Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling – COUC 501

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

This course introduces students to concepts regarding ethical and legal issues encountered by licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists, including ethical principles, professional codes of ethics, identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas, ethical decision-making models, and legalities of the profession. Current issues in therapeutic practice in a variety of professional settings are explored.




Developing excellence in the field of professional counseling requires a thorough understanding of current professional, ethical, and legal issues related to counselors functioning in a variety of settings. A focus on learning how to systematically evaluate ethical issues from both a biblical and clinical perspective is critical and will enable the student to develop a solid foundation for facing the complex and challenging ethical issues that await him/her in the field of counseling.

Method of Instruction: This 8 week course is delivered in an online format, with Blackboard® as the primary instructional delivery method. Students complete one module per week over the duration of the course.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the main ethical and legal issues involved in professional counseling.
  2. Compare and contrast the relevant ethics codes of professional organizations and credentialing bodies.
  3. Differentiate the counselor’s roles and responsibilities as a member of an interdisciplinary emergency management response team in a variety of settings.
  4. Identify the role of the counselor in advocating for the profession and in addressing institutional and social barriers that hinder the client’s access to mental health care.
  5. Apply the counseling and state board ethics codes to common clinical situations.
  6. Identify signs of counselor impairment and develop a personal plan of counselor wellness.
  7. Identify models and ethics of counseling supervision and consultation.
  8. Identify ethical methods of spiritual integration within the counseling setting.

Common Core Courses Matrix of Student Competencies

F1.  Professional Counseling Orientation And Ethical Practice

CACREP Standard

Course/Experience – Evidence

F.1.a.  history and philosophy of the counseling profession and its specialty areas

Quiz  Ch. 1–2,


F.1.b. The multiple professional roles and functions of counselors across specialty areas, and their relationships with human service and integrated behavioral health care systems, including interagency and interorganizational collaboration and consultation

Quiz Ch. 1-2; Ch. 13;


F.1.c. counselors’ roles & responsibilities as members of an interdisciplinary community outreach and emergency management response teams

Quiz Ch. 1-2, 13


F.1.d. the role and process of the professional counselor advocating on behalf of the profession

Quiz Ch. 2-3


F.1.e.  advocacy processes needed to address institutional and social barriers that impede access, equity, and success for clients

Quiz Ch. 1-3


F.1.f.  professional counseling credentialing, including certification, licensure, and accreditation practices and standards, and the effects of public policy on these issues

Quiz Ch. 1, 2, Discussion Board 1

F.1.g. professional counseling credentialing, including certification, licensure, and accreditation practices and standards, and the effects of public policy on these issues.

Quiz Ch. 1, 2, Discussion Board 1


F.1.h.  current labor market information relevant to opportunities for practice within the counseling profession

Quiz Ch. 1-2


F.1.i.  ethical standards of professional organizations and credentialing bodies, and applications of ethical and legal considerations in professional counseling.

Reaction Paper, Ethical Minute Papers 1-2; Discussion Board: Child Neglect/Abuse, Discussion Board Forum 1-4


F.1.j. technology’s impact on the counseling profession

Quiz Ch 10;  Quiz Ch. 10; Ethical Decision-Making Paper


F.1.k. strategies for personal and professional self-evaluation and implications for practice

Quiz Ch 1, 4,7


F.1.l. self-care strategies appropriate to the counselor role

Quiz Ch. 7; Ethical Decision-Making Paper; Discussion Board Forum 1-4.


F.1.m. the role of counseling supervision in the profession

Quiz Ch 15


F.2  Social and Cultural Diversity

F.2.a. multicultural and pluralistic trends, including characteristics and concerns within and among diverse groups nationally and internationally

Quiz Ch 3, Reaction Paper


F.2.d. the impact of heritage, attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences on an individual’s views of others

Quiz Ch. 2-3;


F. 2.g. the impact of spiritual beliefs on clients’ and counselors’ worldviews

Quiz 3; Reaction Paper.


F.2.h. strategies for identifying and eliminating barriers, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination

Quiz 3; Reaction Paper.


F.5  Counseling and Helping Relationships

F.5.b. a systems approach to conceptualizing clients

Quiz Ch. 9 (Counseling Children/Vulnerable Adults); Quiz Ch. 10 (Counseling Families and Groups); Discussion Board: Child Neglect/ Abuse

F.5.c. theories, models, and strategies for understanding and practicing consultation

Quiz Ch. 14 (Supervision and Consultation).


Evidence of Student Competencies: Clinical Mental Health Counseling

CACREP Standard

Course/Experience – Evidence


CMHC 1.a. history and development of clinical mental health counseling

Quiz Ch. 1-3



CMHC 2.a. roles and settings of clinical mental health counselors

Quiz Ch. 12


CMHC 2.k.  professional organizations, preparation standards, and credentials relevant to the practice of clinical mental health counseling.

Quiz 2 – Ch. 2


CMHC 2.l. A.2. Understands ethical and legal considerations specifically related to the practice of clinical mental health counseling

Ethical Dilemma Paper


CMHC 2.m. record-keeping, third party reimbursement, and other practice and management issues in clinical mental health counseling.

Quizzes Ch. 6



CMHC 3.c. strategies for interfacing with the legal system regarding court-referred clients

Quizzes Ch. 6


Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forum

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences in which both the student and the instructor interact to bring more content and learning to the experience.

For the Discussion Board assignment, the student will create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 350–400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. The assertions for each thread must be supported with at least 1 outside scholarly source cited in current APA format. In addition to the thread, the student will write 1 reply to the instructor and 1 reply to the classmate’s thread. Each reply must be supported with at least 1 scholarly source cited in current APA format. Each reply must be 150–200 words.

Video Forums (2)

For Video Forum assignments, the student will create and upload a 3-5 minute video in response to the prompt. Each video must demonstrate course-related knowledge and assertions, and must be supported by at least one outside scholarly resource. The student will reply in a 2-3 minute video to the instructor and at least one peer. Replies must be supported by at least 1 scholarly resource.


The purpose of this assignment is to explore and demonstrate your understanding of counselor professional values.

This assignment consists of 10 case studies.  For each case study you will identify the professional value that is being violated or supported and provide a brief rational. 


The student will write a 3–6-page paper in response to the assigned readings. The paper must be in current APA format.

Ethical Minute Papers (2)

The student will view the ethical minute segments that discuss relevant topics to the counseling field. After watching the presentations in the assigned modules/weeks, the student will write a 1–2-page paper. The paper must include at least 2 references and be in current APA format.

Ethical Decision Making Paper (ASSESSMENT BENCHMARK)

The student will review the ACA ethical decision-making model and apply it to a case. The paper must be 6–9 pages, be in current APA format, and include at least 6 references. This assignment will be submitted via SafeAssign and Tevera.

Quizzes (16)

There are 16 quizzes that cover the Reading & Study material for each assigned module/week. Each quiz consists of 10 multiple-choice questions. Each quiz will have a time limit of 20 minutes and will be open-book/open-notes.