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Standard 18

Professionalism, Ethics and Legal Mandates

The program provides candidates with an understanding of ways to develop a professional identity congruent with the knowledge of all aspects of professional functions, professional development, and organizational representation. The program provides candidates with knowledge of current legal mandates impacting school counselors and pupils. The program provides candidates with knowledge of the ethical standards and practices of the school counseling profession and how to apply these ethical standards to specific counseling situations.

Coun 200 and Coun 208 are core courses for all counseling students with different specializations. These courses develop a professional identity and ethical and legal responsibilities shared by counselors who function in different settings, including educational settings. Instructors for Coun 208 make available the ethical standards for school counselors from American Counseling Association to candidates.

While the professional identity, counseling skills, legal and ethical principles appear to be generic; instructors facilitate candidates to particularize themes and issues pertaining to the professional identity and ethical and legal responsibilities in their specific settings. Identifying similarities and differences between school counseling and counseling in other settings will further consolidate candidates’ professional identity as school counselors. Furthermore, it is important for school counselors to be aware of the common ground shared with counselors in other settings for later collaboration and making appropriate referrals.

The professional identity and ethical and legal responsibilities for school counselors are further developed when they take specialization courses such as Coun 150, Coun 240, Coun 241, Coun 242, Coun 249.

Factors to Consider

1. Professional Identity

This program cultivates candidates’ professional identity by addressing their professional functions, development, and organizational representation.

a.  Professional functions:

The functions of school counselors are addressed by all courses in this program when instructors help candidates to understand the implications of the content knowledge of the respective courses to their roles and functions as school counselors. However, the theme of professional functions is explicitly addressed in the following courses:

Coun 150 provides candidates with a comprehensive coverage of topics on laws in school. These laws are particularly important for school counseling candidates to be informed of the parameters within which their profession operates.

Coun 200: Areas of specific mention in this course include: Professional identity - studies that provide an understanding of all of the following aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing.

Coun 241: Objective 2: Able to discuss the role of the counselor as it relates to students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the community.

Coun 241 requires candidates to visit with a school counselor and submit a written report including the following items: professional preparation, length of experience in the position of a school counselor and in the field of education, job description, challenges and sources of joy in this profession.

Coun 242 requires candidates to undergo professional development experience through attending a school counseling (or related) conference, workshop or inservice and write a one-page summary of their professional development experience.

Coun 249: Objective 9: Develop a familiarity with overall duties and responsibilities as a counselor in an approved school setting.

The required text for these two courses include the following information:

  • ASCA Role Statement: The School Counselor
  • ASCA Position Statement: The School Counselor and Developmental Guidance
  • The School Counselor and Comprehensive School Counseling Program

Assignment Coun 249 requires candidates to complete the following activities after reading two chapters from the textbook relating to the school counseling profession:

Chapter 1, The School Counseling Profession: This chapter addresses the professional identity of school counselor. 

Interview a school counselor at your school site.
Describe how this person develops his/her professional identity as a school counselor.

Chapter 2, The School Counselor: This chapter covers the following areas: defining school counseling, varying roles of school counselors, preparation of school counselors, technology and the School Counselor and Credentials of School Counselors.

Compare and contrast the job descriptions and duties of school counselors at your placement with the description of the school counselor in this chapter.

b.  Professional Development

Professional development is emphasized in this program through many channels. For example, opportunities to receive training such as workshops and further education are disseminated to candidates through flyers and class announcements.   A review of the ethical and legal standards of the counseling profession includes the domain of professional competence. The following courses give further example on how professional development is addressed as a part of their course objectives.

Coun 242: Objective 7: Pursue professional development in consultation and apply concepts to both public and private sectors.

Assignment Coun 242 requires candidate to undergo the following professional development experience: Each candidate will attend a school counseling (or related) conference, workshop or inservice. The instructor will assist candidates in identifying professional development opportunities. Students will submit a one-page summary of their professional development experience.

Coun 249: The required text for these two courses addresses school counselor competences:

  • knowledge competencies,
  • skill competencies, and
  • professional competencies

c.   Organizational representation

  • Candidates have opportunities to get information about professional organizations that represent their profession and the benefits of belonging to these organizations through:
  • their regular contacts with faculty members who belong to different professional organizations
  • specific mention in their courses
  • Student Handbook
  • Pamphlets and flyers posted at the Department office and outside professors’ offices
  • Webpage of the Department of Counseling, Special Education and Rehabilitation

The professional membership of the Counseling Education Faculty is listed below:

Faculty Member Organization
Dr. Juan Garcia CAMFT, ACA, Society for Applied Anthropology, American Association of Anthropologists
Dr. Sarah Lam ACA, CAMFT
Dr. Christopher Lucey ACA, ACES, IAMFC, CAMFT, Chi-Sigma-Iota
Dr. H. Dan Smith CAMFT, ACA, IAMFC, and ACES
Dr. Claire Sham Choy ACA, APA
Dr. Albert Valencia APA, ACA
Dr. Song Lee ACA, ACES, Chi-Sigma-Iota
Dr. Kyle Weir CAMFT

Topics relating to professional organizations are also addressed in classes such as:

Coun 200: Areas of specific mention in this course include: Professional organizations, primarily ACA and CAMFT, including membership benefits, activities, services to members, and current emphases.

Coun 208 and Coun 249: Candidates are required to furnish proof of liability insurance coverage to the instructor. Currently most students are insuring with either California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists or the American Counseling Association. Before candidates engage in counseling activities. During class, instructors give them a copy of the ethical and legal guidelines by American Counseling Association. When instructors review ethical and legal guidelines with candidates, they ensure that candidates have a basic understanding of the importance of adhering to guidelines provided by their professional association. Requirements: PracticumR; FieldworkA

2.  Knowledge of and skills in the application of ethical and legal standards:

An integral component of professionalism is the knowledge of and skills in applying ethical and legal standards in practice. All objectives of Coun 150, Laws Relating to Children, address the factors relating to the knowledge and application of ethical and legal standards. Requirements for Coun 150 are as follows:LawsA. At the same time, professional ethics and legal mandates in applying specific counseling services are addressed in multiple courses:

Coun 174: Objective 4: Identify current legal and ethical issues in the field of counseling.


Coun 200: Objective 6: Demonstrate an ability to apply current legal and ethical practices to the counseling relationship.

Assignment: TechniquesA

Coun 201: Objective 6: Identify ethical issues relevant to counseling the culturally different.

Assignment: CulturalA

Coun 203: Objective 4: Apply ethical, legal, and professional standards using testing instruments.


Coun 206: Objective 10: Apply ethical principles to developmental counseling.


Coun 208: Objective 3: To understand the professional code of ethics of the American Counseling Association and be able to incorporate those ethical standards into the counselor’s behavior.


Coun 220: Objective 7: Apply ethical and legal procedures when using career development counseling and theory.


Coun 233: Objective 6: Understanding of legal and ethical issues unique to counseling children and adolescents will be demonstrated through analysis of case study, conduct during observation, and development of treatment plans.


Coun 240: Course Topic include: Legal Safeguards/IEP’s

Coun 241:

Objective 8: Familiar with relevant laws pertaining to students in a school setting, including compliance for PPS programs.

Objective 10: Able to promote the use of ethical standards and procedures in working with pupils who come from different socio-economic, racial, and social backgrounds.


Coun 242:

Objective 6: Recognize and apply appropriate legal concepts and legal procedures in working  

with consultees.

Objective 4: Investigate procedures for developing methods to be used in formulating pupil

advocacy programs.

Assignment: AdvocacyA

Coun 249: Objective 8: Apply ethical and legal considerations to all activities with which the field placement student becomes involved in an approved elementary school and middle/high school setting.


CI 285: Objective 3: Become more conversant with professional ethics and implications for practice.


b.  Current on state requirements relating to school children

This program provides candidates with the knowledge of applying traditional legal doctrines to current situations. At the same time, candidates are also trained in providing counseling services in response to current policies and requirements.

Coun 150: Course description: This course presents an overview of traditional legal doctrines concerning minors in the home, in the school and in the juvenile justice system, with an emphasis on applying traditional doctrines to current issues.

Counseling 150 covers the following topics relating to Law in the School:

a) Compulsory attendance requirements:

  • Public school vs. private school, parental options;
  • Home-schooling, legal concerns
  • Truancy
  • California specific rules

b) Compulsory attendance and child labor laws

c) Curriculum concerns

  • Family life education

d) First Amendment Issues

  • School prayer and religious expression
  • Flag salute-“one nation under God”
  • Dress codes
  • Student speech and student publications
  • Textbooks/Library/Internet concerns
  • California specific rules

e) School Discipline

  • Suspension/Expulsion-due process
  • California specific rules
  • Corporal punishment
  • Zero Tolerance-specific concerns regarding school shootings and drugs

f) Fourth Amendment- Search and Seizure

  • TLO-two pronged test of reasonableness
  • Locker/Backpack/Automobile searches
  • Sniffing dogs and random drug testing of students
  • Limitations if school officials act in concert with police

g) Contemporary Issues

  • Brown vs Board of Education revisited: Federal requirements for notice in parent’s primary language
  • Gender discrimination issues
  • Education of Disable children; mainstreaming
  • Vouchers for private schools
  • Confidentiality/Privacy of student records
  • Negligence in the school setting-The duty of care imposed on schools and on school personnel
  • Child abuse reporting requirements

Coun 249: Objective 7: provide counseling services related to current policies and critical issues relevant to an approved school setting.

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