The Employee Assistance professional will always have concurrent client responsibilities, serving both the work organisation and the individual employee or family member. The distinctive “dual client” nature of employee assistance work can complicate ethical decision-making. Particularly when the primary ethical dilemma centres on identifying whose needs take primacy.
When it comes to maintaining ethical standards, key concerns can relate to:
- Protecting the confidentiality of the individual client versus the risking a loss of the business
- Confidentiality of the employee (who is a client) versus risk to, and the safety of, the organisation (who is also a client)
- Compromised programme quality versus larger profit margins for the EAP service provider
- Quality of th
At the heart of ethical practice, an EAP counsellor has to manage these conflicting goals, while ensuring safety and therapeutic value for their individual client – even if it comes at an additional cost to the EAP provider or the organisation.
“Well considered ethical processes should be part of the foundation of the counselling practice in the EAP and guide the business plans of the EAP service provider.”
EAPA’s Ethical Decision Making Model
EAP counsellors need high levels of competence not only in creating therapeutic outcomes but also in understanding the world of work. Well considered ethical processes should be part of the foundation of the counselling practice in the EAP and guide the business plans of the EAP service provider. To assist Employee Assistance professionals in addressing potential ethical dilemmas, EAPA-SA’s “parent” organisation, EAPA, has developed a helpful four-step ethical decision-making model.
- Consider the potential ethical issues in the situation
- What are the competing values or interests in this situation?
- What are my personal values on this issue and which ones are in conflict?
- What ethical guidelines (e.g. law, corporate policies, practice standards, codes of ethics) apply to this issue?
- Consider who has a legitimate interest in this situation
- Individual client?
- Work organization?
- Others directly or indirectly involved?
- Consider all the possible choices of action
- Which choice benefits the client?
- Which choice benefits the work organization?
- Which choice benefits others directly or indirectly involved?
- Which choice benefits society?
- Which choice benefits me?
- Make a decision
The EAPA-SA Code of Ethics?
In a competitive global environment, EAPA-SA members are bound to encounter situations that test their ethical judgment and integrity. The Employee Assistance Professionals Association of South Africa (EAPA-SA) Board, in consultation with its membership, has adopted the EAPA Code of Ethics. Updated in 2015, this Code of Ethics is based on the key activities, standards, goals and values intrinsic to professional behaviour within the Employee Assistance industry. It seeks to assist, guide and direct all the members with their ethical deliberations, choices, decisions and conduct.
“In a competitive global environment, EAPA-SA members are bound to encounter situations that test their ethical judgment and integrity.”
The EAPA-SA Code of Ethics serves as a guide to professional conduct for all designated and non-designated EAPA-SA members, including:
- Student members
- Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service providers
- Employee Assistance practitioners
- Employee Assistance professionals
- EAP-related service providers
These are the EAPA-SA values upon which the EAPA-SA Code of Professional Ethics are founded.
- Innovation: to preserve and continue to enhance the standards and trends of the profession.
- Leadership: to lead the field with demonstrated achievements.
- Mentorship: to support practitioners and professionals.
- Development: to enhance the development of individuals and organisations.
- Transformation: to support and promote black economic empowerment and equity in the profession.
The Code sets out eleven ethical principles that guide the conduct of EAPA-SA members, who must comply with these at all times in the execution of their professional duties. These are:
- Professional responsibility
- Professional competency
- Professional development
- Client protection
- Business practice
- Professional relationships
- Timely intervention
Click here to read EAPA-SA’s full Code of Ethics – https://www.eapasa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/codeofethics.pdf