Ethical Dilemma Paper: Part One

Description of the Ethical Dilemma

The paper analyses the ethical dilemma #2, which involves a couple seeking counseling to save their marriage. The case involves Peter and his wife Doris, who have been having problems as a couple as a result of the husband’s gambling problem. Alan is the expert who has been involved in steering and providing counseling to the couple. This is to enable them to maneuver through the storm that the couple has been experiencing. As a result of Peter’s gambling, the family has run into financial problems which pose a profound risk to their wellbeing. As part of Doris’ desire to help her husband, she set a condition in which Peter is required to seek help to resolve his gambling problem; else, they are done as she cannot take it anymore. On the surface, Peter indicates that he is a part of the local chapter of Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) – a group that has been helping him deal with his gambling addiction. As days progressed, Peter is seen to call Allan and informed him that he has been lying about seeking help from GA and that the prevailing gambling problem is worse than ever presented. As a counselor, Allan is asked by Peter not to reveal what he has disclosed to him to his wife as he is desperate.

The ethical dilemma in the case is mainly experienced by Alan, who the counselor for the couple. This arises when Peter discloses about his lying and that the gambling problem is worse than ever. In addition to disclosing his lies, he pleads with Alan not to convey the information to his wife as it would most definitely indicate the end of their marriage. This depicts the ethical dilemma on Alan to keep the information about Peter’s lies from Doris or inform Doris what is happening and ascertain the end of their marriage. A choice to keep the information from Doris will allow the problem with Peter to manifest and explode at some point, hurting Doris much more. A choice to inform Doris ascertains the definite breakup of the couple. Hence, not achieving the primary objective to enable the couple to reconcile and unite once again to build their marriage.

The option of keeping what Peter disclosed about lying to his wife and Alan as well, in the couple’s counseling sessions, is bound to hurt Doris extensively. The ripple effect is destined to mostly affect Doris as she is willing to help her husband resolve his gambling addiction (Reamer, 2014). On the contrary, Peter is unwilling and uncommitted to put more effort into ending the gambling problem. The impact of the ethical dilemma to which Alan finds himself in marks a likelihood of negatively affecting Doris more than Peter. Peter, as the source of the problem – both lying and continued gambling problem sets a course in which Doris is bound to pay for the mistakes for her husband. Therefore, Alan has a duty to protect both parties without taking sides as the couple’s counselor.

The value of dignity and worth of the individual competes with the importance and centrality of human relationships in a dilemma (Reamer, 2014). While it is important to save to emphasize on the significance and importance of saving the relationship between Doris and Peter, the dignity and worth of Doris take more precedent as Peter continues to disappoint and cause more problems. The values of integrity and competence compete with service to both the individuals (Sobočan, Bertotti & Strom-Gottfried, 2019). This is posted on the importance of maintaining the integrity of impartiality and competence to act in the interest of both parties so long as the service does not hurt either of them. Therefore, propagating what is best for both individuals in the relationship.

Description of my First “Gut” Solution to the Problem

The solution to the ethical dilemma revolves around Alan’s resolve in the light of the new information and facts presented by Peter. Serving to protect Peter’s lies would make Alan an accomplish and a liar as well impacting in doing a disservice to Doris. Alan has a primary duty to protect the dignity, worth, and integrity of both individuals in the context that the actions of each do not hurt the other. In the context where the actions of one party prompt to hurt the other, as the neutral party, Alan has a moral obligation to create openness and light to the matter (Kolay Akfert, 2012). After all, the essence of counseling is to promote honesty, open communication, truthfulness, and build trust between the couple. Anything else serving contrary to these values undermine the significance of the counseling process. Therefore, he has a moral obligation to encourage Peter to be open, honest, and truthful as part of the healing processing (Gold, 2018). However, should Peter refuse to inform Doris of what has been transpiring, Alan has a duty to enlighten Doris in the presence of Peter and provide the necessary way forward following the new developments.


Gold, J. M. (2018). Recognizing and resolving ethical issues: In counseling stepfamilies. The Family Journal26(1), 73-76.

Kolay Akfert, S. (2012). Ethical dilemmas experienced by psychological counsellors working at different institutions and their attitudes and behaviours as a response to these dilemmas. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice12(3), 1806-1812.

Reamer, F. G. (2014). The evolution of social work ethics: Bearing witness. Advances in Social Work15(1), 163-181.

Sobočan, A. M., Bertotti, T., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2019). Ethical considerations in social work research. European Journal of Social Work22(5), 805-818

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