The second scenario involves children in a divorce counseling group. It is expected that emotions can and will be stirred. Surprisingly, my co-leader became angry at one of the children after the latter described how angry she is at her mother.
My co-leader reacted by comparing the child with her daughter and the child’s mother to another “victim”. The reaction of my co-leader is certainly uncalled for and is beyond our professional limits as counselors.
Nevertheless, there are several ways in handling the situation. The most immediate step that can be done is to control the situation. This can be achieved by directly intervening and talking things down. I can explain to the child that my co-leader has also been in the same situation as hers and that, as a consequence, her feelings can go off as well. On the other hand, I will also tell my co-leader that we should be professional in dealing with the children.
I will explain to her that much is expected from us as counselors, and that we should not let our personal circumstances cloud our judgment. I will further remind her that the reason why we are counseling the children in the first place is because they need counseling and because we are in a better position to understand their experiences. It is said that “to behave in ways which are destructive to oneself or others is not only distressing and disturbing, but also ethically inadmissible” (Callender, 1998, p. 77).
This particularly applies to counselors. Ethical guidelines should always be kept in mind so that counselors will act appropriately with respect to their clients (Voskuijl and Evers, 2007). It is important for us, counselors, to bear in mind our professional responsibilities. We should not let our emotions and personal circumstances get in the way of our responsibilities towards others. My co-leader should learn from the ethical guidelines of being a counselor or from plain moral sensibilities.