Ethics & Issues in Pastoral Counseling – EDCO 821

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 11/05/2020

Course Description

An in-depth examination of ethical and legal issues encountered by community counselors, including ethical principles, professional codes of conduct, identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas, ethical decision-making models, and laws governing the profession.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


In a world of fluid values and concepts of right and wrong, it is essential to understand and possess a firm grasp on ethical practice and responsibility when participating in the helping professions. Ethics provide a framework to the values and standards of a given profession, defining behavior and providing expectation and accountability for those involved. It is vital for individuals pursuing a career or vocation in the helping professions to possess a clear and foundational understanding of the role of ethics and related issues.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the foundation elements of ethical living and practice.
  2. Distinguish the historical framework of ethics in helping professions.
  3. Categorize significant influences and schools of thought relevant to Christian ethics.
  4. Appraise the role of ethics in various pastoral counseling settings.
  5. Assess major ethical issues confronting pastoral counseling.
  6. Assemble elements comprising a comprehensive code of ethics.
  7. Construct ethical responses to multi-faceted scenarios confronting pastoral counseling.

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.

Ethical Scenario Discussions (3)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to submit a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 500 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge by including at least 2 scholarly references in current APA format. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 250 words and use at least 1 scholarly reference in current APA format. The forums and replies will be split between modules/weeks with the thread in one module/week and the replies in the following module/week.

(MLO: A, B, C, D, E, G)

Initial Understanding of Ethics Paper

The student must write a minimum 5-page paper in current APA format summarizing his or her understanding of the importance and role of ethics in pastoral counseling. This assignment must be completed without the benefit of the course texts. This assignment will also be used in comparison with the Concluding Understanding of Ethics Paper at the end of this course. (MLO: A, C, D)

Personal Code of Ethics

Using the course materials and texts, the student must write a comprehensive minimum12-page personal code of ethics defining his or her commitment to an ethical approach to their role as a pastoral counselor and practice of pastoral counseling. The student must use the resources of the course texts, course materials, and at least 5 other supporting sources, including professional Codes of Ethics. All references used must be cited in current APA format. (MLO: A, B, C, F)

Concluding Understanding of Ethics Paper

Using the previously completed Initial Understanding of Ethics Paper, the student must complete a minimum 8-page paper addressing the differences between his or her former and concluding understanding of the importance and role of ethics in pastoral counseling. All references used must be cited in current APA format. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)