Ethical Decision Making

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Ethical Decision Making
Guadalupe Ornelas
University of Phoenix PSYCH545
April 30, 2012
Christi Moore, Ph.D.

Ethical Decision Making
In a modern environment where cost cutting procedures drive modern procedures to cutting-edge levels of competition ethical decision making is more than ever relevant in the field of psychology. Complex ethical dilemmas are likely to appear camouflaged with our own personal emotions. Today’s fast paced and competitive environment requires that psychologists make ethical decisions that entail profound legal and moral implications. The field of psychology is a field where theories are challenged and superseded continuously. For example Pope and Vasquez (2011) highlighted the results of the Boulder Task to define therapy, as an undefined technique applied to unspecified problems with unpredictable results. Given the professional challenges and the fast environment typical in the field of psychologists ethical competency is an inherent requirement. Although there are numerous guides to address ethical behavior, it would be impossible for any given ethical guide to cover every possible situation (Pope and Vasquez 2011). Therefore, psychology requires an active awareness of the ethical aspect beyond the surface of the situation (Pope, & Vasquez, 2011). Situational training is an effective method of analyzing the aspect of given situations and their ethical implications. The purpose for this paper is to present a hypothetical situation and to analyze its ethical aspects, and to apply the 14 steps of the ethical decision making process proposed by Pope and Vasquez (2011).

The Following Situation is Considered
Mary, a young mother 34 years of age requests psychological counseling. Her son John, 14 years of age had a terrible sports accident and he is in a state of coma. She is a single parent and has sole guardianship of her son. Her son’s prognosis is bleak. The physicians predict that if her son survives he will highly likely live in vegetative state for an unpredictable length of time. The physicians strongly recommend that Mary prepares to disconnect life support for John and allow him to die. Mary’s is extremely distressed and requests that the male psychologist comes to her house to provide her with therapy and companionship through her crisis.

The Ethical Dilemma
Ethical dilemmas often arise accompanied by other mitigating circumstances that appeal to our personal emotions. Psychologists are human being and consequently likely to be motivated by their personal emotional feelings. The field of psychology is closely related to the medical field and therefore their professional practices are expected to uphold a high moral standard (Pope, & Vasquez, 2011). Psychologist practitioners because of the high standards of the discipline of psychology enjoy authority and respect among the community (Pope, & Vasquez, 2011). It is because this respect and authority that bind psychologists to put the rights and needs of clients and cohorts at the top of the priority list. The scenario presented is emotionally charged. Mary is clearly in emotional distress because of her son’s accident and the prognosis given by the physicians. The request to seek counsel at her place of residence has ethical implications in several dimensions. First, the psychologist is not medically certified to give counsel regarding medical conditions. Second, the request for the psychologist to provide the treatment at her residence raises the question of dual relationship. The scenario is complicated given the emotional appeal of the situation for the psychologist.

Apply the 14 Steps of the Ethical Decision Making Process
Circumstance factors cannot be effectively predicted in every situation. The Boulder Conference clearly recognized the subjectivity in the field of psychology and therefore recommends rigorous training (Pope, & Vasquez, 2011). How can...
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