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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Morals and Ethics

When writing blogposts from a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) perspective, I often state something to the effect of, “Far be it for me to tell the reader what should, must, or ought to be done.” This is because I try to avoid use of demanding statements which are based in morals and ethics.

A moral is a person’s standard of behavior or belief concerning what is and isn’t acceptable for the individual and other people. As such, morals generally relate to what’s considered good, bad, right, wrong, or otherwise acceptable or unacceptable.

An ethic is a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct. Whereas morals relate to what is thought of as pleasing or unpleasing behaviors and beliefs, ethics are essentially the rules one pledges to live by—based on morals.

Commonly, morals vary from person to person, across cultures, and can shift over time. Many years of contemplation regarding morals have led to differing perspectives championed by theologians, philosophers, theorists, intellectuals, governing bodies, and others.

Ordinarily, ethics function as malleable guidelines which create a broader framework for professions, societies, and the like. Given the diversity of morals, ethics are widely ranging and are largely thought of as that which contributes to a more civilized approach for human behavior.

An example of one universally shared moral relates to the unjust killing of another person. Though not accepted by every person or governing authority, people tend to agree that murder is bad, wrong, etc.

Even if person X’s individual moral code conflicts with that which is mostly adopted by the society in which person X lives, person X isn’t permitted to violate accepted moral principles without some form of expected accountability. Therefore, if person X doesn’t think murder is wrong and commits the offense, the individual can still be held accountable for the action.

One example of a prevailing ethical standard within the field of social work, to which I’m ethically bound, concerns sexual relationships with clients. As I hold both professional counseling and social work licensure, I’m subject to the following ethical rules:

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) rule – A licensee may not engage in sexual contact with a client if the contact begins less than five (5) years after the end of the counseling relationship; the nontherapeutic relationship must be consensual, not the result of exploitation by the licensee, and is not detrimental to the client.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) rule – A social worker shall not have sexual contact with a client or a person who has been a client.

Ergo, I’m bound to the LCSW ethical code, because I hold LPC and LCSW licensure and must adhere to the stricter ethical rule. Violation of these principles may carry personal, civil, and legal consequences.

Even if person Y, an LCSW, disagrees with the professional rule which forbids sexual contact with a client or former client, person Y remains accountable for violation of the standard if or when choosing to violate the ethical principle. Accordingly, there is no permissible sexual contact with clients or former clients for LCSWs.

Noteworthy, morality can transcend ethical norms of a particular culture or society. As an example, person Z, a member of a religious faith, may be morally opposed to sexual promiscuity. However, the society in which person Z lives may value sexual indiscrimination.

One can practice personally moral codes while rejecting societally ethical norms. However, if the societal norm relates to something like not murdering an individual and person Z’s moral code remains in opposition to that norm, person Z cannot merely follow the personally moral code.

Another example of moral and ethical conflict may arise for a psychotherapist whose moral code is opposed to Marxist or neo-Marxist practices though who is able to set aside sociopolitical differences when working with clients who share diverse ideologies, because it’s the ethical thing to do.

Given this example, the reader may better understand why it is I consciously try not to inflict clients with my particular moral and ethical beliefs and practices. Nonetheless, within my blog, I discuss the many sociopolitical and sociocultural opinions I maintain.

However, my blog isn’t designed to serve as a form of mental, emotional, or behavioral health care treatment. Likewise, I don’t use my psychotherapeutic sessions with clients to disclose these beliefs unless it may benefit the client and generally when solicited for my opinion.

Besides, I don’t think it’s appropriate (moral) for an REBT practitioner to behave as a hypocrite by demanding that others should, must, or ought to do as I believe (ethic). If my approach to therapy sounds like something in which you’d be interested, I look forward to hearing from you.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council and Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. (2023, June 16). Rules. Retrieved from

Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council and Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners. (2023, June 16). Rules. Retrieved from

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