Counseling Code of Ethics

In my studies thus far the topic of ethics has been mentioned in nearly every class. In my undergrad program I took a Counseling Ethics class and then I took another one in graduate school. We have been instructed and quizzed on ethical dilemmas, we have been asked how we would respond in certain situations in the counseling office. We have been told what the right answer is, as well as what the wrong answer is.

The thing is, in my extracurricular reading, I am finding many of the renown therapists of today and yesterday have taken a completely different tack with when it comes to ethics.

Dr. Irv Yalom writes in his book, The Gift of Therapy,

“The first model posited of thr ideal therapist-patient relationship was the new superannuated ‘blank screen,’ in which the therapist remained neutral and more or less anonymous in the hopes that patients would project onto this blank screen major transference distortions” (Yalom, 2022, p. 75)

Yalom, I. D. (2022). Gift of Therapy : An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients. HarperCollins.

The idea of the blank slate therapist was taught by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud’s own writing (Studies in Hysteria) he generally did not follow this blank screen model. Yalom goes on to say, “he (Freud) contrived to attend social functions to see his patients in other settings” (p. 76).

When I read that, I stopped short. You see, one thing that has been pounded home to me is multipicity of relationships with clients cannot happen under almost any and all circumstances.

In the 1950s Carl Rogers put together a model of nondirective therapy. He “instructed therapist to offer minimal direction, often limiting interventions to the echoing of the patient’s last phrase” (Yalom, 2022, p.76) This is a form of therapy that does not allow for the therapist to self-disclose anything. But Rogers did not always follow this model. As he grew as a therapist, he eventually abandoned the idea altogether. He moved from a near silent blank slate to a more interactive approach.

Therapists are not to attend any function of their client’s life that is outside of their scheduled session. They cannot go to school plays, little league games, graduations, etc because that is “unethical.”

I live in a small rural area. It is nearly impossible to not see clients outside of the office. Clients work at the grocery store, the bank, the gas station, the city offices, the library, the movie theater.

Here are three therapists. They are considered to be greats in the field. And yet, according to some they were unethical. How are young therapists to wrap their mind around this dichotomy?



I don’t think so.

You see I was just visiting Mr. FullCup for lunch when a co-worker of his (and a friend of mine) gave me a little quiz. By little I mean not overly large. But it did have 40 questions.

The quiz was on whether or not you are a strong-willed wife. I very calmly and politely took the 2 sheets of 8.5×11 paper from her, quickly scanned the title and promptly said, “No.” Not “no, I won’t be participating” but “No, I don’t need this because the answer is most definitely not.”

And Mr. FullCup smirked. Yes, he did. He smirked.

I guess the guest on Focus On The Family today was talking about this quiz and my dear friend had to find the dern thing and print off a copy for me.

For me?? Really??? Is she out of her ever-livin’ mind? Well probably but that is quite beside the point because you see, Mr.FullCup smirked about it.

I read the quiz and let me tell you, I don’t qualify.

Well, except there was the one question, “I feel exhausted because I seem to be doing everything myself.”  I mean I’m not exhausted all the time unless you count from the time I open my eyes in the morning until I close them at night as being all the time.

It seems I think I’m the only one who can really walk the girls to piano and ballet lessons. I’m the only one who can cook supper.  (But that’s only because I have Jimmy Johns on speed dial.) The only one who can really do the laundry, including hanging clothes outside. Do the dishes? Oh yeah, as long as it’s daylight, I’m the only one who can get them done. (Now when the sun goes down, I’m simply to exhausted to care if they’re done or not. ) I am the only one who can sweep the floor, vacuum, mop, water plants, homeschool, teach the fifth grader math and grammar, and spelling and history, and science.  I am the only one who can raise my children as I see fit. The only one who can teach them the things of God.

Sheesh I’m exhausted just typing all that out. No wonder I’m tired much of the time. (And no wonder I just yawned.)  But you know what? I don’t have to do it all. I don’t. I’m not called to do it all.  God has blessed me with people in my life and in my family who are more than capable and more than willing okay we’ll stick with capable to help when I ask.

And the hard things I am called to do, the things that are my responsibility, He promises to be there to help me. He promises that if I exchange my burden for His, if I take His burden in exchange for my to-do list (that I never get around to making anyway because it would scare me), He promises a lighter burden. He says, “Come to  me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Friends, that is good news! We don’t have to think thoughts like, “If I don’t do it, no one will.” We don’t have to live our lives exhausted every second. We don’t have to be a slave to our schedule, or to-do list, or phone, email, facebook, etc. We don’t.  No, we are free to rest.

I think that is what I’ll be doing the rest of the day…and hopefully the rest of my life. What about you?