Powered by ProofFactor - Social Proof Notifications

Ethical Decision-Making in Counseling: The AJ Method Explained

Jul 11, 2023 | 0 comments

Jul 11, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Executive Summary

The AJ method is used in ethical decision-making. The method involves a five-step process that is followed when making decisions. In the first step, information is gathered, and ethical questions are asked. The ethical question, in this case, regards the moral dilemma that is present; there are no moral dilemmas since the counselor owes the patient the duty to offer counseling services. The second step is creative problem solving, which sets rules defining the relationship. The third step is listing the pros and cons, the pros of treating the patient are much more than the cons, and the cons of treating the patient are more. The next stage is the evaluation stage, where the strengths of the list of pros and cons are weighed. The last stage is justification, with an introduction; for example, the counselor should treat the patient. Then the intro’s support gives reasons why the patient deserves treatment. There is also the defense that answers the second option questions. The last part is the summary with the final decision on the ethical issue.


People Also Read



Sexual orientation refers to the sexual and emotional traction of a person. Sexual orientation ranges from those people who are attracted to either sex, those attracted to the same sex, or those attracted to different sexes. Sexual orientation is determined by both biological and environmental factors (Borden 60). Counselors are expected to adhere to ethics when handling different kinds of patients. Counseling involves giving patients a chance to talk about their feelings and guide them accordingly. The patient is gay and requires counseling services in the case study scenario. Being the best counselor in the town who exercises ethics in her work, I will listen to the patient (Stracuzi et al. 303). This paper shall explain my ethical decisions per the case study provided. I will use the AJ method to provide arguments that will guide my moral decision-making.

The AJ, also known as the analysis and justification method, provides a procedure to follow when one is faced with n ethical issue. It is expected that as one goes through the guides and steps, they should carefully analyze and give a justifiable way of handling the situation. The four steps in the AJ method are referred to as the neutral steps since they involve analysis alone. In the last step, one must decide by giving reasons for the decisions. The AJ method is mostly used in ethical reasoning because it helps expand the imagination of a person (White et al. 90)

Step 1: Information gathering

Question: What moral dilemmas exist in this case?


Information gathering is the first step of the AJ method; here, as the name suggests, one is required to collect the relevant information that will help in the decision-making process. This can be done by answering questions that will help resolve the ethical issue. In the case study provided, for example, the question we are answering concerns moral dilemmas. My answer to the question is that since I have vast experience in my career as a counselor, I will not have any moral dilemmas listening to the patient talk. First, I have nothing against people’s sexual orientation choices since I believe they all have the right to choose. An ethical decision-making theory looks at the individual, environment, and the situation s the min variables in decision making. Decision-making processes should influence individual characteristics and environmental factors. It is required that during the process, the problem solver should recognize the moral issue and then make the moral judgment, raise the moral concerns and address those concerns.

Step 2: Creative Problem solving

The second step is creative problem solving, which involves setting boundaries for each pry in this case. Since I have accepted the gay patient, I will have to recognize his sexual orientation and not be judgmental or ask why he is gay. This would be a creative plan since the patient will feel free to share information, which is the essence of a counseling session. On my part as a counselor, it will prevent conflict. The creative plan provides compromise, the patient will share information, and the counselor will help the patient solve personal dilemmas.

Step 3: Listing Pros and Cons

Accept the Patient
  1. The patient has the
right to access treatment despite his sexual orientation. Doctors owe patients ethical obligations to treat them without discrimination.
The doctor has nothing to lose if he treats the patient.
Refuse to treat the patient
  1. Patients need access to treatment.
  1. It would be unethical not to treat the patient.
The doctor will have discriminated against the patient. The doctor’s reputation might be tainted. Patients will have to travel very far away to access
  1. similar services.

They list the pros and cons in the third step in the AJ method. In this situation, the advantages lie in assisting the patient get the professional counseling they need. There are no disadvantages since I have accepted the patient’s sexual orientation. With the pros and cons chart, I will void biased decisions.

Step 4: Evaluation

The next stage is an evaluation where the pros and cons are identified. In the case scenario, I find that the pros have more strength since I will not only be fulfilling my ethical obligation as a counselor but also helping a patient. Several assumptions are also made at this stage, for example, the informational assumptions. These are the kind of assumptions that are based on probabilities. Value assumptions are based on the relevance of the ethical question.

Step 5: Justification

  1. Intro

The counselor should accept to treat the patient. Sexual orientation is not the patient’s problem.

  1. Support

Since counseling ethics require that a counselor should not discriminate against a patient on the grounds of sexual orientation, it is appropriate that the patient be treated ( Eliason, Michelle, and Tonda 630). Another reason is that doctors owe patients the obligation to treat them. Additionally, treating the patient will earn the counselor a better reputation among people of the same sexual orientation as the patient.

  1. Defense

Some of the reasons for not treating the patient include the patient having to travel to another town to access the treatment. Due to financial constraints and other barriers, the patient may face travel hindrances and may not eventfully access treatment. Another reason is that not treating the patient will affect the doctor’s reputation. He may be painted as a doctor who refuses to treat gay or lesbian patients. Sexual discrimination is a Key issue in this error, and most professionals are advised to treat all their patients equally.

  1. Summary

The Primary duty of a counselor is to put the needs of their patients first; for this reason, the counseling needs of the patients override the needs of the counselor (Robson et al. 533). The counselor should treat the patient despite their sexual orientation. To add, treating the patient will build a remarkable reputation for the counselor.


The ethical decision-making process requires proper evaluation of the issues in the case, identification of the strengths and weaknesses, and making the final decision. The AJ method is used to assist in making ethical decisions. The method has five steps that are all involved in decision-making. The first step is where information is collected. After the necessary information has been collected, a moral question is asked. Later, creative problem solving identifies the barriers or limits to the relationship in question. This stage assists the people involved in the decision-making process in respecting each other and sticking to finding a solution to the ethical issue. The third stage lists the pros and cons, where each decision’s weaknesses and strengths are identified. The fourth stage is an evaluation that expounds on the pros and cons. The last stage of the AJ method is justification which gives the final solution to the ethical issue.

Works Cited

Borden, Lindsay. Et l. “ Perceptions of Self-Disclosing Counselors among Lesbians, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals.” Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 4.2 (2010): 54-69.

Eliason, Michelle J., and Tonda Hughes. “Treatment Counselor’s attitudes about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients: Urban vs. Rural Settings.” Substance Use and Misuse 39.4 (2004): 625-644.

Robson, Maggie, et al. “Towards Ethical Decision-Making in Counseling Research.” British Journal Of Guidance & Counseling 28.4 (2000): 533-547.

Stracuzi, Thomas., Jonathan, Mohr, and Jairo Fuentes. “Gay and Bisexual Male clients’ Perceptions of Counseling: The role of Perceived sexual Orientation Similarity and Counselor Universal-Diverse Orientation.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 58.3 (2011): 299-309.

White, Cox and Gampel, Eric. “Resolving Moral Dilemmas: A case-study Method,” HEC Forum, Vol.8.2 (996), pp89-90.

Yadegarfard, Mohammdrasool, and Fatemeh Bahramabadian. “Sexual Orientation and Human Rights In the ethics code of the Psychology and Counseling Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (PCOIRI).” Ethics and Behavior 24.5 (2014): 350-363.

5/5 - (10 votes)

Need Support in Studies? 📚 – Enjoy 10% OFF on all papers! Use the code "10FALLHELP"