Ethical Decision-Making Models in Professional Counseling: A Delphi Method Study




Malone, Stefanie Lynne

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The ACA Code of Ethics requires counselors to use a credible ethical decision-making model. This model must withstand review and investigation by professionals and persons both inside and outside the counseling profession. Existing literature fails to precisely indicate what criteria make an ethical decision-making model credible and able to withstand review and investigation. Concomitantly, there exists a literature gap concerning which critical strategies counseling experts use when solving ethical dilemmas. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation research was to fill these gaps. Due to the paucity of relevant professional counseling research literature addressing these gaps, a Delphi method was selected to conduct the study. This study had eight participants who answered three investigative rounds of questions. The first round included three open-ended questions. The first question was, "What do experts believe makes and ethical decision-making model credible?" The second question was, "How do ethical decision-making model experts suggest professional counselors ensure the ethical decision-making model selected will withstand review and investigation from other professionals in and out of the counseling field?" The third question was, "What common critical strategies do experts use which lead to their successful use of ethical decision-making models?" The following two rounds included questions resulting from the respondents' answers. In Rounds 2 and 3, participants had complete consensus on 15 questions for primary research question one, no questions had complete consensus on primary research question two, and 9 items had complete consensus on primary research question three.


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Common steps in ethical decision-making, Credibility, Ethical decision-making models, Review and investigation