Roles and Importance of Ethics in the Counseling Profession

Roles and Importance of Ethics in the Counseling Profession

Sussan Olufunmilola Adeusi (Covenant University, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2730-5.ch006


Absence of rules, guidelines, or instruction in any setting will lead to chaos. Ethics is a written law, and in this chapter, the focus is on the role and importance of ethics in counselling. Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the morality of human actions. Every professional body is governed by ethics and counselling profession is not exclusive. Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON) does not have already established ethical codes due to several challenges but the ethical codes of American Counselling Association (ACA) and British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) have been very helpful. These major associations (ACA and BACP) are guided by similar ethical principles and code of ethics. Without ethics, counselling will achieve nothing or very little of her goals. Hence, the roles and importance of ethics in counselling is crucial; it sets order and guarantees a total and healthy human development.
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Concept of Ethics

Ethics originate from the Ancient Greek word “ethos” which means habit or custom. According to Omoregbe (1993), there is no univocal or general consensus on the definition of ethics. Ethics is defined as the branch of philosophy which deals with the morality of human actions or as a branch of philosophy which studies the norms of human behavior. It is also defined as the branch of study that deals with what is the correct course of action for man, that is, the moral principles that govern a person's behavior or an activity. Ethics can also be seen as the study of right and wrong or ways of categorizing values that govern people’s affairs or endeavors. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines ethics is the branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Kidder (2003, p. 63) states that ‘ethics is the science of the ideal human character’ or 'the science of moral duty' while Paul and Elder (2006, p. 2) define ethics as “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behavior helps or harms sentient creatures”.

Ekanola (1999) corroborates the definitions above by stating that ethics is concerned with philosophical inquiry about morality, moral problems and moral judgments. It was revealed that in the field of ethics, 3 aspects can be identified which are: normative-ethics, descriptive-ethics and meta-ethics.

  • Normative ethics: the main focus is to make moral judgments about particular actions or kinds of actions and offer reasons to support the moral judgment made in order to show that the judgments are reasonable (example – prostitution is bad; it can lead to incurable diseases).

  • Descriptive ethics answers factual questions about the moral view of individuals or groups. Basically, statements of fact are made about the moral views held by individuals, groups or society at large (example – “Sussan believes prostitution is bad”, or “Christians hate corrupt practices”).

  • Meta-ethics: is concerned with questions about the meaning of ethical terms. It attempts to analyze ethical concepts in order to arrive at their actual meanings and logical relations.

In all, ethics is often used interchangeably with morality, though morality is the basis for ethics because it is not to describe the way people behave in practice but to state the way people ought to behave or conform which helps to bring orderliness or saneness to the society.

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