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Compare and contrast the Aca’s 5 moral principles with Clinton & Ohlschlager’s 7 virtues

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The American Counseling Association has identified several moral principles to assist in guiding their members and others interested in the helping professions. Of these the following five will be compared and contrasted with various biblical ethics identified by Clinton & Oblschalager (2002) as being seven virtues (pp. 248-249): autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, and fidelity. The seven virtues are composed of the following: accountability and truth-telling, responsibility to love one another, fidelity to integrity, trustworthiness in keeping confidentiality, competent beneficence, humility in justice, and sufferability (ibid).

Autonomy is defined as “the freedom of clients to choose their own direction” (Corey, G. , Corey, M. S. , & Callanan. 2007, p. 17). Nonmaleficence is the avoidance of actions which may hurt clients (ibid). Beneficence is promotion of the welfare of others (p. 18). Justice refers to being fair in equal distribution of resources and care without biases of any type (ibid). Fidelity refers to one keeping their word as a professional (ibid).

The virtue of accountability and truth-telling shares the similarity with the moral principle of fidelity in that both mandate being truthful in our words and promises. Above that this virtue also requires that one be held accountable to another counselor or one’s pastor (Clinton & Oblschalager, p. 248). The virtue of the responsibility to love one another shares with the principle of nonmaleficence the characteristic of doing others no harm, yet goes beyond that to include the Spirit given gift of demonstrating love for one another (ibid).

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The virtue of humility in justice basically mirrors the principle of justice. Both these traits should mean the counselor will never judge the individual seeking help and to never discriminate in the allocation of resources. The virtue of humility in justice also entails remembering to be humble in emulation of the Messiah who only sought for others to be restored to a right relation with God (p. 249). Competent beneficence is a virtue comparable to the principle of beneficence. They both are focused on the wellbeing f others and on the awareness of the counselor to be culturally competent (ibid). The virtues of trustworthiness in keeping confidentiality, fidelity to integrity and sufferability can be placed side by side with the principle of nonmaleficence since they all entail the mandate of not allowing the client to suffer any harm due to the counselor’s words or actions. Fidelity to integrity also entails the counselor’s personal integrity as needing to accompany his professional integrity (Clinton & Oblschalager, p. 248).

Ultimately, the clients we encounter as Christian counselors do have autonomy to choose this principle and go in whatever direction they choose to go. Nevertheless, this is not a shared characteristic with any of the seven virtues. In our practice we are to recognize that God has moral absolutes and a perfect way in which God has chosen for us to walk (Clinton & Oblschalager, p. 246). To utilize the seven virtues we must remember that doing good, telling truth, loving one another, and the rest of the virtues all point directly towards our creator.

Therefore, although our clients may choose to ignore our godly counsel, we are in debt to them and our vows of service to God to inform them and encourage them to cease from sinful behaviors and to turn those behaviors around to reflect behaviors demonstrated .


  1. Clinton, T. , & Ohlschlager, G. (Eds. ). (2002). Competent Christian Counseling: Foundations and Practice of Compassionate Soul Care. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press.
  2. Corey, G. , Corey, M. S. , & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions (7th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole

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