When you find yourself struggling with an ethical dilemma over a values conflict, the best course to follow is to seek consultation in working through the situation so the appropriate standard of care is provided (Kocet & Herlihy, 2014). If group leaders disclose their personal values, easily influenced and dependent members may want to please the leader at all costs and hence assume the leader’s values automatically. If you are having difficulty maintaining objectivity regarding a certain value, consider this your problem rather than the client’s problem. Supervision or personal counseling can help you to understand why your personal values are entering into your professional work in an inappropriate way. At times you may be faced with ethical issues over sharp differences between your own values and certain values of some members of your group. For example, members from some cultural groups may use physical punishment to ensure obedience and conformity of their children to certain cultural values. It may be challenging for you to acknowledge their views of punishment as normative in their culture, or you may want to intervene by encouraging more positive parenting practices.
Leaders must be clear about their own values and remain objective when working with values that are different from their own. We must learn to separate our personal values from the counseling process to the best of our ability. Kocet and Herlihy (2014) describe the process of intentionally setting aside our personal values to provide ethical and appropriate counseling as ethical bracketing . We need to take into consideration the ways we may influence our clients, either intentionally or unintentionally. Francis and Dugger (2014) emphasize the need for counselors to monitor the various ways they may communicate their values to clients “and be aware of how the power differential that exists within each counseling relationship may result in the imposition of their values” (p. 132). Take a moment to consider the ethical issues and values that you might find particularly challenging to “bracket” in your work with group members. How might these personal conflicts leak into your professional work, and how might you best safeguard against that happening?
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