Family, Couple Therapy Challenges: Ethical Issues Beyond General Psychotherapy - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1370 Words
Date:  2023-04-08


Therapists associated with family, as well as a couple, encounter more ethical challenges than therapists who are individually oriented (Barnett & Jacobson, 2019). Codes of conduct, however, have not been of assistance directly. It often seems like there is a lack of specificity by the principles when addressing the issue or matter at hand. Family and couple therapy further presents some challenges which are, in most cases, assumed to be treated under general psychotherapy and counseling principles. Context appreciation is the significant difference in value between family and couple therapy and other mental services of health. Context is grounded as a system in the foundational family premise. Therefore it means that the focus of the study is the relationship. All relationships, however, exist within other multiple systems, which includes the therapeutic method. Ethical consideration, most important of all being confidentiality is essential when conducting a family and couple therapy program.

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Ethical Standards in Couples and Family Therapy

The right way in which a person is expected to behave is referred to as ethical or moral behavior. In family and couple therapy, ethics is rooted on the concept that both the client and marriage and family therapist should have a trustworthy and safe relationship. The therapists and councilors are required to be cognizant of some ethical standards before proceeding with a particular therapy (Barnett & Jacobson, 2019). The therapist is expected to bear the responsibility of ensuring client protection and should act in the best interest of the client. In the couples and family therapy, a councilor is not supposed to impose their own beliefs and values on a client. The client requires the counseling process to have an exploration of their ideas and values (Margolin, Shapiro, & Miller, 2017). They also need this to be able to make positive life changes. The meeting contents should always remain private and confidential. The councilors should promote professional integrity and competence by working hard to create and maintain a trust-based relationship with clients and research participants. They should advertise and explain to clients the components of the counseling relationship, such as fees, termination, and group work (Margolin, Shapiro, & Miller, 2017). Finally, the counselors should obtain a go-ahead from their supervisees who are to go through the counseling relationship session before taking them through the course.

Training Issues in Couples and Family Therapy

Personal Characteristics of Family Therapists

For one to become a family therapist, there is a whole lot of training sessions required to pot their competence on a scale. However, apart from these basic and intensive training, there are some suitable personal characteristics that one should possess to become a suitable candidate for the job. Self-actualization and knowledge is a vital aspect. Individuals should have a sober judgment and up to the task. The most crucial train revolves around the 'family-of-origin' aspect (Barnett & Jacobson, 2019). The counselor should be originating from the right family because it shapes the overall being of a person. This means that a counselor from a right family of origin offers a good counseling session that the one with an unclear background.

Training, Supervision, and Clinical Experience

Training as a therapist intern in approved clinical sites gives an upper hand in becoming a good counselor. Standard care, therapeutic interventions, and the conceptualization of a client are vital training issues. For expertise knowledge in this field, the counselor under training is expected to undergo intensive training in both clinical and didactic modes of therapy. Didactic therapy will assist the trainee counselor to exercise the counseling abilities in group sessions (Murphy & Hecker, 2016). This will help the couple or members of the family under counseling to overcome potentially harmful situations.

Values in Couples and Family Therapy

Values are pervasive in marriage and family therapy. Values are the orienting beliefs about what is right or wrong for the couple or family and how best it can be achieved. The system of values of the counselor, however, is influential to the definition and formulation of the problem. Therapists and researchers cannot maintain a value-neutral position. They should always strive to operate in value-laden beliefs as well as human behavior theories. Therapists should know what is appropriate and desirable for the marriage partners and family under therapy.

Feminist Perspective on Family Therapy

The main arena for the exploitation of women is family and marriage, according to feminists. Women have been made to feel oppressed and subordinated because of their expected traditional roles (Burck, 2018). Traditionally the male gender is the dominant gender and considered superior. The feminist therapy, however, encourages women to acquire experiences that will improve their self-esteem and self-definition. It has some sense of value on the request of women for a change, expression, and role in the family. It also puts some demands on both men and women (Burck, 2018). The feminist therapeutic relationship embodies the relationship between the self-definition and emphasizes on the equality between the client and the therapist and questions the gender-specific rules.

Confidentiality in Couples and Family Therapy

Family counseling is essential in assessing various dynamics of a family and offers disclosure platforms that may shape the operation of a client. Previous research studies have shown that counseling should be a process that is confidential and only shared between the counselor and the client, with the information being protected by strict confidentiality laws. Therapist confidentiality is what makes a client join in a counseling relationship because they feel safe, sharing vital pieces of information with a neutral person (Murphy & Hecker, 2016). In some instances, however, what is shared in a counseling session leaks out without the client's consent.

However there are some instances where the counselor is allowed to disclose the shared information. One of the cases is if the federal law requires the counselor to do so. If the client threatens to be an immediate danger to others or themselves, then it is okay to disclose (Margolin, Shapiro, & Miller, 2017). Similarly, if the client has the likelihood of threatening helpless populations like a child or the aged, then the therapist can disclose to other members of the family. The case of shared diagnosis information also calls for disclosure

Informed Consent in Couples and Family Therapy

Productive family therapy sessions call for security assurance of the shared data. There are some pieces of information that the therapist needs to give the members of the family. The therapist should give them the actual reason for conducting the particular counseling session together with the expected counseling procedures to be followed during the process. Giving out the risks or associated negative factors when carrying out the counseling session is also vital (Murphy & Hecker, 2016). This is because it prepares the other family members on what to expect in the event that something goes wrong. The counselor should also accompany the information with some of the expected benefits when the therapy turns out successful.

The family members just before the therapy should be informed on payment modes by being issued with a fee structure. The therapist should, in the process, give out their expectations when conducting the therapy sessions (Murphy & Hecker, 2016). There are some instances where the family member chooses by virtue to withdraw before the session ends. Therefore the counselor should give out information in the occurrence of such a case. Finally, the family members should be issued with the client's rights and responsibilities, together with the confidentiality limits.


Conclusively, it is evident that ethical consideration by the counselors is of significance to the client. Family and couple therapy have challenges with the relationship being the focus of study. Confidentiality should be the primary ethical consideration unless in an approved situation that calls for disclosure. Family and couple of therapists should go through intensive training to deliver quality service. The counselor needs to provide useful information to the couple and family before proceeding with the therapy session.


Barnett, J. E., & Jacobson, C. H. (2019). Ethical and legal issues in family and couple therapy

Burck, C. (2018). Gender and family therapy. Routledge.

Margolin, G., Shapiro, L. S., & Miller, K. F. (2017). Ethics in couple and family psychotherapy. The oxford handbook of psychiatric ethics.

Murphy, M. J., & Hecker, L. (Eds.). (2016). Ethics and Professional Issues in Couple and Family Therapy. Taylor & Francis.

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Family, Couple Therapy Challenges: Ethical Issues Beyond General Psychotherapy - Research Paper. (2023, Apr 08). Retrieved from

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