More on the Counsellor’s Creed: Clear Values, Professionalism

More thoughts on the Counsellor’s Creed. Item 2: I will make my values known to you, and will endeavour to be professionally competent at all times.

More on the 12-point Counsellor’s Creed, by an unknown author (see “The Counsellor’s Creed, “I cannot be your parent…””):

2. I will make my values known to you, and will endeavour to be professionally competent at all times.

Endeavour? It’s a long word, but it still means “try”. Would I be happy with a surgeon who said he tried to be professionally competent at all times? I would prefer to see that the counsellor adheres to an ethical code. Obviously they might fall short sometimes, but they hold themselves accountable. And the code is specific. To some, “professional” just means clinical and cold, while to others a whole array of different and specific expectations may come into play. At the end of the day the statement doesn’t mean anything at all except “I’m serious! Really! You’ll be safe with me!”

Making values known to the client seems to be a good idea, as long as that doesn’t involve foisting a whole load of personal opinions onto the client. Sometimes we assume that what seems to us to be self-evident is apparent to everybody — counsellors are not immune. But while all counsellors should share the basic value of believing in the client’s powers of self determination, they do carry differing values, one, for example, believing in autonomy and independence at all costs, another emphasising relationships.

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Differences in cultural values are immense. Clients and counsellors being of different cultural backgrounds is the norm rather than a special case; in the final analysis each family carries its own culture, its own ethnic, social, religious mix, maybe especially the ones who think that they don’t. It would be scary if counsellors were to form such a family, working in the service of unexamined values, not made explicit and therefore open to all varieties of interpretation by clients, who are then unable to make fully informed choices.

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