Ethical Issues in Marital and Family Therapy

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Ethics and Standards of Professional PracticePSYC-8705-6|
Final PaperEthical Issues in Family and Marital TherapyHealth Psychology Program| |
Denise A. Bolden-Little|


Due to the extremely sensitive nature of marital and family therapy, it is imperative that therapists engage in the ethical, competent treatment of their clients. There are three aspects of marriage and family therapy research that makes it unique from other research fields: 1) multiple family members are involved; 2) it involves extremely sensitive information; and 3) it is performed in conjunction with therapy. According to Hohmann-Marriott (2001), because of these aspects as well as the researcher’s responsibility to conduct efficient research and to promote client’s welfare, specific guidelines for ethical marriage and family research were prescribed.

Guidelines for Ethical Marital and Family Research

The primary guideline for the conduction of ethical marriage and family research is to minimize risk to participants. With this injunction in mind, it is the responsibility of the researcher to conceive all possible risks for the participants; and then to make every reasonable effort to minimize those risks. These potential risks of harm may be physical, mental or emotional. Also, after the research is complete, it is imperative that the participants are debriefed to ensure that no unforeseen harm has occurred to the participants; and if it has, measures can be taken to mitigate damage. Furthermore, researcher should consider the sensitive nature of the family’s private lives and how their family life impacts self-esteem (Hohmann-Marriott, 2001).

Next, it is critical that research design is reviewed by an objective, qualified professional prior to the study being implemented (Hohmann-Marriott, 2001). The professional should be knowledgeable about both the legal and ethical ramifications of the proposed research. The reviewers are mainly...
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