Ethics in Professional Helping – HSER 270

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

Ethics in Professional Helping is the study of values and principles of ethical decision making. Topics in the course are ethical dilemmas, critical thinking, professional code of ethics, and common morality. Each topic is evaluated through a biblical worldview.

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


Professional helpers face ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. This course prepares students with foundational knowledge necessary for understanding the complexity and ambiguity of ethical dilemmas while exploring critical thinking and ethical decision-making. It reviews codes of ethics from a variety of helping professions including humans services, social work, and psychology.

Course Assignment

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

The student will complete 4 Discussions in this course. The student will post one thread of at least 350 words. The student must then post 2 replies of at least 200 words to their classmates' threads. For each thread and reply, the student must support their assertions with at least 1 scholarly citation in APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Acceptable sources include the textbook, the Bible, and other scholarly sources.

The student will write an analysis integrating various sources of knowledge – the textbook, the Bible, and the NASW Code of Ethics. This paper will be broken into two parts.

The first part of this paper is addressing the student's initial gut reaction. The student will start by describing the ethical dilemma that he/she chooses from the approved list. Then, the student will describe his/her “gut” reaction to this problem.

  • This paper should be 3-4 pages long.
    • An abstract is not necessary; however, a correctly formatted title and reference page are required. The title and reference page are not included in the page length.
  • This paper should be written in current APA format.
    • The proper use of headings will help organize the paper.

The paper must align with the following guidelines:

  • Describe the ethical dilemma.
    • The student must describe the scenario in his/her own words. Do NOT copy and paste.
    • Define the actual dilemma - This is the decision that the student must make.
    • Whom does the dilemma impact (or whom could it potentially impact) and how? This is the ripple effect of the dilemma. Think deeply and broadly, and demonstrate understanding of the impact of the dilemma.
    • Describe the competing values present in the dilemma from the list of 6 social work values in the NASW Code of Ethics. How are the values relevant in this the dilemma, and how do they compete with each other? 
  • Describe first “gut” solution to the problem.
    • This section should demonstrate not only an understanding of the NASW Code of Ethics, but also self-awareness and an understanding of how the student's own experiences have shaped how he/she make decisions. Simply stating the decision that the student would make will not suffice. This section is where the student will discuss not only what he/she would do, but why. 

For this part, the student will use the morality framework (from the course text) to evaluate his/her initial “gut reaction” solution to the ethical dilemma. The student will consider what he/she wrote as his/her initial “gut” solution and apply that solution/decision to the framework presented in the textbook. After working through each step of the framework, the student will re-evaluate his/her initial “gut” solution and develop at least two alternative solutions (at least one must be biblically principled). Additionally, the student will address the role that supervision and consultation would have within this dilemma. 

  • This paper must be at least 4 pages long.
    • The title and reference page are not included in this page count. 
    • Include part one of the paper in this submission (Part one will not be graded for this part; it is included only for reference).
  • This paper should be written in current APA formatting.

The paper must align with the following guidelines:

  • The student must use the morality framework (Step 1, #1–10 and Step 2) on pages 41–46 to analyze the ethical dilemma. Please number the steps in the paper and use level two headings to organize the paper. Do not write this portion in paragraph form.
    • If any of the steps are not applicable to the student's situation, the student must note this in his/her paper. Simply leaving the steps out, or marking them N/A will result in a loss of points. The student needs to explain why the step is not applicable, in order to demonstrate his/her understanding of each particular step. Thoughtful analysis for each step should be applied here. 
  • Re-evaluate your initial “gut” solution.
    • Now that the student has worked through his/her initial solution utilizing the framework, the student will analyze the solution. This section should demonstrate the student's ability to see all sides of a dilemma, and make decisions that reflect ethical helping professional values and a focus on the client. Simply stating, "I still agree with my initial reaction," will not suffice here.  
  • Describe at least two alternative solutions and provide a rationale for each. At least 1 of the solutions must reflect a biblical worldview, and the student must support this solution with scripture and biblical principles. This area should reflect the student's ability to conceptualize alternative actions, and how those actions will impact his/her client. 
  • The student will discuss how he/she could use supervision and consultations as a resource when evaluating the potential solutions.
    • What would be the benefit of the student talking with his/her supervisor about this dilemma? How would the student approach his/her supervisor about this situation?
    • Are there others who would be appropriate to consult about this particular situation? If so, who and how does the student think they could be of assistance to him/her?
    • What additional resources could the student examine (e.g. agency policy, State or federal laws, etc.) to assist him/her in evaluating the potential solutions?

Each quiz will cover the course material for the Module: Week in which it is assigned. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 5 multiple-choice and true/false questions, and have a 20-minute time limit. Quizzes assess Competency 1 - Ethical and Professional Behavior (knowledge). 

Quiz: Midterm

The Quiz: Midterm will cover the first 4 chapters of the text, and will contain 25 multiple-choice and true/false questions and have a time limit of 90 minutes. Quizzes assess Competency 1 - Ethical and Professional Behavior (knowledge). 

Quiz: Final

The Quiz: Final will cover Chapters 5–9 and the required articles and will contain 50 multiple-choice and true/false questions and have a time limit of 90 minutes. Quizzes assess Competency 1 - Ethical and Professional Behavior (knowledge).