An ethical decision making-model
In most cases, solving ethical dilemmas are not through the application of the codes of ethics and standards that are put in place. Therefore, it is critical to have a framework through which any emerging ethical dilemma could be analyzed and the final decision reached.
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Ethical dilemmas are usual occurrences in many professions and are resolved through the applicable ethical decision-making models (Johnson & Koocher, 2011). However, in this case, the Potter Box ethical decision-making model will be applied to come up with the solution to the ensuing problem.
Defining the situation
In the case, a woman is suffering from the major depression because of divorce filed by the husband and the looming court proceedings that may result in the loss of the sons to the husband. The woman claims that the husband has an extra marital affair, which according to the psychologist, is delusional and should not be included in the final assessment report for diagnosis.
However, the psychologist used much of the personal information on the assessment report, which could have negative influence on the client during the court proceedings. The dilemma is whether the psychologist should include the personal information on the report.
Identifying the values
Ethical principles and codes of conduct form the basis of values that control the conduct of the psychologist. The psychologist beliefs and values should emanate from the general codes ethical codes of conduct that control the behavior, assessment and evaluation of clients as well as decisions that are being made. In this case, the psychologist must apply the principles, standards and codes of ethics while assessing the client’s situation.
Identifying the principles
Ethical models in decision-making process must back all the actions of the psychologist. In addition, the advice and recommendation of the assessments should also emanate from the theoretical models in ethical decision-making process. In this case, theoretical models such as the utilitarianism and contextualism would be applied to support the recommendations in the assessment report concerning the client’s situation.
Choosing the loyalties
In this case, it is critical to take into consideration the situation of the client while assessing the life circumstances. However, the consent of the client should be emphasized. The psychologist should seek for the client consent while coming up with the assessment report. Even though the consent may be hard to get in this case, the client should be persuaded to provide his consent on some of the information to be presented.
Applicable codes, principles and standards
The principles that apply to this case include the beneficence and nonmaleficence, integrity, justice and the respect for the rights of the clients as well as the related people. In applying the principle of beneficence and nonmaleficence, the psychologist must ensure that its assessments and actions does not cause subsequent harm to the client as well as the related people such as the children and the husband.
In other words, the psychologist must ensure that the content of the assessments safeguard the interest of the client as well as the husband. The integrity principle requires that the psychologist must observe sincerity, precision and honesty while assessing the client’s situation.
Moreover, all the concerned persons must equally benefit from the actions. Finally, the psychologist must respect the rights of the client as well as other individuals in the assessments.
The only limiting factor is that while the psychologist would observe and promote the integrity, justice and rights of one individual, other individual right may be compromised. In other words, striking the right principle balance between the people affected may be difficult for the psychologist (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2007).
During the assessment, the psychologist should put into consideration the ethical standards that include the misuse of their work (Johnson & Koocher, 2011). In the case, where the psychologist realized that one party might benefit from the assessments, the necessary steps should be taken to correct the information in assessment report in order to avoid the misuse of such information.
The other important ethical standard to be observed is the boundaries of competence. The psychologist should perform the assessment within the boundaries of his psychological knowledge, experience, training and professionalism (Ford, 2006).
Most important, the psychologist should produce the final assessment report based on the informed consent (Ford, 2006). The standard of informed consent is critical for the final decisions used for therapies as well as legal proceedings that may ensue. The informed consent standard requires that the client is involved in every step of the assessment and the psychologist seek out the client’s approval (Ford, 2006). In addition, the psychologist should observe the standard of privacy and confidentiality.
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The psychologist should establish the limits of private information and the levels of confidentiality without intrusion into the private affairs of the family. Finally, the psychologist should consider the standards of assessment (Ford, 2006). Before putting down the recommendation for further therapies, the psychologist should thoroughly examine the client in order to have adequate information.
Applying the utilitarian model to explain the case
The theory focuses on the positive outcome of the actions. The psychologist, applying the utilitarian approach to ethical consideration, should consider recommending actions that provides maximum benefits to the client (Johnson & Koocher, 2011).
In other words, the psychologist should recommend actions in its assessment report that offer maximum quality of happiness to the client. In essence, the decisions made during the assessment should benefit the client. Even though the recommendations should be in favor of the client, the extent to which such recommendations affect the related people should also be taken into consideration.
However, the psychologist should be aware of the difficulties in getting the information as well as the extent of the consequences of the recommendations on the concerned individuals. In other words, it would not be possible for the psychologist to measure the extent of the consequences of the assessment recommendations.
The application of ethical contextualism to think through the case
Contextualism model assumes that there exist competing ethical principles and conflicts normally occur between these competing principles. According to this theory, ethical dilemmas should be treated differently depending with the situation and the expected outcome (Ford, 2006).
As such, the psychologist should provide assessment recommendations depending with the situation. Further, the theory asserts that there is no ethical principle that can be used to predict the solutions of any other ethical dilemmas (Ford, 2006). Therefore, the solution to the problem will depend on the situation and the outcome of the assessments made.
The problem with this school of thought is that the psychologist may find difficulties in the situation where genuine principles conflict (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2007). In essence, the psychologist should not utilize the experiences from other cases to apply to this situation.
The case represents a different situation and therefore the principles to be applied in this case should depend on the assessed factors. In other words, the context in this case should inform the moral principles that should be used to find the solution to the problem.
Ford, G. G. (2006). Ethical reasoning for mental health professionals. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Johnson, W. B. & Koocher, G. P. (2011). Ethical conundrums, quandaries and predicaments in mental health practice: A casebook from the files of experts. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Koocher, G. P. & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2007). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.