The Ethics of Counseling — How Would YOU Handle This Problem?

Another discussion revealed to me that many people have no idea of the ethical quandaries that people engaged in psychological counseling have to deal with, and that their "cut through the bull" solutions would likely have unforeseen consequences threatening to cause more harm than good.

Consider an example which is very common: You are a clinical psychologist or social worker. Pat (unisex name chosen intentionally) has come to you with this problem: he/she has cheated on his/her marital partner and feels very guilty and regretful. His/her question is simple: whether to confess to the marital partner. Let's also assume that he/she has been tested and is free of STD's.

Harmless dissembling like setting up a surprise party aside, we normally assume that total honesty between marital partners is key to a healthy relationship, don't we?

But what about this situation? How would you advise the client: Confess or don't, and why/why not?

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After a few totally honest answers, there were questions she knew not to ask.

And now we know why your sentence is worded in the past tense.

So, how important is honesty to you (not presuming, of course, that you've been in this situation)? Is your attitude "If you cheat on me, I don't want to know"?

Honesty is extremely important to me. I actually had this happen in my last relationship and I was okay with the fact that my ex had approached me, was honest, and seemed sorry for what she did. It's a matter of building trust but I refuse to let someone walk on me, so after acting like i didn't care I found out she continued to cheat I ended the relationship. My attitude is if you cheat then you should end the relationship and go to this other person unless you realize that what you've done is wrong and in that case you go to the first person and ask forgiveness, but if you continue to cheat than it is nothing more than you not being ready for the responsibility of having a relationship. 

If you're tempted to cheat, Dylan, how strong could your relationship be? Might it not be better to end the first relationship and begin the next, then no one is cheating.

Or if the first relationship IS strong, how about passing on the cheating, like you might that second desert at dinner? I'm just sayin' --

Dylan, was this relationship a marital relationship (in the legal sense) or more of  boyfriend/girlfriend thing, possibly with living together? I ask because it's a much bigger deal to just walk away from a marriage, especially if kids are involved. Couples who live together generally keep their affairs somewhat separate making walking away much easier. That said, it sounded to me like a less committed relationship anyway. Not a marriage, anyway.

You'll tell me if I'm wrong, I'm sure. :)

It was a boyfriend/girlfriend situation, and its understandable that you might keep affairs separate in a marriage but I tend not to hide much from my significant other and in turn expect that back. Yes you were right haha 

So, you had a joint checking account, for example?

AMANDA! How long has it been girl? You and yours doing OK?

So, you and Amanda "know" each other?

Not in the biblical sense, you dweeb --

This is my opinion, I personally would confess. If you truly are sorry for what you have done then the act will not be repeated. Also, yet again personally, if my spouse had cheated and came to me hoping to express sorrow and repentance for their actions I would be understanding. I can say that for myself but i can not speak for others because it's very apparent to everyone that humans typically don't have like minds but that is my advice.


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