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In your previous counseling experience, have you ever had to enforce policies you didn't agree with?

Answer examples and advice for how to answer this interview question for an Addiction Counselor interview

How to Answer

Just like any other job, you may encounter situations where you need to comply with rules or regulations that you disagree with. How do you handle these situations? If your boss told you to do something you disagreed with, how would you respond? Respecting work policies shows that you have the maturity to follow rules even if you don't fully understand or appreciate them.

In your previous counseling experience, have you ever had to enforce policies you didn't agree with?
Answer example

"If I feel that a policy should be disputed due to ethics, I would approach the situation with professionalism and respect, calling on my supervisor for instance. If I simply do not like a policy, I will still enforce it out of respect for my employer."

Entry Level

"I choose to follow policy, regardless of it making sense to me. If it's an ethical issue, then I would follow the protocols for reporting an ethics related situation."


"In my career as an addiction counselor, I have had to enforce policy that I did not like. It's part of the job and I have learned over the years that I may not know the entire picture. It's best to comply unless it's an ethical concern."

View user-submitted Answers

In your previous counseling experience, have you ever had to enforce policies you didn't agree with?
I struggle with informing certain referral sources of clients who have relapses, knowing they will possibly incarcerate them rather then giving them the option of a higher level of care.
No call no shows can be thrown out of the program, then referred elsewhere.
One of the policies that I did not necessarily agree with was that we were to be vague in our correspondence with courts.
Discussion topics in group sessions.
Discharge planning without housing.
Not having other educational options to teach.
Time constraints with clients. Clients should not be restricted to a time frame.
Not being able to follow up on certain areas...
No counseling experience.
INo cell phones on site for clients and staff.
Having to break confidentiality in order to report any reports of harm to themselves or others. This can be a challenging situation as it may break the clients trust with you and may impede their progress or the continuation of counselling sessions.
My field experience involved a lot of work with COA who had similar childhoods to my own. There were so many times where I had to hold myself back from hugging them because of course that was a policy.
At the youth assessment centre I did not agree with a policy that stated students who fell on sick program had homework after school.
Policies dress code if the employees were not following the agencies policies and the missed 2 consecutive group sessions would be taken off the group roster and the 5 minute late policy.
None so far but if I came across this I would discuss this at my supervision and respect the policy and explore my reasons for disagreeing and bring it back to best practice and values.
I've never truly been to going counseling, my dad tried taking me one time and I told him it was a waste of my time and even a bigger waste of his time.
Having to only discuss cancer-related stressors, especially when other stressors came up. It felt difficult to try to connect the pieces when there might have been so much more to unpeel and unravel from their past experiences.
I cannot say that I did not agree with any of the policies that I had to follow. These policies helped foster growth, trust, and safety for the clients.
In previous counseling experiences, I enforced client's to allow me to visit/check in twice weekly. I didn't necessarily agree with the fact that it should apply to every client.
After a client missed two consecutive group counseling sessions they would be placed on case review regardless of the situation. While I agree setting boundaries are good it does not allow the clinical team to treat clients on a case by case basis. This is important to individualizing their treatment and building rapport.
Challenging clients with no real plan of how it will help them stay in treatment or continue sobtirty. Not allowing persons to sit in the " relapse chair" during group sessions.
Every company has inside rules along with the basic standard regulations. I really can't say that I didn't agree with the rules, because if it's their policy then they have to be followed regardless.
Consulation with superior officer.
Eating after the meal not being able to participate in community events.
Truthfully, at Serenity House, I believed each and every policy put in place was there for a purpose. The purpose of keeping our residents safe, structured and accountable for their behavior.
I am not comfortable when people speak other language in work place.
Out of hours counselling.
To be honest, nothing comes to mind.
Adding restrictions to adults lives that they were against completely.
Referring a client to another counsellor when they were not suited.
Harm reduction - when somebody keeps using and they are allowed to return to the program after many failed attempts.
I do not yet have any counseling experience.
In my organization we were required to give all clients a diagnoses in order for them to receive services. While most of the youth did indeed have a legitimate diagnoses there were some that just needed extra transitional services (housing, edu., skills building, etc.) I dealt with this by diagnosing a lot of PSTD, since most of these youth had exp. Trauma in their lives and by being extremely clear that a diagnoses does not define a person. I worry that many young people, people in general, here their diagnoses and internalize it, which creates more harm than benefits.
I believe all policies are necessarily and are put in place for a reason.
Making sure that the client and you maintain the client counselor relationship.
I worked in a "hands on" facility. I did not believe that there was a need to put my hands on a client to enforce rules/expectations.
It would have to be when I felt that a client's circumstances should be dealt with on an individual basis instead of going strictly according to the rules because that might not be the best way.
I have been very fortunate and have not had that come up.
I always enforced policy. It wasn't a matter if I agreed with them or not, policy is policy.
Not get too close to clients and not to give and take gifts.
The most important taks for me is to inforce policies, rules and regs of the program is where the clt is aware of these policies and makes bothe clt and counselor work hand in hand.
We had a policy that a client had to have a 7 day notice before they could be discharged, no matter what the infraction (with the exception of physical violence).
I tend to follow policy of the agency.
Not to be close to the ppl, emotionally attached?
Gift exchange, computer filing.
Treatment policies that ignored housing problems. We treat the client, but ignore their environmental issues.
Limited phone previlieges of parents with young children. I believe it is important to follow policies to help model appropriate honest behavior.

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