Culture and Codes of Ethics

After discussing the various code of ethics that we each encounter in our class last night, I found myself wondering how unique counselor education is from other fields.  Based on our discussion, I can see that our our code of ethics is very comprehensive compared to fields that don’t involve human subjects.  The question was posed in class about how ethics changes over time and from one place to another.  We frequently discuss this in counseling classes that so much of this is based on cultural differences.  Each of us sees the world from a unique cultural perspective, so ethics are relative to every culture and different from one field to another.  Within the counseling field, a major focus point of practice, research, and ethics is in multicultural competence.  One of my research interests is multicultural counseling, so I found myself wondering how being culturally aware may apply to other fields.  The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics references culture more times than I could count.  But other professions probably do not require such a specific focus on culture.  It seems like engineers for example do not need to be as culturally sensitive as counselors are.


However, as I looked around the classroom, I couldn’t help but notice all of the diversity in the room.  In this course we have people from different countries, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ages, etc.  These are all aspects of people’s culture that we speak about regularly as counselors but probably not as much in other disciplines.   If we are moving into professor positions, we can all (across each and every discipline) improve our education by being aware of how to communicate to those from different cultural backgrounds.  The communicating science class from last week is a great example of how we encounter moments when we communicate with different fields and people of all sorts of backgrounds.  Cultural competence may be an ethical code that requires more attention in counseling than in other fields, but it can still be a vital part of instruction.  Insulting cultural aspects of any of our students is not the best way to reach out to them.  However, being aware of how to teach in a manner that is culturally aware will not only the best practice for teaching, but it also gives us better opportunities to communicate between fields.  It does not happen all the time, but this class is an excellent example of how people from many varying disciplines and numerous cultural backgrounds come together for a single purpose.  It provides a great learning experience and a chance for us to see the world from others’ perspectives.  Hopefully we can all take that opportunity to improve how we communicate and teach those entering our respective fields.

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