Argosy University


C 7462

Ethics in Practice



David Wadner, PhD

Chicago Campus

Office hours by appointment

Contact at

Dr. Wadner graduated from Northwestern University with a Doctorate in Psychology in 1981. Dr. Wadner is a registered psychologist in the State of Illinois.  He has also held a state certification as a Drug and Alcohol counselor in Illinois.  After becoming a psychologist Dr. Wadner entered private practice, and has served as a consulting and staff psychologist at a number of area hospitals; Core faculty and Director of Clinical Training at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology; Lecturer at Northwestern University Medical School; Assistant Professor at The Chicago Osteopathic Medical School; Faculty at Argosy University; Consulting psychologist to the Chicago Police Department; Consulting psychologist to School District 125, Program Director at The Cancer Support Center in Homewood and Clinical Consultant to the Leukemia Society of America.  He has taught a variety of Graduate Psychology course since 1980.  Currently Dr. Wadner holds the position of Field Director for Surveyor Management and Development of the Behavioral Health Care Program with The Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation.


Course description:

This course provides an opportunity to explore many of the most complicated ethical issues impacting the mental health field and examines how legal, social and professional issues interface with ethical standards.  Ethical standards are reviewed and extended into a practical case-oriented study of current demands and obligations faced by mental health professionals.  Emphasis will be placed on examining the impact that changing variables, such as professional liability, risk management requirements, and managed care payors have upon interpretation and implementation of the ethical code.  Successful practitioners will recognize changes in the way employers provide mental health benefits, and will modify and market their services accordingly, in order to offer ethical and effective treatments and consultative services.


Course Pre-requisites:  None


Required Textbook:


Welfel, E.R. (2006). Ethics in counseling and psychotherapy: Standards, research and emerging issues. (3rd ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. ISBN: 0534367526


Required Ethical Codes/Guidelines:

ACA. (2005). Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.     

ACES. (1993). Ethical Guidelines for Counseling Supervision.

AMCD. (1992). Multicultural Counseling Competencies and Standards.


Recommended Readings:


·        Ladany, N., et. al. (1999).  Psychotherapy supervisor ethical practice: Adherence to guidelines, the supervisory working alliance, and supervisee satisfaction.  The Counseling Psychologist, 27, 443-475.

·        Lawrence, G., and Robinson Kurpius, S.E., (2000). Legal and ethical issues involved when counseling minors in nonschool settings. Journal of Counseling & Development, 78, Spring, 130- 136.

·        Sue, D. W., (1992). Multicultural counseling competencies and standards: A call to the profession. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 477-486.

·                    Urofsky, R. I. and Engels, D. W. (2003).  Philosophy, moral philosophy and counseling ethics: Not an abstraction. Counseling and Values, 47, 118-130.


Technology: Pentium III CPU/ Windows 98; 128MB RAM printer; Microsoft Office; Acrobat (full version); Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 (PC), 5.0 (MAC),  or Netscape Navigator 4.08; Norton Antivirus.


Course length:  7.5 Weeks


Contact Hours: 45 Hours


Credit Value: 3.0




Program Outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate commitment to a professional identity that includes appreciation for the historical and cultural context of counseling, incorporation of prevention and psycho educational strategies, involvement in client and professional advocacy, and empowerment of clients toward optimal mental health.
  2. Commit to and engage in ethical practice and ethical decision making strategies, and socially responsible practice and living.
  3. Demonstrate multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills, as applied to self, clients, the counseling relationship, organizations, and the larger society.
  4. Students will pursue personal development, including ongoing self reflection, growth in interpersonal skills, and openness to feedback.
  5. Using appropriate media and technology, present counseling information orally and in writing that is concise, organized, well supported, created in a professional manner, and appropriate to the audience.
  6. Effectively apply instructional theory and methods relevant to counselor education.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of counseling supervision theories, methodologies, and relevant research findings and effectively apply supervision techniques across a broad range of counseling contexts.



Course Objectives:

    1. Apply the ACA and ACES professional and ethical codes/guidelines and standards of practice to resolve a given issue in clinical practice, research, counselor training, and/or counselor supervision.
    2. Identify the challenges to ethical practice in case scenarios and apply an ethical decision making process to formulate appropriate action plans.
    3. Examine and critique the ethical implications of the managed care mental health system for clinical practice.
    4. Compare and contrast the ethical standards of APA, ACA and related professions.
    5. Discuss major legal rulings that affect the work of counselors and other mental health professionals and explain the interplay between ethics and the law in counseling practice.
    6. Identify legal liability issues associated with practice as a counselor, counselor educator and/or supervisor and develop three strategies for decreasing liability in a counseling career.
    7. Apply the broader ethical principles underlying ethics codes to ethical dilemmas in order to make responsible ethical decisions about “cutting edge” or complex ethical issues.
    8. Summarize the research findings on ethical behavior of counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.
    9. Analyze the impact of the emerging ethical issues in the responsible use of technology in counseling and psychotherapy.
    10. Apply an ethical decision-making process to case scenarios related to working with special populations such as families, groups, and other specialty areas in practice. Summarize the strengths and weaknesses of this particular decision-making model, comparing and contrasting it with other decision-making models.
    11. Apply ethical decision making skills to a given case scenario related to counselor interventions and justify the rationale for the decision.
    12. Explain the role of multicultural supervision competencies and how they apply to ethical practice as a counselor and the professional as a person.



Assignments:  Specific assignments for each week are located on the online component of this course at  The online component is meant to supplement the content delivered in the face-to-face meetings and provide weekly contact with the instructor.  Reading assignments and online assignments offer students an opportunity to engage with the material and think critically about issues important to clinical practice.  In addition, the instructor may use the web-based learning environment to provide supplemental resources.


Each assignment is worth a given percentage of the final grade.  Students may choose to do as many assignments as they wish but no less than that which equals 50% of the final grade.  Assignments completed in excess of 50% will count as extra credit. All students must do Assignment #5.  All assignments are to be typed, double spaced and adhere to APA style requirements.  Assignments are to be e-mailed to or turned in during class meetings.  Students are encouraged to discuss ideas for how they will complete assignments with the instructor by e-mail at   Assignments may be submitted at any time in advance of deadlines.  At least one assignment must be turned in prior to January 19th 2007.  All assignments are due by February 11th 2007.








Introduction to the course: The importance of ethics

The nature and scope of unethical practice

Current ethical standards and the interplay of law and ethics


Welfel, p. 3 – 19

Chapter 1


ACA Code of Ethics: Preamble and Section A


1)  Interview 2-3 adults who are not mental health professionals about their understanding of the behaviors allowed or disallowed by the counselor’s professional codes of ethics.  Ask specific questions, such as, “is it ethical for a counselor to accept gifts from a client?” Try to ascertain the source of their knowledge and understanding.  Be careful in the wording and inflection of your questions so as not to sway the interviewee.  The goal here is to begin the course by viewing professional ethics through the eyes of the consumer. Record your questions and answers; write a summary of the results and your interpretation of the meaning of the individual’s responses.

Maximum value:  8%


Models of Ethical Decision-Making

Competence to practice: Ethical and legal dimensions


Welfel, p. 20 – 64

Chapter 2 & 3


ACA Code of Ethics: Section C


2) How do professional degree training programs screen candidates for admission for ethical suitability? Review the application process and admission criteria for at least 3 different types of professional degree training programs.  One of the programs must be either counseling (Argosy University is acceptable), psychology, social work or pastoral counseling.  The other two programs must be from the following list: medical school, law school, nursing school (undergraduate level is acceptable), dental school, psychiatry residency, physical therapy school (undergraduate level is acceptable), pharmacy school, accounting (undergraduate level is acceptable), teacher (undergraduate level is acceptable) and divinity school.

Compare and contrast the three programs for rigor of criteria if any.  Analyze your results and write a 2-3 page interpretive summary.  Make specific suggestions on what kind of ethical screening could be conducted to improve the current process for each program.  Consider whether ethical screening is in and of itself an ethical criterion to use for admission.


Consider constructing a chart that easily organizes your data and compares and contrasts your findings.

Maximum value 12%


Confidentiality and its limits: Understanding privileged  communication


Confidentiality and privilege with minors and vulnerable persons


Welfel, p. 65 – 102

Chapter 4


ACA Code of Ethics: Section B


3) Watch several episodes of the television show Dr. Phil.  Analyze the following two components


What kinds of individuals are chosen to be on the show?  What kind of presenting problems do they manifest?  Cut your data based on socio-demographic criteria and diagnostic criteria.  What trends or patterns do you notice?  Be specific.


What kinds of interviewing and intervention techniques does he implement?  Categorize them and describe them based on known clinical intervention strategies.  Using the ACA Code of Ethics analyze them for appropriateness of application.  Write a 2-3 page summary of what you found using the Code as your reference.  Be sure to include a discussion of whether you think the interventions are helpful.


Extra credit:  Construct a matrix which easily organizes your data and allows for quick understanding of your conclusions.

Maximum value 12%


Informed consent: Ethical and legal dimensions


Clients rights to know


Welfel, p.103 – 122

Chapter 5


ACA Code of Ethics:


4) Develop your own personal ethical and professional documents for use in your private practice.  Include fictitious address, credentials and phone numbers.  Make a decision about the general location of your practice and your client mix.   Include a blank sample form of each of the following documents: Informed Consent, Release of information, Statement concerning the payment of fees, Statement concerning HIPPA requirements, Statement of philosophy or therapeutic approach.


Be sure that your documents use language that is understandable to your identified client mix.  For example, your documents would read differently if your practice focused primarily on the treatment of suburban anorexic young girls as opposed to an inner-city gang population referred to you through the court system. 

Maximum value 14%


Sexual misconduct, multiple relationships and boundaries

Welfel, p.123 – 174

Chapter 6 & 7


ACA Code of Ethics: D


5) In order to become more aware of your intuitive style of ethical decision-making, think about an important ethical decision you made in the last two years. If you cannot think of an ethical dilemma then choose some other difficult emotional decision you made.  If no other situation comes to mind, you can use the experience of deciding to go to graduate school.


Use the 10 step model described in Chapter 2 of the text as an outline, and determine if you incorporated each step into your decision process.  Discuss each step separately and in detail.  If you determine that you skipped a step at the time of your original decision go back and now complete the step.  What did you learn?  Would the outcome be different?


If you discover that you have used an intuitive style of decision making throughout, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your style in light of the 10 steps model. Be specific and be prepared to discuss the process and your learning in class. 


Maximum value 14%


6) Although licensing boards and professional organizations take sexual misconduct very seriously, many have not automatically revoke a professional's license with the first offense. Instead, they have focused on rehabilitation through activities such as requiring the offending professional to enroll in an ethics course, to obtain close supervision of their work with clients, or to limit their practices so that they do not have clients to whom they are likely to be sexually attracted.


 Given this policy, construct a decision tree that might help such Boards and professional organizations determine appropriate outcomes of such misconduct.  Such a tree would need to assigns professional sanctions of varying severity to sexual misconduct based on severity of psychological damage to client.  Along with the decision tree itself include a statement of rationale that explains how the tree was constructed and how sanctions were assigned.


 Maximum value 10%


Ethics of testing, assessment, and diagnosis

Ethics of group and family counseling

Ethical and legal dimensions of the use of technology in counseling

Welfel, p.175 – 221

Chapter 8, 9,


ACA Code of Ethics: Section E.


7) Construct an ethical questionnaire that can be used by professionals and laypeople.  Write 10 true or false questions designed to measure knowledge of ethical behavior.  Apply the questionnaire to a sample population.


The questions should test knowledge of ethical practice of mental health professionals.

Half the questions should be worded in the positive and half should be worded in the negative.  Keep the questions short and make sure the questions measure only one aspect of ethical practice


Example:  “It is not an ethical violation for a professional counselor to practice without a license.  T or F”


Pilot test the questionnaire on a variety of subjects and compute an average correct score.  Cut the data based on socio-demographic criteria of sample subjects.  Compare the results obtained between lay individuals and professionals


Analyze your results and write an interpretive summary.  

Maximum value 20%


Ethical counseling and psychotherapy  in a multicultural society

Ethical and legal dimensions of supervision

Ethical and legal dimensions of community counseling and psychotherapy


Welfel, p.222 – 235 and 293-311

Chapter 10 &13


ACA Code of Ethics: Section F


8) Explore the Web and find at least 2 Websites of professional counselors, social workers, psychiatrist or psychologist who are using the Web to advertise a private practice, or who are offering services over the web. Your task is to determine whether the professionals are providing the right information to clients and whether that information meets the requirements of their ethical code.  The review must consider the issues of  privacy, informed consent, competency and supervision.  Write a critique (identifying specific non-compliant standards) of each website reviewed.  Be sure to include the web address of each site in your critique.  Be specific.


Maximum value 8%


9) Using what you learned from the above review, design your own web site using fictitious information.  Your web site must address the following issues, privacy, informed consent, competency and supervision at a minimum.


Maximum value 8%


Ethics complaint process

Course conclusions and wrap-up

Welfel, p.333 – 351

Chapter 15


ACA Code of Ethics: Section H


10)Assume that you are a senior counselor in a position to supervise Master level practicum students.  Craft the following documents for your new supervisee.  Statement of supervision philosophy; expectations of supervisor; expectations of supervisee; Goals and objectives of practicum experience; statement of ethical conduct for supervisee and informed consent statement for supervisee.  Be specific and inclusive of as many situations you might anticipate occurring.


Maximum value 12%



Students will be expected to participate in mock ethics cases during in-class time.  Students will be asked to apply the concepts from the text, lectures and readings to a hypothetical case or a case based on actual events.  Test cases will be in an open--book and open-note format.   The following evaluation criteria will be applied to student performance:

            Understanding of how laws and ethical standards apply to the case

            Accurate interpretation of the facts of the case

            Knowledge of the relevant aspects of research and scholarship on the subject

            Capacity to apply standards and concepts from assigned readings to the case

            Ability to express ideas clearly



Grading Scale                                                                                                             Grading requirements


 100 -93


92 - 90


89 - 88


87 - 83


82 – 80


79 – 78


77 – 73


72 – 70


69 and below





Weekly Assignments


In-class projects













Library Resources:  Argosy University’s core online collection features nearly 21,000 full-text journals and 23,000 electronic books and other content covering all academic subject areas including Business & Economics, Career & General Education, Computers, Engineering & Applied Science, Humanities, Science, Medicine & Allied Health, and Social & Behavior Sciences.  Many titles are directly accessible through the Online Public Access Catalog at  All resources in Argosy University’s online collection are available through the Internet.  The library will provide students with links, user IDs, and passwords.  A detailed list of online resources is located at  In addition to online resources, Argosy University’s onsite collections contain a wealth of subject-specific research materials searchable in the Online Public Access Catalog.  Catalog searching is easily limited to individual campus collections.  Alternatively, students can search combined collections of all Argosy University Libraries.  Students are encouraged to seek research and reference assistance from campus librarians.


Information Literacy: Argosy University’s Information Literacy Tutorial was developed to teach students fundamental and transferable research skills. The tutorial consists of five modules where students learn to select sources appropriate for academic-level research, search periodical indexes and search engines, and evaluate and cite information. In the tutorial, students study concepts and practice them through interactions. At the conclusion of each module, they can test their comprehension and receive immediate feedback. Each module takes less than 20 minutes to complete.


Please view the tutorial at


Academic Policies


Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism:  In an effort to foster a spirit of honesty and integrity during the learning process, Argosy University requires that the submission of all course assignments represent the original work produced by that student.  All sources must be documented through normal scholarly references/citations and all work must be submitted using the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition (2001). Washington DC: American Psychological Association (APA) format.  Please refer to Appendix A in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Edition for thesis and paper format.  Students are encouraged to purchase this manual (required in some courses) and become familiar with its content as well as consult the Argosy University catalog for further information regarding academic dishonesty and plagiarism. 


Scholarly writing:  The faculty at Argosy University is dedicated to providing a learning environment that supports scholarly and ethical writing, free from academic dishonesty and plagiarism.  This includes the proper and appropriate referencing of all sources. You may be asked to submit your course assignments through “Turnitin,” (, an online resource established to help educators develop writing/research skills and detect potential cases of academic dishonesty.  Turnitin compares submitted papers to billions of pages of content and provides a comparison report to your instructor. This comparison detects papers that share common information and duplicative language.



Americans with Disabilities Act Policy


It is the policy of Argosy University to make reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If a student with disabilities needs accommodations, the student must notify the Director of Student Services.  Procedures for documenting student disability and the development of reasonable accommodations will be provided to the student upon request. 


Students will be notified by the Director of Student Services when each request for accommodation is approved or denied in writing via a designated form.  To receive accommodation in class, it is the student’s responsibility to present the form (at his or her discretion) to the instructor.  In an effort to protect student privacy, the Department of Student Services will not discuss the accommodation needs of any student with instructors. Faculty may not make accommodations for individuals who have not been approved in this manner.


The Argosy University Statement Regarding Diversity


Argosy University prepares students to serve populations with diverse social, ethnic, economic, and educational experiences. Both

the academic and training curricula are designed to provide an environment in which students can develop the skills and attitudes essential to working with people from a wide range of backgrounds.