Counseling Vulnerable Populations

Counselors work with different individuals, including those who cannot advocate for themselves, such as children, the elderly, domestic abuse survivors, drug addicts, and gang members. When working with such clients, a counselor must consider three specific duties: ethical, professional, and legal. These three responsibilities allow them to treat the population more carefully (McLeod, 2013). The obligations mentioned above enable counselors to follow evidence-based approaches when handling issues. This makes the agency’s counselors work effectively in delivering services.

Some agencies administer person-centered advocacy and coordination plans to improve the addiction treatment services for drug abuse victims. Professional duties revolve around what a counselor can do to uphold standard care in a specific scenario (Graham et al., 1995). The therapists adopt a psychodynamic approach, which enables them to examine unresolved conflict and symptoms arising from past dysfunctional relationships, manifesting in the desire to abuse drugs or engage in criminal activities (O’Carroll, 1999). The legal duties make a therapist assess whether they must report suspected abuse.

Counselors should maintain the client’s confidentiality and safeguard their privacy by refraining from revealing personal information. When an individual shares incriminating information, it is the practitioner’s ethical duty to disclose the material to authorities (McLeod, 2013). A therapist breaching these standards faces sanctioning from the state licensing board. Clients can also sue the professional whenever they disclose private information. Mental health professionals can break confidentiality when information has shared with the community (McLeod, 2013). For example, the impact of gangs on public safety is a widespread concern. Rehabilitation counselors can disclose sensitive information about group crimes to minimize violence (Dunlap & Russell, 2014). They can notify a person in danger or someone who ensures the client’s safety. Therapists hearing incriminating facts can record evidence admissible in court. Counselors must safeguard clients’ data unless there is information that aids the process of eliminating criminal activities.


Dunlap, P. N., & Russell, V. D. (2014). Challenge for rehabilitation counselors: Serving individuals with disabilities involved in gang activity. Journal of Rehabilitation, 80(2), 47-52. Web.

Graham, K., Timney, B., Bois, C., & Wedgerfield, K. (1995). Continuity of care in addictions treatment: The role of advocacy and coordination in case management. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 21(4), 433-451. Web.

McLeod, J. (2013). Chapter 4: Theory in counselling: Using conceptual tools to facilitate understanding and guide action. In J. McLeod, An Introduction to Counselling (5th ed., pp. 57-80). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

McLeod, J. (2013). Chapter 5: Themes and issues in the psychodynamic approach to counselling. In J. McLeod, An Introduction to Counselling (5th ed., pp. 81-126). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

McLeod, J. (2013). Chapter 6: The cognitive-behavioral approach to counselling. In J. McLeod, An Introduction to Counselling (5th ed., pp. 126-164). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

O’Carroll, L. (1999). Reply to Stephen Gross. Psychodynamic Counseling, 5(3), 375-379. Web.

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