Discussion topic: Family Support Systems and Ethical Issues

Discussion topic: Family Support Systems and Ethical Issues

This week, you will discuss the advantages and potential problems associated with developing family support systems. Clients who you see in your human service settings will usually report having some or no family support, unless they are receiving mental health or substance abuse service. Often, those who struggle with financial, housing, and/or transportation issues do so because of dysfunctional or no family support. You can implement strategies to build strong family support ties that will serve as a protective factor for your clients. Often, human service professionals are thrilled to incorporate family members into a client’s intervention, treatment, or case management activities. However, there can be some ethical issues related to the inclusion of family members into a client’s plan. Select the path that relates to your study and respond to the Discussion using that scenario.

Path 1: Child and Family Welfare Scenario

You work as a prevention specialist in an agency that provides services to adolescents (e.g., HIV testing, pregnancy testing). One of your teen clients, Rod, has tested positive for HIV and has not discussed it with his parents yet. His mother discovered the receipt for his anonymous test results in his pants’ pocket and called demanding to know the results.

Path 2: Gerontology Scenario

You work in a sliding scale agency that helps seniors arrange their financial affairs. Your work is confidential because your agency helps seniors to plan their wills, estates, and medical treatment. You have access to their medical history and other personal information. One of your client’s daughters, Talia, drove her mother to your office and was visibly upset when asked to wait in the reception area instead of being allowed to attend the meeting. After Talia and your client leave, she calls you and demands copies of her mother’s financial plan.

Path 3: Human Services Management Scenario

You are a manager of a welfare-to-work office that oversees the employment training and case management for those who are unemployed. Many of your clients have been on public assistance (the TANF program, in particular) and have received everything from housing vouchers to food stamps to GED classes to medical checkups at your facility. One afternoon, a gentleman (James) claiming to be the husband of one of your clients (Michelle) requests to see his wife’s records. You check the file and see that the client specifically signed a form denying her “former husband” from accessing any of her private information.

  1. Discuss the ethical issue presented in the scenario. What advice would you give to your client about the family member’s attempt to gain access to his/her personal information? How would you handle the situation with the family member?
  2. Using systems theory or other relevant theories, explain how these difficult situations could be opportunities to build family support and a strong support system for the client. Remember that every situation presents some opportunity for growth.


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