Ward vs. Wilbanks, et al.: Implications for Professional Counseling

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1 Ward vs. Wilbanks, et al.: Implications for Professional Counseling Perry C. Francis, Ed.D Eastern Michigan University 1

2 Your Presenter Professor of Counseling Coordinator of Counseling Clinic College of Education Clinical Suite Eastern Michigan University Chair, Ethics Revision Task Force American Counseling Association 2

3 Overview Current Status of Lawsuit Overview of the Case Impact of the Case Implications for the Profession Questions, Comments, and Discussion 3

4 Overview of What Happened The EMU Counseling Program operates an in-house counseling clinic for training purposes (practicum) A client was randomly assigned to Ms. Ward, a school counselor in training Ms. Ward reviewed the file and indicated that she would not see the client and stated that she would not work on issues that were contrary to her religious values (specifically LGBTQ issues) Client was reassigned 4

5 Overview of What Happened Dr. Callaway (Ms. Ward s practicum supervisor) met with her to discuss the issue. Ward challenged the relevance of the ACA Code of Ethics An informal review conference was called at which no resolution was achieved Ms. Ward refused the opportunity to participate in a remediation plan Ms. Ward stated Who is ACA to tell me what to do, I answer to a higher power. With no resolution, Ms. Ward requested and was referred to a Formal Review 5

6 Overview of What Happened Formal review Ms. Ward reiterated her intent to refuse to counsel any LGBTQclients about relationship issues She expanded this to include sex outside of marriage and consideration of abortion. She stated that she would refer all such cases to another counselor and insisted that she should be able to counsel and refer clients in accordance with her own values. 6

7 Overview of What Happened Ms. Ward was dismissed from the program for BEHAVIORthat was in violation of our profession s code of ethics & refusing to participate in a remediation plan She appealed dismissal to the Dean of COE Upon review, Dean of COE denied the appeal 7

8 Overview of the Lawsuit Ms. Ward filed her lawsuit with the help of Alliance Defense Fund ( ADFis a national organization with $20 million grant to sue public universities The lawsuit was filed seven days after student s dismissal During deposition, Ms. Ward admitted that she had first contacted ADF two years prior. 8

9 Overview of the Lawsuit Numerous individuals sued Claims alleged by Plaintiff Settlement issues Depositions Procedural motions Summary judgment 9

10 Current Status of Lawsuit First Round (Federal Court, SE District for Michigan) Summary Judgment for EMU Numerous groups have filed amicus briefs for both plaintiff (Ward) & defendant (EMU) Federal Appeal to 6th Circuit Returned to lower court for trial Case settled out of court Neither party changed their position or practices 10

11 Disciplinary Process EMU-Counseling Program has a set disciplinary process. Process is a reflection of ACA Code of Ethics (F.3.a.) Process was never in question Due process was followed to protect the rights of the student (Ward) 11

12 Impact of the Case on EMU On the University as a Whole Public Response ( s, voic s, etc.) Financial Cost Time Legislative Issues 12

13 Impact of the Case on Faculty & Students On Faculty Members and Students as Individuals Diversion of energy from teaching, service and scholarship to lawsuit Emotional stress, fears Experiences with liability insurance companies Contacts from prospective applicants Choices about how to address diversity issues in class during lawsuit 13

14 Impact of the Case on Recruiting/Advising Contact from applicants Received questions and comments such as: Do you discriminate against Christians? How can you convince me that your counselors [sic] wouldn t be against me if I applied to your program? You are all terrorists! Have a blessed day 14

15 Implications for Profession Ward V. Wilbanks, (EMU 2010) and similar cases Bruff v. North Mississippi Health Services (2001) Walden v. CDC (2010) Keaton v. Augusta State Univ. (2010) 15

16 Does This Really Happen? Bruff vs. North Mississippi Health Services, Inc., (2001) Early in 1996 Bruff counseled a woman identified only as Jane Doe. Several months later Doe returned for further counseling. At that time she informed Bruff that she was a homosexual and she asked for help in improving her relationship with her female partner. Bruff declined to counsel Doe on that subject, advising that homosexual behavior conflicted with her religious beliefs, but offered to continue counseling Doe on other matters. Another counseling session was scheduled but Doe did not appear. Instead, she complained to her employer about Bruff's actions and her employer in turn complained to the Medical Center. Following a lengthy process to try and accommodate Bruff, she was fired. 16

17 Does This Really Happen? Walden vs. CDC & Computer Science Corp, et. al., (2010) Jane Doe came to Marcia Walden in 2007 for advice involving a same-sex relationship, and Walden was let go after she told the woman she couldn't help because her personal values as a devout Christian prevented her from offering any assistance. `Ms. Doe complained to administrators that she felt judged and condemned by Walden. The company that the CDC had hired to provide counseling services terminated Walden at the CDC's request. The CDC and the company told the Court that Walden could have simply referred the employee to another counselor without explanation. The CDC intervened and said we can't have a counselor who wants to exclude an entire segment of the population., said an attorney for the CSC. It would destroy the integrity of the program. A CDC attorney noted the firm's contract allows a counselor with a religious conflict to refer a case to another staffer, but bars the counselor from broadcasting feelings that would cause potentially serious damage to the program. 17

18 Does This Really Happen? Keeton vs. Anderson-Wiley, et. al., (2011) (Augusta State University) Jennifer Keeton was enrolled in the School Counseling Program at Augusta State University (ASU), a Georgia state school, seeking to obtain her master's degree in school counseling. After Keeton completed her first year in the program, ASU's officials asked her to participate in a remediation plan addressing what the faculty perceived as deficiencies in her ability to be a multiculturally competent counselor, particularly with regard to working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (GLBTQ) populations. ASU's officials required Keeton's consent to the remediation plan before Keeton could participate in the program's clinical practicum, in which she would have to counsel students one-on-one. Rather than completing the remediation plan, Keeton filed an action alleging that requiring her to complete the remediation plan violated her First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights. Keeton also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that would prevent ASU's officials from dismissing her from the program if she did not complete the remediation plan. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied her motion for a preliminary injunction, and it is from this order that Keeton appealed. The appeal was denied in Federal Court. 18

19 Common Elements Three of the four suits were filed with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund. All the plaintiffs are very sincere and nice people, believing they were acting correctly in making referrals or stating their beliefs up front. Two were in school counseling programs that would have meant they may not have been able to refer once they were in the schools providing counseling. All the issues currently center around GLBTQQ issues. 19

20 Implications for Profession Identified a misunderstanding about referrals based upon values vs. based on competence Competence is an ongoing process Working with diverse client base is a basic competence 20

21 Implications for Profession Identified an unspoken problem of Discriminatory Referral practices What is a discriminatory referral? 21

22 Implications for Profession Discriminatory Referrals Occurs when a mental health professional refers a client when s/he believes that s/he cannot work with the client s presenting concern (in this case due to a values/religious/ lifestyle conflict) before the professional has consulted with the client or sought consultation, supervision, further education, or other means to increase his or her capacity to provide services. When the professional has notsought these services, s/he may be referring inappropriately and committing an act of discrimination and micro-aggression. Shiles,

23 Postulated Reasons (Shiles, 2009) Practice (invisible racism) is normative in mental health field Maintains our self-image as moral and decent to refer ( best interest of the client ) Referral is easier than obtaining training, consultation, introspection, etc. Glorification and misunderstanding of referral in literature and practice 23

24 Competence vs. Values A conflict of values is not a competence issue it is a diversity/multicultural issue Difficulty or disagreement does not imply a lack of competence No therapist is competent with all populations 24

25 Gaining Competence Competence is not an either/or concept Continuum of competence Competence is always growing and changing with the people and issues we work with. 25

26 Implications for Profession Highlights that the counseling profession need to clearly communicate its professional values to practitioners, students, and the public. What are those values? 26

27 ACA Code (2005) The Preamble of the ACA Code states: Association members recognize diversity and embrace a cross-cultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. 27

28 ACA Code (2005) The Preamble of the ACA Code states: Professional values are an important way of living out an ethical commitment. Values inform principles. Inherently held values that guide our behaviors or exceed prescribed behaviors are deeply ingrained in the counselor and developed out of personal dedication, rather than the mandatory requirement of an external organization. 28

29 What Does This Imply? Values inform principles. Inherently held values that guide our behaviors or exceed prescribed behaviors are deeply ingrained in the counselor Our professional (and personal)values shape the principles that are the foundation of our ethics. Professional (and personal)values shape our professional (and personal) behaviors. Values + Behaviors communicate what we believe concerning what is important for & about the counseling profession. 29

30 Values are Reflected in our Code of Ethics Boundaries of Competence ACA: C.2.a. Counselors practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, state and national professional credentials, and appropriate professional experience. Counselors gain knowledge, personal awareness, sensitivity, and skills pertinent to working with a diverse client population. 30

31 Values are Reflected in our Code of Ethics Non-Discrimination ACA: C.5. Counselors do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/ spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status/ partnership, language preference, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed by law. Counselors do not discriminate against clients, students, employees, supervisees, or research participants in a manner that has a negative impact on these persons. 31

32 Additional Codes Avoiding Harm & Imposing Values ACA: A.4. a. Counselors act to avoid harming their clients, trainees, and research participants and to minimize or to remedy unavoidable or unanticipated harm. ACA: A.4.b. Counselors are aware of their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and avoid imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals.counselors respect the diversity of clients, trainees, and research participants. 32

33 Core Professional Values From Across the Ocean Britain The fundamental values of counsellingand psychotherapy include a commitment to: Respecting human rights and dignity Protecting the safety of clients Ensuring the integrity of practitioner-client relationships Enhancing the quality of professional knowledge and its application Alleviating personal distress and suffering Fostering a sense of self that is meaningful to the person(s) concerned Increasing personal effectiveness Enhancing the quality of relationships between people Appreciating the variety of human experience and culture Striving for the fair and adequate provision of counsellingand psychotherapy services 33

34 Britain s Personal Moral Qualities of a Counselor Empathy: the ability to communicate understanding of another person's experience from that person's perspective. Sincerity: a personal commitment to consistency between what is professed and what is done. Integrity: commitment to being moral in dealings with others, personal straightforwardness, honesty and coherence. Resilience: the capacity to work with the client's concerns without being personally diminished. Humility: the ability to assess accurately and acknowledge one's own strengths and weaknesses. Competence: the effective deployment of the skills and knowledge needed to do what is required. Fairness: the consistent application of appropriate criteria to inform decisions and actions. Wisdom: possession of sound judgement that informs practice. Courage: the capacity to act in spite of known fears, risks and uncertainty. Respect: showing appropriate esteem to others and their understanding of themselves. 34

35 New Zealand Core Principles & Values from Around the World The core values of counseling are: Respect for human dignity Partnership Autonomy Responsible caring Personal integrity Social justice The following principles are expressions of these core values in action. They form the foundation for ethical practice. Counsellors shall: Act with care and respect for individual and cultural differences and the diversity of human experience. Avoid doing harm in all their professional work. Actively support the principles embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi. Respect the confidences with which they are entrusted. Promote the safety and well-being of individuals, families, communities, whanau, hapu and iwi. Seek to increase the range of choices and opportunities for clients. Be honest and trustworthy in all their professional relationships. Practice within the scope of their competence. Treat colleagues and other professionals with respect. 35

36 Core Professional Values From Around the World Scotland s Ethical Principles The working relationship between a member and their client, and between members, is governed ethically. It is a relationship which is respectful and valuing of each person who is part of it and members have the primary responsibility for maintaining the ethical framework of that relationship. Members work in the best interests and for the welfare of their clients, and of their colleagues. Members work within the limits of their competence, monitoring their effectiveness and recognisingthe need for their on-going professional development. Members demonstrate integrity, openness and objectivity to their clients, and colleagues. Members do not exploit or harm their clients, or colleagues. Members respect the dignity, worth and uniqueness of all individuals and affirm their autonomy. Members recogniseand respect diversity and differences between people. Members do not practise, condone or encourage unjustified discrimination or oppressive behaviour. Members respect privacy and preserve the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of their work. Members work within the law. Within the broader context, the above ethical principles are manifest whenever applicable in all the professional activities and relationships engaged in by members. 36

37 Core Professional Values From Around the World Ireland s Basic Principles The Code is based on four overall ethical principles, under which specific ethical standards are elaborated in greater detail. Principle 1: Respect for the rights and dignity of the client. Practitioners are required to treat their clients as persons of intrinsic worth with a right to determine their own priorities, to respect clients' dignity and to give due regard to their moral and cultural values. Practitioners take care not to intrude inappropriately on clients' privacy. They treat as confidential all information obtained in the course of their work. As far as possible, they ensure that clients understand and consent to whatever professional action they propose. Principle 2: Competence. Practitioners are required to monitor and develop their professional skills and ethical awareness on an ongoing basis. They recognize that their expertise and capacity for work are limited, and take care not to exceed the limits. Principle 3: Responsibility. In their professional activities, practitioners are required to act in a trustworthy and reputable manner towards clients and the community. They refer clients to colleagues and other professionals, as appropriate, to ensure the best service to clients. They act appropriately to resolve ethical dilemmas and conflicts of interest. Principle 4. Integrity. Practitioners take steps to manage personal stress, maintain their own mental health, and ensure that their work is professionally supervised. They are required to be honest and accurate about their qualifications and the effectiveness of the services which they offer. They treat others in a fair, open and straightforward manner, honourprofessional commitments, and act to clarify any confusion about their role or responsibilities. They do not use the professional relationship to exploit clients and they deal appropriately with personal conflicts of interest. They take action against harmful or unethical behaviour in colleagues. 37

38 Common Themes as They Relate to Presentation Respect the dignity of your client Be prepared to work in a diverse world Do not discriminate Do no harm Work within your competence Work to maintain and enhance your competence 38

39 Questions 39

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