“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning




Key Considerations in the Decision Making Process

ethical considerations


In the course of our work, we encounter situations which require us to make informed and ethical decisions. Sometimes, the nature of the ethical issue may be unclear.  We may need to consult with others to clarify.  Some key people we may wish to consult with include professional colleagues and those within our management structure.



There are a number of key considerations in relation to ethical decision making as follows:

  • getting the facts;
  • looking at alternatives;
  • consulting with others;
  • evaluating;
  • documenting and
  • being flexible.

Identifying the problem:-

  • It is essential to obtain the relevant facts;
  • facts which are not known or unclear need to be identified;
  • establishing who the issue belongs to is most important;
  • if it is not your issue, then put the issue back where it belongs.


  • the various potential options in this situation and
  • weigh up which will have most benefit and least harm.

Consult with:-

all relevant stakeholders and seek advice where appropriate. Reviewing the various options with others can be helpful in reaching the best possible decisions for a particular set of circumstances.


your decision in the light of relevant organisational and professional principles and guidelines, codes of ethics, codes of practice, and principles or values of your profession; the law; and the five key ethical principles:  autonomy; non-maleficence; beneficence; justice and fidelity. 

(Autonomy refers to an individual’s right of freedom of choice and self-determination, and there is an inherent requirement to respect the individual’s right to privacy with this ethical principle.  Non-maleficence requires the practitioner to “above all”, do no harm.  Beneficence refers to promoting human welfare and is also defined as ‘contributing to the welfare of others’.  Justice is about treating people fairly.  Fidelity by its nature prohibits lying and exploitation. It requires the practitioner to esteem client confidentiality and the contract between client and counsellor.)


the facts and the decision-making-process to ensure transparency.


whether you would be happy for your decision to be a matter of public record.


your decision if circumstances change and be prepared to make adjustments.


Consider the last occasion you had to make a difficult decision. What was the process you went through when making that decision? What would you do differently now?




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