Sanford Brown Gifts and Ethics Discussion
M6 E discModule 06 Discussion – Can You Accept It?
You are a job coach at the local community center. Your work involves providing vocational training and
practical job seeking skills to clients that have had a hard time seeking work. This afternoon, one of your
clients comes in to tell you that he just accepted a job! As Todd begins to tell you about his new position,
he pulls out a small wrapped gift that he purchased to thank you for all of your help.
Initial Post: Should you accept Todd’s gift? Be sure to address the following:
a. What ethical dilemmas does the gift exchange present?
b. Would your acceptance violate any ethical standards? If so which ones?
c. What are some of the risks or consequences that could result from your acceptance of the
d. If you decline the gift, what are your reasons?
e. Are there any risks that might result from declining his gifts?
f. Does accepting a gift from the client depend on the age of the client?
g. Does the cost of the gift matter?
Reply Post: Respond to a classmate that responded differently than you. Explain why you disagree with
them or whether they changed your opinion.
Additional Ethical Considerations
The process of informed consent is one in which the professional informs the client or patient of the
different ways that their communication, research, or findings might be used in addition to their treatment.
It is provided in writing or in an electronic document that outlines the risks of treatment and the way the
professional can use the findings.
There are federal and state regulations that outline what informed consent looks like for different
client/professional relationships. Different vocations also use the process of informed consent in a varying
ways. For example, a client receiving court ordered treatment would have to provide their informed
consent to allow the provider to share their progress with the court.
In the medical field, informed consent usually involves the patient providing the doctor with their consent
to perform a procedure after they are informed of the risks involved. There are also times where a
professional is conducting research and requests that the client or patient provide their informed consent
to participate in a study.
Distance counseling offers clients and professionals the ability hold sessions when they are unable to
meet face to face. It is equally appealing to clients and professionals as it provides more flexibility in
scheduling as they can participate in sessions right from the comfort of their home. This provides clients
with greater access to their therapists regardless of their location. It also enables therapists to provide
services to clients outside of their community. Distance counseling, also known as telecounseling or
teletherapy can occur in a variety of manners. Thanks to technology, therapists are now able to hold
sessions with clients via video conferencing, email, text message or secure software programs.
Despite the convenience of distance counseling, recognize that it may present ethical dilemmas that
might not ordinarily arise in traditional counseling setting. Consider a situation in which you have never
met the client in person. You must have measures in place that enable you to confirm their identity as you
begin each session, especially when sessions take place via text or email.
You should also complete a through intake assessment of new clients prior to offering distance
counseling services. Distance therapy may not be suitable in all situations; consider the needs of the
client when making this determination. You should also ensure you have mechanisms in place to ensure
privacy on both ends. Unlike a private office where you can ensure a closed door session, you do not
have control over the environment your client is in during sessions. It is important to have policies and
expectations in place that protect the privacy of the client.
One of the biggest concerns with distance counseling is that it enables professionals to practice across
state lines. Some states require you to be licensed in their state to provide distance counseling services.
It is recommended that even if you are client resides in a state that does not have this requirement you
make a practice of becoming aware of state laws and policies. For example, some states require you to
obtain informed consent from clients prior to beginning distance counseling. Researching different state
regulations will help to ensure you practice within the parameters of the law avoiding potential legal
ramifications. You may also want to contact your malpractice insurer to ensure your services are covered.
Many national human services organizations recommend professionals receive training prior to practicing
distance counseling. Though it may not be required, training and certification can help to ensure you are
aware of the resources available, security methods and services, and best practice recommendations in
Review the following article on Telehelp for further insight into distance counseling.
Policies and Procedures in Human Services
Organizational policies and procedures are helpful in guiding workers through ethical and legal dilemmas.
An effective policy manual can equip staff with the tools and knowledge on how to effectively serve clients
while working within the parameters and protections of the law. Policies and procedures also help to
provide the workers with an understanding of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. This clear
communication of expectations can help foster an environment of respect, openness, and shared values
among the staff.
Good workplace policies can also help streamline the practices of the workers. Promoting consistency not
only enhances teamwork but also benefits the clients. Clients that engage different professionals within
the same organization will have a better understanding of the values, goals, and practices of the team.
Additional Ethical Guidance
In addition to the standards of ethics provided by National Organization for Human Services, there are
other ethical codes to help guide professionals in the helping profession. Regardless of the vocation you
pursue, make point to research the ethical expectations of workers in the field. Below are a few examples
of national organizations that have ethical codes and standards to help guide professionals:
American Counseling Association
National Association of Social Workers
American Psychological Association
American Medical Association
Barger, T. S. (2018). Tele HELP. University Business, 21(5), 26–29. Retrieved from http:/
Gifts and Ethics
I do believe that a potential violation of ethics could be made if you accepted a gift against a
policy not to accept gifts given by your employer. Standard 23 states that to the extent
possible, human service professionals adhere to commitments made to their employers
(National Organization for Human Services, 2020). Likewise, a potential violation could
occur if an employee is unsure if they should accept the gift and they decide to accept it
without consulting with their employer. Standard 28 states that Human service
professionals seek appropriate consultation and supervision to assist in decision-making
when there are legal, ethical or other dilemmas.
If you choose to accept the gift you could be sending a message to the client that you are
interested in a deeper friendship or relationship. Your coworkers could become upset with
you for accepting a gift that was not offered to them. If I were to decline the gift, I would
thank the client but I would make them aware that it was against policy to accept it. I
would assure them that knowing that they were offered a job was a gift enough for me. The
risk in declining the gift could be hurting the client’s feelings or making them feel as though
they are just seen as a client and not a person.
I am not sure if the cost of the gift matters, or the age of the client. I do think that if a child
drew you a picture, or wanted to share a piece of candy, that might be a different
situation. I also think that as far as the cost of the gift, the rule should be clear and
concise. If no gifts are to be accepted then the price would not matter. If gifts could be
accepted under a certain price range, then that price should be clearly defined.
My husband was once sent to a conference for a vendor of his at work. They paid for his
plane ticket, his hotel stay and there were several different things included, such as meals
and drinks while he was there that this company paid for. Each day that he came back from
the conference there was a different gift waiting for him in the hotel room. These gifts
ranged in price but some of them were fairly valuable. He was very nervous to accept these
gifts and contacted his employer a number of times to find out if it was ethical for him to
accept these things. Because they were part of what the vendor was doing for each
conference attendee, his employer allowed him to accept these gifts. Had he been given a
gift of money, however, he would not have been able to accept.