Outline the general ethical responsibilities on helping relationships and discuss them with examples from a variety of caring roles.

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Outline the general ethical responsibilities on helping relationships and discuss them with examples from a variety of caring roles.

The responsibilities on helping relationships are to maintain the general trusts of their clients and patients, not only through care, but also through observing certain codes of practice to preserve their rights.

These codes are referred to as ethical codes and they act as guidelines to shape and uphold the general principles regarding staff and patients relationships.

This essay would attempt to outline the general codes of ethics, and discuss the moral principles underpinning ethical responsibilities within helping relationships, with particular examples from health and social care and counselling roles. Ethical conflicts will also be identified within these roles making particular reference to policies that work in conjunction with these codes.

Within caring or helping professions, the counsellor or carer needs to be aware that the client is in their care, because they feel they can help their present situation. Any mistrust or doubt created by these professionals could result in the betrayal of the client's trust. It is therefore important that codes of guidance are enforced in order to ensure good practice within these roles.

What are Ethics?

Ethical issues are the science of morals, that branch of philosophy, which is concerned with human character and conduct; a system of morals or rules of behaviour, the treatise on morals. (Chambers dictionary p.554)

Professor David Raphael, cited by Gillon 1992, defined philosophy as the critical evaluation of assumptions and arguments, and moral philosophy as the philosophical inquiry about norms, values, right and wrong and what ought and ought not to be done.

Arguably, ethical issues involve a choice or decision about what one should do rather than what one would do.

There are general moral obligations instilled in individuals to achieve the highest possible results in whatever they undertake. This obligation is stressed in ones cultural, religious and professional practices, to name but a few.

Jeremy Bentham (1789), a British philosopher adopted this view, and subsequent thinkers have developed his approach, known as Utilitarianism, because it claims that the moral value of actions consists in their 'utility' or 'usefulness' in bringing about valuable results. According to this concept, human actions are not fundamentally good or bad. They are only considered to be one or the other, when they act as means to an end (Tschudin, 1993). For example, issues of being truthful and honest are not valuable in themselves unless these issues are likely to lead to states of affairs that one might consider to be valuable. Similarly the codes of ethics are ineffective when viewed independently, without the reinforcement of moral principles.

Caring and helping professions such as social work, medicine, counselling, and psychotherapy, are all involved in catering for and assisting the wellbeing of individuals with needs ranging from social, physical and psychological issues. Likewise, these individuals are from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, which according to Hugman and Smith 1995, are each in different ways, moral concerns, embedded in the mores of society, and so are laden with social values (Timms 1983; Horne 1987).

Although the professions i.e. (medicine, social work and counselling) around which this study will be based are different in some aspects of their professional practices, they are however guided by similar codes of ethical principles and morals of practice. Each institution has governing bodies, which ensures their smooth running. In counselling organisations, the British Association of Counsellors (BAC) has the responsibility to ensure that counsellors abide by and practice the codes of ethics. Within medicine, this responsibility lies with the General Medical Council (GMC) and social workers have the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

The general codes of ethics are:

* Responsibility - safety of clients or patients rests with the professional whilst in their care. However, according to Jones et al 2000, counselling may tend to be concerned with the principles of autonomy, and therefore do not often take responsibility for their clients, but are arguably responsible for the work undertaken with the client.
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* Confidentiality - respect and protect the client's or patients details to preserve trust.

* Boundaries - the awareness of any overlapping of pre-existing relationships

* Competence - the need for continuous development of skills through training and to recognise the limits of professional competence.

* Anti discriminatory practice - personal beliefs should not pose a threat to the quality of care administered to the patient or client

* Contracts - This mainly applies to counselling were the counsellor or therapist needs to set terms and conditions on which counselling is offered, and ...

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