformist.

    To answer your question, yes you could sue and there are those that have in the past. Why? Maybe just to cause them problems. Maybe for other reasons. I hate the word "sue" in the first place, but I would walk when someone told me I had to do something I felt was not right and have done so several times in my life at great costs. I have my principles and they have their principals. I would walk rather than sue, but that is not to say what others should do. Separation of church and state.....
     
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  20. OP
    Satya

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    Does a public university have a right to enforce its course requirements?

    If I go to XYZ Public University and choose to major in Butchering and then argue that I am a vegetarian and I feel it is immoral to kill or butcher animals, then do I have a legitimate case?

    That is basically what is at stake here. A requirement of being a counselor is that you can work professionally and competently with members of a diverse population. It requires that you suspend your personal beliefs so that you can provide a service to a client that they may need. It doesn't require that you give up your personal beliefs; only suspend them for the duration of the service you are performing.

    If you can't perform that simple task because of your religous beliefs, then you are just like the above example of a vegetarian student majoring in Butchering. You do not possess what is needed to fulfill the course requirements or to become a competent professional in that field.

    As a social worker, I may be required to work with Christians. In that role, am I entitled to judge them because they may hold different values than me? Am I entitled to deny them services that they may need? Am I entitled to argue that they should change their ways or try to use therapy to change them? No. As a social worker, I am ethically bound to provide the best service I can to my client, without passing judgment. Why should a Christian be entitled to become a social worker or counselor if they do not have the capacity to do the same for gays and lesbians?
     
    #20 Satya, Jul 29, 2010
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