Ethical code of conduct in multicultural professional practice. Nondiscrimination
Most ethical codes highlight the need for practitioners to be responsible in the course of delivering care to their clients. The high rate at which society has become culturally diverse has increased the significance of ethical codes in professional practice. Moreover, it is fundamental for practitioners in different professional fields to appreciate the importance of developing multicultural competence to be effective in executing their duties. Leung and Barnett (2007) define competence as “the ability and committed intention to consider cultural data in order to formulate accurate, comprehensive and impartial case conceptualizations” (p.2). Leung and Barnett (2007, p.3) further assert that most psychologists do not have the necessary multicultural competencies to enable them to undertake a broad cultural analysis of their clients to effectively engage in the acculturation process. Consequently, they are not able to resolve multicultural dilemmas adequately. Lack of such competence may result in unintended racism and the use of biased assessment instruments.
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Despite the incorporation of ethical codes by various practitioners, their dependence is not an assurance for multicultural competence. Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011) assert that this limitation emanates from the failure of ethical codes to take into account various multicultural dimensions. One of the areas of multicultural professional practice relates to mental health. Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011) assert that there are standards/codes of conduct established by practitioners in mental health such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Practitioners in this field are required to refrain from discriminating their clients based on variables such as age, race, sexual orientation, or social class (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2011). However, this code is limited concerning multicultural professional practices.
One source of limitation to this code of ethics arises from the use of assessment instruments that do not take into account the multicultural population. For example, using pseudo-etic instruments in the process of undertaking a cultural assessment for multicultural populations may lead to inaccurate evaluation and treatment. Additionally, practitioners may misunderstand clients from a culturally diverse population. The occurrence of such incidences may result in discrimination. Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011) further contend that some practitioners exercise discrimination based on race, age, and sexual orientation.
Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011) assert that the failure of practitioners to incorporate cultural diversity in their practice is an infringement of clients’ basic human rights and cultural autonomy. Such discriminative actions adversely affect the effectiveness of such professional practices in helping multicultural populations. To eliminate such discrimination, practitioners dealing with multicultural populations should be adequately trained to deal with diversity issues.
Ways and evidence in which APA Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct are culturally biased and culturally encapsulated
Pedersen (2002) asserts that cultural encapsulation and cultural bias endanger professional counseling. The American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct [herein referred to as a code of conduct] is broad to assist psychologists in providing care. The code of conduct has taken into account some ethical principles. They are integrity, justice, fidelity and responsibility, nonmaleficence, and beneficence. However, applications of the code of conduct vary depending on the prevailing context. The code of conduct covers diverse areas such as counseling, clinical practice, research, public service, social intervention, and school practice (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 2011).
Despite their broad nature, the APA code of conduct is culturally biased and encapsulated. According to Pedersen (2002), contemporary professional guidelines such as the APA code of conduct require practitioners and counselors to follow the set rules and regulations. Consequently, the code of conduct does not provide counselors with an opportunity to think ethically. Moreover, the APA code of conduct contains several discrepancies that may result in intrinsic cultural biases (Pedersen, 2002).
Such cultural biases may necessitate counselors to select between being ethical or adhering to the set ethical codes. Firstly, the code of conduct contains assumptions that depict a significant degree of cultural encapsulation. The guidelines in the code of conduct are vague and generalized, which further encourages counselors and practitioners to use their criteria in assessing culturally diverse clients. Pedersen (2002) asserts that such a criterion is, to a large extent, culturally encapsulated. The code of conduct tends to favors majority-culture values, for example, individualism. Therefore, individuals belonging to minority cultural groups are thus socialized into the majority or dominant cultural perspective, which indicates a high degree of cultural bias. Pedersen (2002) asserts that “this has frequently been the position of individualists’ majority cultures towards collectivist minorities” (p.18).
Additionally, the APA code of conduct does not provide counselors with an opportunity to engage in ‘responsible disobedience’ when dealing with ethical dilemmas. This emanates from the fact that the counselors develop a feeling that their action will result in disobedience to the set ethical guidelines. The APA Code of Conduct is also culturally encapsulated and biased as a result of the assumptions they hold.
Despite the above limitations, the code of conduct assumes that counselors should possess a high degree of cultural self-awareness to improve the effectiveness with which they deal with clients from different cultural backgrounds. The APA code of conduct appreciates the fact that strict adherence to the set guidelines may lead to substandard delivery of care to culturally diverse clients. Accordingly, the code requires counselors to go beyond the set guidelines and provide the most appropriate treatment to clients. This way, the probability of being culturally biased in the delivery of care is minimized significantly. This illustrates that the APA code of conduct is culturally sensitive.
Importance of cultural sensitivity their implications for ethical professional practice
Cultural sensitivity is a fundamental component in dealing with multicultural clients. One of its benefits is associated with the fact that it enables individuals to understand and appreciate their clients’ culture. Moreover, cultural sensitivity enables individuals to be conscious of their own culture. This emanates from the fact that it requires one to understand his or her culture by undertaking a comprehensive self-reflection. This increases the effectiveness with which such individuals deal with cultural issues and problems experienced in the course of executing their duties.
Cultural sensitivity promotes adherence to ethics in professional practices such as nursing. This arises from the fact that the practitioners eliminate possible cultural bias that might inhibit their effectiveness in care delivery. Therefore, cultural sensitivity entrenches the element of honesty, which is a fundamental component in professional practice. Moreover, cultural sensitivity increases the effectiveness with which practitioners understand their clients’ needs hence providing the necessary and optimal quality of care. Cultural sensitivity is also important in the development of effective communication between the client and the practitioner. This arises from the fact that practitioners can understand their clients more effectively.
Corey, G., Corey, M. & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. California: Cengage Learning.
Leung, C. & Barnett, J. (2007). Multicultural assessment and ethical practice. Web.
Pedersen, P. (2002). Counseling across cultures. Thousand Oaks: Sage.