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Evaluation of Ethical Responsibilities as Psychologists Expository Essay

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2020

This paper attempts to highlight some issues that any psychologist may encounter during his or her practice. Besides, the paper seeks to highlight ethical aspects that psychologists must consider while dealing with clients and the community.

There is also a description of other ethical aspects of psychologists such as values, diversity issues, confidentiality, research, multiple relationships and boundaries.

Integrity as a Learner

The ultimate goal of education is to deliver knowledge to learners. The expectation in any learning institution is that learners will observe academic integrity in the due course of their study (Jacob & Powers, 2009). However, most learners and professionals in education act in ways that are contrary to this goal.

As a psychology learner, it is vital to complete assignments individually as opposed to copying other people’s work.

Another issue that is evident in the learning process is competition. Learners should be made aware of the significance of competition in education and research process (Flanagan, Miller, & Jacob, 2005). Professionals should conduct competition with diligence and through just ways such as monitored practice.

Whereas competition can be extremely beneficial in the field of education, it can bear contrary results when conducted without considering psychological aspects. Competition should take place in consideration of aspects such as fairness, impartiality and established guidelines.

Similarly, as psychology learners, we should focus on psychology as a discipline and work towards adding knowledge to this area of study through research (Flanagan, Miller, & Jacob, 2005).

Psychologists should maintain the integrity in the entire education process, particularly, when carrying out research and other assignments.

For instance, we must uphold the confidentiality required during research processes (Williams, Armistead, & Jacob, 2008). Psychologists must uphold principles of honesty and moral values, depending on the society, so as not to taint their images.

The area that was new to me in this topic was the issue of ethics that must be involved in competition during the education process. This is because most studies have not focused on impacts that competition can have on learning. One trait that learners have to change can be related to how they conduct assignments.

Some learners practice unethical behaviors during completion of assignments such as replicating other peoples work.

Even when these learners are able to complete individual research they are never honest about the results of the entire results process. While such learners may end up excelling in their studies, they may be of little value to the society as they lack professional ethics.

Personal Values as they relate to Professional Ethics

There exists a relationship between professional ethics and personal values. This is because personal values influence how we handle daily circumstances. However, psychologists must ensure that their personal values and belief systems do not affect how they handle clients (Iverson, 2006).

In other words, psychologists must be objective when dealing with clients irrespective of their belief systems. Suppose a psychologist discovers that values of a client are likely to be harmful, he must make efforts to help the client to understand the real situation.

Values guide us in differentiating right from wrong. However, we may find that what is wrong for one person is suitable for the other. In such a situation psychologists must be careful not to impose their self values to clients.

However, unethical issue may arise where by a client want to terminate his or her life due to personal beliefs on matters to do with abortion, sickness, and religion (Iverson, 2006). On such occasions, it can be tricky for psychologists to remain objective.

The best thing that a psychologist, who encounters such a situation, can do is to report the matter to legal authorities, since the life of the client can be in danger if the psychologist fails to take any action.

One area of learning that is new to me is the circumstance where a client wants to take way his life, for reasons related to his or her values. While a psychologist has to remain impartial, in most other cases, this case obtains different treatment due to the seriousness of the issue.

The role of psychologists in this case evolves to relating the situation to legal jurisdictions and offering psychological help that does not interfere with the values and beliefs of the client.

I find the act of a psychologist referring a client to another psychologist to be ambiguous. This is because the discipline of psychology requires psychologists to be impartial and objective even when the value of the clients contradicts the values of the psychologists.

In other words, if a psychologist is impartial in his or her treatment of a certain psychological issue then there would be no need of referring the client to someone else. This aspect should change because psychologists obtain training to handle people from any diversity.

Multicultural and Diversity Issues

Diversity and multicultural issues, which face many psychologists, arise due to diversities in ethnic groups, religions and races. Most psychologists encounter difficulties in dealing with diverse people due to their ignorance about other cultures (Plante, 2007).

For instance, psychologists may decide to place two people from different cultures in a similar room for therapy, without considering their differences. Such a situation is not likely to yield the expected results because the two people may understand information that obtains delivery in different ways.

Thus, psychologists need to seek for cultural information from various sources such as the American Psychology Association, which offers directions on how to handle persons from different cultures, populations and ethnicities (American Psychological Association, 2002).

Within this topic, I have learnt that it is essential for psychologists to seek knowledge regarding beliefs and practices of persons from different cultures. This is because cultural practices may make a client not to be at ease or open in disclosing their experiences.

While it may seem easy for some of us to sit down and talk with counselors, others may find it difficult due to their cultural beliefs. For instance, Muslims men should not mix with Muslim ladies. Therefore, in cases where counselors are men, women may fail to disclose their needs.

Psychologists have to change their perceptions regarding persons from different diversities in order not to treat people from certain background with prejudice. This can only be achieved through studying materials that are available about such cultures.

The ambiguous thing when dealing with multicultural situations is that a client may regard a psychologist as unethical because of performing an act that is morally correct according to the culture of the psychologist, but wrong to the culture of the client.


Confidentiality involves non disclosure of communication that takes place among people (Plante, 2007). Ethical issues are likely to arise when confidential information that a client shared with a psychologist becomes disclosed.

It is the duty of psychologists to guard information of a client against persons like friends, families and any other people who may be interested in knowing information about a client (Plante, 2007). A psychologist should never share any confidential information without concept from the client or a legal authority.

However, a psychologist may disclose such information in order to protect the integrity of a person or people who may be affected by such information or people whose lives may be at risk due to non disclosure of such information (Plante, 2007).

Within this area, I have learnt that there exist some cases when disclosure of information about a client can be allowed. This includes circumstances like when nondisclosure information may cause harm to other people or when there are legal grounds to disclose such information.

One area that I find to be ambiguous is the storage of confidential information in electronic medical records. This is because such information can be leaked through technological means. Besides, I find the fact that some confidential information becomes disclosed to be ambiguous.

Boundary and Multiple Relations

Psychologists encounter difficulties when they become engaged in social or intimate relationships with the client. Such relationships are likely to interfere with the objectivity of the psychologists or harm the client (Oberlander & Barnett, 2005).

Hence, psychologists need to have limits with their clients. In case of multiple relationships psychologists should handle the situation wisely in order to ensure they do not hurt the client (Oberlander & Barnett, 2005; Pipes, Holstein, & Aguirre, 2005).

In this area, I have learnt that psychologists may engage in multiple relationships as long as they ensure that such relationships do not interfere with their objectivity.

I find the fact that psychologists should not build relationships with their clients to be ambiguous, since other times psychologists engage in community work that require them to have relationships with community members.

Community Work

One community issue that is apparent in this area is confidentiality. This is because community programs involve lots of conversations which may lead to disclosure of private information (Fisher, 2006).

Confidentiality should guard both the program and participants from the incursion of privacy through creating links between the program and its members. Another ethical issue that is common in this area is conducting researches without consent from members and sharing such information with other groups (Plante, 2007).

This part has made me realize the need for advocate counselors who should represent the rights of community members particularly regarding confidentiality.

I find the fact that the relationship between the psychologist and client in the therapeutic setting should be professional wile during community programs the relationship becomes more social.


The issue of research becomes surrounded by many ethical concerns some of which include misappropriating funds for research, modes of storing data, unveiling the research before the due date, and patent stealing (Haverkamp, 2005).

I find most issues in this area to be new to me. This is because most studies just emphasize on the need for confidentiality.

What I find ambiguous in this part is that research should confirm hypothesis, but some modes of research used have little credibility.

In conclusion, a psychologist has many ethical responsibilities, both in the office and towards the community. The responsibilities of a psychologist do not just entail offering psychological therapy, as they also include other fields like cultures, values, building relationships and roles.

Hence, psychologists have responsibilities in many parts of human beings. Future studies should find out the extent to which psychologists practice ethical responsibilities.


American Psychological Association (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 57, 1060– 1073.

Fisher, C. B. (2006). Privacy and ethics in pediatric environmental health research—part 1: Genetic and prenatal testing. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114, 1617–1621.

Flanagan, R., Miller, J. A., & Jacob, S. (2005). The 2002 revision of APA’s ethics code: Implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 42, 433–445.

Haverkamp, B. (2005). Ethical perspectives on qualitative research in applied psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 146-155.

Iverson, G. L. (2006). Ethical issues associated with the assessment of exaggeration, poor effort, and malingering. Applied Neuropsychology, 13 77 – 90.

Jacob, S., & Powers, K. E. (2009). Privileged communication in the school psychologist–client relationship. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 307–318.

Oberlander, S. E., & Barnett, J. D. (2005). Multiple relationships between graduate assistants and students: Ethical and practical considerations. Ethics & Behavior, 15, 49-64.

Pipes, R. B., Holstein, J. D., & Aguirre, M. G. (2005). Examining the personal-professional distinction. American Psychologist, 60, 325-334.

Plante, T. (2007). Integrating spirituality and psychotherapy: Ethical issues and principles to consider. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 891-902.

Williams, B., Armistead, L., & Jacob, S. (2008). Professional ethics for school psychologists: A problem-solving model casebook. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

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