Reducing Ethical Complaints Through Professional Counselor Competency in Court Testimony

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Professional counselors experience increasing levels of ethical complaints when they provide opinions in child custody cases; the complaints question their competency levels. The purpose of the study was to examine competencies and ethical considerations for 277 counselors and 66 psychologists. The study used a new, validated professional competence standards instrument through a closed-ended survey. Data analysis included a t test and found that psychologists had higher levels of competency than did counselors, a Mann–Whitney U test found that psychologists had higher levels of complaints than did counselors, and factorial analyses of variance showed a main effect between experience and ethical complaints. Recommendations for future research include studying factors influencing levels of competency among counselors when providing testimony. These findings may assist the counseling profession with a greater understanding of competency in custody matters, resulting in counselors better serving children and families embroiled in conflicted divorce and custody disagreements, and minimizing the negative impact on the mental health of all involved.



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