Singapore University of Social Sciences

Ethics in Professional Counselling

Ethics in Professional Counselling (COU515)


COU515 Ethics in Professional Counselling critically appraises the range of ethical, moral and legal issues that professional counsellors may encounter in counselling individuals, couples, families, groups and community in various contexts with diverse populations, both face to face and online. Through lecture, discussion, reading, and role-play, group-based assignment (GBA), and assignment (Tutor Marked Assignment or TMA), and End-of Course Assessment (ECA), students will critique and debate issues such as ethical codes and ethical decision-making, boundaries of competence, confidentiality, dual relationships, therapy and research. Through critical reflection, students will formulate their own ethical posture as professional counsellors and enhance their decision-making and consultation skills when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Level: 5
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY JULY


  • Distinguish among morals, values, ethics, and the law Ethics
  • Contrast ethical codes adopted by associated local and international organizations
  • Appraise client rights and counsellor responsibilities (e.g., supervision, professional relationships, credentials & affiliation)
  • Key ethical & professional concepts in counselling (e.g., boundary, consent, dual relationship, power)
  • Recognize the influence of past and current contextual influences on ethical sensitivity and ethical decision-making (e.g., culture, legal, political)
  • Examine laws and legal issues relating to counselling with clientele in different developmental stages (e.g., children, adolescents, couples and families, older people)
  • Contrast the legal and ethical implications involved in the delivery of counselling in different settings (e.g., schools, prisons, hospitals)
  • Ethical consideration with diverse clientele (e.g., social economic status, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation)
  • Virtual Ethics: Telehealth and Online Counselling (e.g., review local & international telehealth and online counselling guidelines)
  • Specific Ethical Considerations and Procedures for Practice in Singapore (e.g., child abuse, drug abuse, family violence, suicide)
  • Specific Ethical Dilemma in Local Context and Relevant Models of Decision Making (e.g., multi-cultural counselling, cross-national counselling, inter-faith counselling)
  • Professional development (e.g., inspect cultural self-awareness, prejudices, critical reflection, ethical decision making)

Learning Outcome

  • Distinguish among morals, values, ethics, and the law and to explore how they each impacts professional counselling practice.
  • Examine issues related to ethics, values and the law for counselling with individuals, couples and families, groups, communities.
  • Appraise major legal trends and ethical issues in counselling, including the use of technology in counselling, with particular emphasis on advocacy for clients and the profession.
  • Plan the processes of decision-making in counselling to develop ethical behaviours and solutions to conflicts arising in counselling.
  • Design relevant, pluralistic and ethical practices with diverse groups and settings nationally and internationally, such as children, adolescents, women, old people, ethnic minority groups, people living with disabilities in schools, hospitals, prisons, private practice and a range of local settings.
  • Debate difficult situations in which professional guidelines are unable to provide clear direction.
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