Ethical Decision Making Strategies for Conflicting Values in Therapy

Presented by Stephanie F. Dailey, EdD on 10-25-2019 at 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern) to 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern)

What do you do when your values conflict with those held by clients? According to the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics (2014), counselors avoid imposing their own values (A.4.b.). Yet, in reality, this is not an easy task. Counselors inadvertently convey their values to clients through nonverbal responses, microagressions, and selective attention to client disclosures (Francis & Dugger, 2014). Because counselors understand the harm that can come from inadvertently imposing values, values-based referrals are common practice (Cormier & Nurius, 2003). 

At first glance, these referrals are aligned with the ethical mandate that clinicians stop counseling when they may harm clients or clients will not benefit from services (A.11.b.). However, language added to the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics clarifies that counselors need to be careful when referring clients based upon a values conflict. In these situations, counselors are encouraged to “use a credible model of decision making that can bear public scrutiny of its application” (ACA, 2014, Preamble). 

Despite this guidance, few of these ethical decision-making models have been empirically validated (Levitt & Hartwig-Moorhead, 2014) and little research exists on how professional counselors actually use ethical decision-making models in real-life practice. Literature and experience reveal that professionals tend to rely more on gut reactions and brief consultations with others than they do on decision-making models. 

In this 2-hour continuing education web conference, Stephanie Dailey, EdD will discuss practical, real-life strategies for addressing or reconciling values conflicts. Based on a thorough review of professional literature, extensive clinical and supervisory experience, and theoretically grounded models of ethical decision-making, participants will explore common values-laden ethical dilemmas and the parameters around client referrals. Participants will also learn how to identify a values conflict and strategies to navigate these challenging ethical dilemmas.

This introductory instructional level web conference is designed to help clinicians: 

  1. Assess the complexities inherent in different dimensions of working with diverse clients, such as potential biases and interpersonal issues on the part of the counselor, and how these may influence interpreting ethical guidelines when there are competing principles and values at play.  
  2. List critical ethical considerations for working with diverse populations, such as discrimination, referrals, client autonomy, and professional competence. 
  3. Analyze how to differentiate between a lack of knowledge/competence and choosing not to develop competence based on personal values.
  4. Recognize when they were experiencing a values conflict.
  5. Discuss personal strategies, based on models of ethical-decision making to manage values conflicts, including how to determine when to ethically refer clients, to most effectively serve clients from diverse backgrounds.

Statement of program material's accuracy, utility, and risks: The contents of this program are based primarily on the ethics codes of these professional organizations: AAMFT, ACA, ASCA, APA, NASW, and NBCC. Contents are also guided by commonalities in state law and commonalities across various professional counseling settings in the United States. Some interpretation and analysis presented is made by the presenter, in consultation with knowledgeable colleagues and expert consultants. Statements about approval or denial of services and ethical parameters regarding liability and malpractice are according to presenter’s understanding of ethical guidelines, generalized clinical policies, and state regulations at the time of the program. The presenter may not know how to apply all principles discussed to every situation or person. This program discusses strategies for complying with ethical responsibilities for documentation and advocacy according to the above listed ethics codes. It may not include information on all applicable state laws. Misapplication of the materials, or errors in the materials, could result in denial of payment, denial of mental health services, or non-compliance with applicable laws or ethics codes.

Declaration of conflicts of interest and commercial support: None

If you have any questions, please contact us here.

How the Web Conference Works

Before the scheduled event, all registered attendees will be sent a reminder email from GoodTherapy with specific instructions on how to log in to the web conference center, as well as links to optional handout materials if applicable.

To attend the event, registered attendees will log in to the web conference center using a computer or device (smartphone or tablet with internet access) and calling into the teleconference line on a phone. Attendees will be able to ask live audio questions via phone and/or submit text chat questions via their computer or device. Attendees who are logged in to the event center will be able to see the live streaming video and/or document sharing. Alternatively, attendees may dial into the teleconference line only, though attendees dialing in by phone only will be unable to ask questions.

At the conclusion of this event, participants will receive an email with information about how to request a CE certificate in your GoodTherapy Account. To confirm attendance, participants must enter the start and end codes announced at the beginning and end of the live presentation. Participants will also be prompted to complete an online survey evaluating the event. Participants will need to complete this online survey within six days after the event. Once completed, participants will be able to download a copy of their CE certificate instantly.

For additional information about this event or our CE grievance procedures, please contact us here

Continuing Education (CE) Information

2 CE contact hours will be provided by GoodTherapy for attending this web conference in its entirety.

GoodTherapy is an Approved Education Provider by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals (provider #135463). Of the eight counselor skill groups ascribed to by NAADAC, this course is classified within Counseling Services. 

GoodTherapy is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.

This organization, GoodTherapy, provider #1352, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 03/30/2019 - 03/30/2022. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 2 clinical continuing education clock hours. 

GoodTherapy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content. GoodTherapy.org received APA approval in May 2011. Events after 2011 may meet APA requirements for Continuing Education credits.

GoodTherapy, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395.

GoodTherapy, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

Registration Information

Premium and Pro Membership with GoodTherapy includes access to this web conference at no additional cost. Not yet a member? Sign up for a Premium or Pro Membership, here.

Mental health professionals who are not members can attend this live web conference for $29.95 or access the homestudy recording for $14.95. Sign up here to purchase this CE course and earn a CE certificate.

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Meet the Presenter

Stephanie F. Dailey, EdD

Stephanie F. Dailey, EdD

Dr. Stephanie F. Dailey is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Development Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, a National Certified Counselor, and an Approved Clinical Supervisor.

Dr. Dailey is a past-president of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling (2016-2017); past-president of the Maryland Counseling Association (2015-2016); and former co-chair of the ACA Ethics Committee (2015-2016). She has also served on the ACA Ethics Appeals Committee, the ASERVIC Ethics Committee (2008-2013), and as a member and chair of a university Institutional Review Board (2012-2017).

In addition to teaching ethics to masters and doctoral students, Dr. Dailey has published and presented extensively on topics such as the ethical integration of spirituality and religion in counseling, managing counselor/client values conflicts, ethics in counseling leadership, ethical decision-making, and clinical assessment.

Continuing Education Provider Approvals

  • aceGoodTherapy.org is Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this program and its content. GoodTherapy.org received APA approval in May 2011. Events after 2011 may meet APA requirements for Continuing Education credits.
  • Logo GoodTherapy.org has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6380. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. GoodTherapy.org is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • Logo This course has been approved by GoodTherapy.org, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #135463. GoodTherapy.org is responsible for all aspects of their programming.
  • aceGoodTherapy.org, provider #1352, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 03/30/2019 - 03/30/2022. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 2 clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • GoodTherapy.org, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395.
  • GoodTherapy.org, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

608 CE hours and counting!

All are available to GoodTherapy Premium or Pro Members at no additional cost.
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