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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Students' Ethical Decision‐Making When Considering Boundary Crossings With Counselor Educators

Stephanie T. Burns
Counseling and Values
First published: 10 April 2019


Counselor education students (N = 224) rated 16 boundary‐crossing scenarios involving counselor educators. They viewed boundary crossings as unethical and were aware of power differentials between the 2 groups. Next, they rated the scenarios again, after reviewing 1 of 4 ethical informational resources: relevant standards in the ACA Code of Ethics (American Counseling Association, 2014), 2 different boundary‐crossing decision‐making models, and a placebo. Although participants rated all resources except the placebo as moderately helpful, these resources had little to no influence on their ethical decision‐making. Only 47% of students in the 2 ethical decision‐making model groups reported they would use the model they were exposed to in the future when contemplating boundary crossings.

Here is a portion from Implications for Practice and Training

Counselor education students took conservative stances toward the 16 boundary-crossing scenarios with counselor educators. These findings support results of previous researchers who stated that students struggle with even the smallest of boundary crossings (Kozlowski et al., 2014) because they understand that power differentials have implications for grades, evaluations, recommendation letters, and obtaining authentic skill development feedback (Gu et al., 2011). Counselor educators need to be aware that students find not providing appropriate feedback because of the counselor educator’s personal feelings toward the student, not providing students with required supervision time in practicum, and taking first authorship when the student performed all the work on the submission as being as abusive as having sex with a student.

The research is here.

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