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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Article Review: Legal and Ethical Implications of Refusing to Counsel Homosexual Clients by Hermann and Herlihy

I have reviewed the article by Hermann and Herlihy (2006), and imagine that myself supervising a new counselor. The counselor says that she does not want to work with a client who has just stated he wants to come out to his family. She has stated that she has religious concerns about working with the client ethically.

From a supervisor's role, this is how I would respond to the counselor using ethical and legal guidelines? Use legal guidelines specific to your state or use the court's mandate for Mississippi, which was reviewed in this article.

The principle of beneficence is embodied in counselors’ commitment to keeping client welfare first and foremost (Hermann & Herlihy 2006).

The text clearly depicts that our obligation is the welfare of our clients first and foremost.  Our ethical values or beliefs should not impede our decision of denying or sway our counseling towards the clients based on our personal principles or morals.  This will not only lead to the danger of our client’s safety or welfare but lawsuits and termination of our job as counselors. 

To avoid finding themselves in situations like Bruff’s, these counselors might choose to work in settings that are compatible with their values and advertise these values to potential consumers of counseling services. If it is not possible to work in a compatible setting, these counselors have an ethical duty to avoid harm to clients by ensuring that counselors’ informed consent procedures provide potential clients with adequate information about the counselors’ values (Hermann & Herlihy 2006).

The text is very direct of saying that counseling should not be our profession if we intend to classify our clients based on our moral principles or for example our belief that lesbian is wrong and should not be given the proper counseling.  To the contrary, the more we should counsel our clients and our goal should be to treat everyone with dignity and respect whatever belief system or values they have.

As the supervisor, my role will be to coach everyone about equal handling of client’s issues and never that sexual orientation will be considered unless it is the issue that the client wants counseling on.  My priority is to empower my counselors so that they can empower the clients who need to overcome some of the pervasive coercion of the society.  To be bias with the client is a double jeopardy and the unkindest attitude that a counselor can do to the client.

Applying social empowerment strategies when working with such clientele is one strategy that may prove successful in facilitating the reclamation of individual and community power, self-advocacy, and the ability to rise above those factors inhibiting a person's effort to control her or his life. Overcoming some of the more pervasive societal-level forms of oppression (e.g., heterosexism) poses, perhaps, a more daunting challenge for the lesbian and gay male community but may become more of a realistic possibility when empowerment and demarginalization occurs at the level of the individual (Savage, Harley and Nowak, 2005).


Hermann, M., & Herlihy, B. (2006, Fall2006). Legal and Ethical Implications of Refusing to Counsel Homosexual Clients. Journal of Counseling & Development, 84(4), 414-418. Retrieved June 1, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.


Savage, T., Harley, D., and Nowak T.(2005). Applying social empowerment strategies as tools for self-advocacy in counseling lesbian and gay male clients" Journal of Counseling and Development 83.2 (Spring 2005): 131(7). Academic OneFile. Gale. US Navy General Lib - Bremerton. 1 June 2009 

Here are the responses I gave to some of my fellow counselors:



Good evening from USS Nimitz.

Yes, it is a double jeopardy like I mentioned from my discussion and like you’ve said: imagine the amount of damage done when the client feels rejected by the one person they felt would be impartial and supportive of them. That is why many of the gay community would rather go to a gay counselor or someone they know for sure values their values.  Community, or collective, empowerment is one way for lesbians and gay males to support and help each other deal with distress politically as a group (R. E. Perkins, 1996).

Perkins, D. D., & Zimmerman, M. A. (1995). Empowerment theory: Research and applications. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23, 569-579.



Good evening from USS Nimitz.  As graduate students, we learn to open our minds to the difficulties and unkind treatment of societies especially to minorities like the lesbian community.  This field is the beginning of preventing another Bruff issue in the field of counseling.

 Those interventions aimed at counselors themselves or the type of activities used with gay and lesbian career counseling clients must either be learned during graduate school education or through continuing professional development at conferences or workshops. Interventions directed at institutions or programs and at social/community action have implications for school-based career education programs, career planning texts used in colleges and universities, and occupational information (Pope, et. al., 2004)



Pope, M., Barret, B., Szymanski, D.  Chung, B.,  Singaravelu, H., McLean, R. and Sanabria, S. (Dec. 2004). Culturally appropriate career counseling with gay and lesbian clients. Career Development Quarterly 53.2 (Dec 2004): 158(20). Academic OneFile. Gale. US Navy General Lib - Bremerton. 2 June 2009 .
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