ACA Ethical Standards
The primary use of assessment tools is to aid educational, career and clinical counselors in determining personal, emotional, social traits and behaviors of their clients. For clinical counselors, these tools are supposed to help diagnose and evaluate psychological ailments so that proper treatment will be given by qualified practitioners (Hood & Johnson, n.d.).
About 20% of adult females suffer from chronic depression (Scott, 2008). This psychological condition is usually diagnosed through personality inventory assessment tools.
Symptoms of this problem are recurring; sometimes patients appear and feel normal which could possibly yield conflicting results if the assessment instrument selected is not appropriate and performed by unqualified practitioner. Considering the sensitivity and criticality of this problem, it is important that only qualified, highly trained counselors select, perform, evaluate and interpret the appropriate assessment instruments particularly when dealing with female adult patients suffering from chronic depression (Scott, 2008).
Thus the American Counseling Association and the United States government issued safety nets to assure ethical practices in the evaluation, assessment and interpretation of psychological assessment instruments to protect individuals subjected to these tests and assure that the use will promote the people’s well-being instead of creating more problems.
The ACA Ethical Standards has many significant implications on the assessment of individuals particularly on our subject clients, adult females suffering from chronic depression. It sets rules on the “competence to use and interpret assessment instruments” (ACA Ethical Standards Casebook, 2006, p. 104). Only those who have the appropriate training and qualifications are allowed to perform, evaluate and interpret results of assessment tools. Different assessment tools require different expertise. The Association issues accreditation certificates or licenses for every assessment instrument used. Along with this permission is the big responsibility laid on the counselor.
Because like health and medical practitioners, people’s lives are at stake and misuse and malpractices may be disastrous. Another major rule is “informed consent in assessment” (ACA Ethical Standards Casebook, 2006, p. 105). How the counselor explains and makes the client consents and understands the procedures and results of the tests is very critical. It is important to consider the value of human rights, the right of every person to know what is being done to her. Those with clinical concerns like our subject clients with chronic depression need utmost care because improper ways and choice of words may aggravate the health condition of the patients.
“Diagnosis of Mental Disorders” (ACA Ethical Standards Casebook, 2006, p. 106) is another important aspect that should be considered. It is not a simple black-and-white, reveal- what-is-written situation. In cases of mental disorders and other clinical cases, particularly in our subject patients, counselors do not immediately divulge results to clients. They should have the competence to assess the condition of the patient whether these patients will be able to handle knowing their true condition.
It is therefore important that the counselor weigh the value of informing and method of informing. This decision is a big responsibility to the counselor. It is also important to consider multi-cultural diversity in the selection and implementation of tests. The ethical standards stress caution on “assessment techniques that were normed on population other than that of the client” (ACA Ethical Standards Casebook, 2006, p. 109). Counselors should be concerned on social and cultural exposures of their clients, and consider differences in age, gender, ethnic groups, religion and even economic status.
The logic of the ACA Ethical Standards is valuing the client as a human being and the client as a unique individual. Therefore anybody tasked to administer psychological assessment instruments bears the heavy responsibility to protect the life as well as the rights of every individual subjected to these tests. Competency and professionalism of the counselor are crucial in the effectiveness of any psychological assessment instrument.
ACA Ethical Standards Casebook. (2006). American Counseling Association. Library of Congress. Herlihy, Barbara, Corey, Gerald. 6th Edition.
Hood, Albert & Richard Johnson, (n.d.). “Personality Inventories” Assessment in Counseling 4th Edition. American Counseling Association. Chapter 11.
Scott, Glenn. (2008). “Symptoms of Chronic Depression” Amazines. Retrieved 14 January 2009 from http://www.amazines.com/article_detail.cfm?articleid=697489