Legal and Ethical Concerns in School Counseling
Case Study Systematic Approach to Decision Making
The school counselors in Brevard County have quarterly meetings that usually focus on
school district policies related to their work, specifically changing school district practices.
However, during their breaks they often talk about difficult situations they have encountered in
school days and ask each other for advice. Tomika, who has worked for 10 years at a middle
school, has noticed those informal discussions often revolve around ethical dilemmas. She
decides to create a forum where the school counselors can expand their deliberations and share
their concerns about their work.
Many of the other counselors in Brevard County accept her invitation to participate in a
monthly, unstructured meeting. After a few sessions, the group decides to focus more on what
seems to be the foundation of most of their concerns—legal and ethical issues. They invite a
counselor educator to teach them ways to approach decision making and to review some current,
relevant legal guidelines that affect school counseling. Then they agree on a schedule for
conferring with each other about their dilemmas.
They find their monthly meetings have become valuable professional development
opportunities. They discover that the number of difficult situations has not diminished, but their
confidence and competence in addressing them has increased significantly. We will review what
these counselors learned as well as some of the situations they have encountered.
The discussion of the ASCA (2010) ethical standards in Chapter 2 highlighted school
counselors’ responsibilities to several different groups. Being accountable to students, parents,