Informed Consent

When counselors enter into a counseling relationship with the clients, the counselor is obligated by law and codes of professional counseling ethics to obtain informed consent from the individual (Sommers-Flanagan, 2006). Ideally, informed consent informs the client on the policies of the counselor, state, federal, laws, and consumer rights. Similarly, as part of standard procedure, a copy of the signed consent should be left with the counselor, and the other be available for the client upon request. In addition to the above, informed consent documents contain crucial information, which protects the client and the counselor. Nonetheless, although this is an important exercise, obtaining informed consent from clients is not always an easy task. When faced with such a situation, the human services providers are required to consider other factors that may affect the treatment outcomes of decisions to ensure the exercise is successful. In this context, and to understand the various facets of informed consent, we will review a case study on Mr. Smith who has been referred for counseling to address his recent aggressive behavior. The report will examine the necessary steps that should be taken to obtain informed consent from Mr. Smith. Along with that, the review will consider the significance of Smith’s mother during the counseling sessions and if her presence can help Smith in managing his aggressive behavior.

Obtaining Informed Consent

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When psychologists or counselors provide therapy or counseling services to an individual, they must obtain the informed consent of the person through a language that is reasonably understandable, except when conducting activities without the need of approval as may be mandated by the law. It is also important to understand that clients have the right to enter or remain in the counseling relationship. In light of this, clients must be furnished with adequate information about the whole process and the counselor. In the case of Smith, the first step is to inform him as early as possible the nature of the anticipated therapy, third parties involved, and the limit of confidentiality. The counselor should also provide Smith with an opportunity to ask questions and provide him with informed answers as possible. According to (), by following this procedure, patients are informed of the nature of the treatment, risks involved, alternative treatments, and the voluntary nature of participation from their side. Along with that, it important for the counselor to understand Mr. Smith’s cultural values as well as inform him of the counselor’s values to avoid conflict of personal values. Ideally, as Levitt & Moorhead (2013) note clients are more likely to be influenced by the counselor because of their admiration or dependence on them. Therefore, it is necessary for the client to understand the values of their counselor to avoid confusion, and be able to select the values to reject or accept during the counseling session.

Involving Smith’s Mother

Counseling is an intimate encounter between the client and the counselor. More precisely, counseling is based on an environment where unconditional positivity, empathy, and genuineness are nurtured. It is also highly recommended that during the counseling sessions, third party persons should not be privy to the details of the counseling session. Nonetheless, in the case of Smith, he is unable to live independently, and his behavior puts his mother at risk. In this case, the presence of Smith’s mom in the counseling sessions is necessary to facilitate and increase the effectiveness of the therapeutic intervention. Virtually, by involving Smith mother in the counseling session, the counselor will be able to discern why Smith is aggressive towards his mother. It also provides a chance to inform Smith mother on ways to deal with his son’s aggressive behavior and to inform her of the various ways she can support him during the entire intervention process.


Burke, M. T., Chauvin, J. C., & Miranti, J. G. (2003). Religious and Spiritual Issues in Counseling: Applications Across Diverse Populations. London Taylor and Francis Ann Arbor Michigan ProQuest.

Levitt, H., & Moorhead, H. J. H. (2013). Values and ethics in counseling: Real-life ethical decision-making. New York; London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2006). Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional: Cultural and Philosophical Foundations. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

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