You have been providing counselling at a youth service in a low socio-economic area, with high rates of multi-generational unemployment, and criminal activity. You have been working with Jenny, a 15 year old female. Jenny has recently completed a treatment program for juvenile offenders, following an arrest for selling ‘ice’ (or crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride). Before this Jenny resided with her father and girlfriend in a small flat. Jenny began selling crystal meth for about a year before her arrest, but has a history of other drug use including alcohol and marijuana. Jenny has told you that her father has had a series of girlfriends, and she despises both them and him, saying her father treats them like ‘the bitches they are.’ Jenny blames both her father and absent mother for failing to care for her adequately and says things have always been like this.
Jenny is proud that she has ‘been smart and strong enough’ to resist using ‘ice’ even though selling it, and reports using ‘weed’ (marijuana) to escape her restlessness and irritation, and especially to help her to sleep. Before her arrest, she smoked excessively, and had a few violent encounters with others whilst drunk.
Jenny was court-ordered to the treatment facility, and whilst there came to understand that her substance abuse represented destructive attempts to self-medicate her persistent feelings of anxiety. Working with you, she developed several strategies to her help cope with these feelings, and has agreed to a detailed relapse plan for coping with her dope and ice issues. The plan is that she will continue to have long-term counselling with you, attend a weekly support group for substance abuse, and re engage with school with the support of a school counsellor.
The problem is where should Jenny live during this time? Her father is her legal guardian, but has been uncooperative and somewhat destructive during Jenny’s treatment. He stated that Jenny was the problem, and was just like her mother who had left without notice when Jenny was an infant. Jenny’s father has consistently said Jenny has burnt her bridges and that he won’t take Jenny when she’s released. Family therapy was not able to resolve these issues.
A further option is Jenny’s older sister Tennille, who lives nearby. At 22 years old, Tennille has many stressors, including no income and two children under 5. Tennille is agreeable to having Jenny, but also lives in the same neighbourhood and you are concerned that this might lead Jenny back to the drugs, and that Tennille will not have the resources to supervise and support Jenny. You consider a foster family, which would provide support for counselling and a safer home life environment. However, Jenny would encounter an unfamiliar environment with limited emotional connection to the family.
A final option is Jenny’s grandmother Christine, who lives on the edge of suburbia about an hour away from Jenny’s home. She lives alone in an unsanitary caravan with periodic running water and unreliable electricity connection. There is no public transport available to get Jenny to counselling, and Christine’s car often breaks down. Jenny and Christine report a loving and supportive relationship, and Christine turned up to family counselling when her car was working (which was infrequently). Critically, Christine wasn’t afraid to get tough with Jenny to enforce appropriate boundaries, but her current living arrangements would be unlikely to meet minimum requirements for guardianship responsibilities. Jenny is about to be released from the treatment centre.
What should you do? What will you recommend for Jenny?
For your final assignment: we ask you to demonstrate that you can use an ethical framework to identify what you would do if you were faced with one of three ethical dilemmas presented. Unless otherwise approved, you must use the ethical framework as provided, and discussed in class. This requires that you
Identify the ethically significant players: clarify why they are ethically significant Identify the precise nature of the ethical dilemma
o Define why this is an ethical dilemma?
o Why is it that it is not obvious what to do?
o What principles come into conflict?
Explore the situation through awareness and fact finding
o What are the needs and welfare/rights/preferences of those involved?
o What do you know, and what don’t you know (and remember, being told something does not necessarily mean it is what has happened)?
o What do you need to know or could know (perhaps through some fact-finding or research)?
o Where could you turn to find out what you need to know about the case?
Apply care ethics reasoning reflect on the care needs for your client, on what you might be able to do to best build trust and a positive therapeutic relationship, and on how your choices might
o Indicate your care for or about your client
o Act to strengthen or damage relationships that are valued or valuable.
Apply virtue ethics reasoning consider the values to which you personally aspire (especially in your role as an ethical counsellor,) or what your counselling role model’ might do. This might mean.