Ethical Principles Of Professional Practice In Psychology

Professional practice in psychology requires an accurate knowledge and application of ethical decision making. Further, it is the psychologists’ responsibility to plan effectively, implement, and evaluate their practice decisions in recognizing and assessing ethical dilemmas. In particular, case study 1 identifies a dilemma involving ethics, the law, and values. However, Kitchener and Anderson (2011) present ethical principles involving the values of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, fidelity, and justice as guidance in reaching effective ethical decisions. In the case, the parents’ insistence to participate in the treatment denies the client’s autonomy, especially considering her age. More so, it presents a challenge in observing the legal obligations following the court order and upholding clients’ confidentiality. In this way, reaching an ethical decision involves incorporating Kitchener and Anderson (2011) principles. In particular, issuing the client with an informed consent detailing the limits of confidentiality will help resolve the legal and ethical conflict. Further, reinforcing the clients’ independence in the treatment promotes beneficence and autonomy improving recovery. Multiple relationships in the profession are a significant factor in generating ethical conflict for the psychologist. According to Lungo (2014), it creates a complex challenge developing from the interconnected nature of human relationships. Here, the interconnectedness of personal and professional lives affects the ethical outcomes of treatment having considered the professional and client relationship as fundamental to a successful psychotherapy.

In this regard, case study 2 presents an incident of multiple relationships between the clients’ brother who schedules the appointment and the psychologist. In particular, it presents the dilemma of performing either the nonprofessional role of a friend or professional as a therapist. Here, the conflicting roles create entanglement limiting the effectiveness of the therapy, escalating the clients’ harm, and risk of ethical charges. More so, it presents a challenge in observing the clients’ autonomy following the brother’s involvement and existing friendship with the psychologist. Therefore, it is prudent for the psychologist to follow provided guidelines in assessing the potential harm and benefits of entering this relationship. The outcomes of the assessment will determine the appropriate action observing both professional conduct and client well-being.

Focusing on client well-being in exercising ethical decision making, an imperative sector concerns the case of a minor. This is the situation presented in Case Study 3 involving a minor as the client. The case identifies potential issues including the fostering an effective client-relationship considering the minor objection to consent to counsel, parental rights, and an overarching concern on the clients’ welfare and rights. Based on Birrell and Bruns (2016), the American Counseling Association (ACA) code of ethics provides step-wise approaches in reaching ethical decisions. These approaches focus on facilitating the clients’ growth and development while establishing a healthy client-psychologist relationship. Therefore, applying the model to the case requires a careful examination of the problem by identifying who is the primary client. Moreover, it requires an evaluation of protecting the confidentiality of the client while protecting their welfare and rights. In this case, clarifying the implications of the informed consent to the concerned parties will efficiently establish a collaborative relationship among the concerned parties.

The ACA code of ethics provides comprehensive guidelines on prohibited non-counseling roles and relationships. In particular, the code prohibits psychologists from engaging in counseling relationships with friends where impaired objectivity is likely. However, Birrell and Bruns (2016) note that the code encourages interactive processes involving dual relationships, informed consent, honoring clients’ culture, and termination of therapy. Examining the details presented in Case Study 4 ascertains no existing friendship between the client and the therapist. However, their interaction is likely to develop a dual relationship combining a professional and nonprofessional relation. As such, potential issues include the objectivity of the psychologist, confidentiality, legal obligation, and legal charges. Here, appropriate action would involve evaluating the benefits and negative consequences of extending the counseling boundary. Also, taking appropriate precautions like documenting boundary extensions and informed consent are effective strategies in preserving objectivity, and autonomy, respectively.

13 January 2020
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