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Ethical Dilemmas in Professional Psychology Essay

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Updated: Jul 28th, 2020


There have been many issues raised concerning the conduct of psychologists, and this has raised eyebrows and left many questions unanswered. This essay explores two scenarios that are common in many psychology activities and which require urgent attention to arrest the situation before it goes out of hand.

Scenario 1

This scenario involves a client who wishes to terminate her counseling sessions and begin a social relationship with the psychologist. The client will be a lady, and the service provider will be a gentleman for this discussion.

First, it is necessary to explain to the client the importance of counseling since she has already been a client for some time. The reasons that motivated her to seek counseling services were significant in her life, and that is why she deserved the counseling (Corey 2011). Therefore, it is essential to advise her that it is not wise to trade her health with relationships. Thus, the first thing the psychologist should do is to stress to her the importance of continuing with these counseling sessions.

According to psychology ethics, it is improper for a client to establish a social relationship with a psychologist since this will affect their interactions and quality of service (Thomas 2010). It is the duty of a psychologist to explain to all clients that there must be boundaries between them to facilitate the effectiveness of these counseling sessions. In this case, the client has gone beyond the prescribed relational limits by advocating for a social relationship with the doctor (Fisher 2009). The psychologist has a duty of safeguarding his profession by declining all advances made by the client. It is necessary to give negative feedbacks to all the progress made by this client as early as possible. This will make her realize that what she is proposing is against psychologists’ professional codes of conduct.

Legally, it is an offense for psychologists to engage in multiple relationships with their clients. This regulation exists to ensure all members of this profession uphold high moral behavior to promote the delivery of quality services to all clients without discriminations (Thomas 2010). This law is just like state laws that must be obeyed by everybody. In this case, it is essential that he explains to the client the legal consequences he will face should it be discovered that he is having a social relationship with her.

Personal considerations include the principles of choice and decision making. Everybody has a right to decide what is good for them and the route to take concerning various situations (Corey 2011). In this case, he should explain to her that as much as she may be having intimate feelings towards him, it is not a must for them to have a social relationship. They have the freedom to select their friends or spouses, and this does not mean that her wish must be accepted.

He can decide to accept or decline the offer since there are no legal bindings between them. However, he can take the offer since the client is not requesting that they begin a social relationship at that time but after the termination of counseling (Fisher 2009). This means they will no longer be having a doctor-patient relationship; instead, hey will be free to interact as long as they do it outside office premises and during unofficial hours.

In conclusion, she should wait until her counseling sessions are over and when she has fully recovered before suggesting anything that does not help in alleviating her condition. On the other hand, he should prioritize his work and think of the above consequences before making a decision. The fact that this offer has been made before completion of counseling sessions means that if he accepts it, there may be severe consequences for his profession and morality.

Scenario 2

This situation involves a mutual attraction to establish an intimate relationship between a client and a counselor. In this case, the client will be a gentleman, and the doctor will be a lady.

Human beings are very outgoing and social, and this exposes them to attractions and intimacy towards others. It is normal to feel attracted to a person regardless of his or her financial status, physical appearance, academic qualification, or cultural background (Thomas 2010). Relationships promote social and emotional developments by increasing communication and organizational skills. The need to impress others motivates individuals to work hard and portray positive behavior to win their admirers’ confidence and interest.

However, it is inevitable to state that professional codes must be respected during work since they are the guidelines that determine what should be done at the office. A police officer will struggle to get the truth from a suspect even if that victim is his relative; similarly, counseling supersedes all other emotional feelings clients and doctors may have toward each other (Corey 2011). The fact that she vowed to uphold and respect these codes means that she was ready to forego all other interests to ensure she works according to her professional guidelines.

This case requires the doctor to have a healthy heart and courage to resist the temptations of getting attracted to her client (Fisher 2009). This should begin by ensuring their talk does not go beyond what is stipulated by the psychological codes of conduct. This means that the doctor should be on the lead and direct their conversation by ensuring their talk focuses on nothing else apart from counseling sessions and requirements.

Secondly, she should ensure they keep their conversation as brief as possible and avoid taking too long while discussing issues that are not relevant (Corey 2011). This will ensure their minds are kept busy with appropriate discussions, and when they are over, the client should be excused to leave the office. Also, she may decide to involve her colleague while attending to this patient or refer him to another doctor if confidentiality becomes an issue of concern. This will limit the amount of time they get exposed to each other and thus create silence between them.

Lastly, she is supposed to remember that she is not supposed to have any relationship with her clients. It is good that they have not yet started talking about these issues, and the attractions are at their initial stages. She should not let their interactions to become too intimate by avoiding expressions that promote intimacy (Thomas 2010). In case the client approaches her, she should deny having such feelings and demand that he respects her profession and personality.


Psychology is a complicated profession since it involves direct interactions with clients compared to other jobs that deal with them by proxy. Also, this profession involves studying clients’ minds and predicting their plans. This position puts them in an advantageous position to control their interactions with clients and avoid multiple relationships at work.


Corey, G. (2011). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions. California: Thomson Brooks.

Fisher, C. B. (2009). Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists. California: Sage Publications.

Thomas, J. T. (2010). Ethics of Supervision and Consultation: Practical Guidance for Mental Health Professionals. Washington: American Psychological Association.

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