Professionals are faced with ethical dilemmas in their work place daily thus making it hard for them to make decisions. These dilemmas often arise due to the need to do what is right according to their opinion while at the same time abiding by the set rules and regulations. There are various situations which will make you question your ethical principles no matter what profession or field.
Ethics are the standards in a society that guides individuals in knowing and doing what is considered morally right. These standards guide our actions and ensure we co-exist peacefully within a social structure whether at home, school or work. In the work place, ethics constitute a specific code of conduct facilitating the growth of effective communication between employees, customers and other stakeholders within an organization. These are based on the principles of integrity and honesty. Ethics ensure all abide by the legal expectations while at the same time protecting the rights of employees and customers from being violated.
I hope to venture into the field of medicine a clinical psychologist. This field is also faced with a variety of ethical issues which I have to be ready to face. In clinical psychology, I will be required to have close contact with patients in order to diagnose and provide required treatment for their mental ailments. I will also have the responsibility of eliminating any interpersonal issues that may arise. I am likely to develop bonds with my patients to ensure they have complete trust in me.
Whatever information my patients provide me with during my sessions with them should remain confidential. I will not be required to divulge it to any other party but instead use it for medical purposes of making sure the patient deals with his/her problems. But what is what the patient tells me puts his or someone’s life in danger? Am I justified to involve a third party?
Handling patients with suicidal tendencies is common in dealing with mental illnesses. The patients may express hate for oneself and a desire to end his life due to the challenges he faces. It is my responsibility to take him off these thoughts but if I do not succeed I should alert a higher authority. He may also attribute his problems to someone else and express the desire to hurt that person. This will put me at cross-roads on whether to maintain confidentiality or alert the relevant authorities due to the life at risk.
Subsequently, the professional relationship existing between my client and I may be affected if romance arises. Clients are often in a vulnerable situation and if I am not careful, my concern may develop into affection. It is unethical to have this kind of relationship with a client and still be the psychologist. This will force me to decide on whether to terminate my professional role or the new relationship. Payment for services is also a major ethical issue. Many individuals have serious mental problems that need to be dealt with to enable them live healthy lives. However, most of them lack medical insurance coverage and are thus unable to pay for services. I will be unable to provide required services due to their inability to pay.
These are just some of the ethical issues I am likely to experience. There are ways I can deal with such issues. According to the American Psychologists Association, there are five principles guiding how practitioners should perform their duties. The principle of nonmaeficence and beneficence will guide me to ensure I help and not cause harm to my clients in any way whatsoever. Through the principles of responsibility and fidelity, I will develop a trust between my patient and I; ensuring his/her needs come first. The principle may be slightly weakened by the third one which requires me to maintain integrity in reporting the facts I have obtained during our sessions. This ensures I present all information especially in a case where the patient puts himself or someone else at risk.
The principle of justice ensures I treat all my clients well and respect their rights without discriminating on any basis. My job is to provide medical treatment and this should not be compromised. Last but not least, we have the principle of respect for my clients’ rights and dignity. My service is to the client and I should maintain privacy and confidentiality in respect to the information my client provides. This may be affected in case a risk is involved.
There are various ways I can avoid or deal with ethical dilemmas in my line of work. First and foremost, it is important to be a member of the American Psychology Association, constantly reading and understanding the provisions on ethical issues in psychology. A clear understanding of the APA Code of Conduct will equip me with the skills to handle various situations. I should also be aware of the state and federal laws that relate to my work. This will help in knowing actions which are illegal and when it is necessary to violate patient confidentiality for the sake of the safety of life.
I should also be aware of the reporting laws which require me to report all information acquired during my sessions to the relevant authorities for further analysis. There is a need for me to establish a clear boundary between my obligations to the client and to the organization as a whole. Interacting with other clinical psychologists who have had experience in the field will enable me learn how they dealt with the dilemmas the faced and the outcomes of their actions.
Ethical issues in clinical psychology are of a diverse nature and require experience and competence to handle. Every individual has a responsibility of observing ethical standards set within the work place and modeling their own principles around these standards. When we learn to respect and cater for every individual’s needs we foster peaceful co-existence and cultivate trust. We should constantly study our own beliefs and correct the areas that seem morally wanting.
Plante, T. G. (2011). Contemporary Clinical Psychology, 3rd ed. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0470872101