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W&M doctoral students place second in ACA Student Ethics contest

  • William & Mary School of Education places in top three at national American Counseling Association's Graduate Student Ethics contest for third consecutive year.
    William & Mary School of Education places in top three at national American Counseling Association's Graduate Student Ethics contest for third consecutive year.  This year's group of competing counselor education second year doctoral students included (left to right) Nancy Chae, David Gosling, Shuhui Fan, and Jeremy Goshorn.  
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A quartet of William & Mary counselor education doctoral students have taken second place in the national American Counseling Association (ACA) 2019 Graduate Student Ethics contest, with an essay addressing the ethical challenges raised in a fictional case study. Second year doctoral students Nancy Chae, David Gosling, Shuhui Fan, and Jeremy Goshorn, co-director of the New Horizons Family Counseling Center at the William & Mary School of Education, produced a nearly 30-page response, including citations. Their essay met the challenge of outlining the ethical dilemmas faced by a fictional counselor education doctoral student in his work supervising master’s students – a key component of the training Chae, Gosling, Fan, and Goshorn are undergoing during their doctoral work at William & Mary. The team also had to identify relevant ethical guidelines from the ACA Code of Ethics to which all counselors must adhere, and then propose strategies by which the fictional students and counseling program could resolve the ethical dilemmas. The annual contest is open to all counseling students nationally.

The fictional case study involved a doctoral student supervisor, who is caught in an ethical dilemma about reporting some concerning behaviors of master’s level supervisees as well as potential dual relationship issues. The team conducted a literature review and drew on the ACA Code of Ethics to justify their approaches and responses to the ethical dilemma.

"We assessed the ways in which the doctoral supervisor, master’s students, and faculty member failed to consider the ethical dimensions of beneficence, fidelity, autonomy, and nonmaleficence," Chae explained. "Then, we proposed a potential course of action for all involved parties, including seeking guidance from a faculty advisor about the conflict of a potential dual relationship in the supervisory relationship as well as recommending the program to conduct an investigation and develop a plan for remediation."

Training in ethics is a core component of CACREP-accredited counselor education programs at the master's and doctoral levels, and is required for annual continuing education for counselors in the field. Critical thinking about issues across a wide range of topics within counselor education is likewise prioritized in the William & Mary counselor education curriculum.

"The team's accomplishment in the ACA ethics contest highlights the hard work our students put into everything they do, and the rigor of our Ph.D. program in preparing them to take on challenging tasks such as this contest," said faculty advisor Patrick Mullen, assistant professor of counselor education in the School of Education. "It's important to give credit to these students for their win because this contest does not allow faculty to help them in responding to the case vignette. They did every element of the submission that earned them this accomplishment."

William & Mary has had a strong showing in the contest in recent years. A team which included alumni Colleen M.L. Grunhaus Ph.D. ’18, Victor Tuazon Ph.D. ’18, Edith Gonzalez M.Ed. ’15, Ph.D. ’18, and Nathaniel J. Wagner Ph.D. ’18 took second place in 2017 contest. Their essay appeared in the October 2018 issue of the journal, Counseling and Values. The previous year, William & Mary’s doctoral team placed first in the competition. That team included Brian Kooyman Ph.D. ’17, Rebecca Sheffield M.Ed. ’11, Ph.D. ’17, Clay Martin Ph.D. ’18, and Keosha Branch M.Ed. ’11, Ph.D. ’17.

"Participating in national organization contests helps students build and develop a professional identity," said Mullen, "and enhances their potential to be leaders in the field."

"The ethics essay contest experience was a comprehensive process for us. We were not only following an ethical decision-making model, but also justifying and evaluating every step of the ethical decision-making process. We worked well together as a team, and we are honored to be recognized for this award," said Chae.