How Does a School Counsellor with Dual, Overlapping, or Multiple Roles Experience, Describe, and Cope with the Attendant Ethical Dilemmas?

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Wicker, Danielle
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School counsellors perform multiple roles in the routine fulfillment of their job duties. School counsellors often act as counsellors, teachers, course-changers, coaches, disciplinarians, and school community members. The British Columbia Ministry of Education and British Columbia School Counselor's Association specify roles of school counsellors. The roles school counsellors actually perform are only partially represented in those guidelines; their non-counselling roles are not reflected. The multiple roles school counsellors enact can lead to dual or multiple relationships with student-clients. The British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors and Canadian Counselling Association publish codes of ethics that indicate counsellors should avoid dual relationships. Thus school counsellors must make ethical decisions as they manage their multiple roles and relationships. Despite the historical notion that all dual relationships are improper; evidence is presented that suggests that harm and exploitation in relationships is of concern; dual relationships themselves are not inherently bad. In fact, some dual relationships can be beneficial. Literature on ethical dilemmas faced by school counsellors has primarily utilized questionnaires to learn about the types of dilemmas experienced. This study sought to present the lived experience of one middle school counsellor. Two narrative interviews were conducted. The participant shared her belief that her relationship with student-clients is of the utmost importance. She used this philosophy to guide her practice through several role-related ethical challenges. Her experience of how she copes with, and manages, those dilemmas is explored. Ultimately, she found that permission asking, transparency in roles, finding time for valued work, accepting imperfection, and consulting with school counselling colleagues to be the most beneficial in negotiating ethical dilemmas.
school counselors