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Ethical Practice in the Human Services

Ethical Practice in the Human Services
From Knowing to Being

November 2016 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Ethical Practice in the Human Services moves beyond addressing ethical issues and principles to helping readers actually practice ethical behavior through awareness of their personal morals, values, and choices. With coverage of ethical standards from six different associations, the text addresses ethical issues and principles in social work, counseling, psychology, and marriage and family therapy. Robust pedagogy includes case illustrations and guided exercises to give readers a deeper understanding of the underlying moral principles and values that serve as a foundation for the various ethical codes.

Part One: Helping: The Role and Influence of the Helper
Chapter 1: Ethics – Core to Professional Helping
The Helping Process: A Blending of Art and Science

The Helping Process: The Meeting of Client and Helper

The Role of the Client in the Process of Change

The Role of the Helper in the Process of Change

Chapter 2: Helper Variables: What the Helper Brings to the Helping Relationship
Helper Values

Helper Competence: Beyond Knowledge and Skill

The Ethics of Therapeutic Choice

Professionalization, Professional Ethics, and Personal Response

Chapter 3: Ethical Standards: Guidelines for Helping Others
Formal Ethical Standards: The Evolution of a Profession

Across the Professions: A Review of Ethical Standards of Practice

Common Concerns and Shared Values Across the Professions

Beyond Knowing - A Call to BEING Ethical

Chapter 4: Ethical Practice in an Increasingly Diverse World
Prejudice – Pervasive In and Throughout the Helping Profession

Responding to the Challenge

Part Two: Ethics and Standards of Practice: The Professions’
Chapter 5: Ethics and the Law
The Helping Process as a Legal Contract

The Legal Foundation of Ethical Practice

When Ethics and Legalities Collide

Chapter 6: Conflict: The Reality of ‘Being’ Ethical within the Real World
Serving the Individual within a System

Ethical Culture of Social Systems

Who Is the Client?

Chapter 7: Ethical Decision Making
Codes of Ethics – Guides not Prescriptions

Ethical Decision Making: A Range of Models

Common Elements: An Integrated Approach to Ethical Decision Making

Part Three: Applying Ethical Standards
Chapter 8: Informed Consent
The Rationale for Informed Consent

Informed Consent across the Profession

Special Challenges to Informing for Consent

Chapter 9: Confidentiality
Confidentiality: What and When Warranted?

Legal Decisions: Confidentiality and Privileged Communications

Chapter 10: Boundaries and the Use of Power
Setting and Maintaining Professional Boundaries

Professional Objectivity: Essential to Professional Boundaries

Legal Decisions

Chapter 11: Efficacy of Treatment
Practicing Within the Realm of Competence

Professional Development: Knowing the State of the Profession

The Standard of Care: Appropriate Treatment

Employing an Action Research Approach to Practice

The Use of Referral

Recent Legal Decisions

Chapter 12: Evaluation and Accountability
Monitoring and Evaluating Intervention Effects

Recent Legal Decisions

Chapter 13: Ethical Challenges Working with Groups, Couples and Families
Competency to Practice

Identifying the “Client”

Informed Consent



Responsibility: Client Welfare

Chapter 14: Competence and the Ethics of Self-Care
Competency: More than Knowledge and Skill


Compassion Fatigue

The Ethical Challenge

Ethical Response



Companion Website

Calling all instructors!
SAGE’s password-protected companion website includes the following text-specific Instructor resources:

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course


“An invaluable resource for all professors who train human service majors at the undergraduate level.  The text provides information about multiple forms of professional helping starting with ethics codes and moving forward.”  

Ginger Welch
Oklahoma State University

“This text will provide a resource for instructors and students to consider professional ethics and personal/professional identity development as inextricably intertwined.”

Steven Farmer
Northern Arizona University
Key features

  • A unique focus on self-reflection and awareness of values, morals, and choices helps students go from simply understanding ethics to applying and practicing ethics.
  • Coverage of the most recent ethical standards from associations include the American Counseling Association (ACA), the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the American Psychological Association (APA), the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP), and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
  • Case illustrations in every chapter help prepare students for the many complex ethical decisions they will encounter in practice.
  • Guided practice exercises help readers understand key concepts and prepare them to incorporate ethical values into their own practice.
  • Built-in learning aids in every chapter, including learning objectives, concluding case illustrations, a cooperative learning exercise, and a list of web- and literature-based resources, help students master the material. 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

Chapter 7

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

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This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.