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The Place of Ethical Concerns In Psychology

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The Place of Ethical Concerns In Psychology Powered By Docstoc
					Ethics plays an important role in psychology from the beginning of the
treatment process through rehabilitation. There are many ethical concerns
that can arise all of which must be dealt with along the way. These
various concerns can also vary from one psychological setting to another.
These settings include: hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers and
facilities specializing in chronic diseases to name only a few. As the
number of psychologists and other professionals working in this field
increases, so does the need to focus on areas of ethical concern
(Lucignano and Lee). The ethical issues that can arise reach far beyond
the medical setting and are present in other situations as well.Important
Ethical concerns include: role delineation, working within the medical
model, taking on multiple responsibilities and maintaining
confidentiality (Lucignano and Lee). Before any ethical issue can be
recognized it must first be clearly defined. Though this article cannot
encompass them all, those listed here are commonly encountered and must
be dealt with on a regular basis.


The first ethical concern that will be discussed is role delineation.
This is a primary concern because it lays the ground work for the
responsibilities and expectations of the psychologist; however, there is
not a consensus on specifically what constitutes the role of the
psychologist in a medical setting. Since many psychologists work in the
medical profession, this can present somewhat of a gray area. Instead,
diverse terminology has often been used to define this particular role.
Terms used include: health psychology, medical psychology, clinical
psychology and behavioral medicine. This has presented past arguments
over whether or not this lack of clarity in actual definition of terms is
more than semantic confusion (Lucignano and Lee). The primary argument
here is whether a psychologists' actions and activities are included
under one of these terms that are, for the most part, considered to be
unstandardized in this context.Working within the medical model is
another ethical concern that must be considered in the medical field. In
these instances, psychologists are usually working on teams that include
a physician, social worker, speech pathologist, physical therapist and
occupational therapist. Though all teams may not include every role
listed above, it is very likely there will be at least two members on
each. When this is the case, it is necessary for each person to work
within his or her role in order to provide maximum treatment. Ethical
awareness is an essential part of providing psychological treatment
within the medical model. In a hospital, for instance, unique areas of
stress may be present which effect both patients and members of the
treatment team (Lucignano and Lee). As a result, there may be
difficulties when it comes to the overall decision making process. There
may be several causes for this because many people are working to
rehabilitate one person. There are several patients so that team may, in
effect, be responsible for rehabilitating a wide range of people all of
whom are dealing with very different situations. Team members will not
always agree on everything and important issues may need to be carefully
examined by each team member when it comes to resolving them.Taking on
multiple responsibilities can also bring up ethical issues for
psychologists no matter where they work. When treating patients,
psychologists take a look at each as an individual and treat each
situation accordingly. There are, of course, many responsibilities that
come with providing treatment and the solution to a particular need may
not always coincide with traditional means and methods of resolution. A
psychologist in this type of situation may feel pressured by the many
responsibilities he or she must tackle on a daily basis and may be torn
between handling a specific one through traditional means or in a way
that is unique to the situation. The more administrative duties the
psychologist is given, the less time he or she will be able to spend
rehabilitating patients. While this may not be an issue that is of top
concern, it can arise nonetheless and will need to be dealt with in a way
that allows the psychologist to take care of important job-related duties
and provide the best treatment possible to all patients.Maintaining
confidentiality is a very important concern. While psychologists don't
have a problem keeping important patient details confined within the
facilities with which they are employed, ethical issues can arise when it
becomes necessary to discuss certain situations with other professionals.
When this occurs, the psychologist involved must decide whether or not
the information needs to be passed onto the person requesting it or if a
particular piece of information needs to be disseminated to someone else
for treatment purposes.In other situations, a psychologist may be asked
for specific information about a current or former patient. While the
information in question may be important in the given context, the
confidentiality of the patient may be breeched if it is provided. Here
the psychologist is faced with a moral dilemma of sorts. He or she knows
the information is important and the person requesting it probably should
be made aware, but is under a professional obligation to the patient to
keep from sharing it. Should this occur, the psychologist can talk to the
patient about the situation, informing him or her of the request and why
it was made. The final decision of whether or not to provide the
information will then be left up to the patient who will be responsible
for its dissemination should this be the end result.When it comes to
solving ethical dilemmas, it is important to first understand the code
that has been established. When going to work for a particular entity,
psychologists will receive information that will instruct them on the
various policies and regulations. In order to solve the issues that are
bound to arise at one time or another, they will need to assess the
individual situations and make a determination on what to do based on the
ethical principles that have been set forth. Some dilemmas will be easier
to solve than others and will be based around more black and white issues
of right and wrong. Other times, distinguishing between right and wrong
will not be so easy to do. In some cases, the answer will not lie in a
simple context of right and wrong, but instead will be specific to the
various factors involved. When this occurs it is often not quite so easy
to make the determinations that solve these ethical dilemmas. When this
happens, psychologists depend heavily on the ethical principles they have
learned as well as the specific policies established by the entities for
which they are employed.One common problem that occurs is in solving
particular ethical dilemmas by using the principles when the situation is
not completely clear. Sometimes problems arise that call for extensive
decision making based on individual factors that cannot be figured into
the original ethical principles. Each situation is different and must be
treated as such and therefore, will have an individual set of issues that
may arise. When this occurs, the psychologist must make a determination
based on the specific factors involved while using the ethical principles
in a way that will solve the problem without causing an ethical
conflict.Ethics are present for a reason. They are necessary when solving
a wide variety of problems that may arise on an individual basis. Though
these issue are just that, individual, a uniform code is needed to help
psychologists understand and deal with certain types of situations. The
place of ethical concerns in psychology applies to psychologists both as
researchers and practitioners. Ethics are present in every aspect of
psychological practices and must be adhered to in every context. A set of
ethical guidelines has been established to aid psychologists in figuring
out what to do when these situations arise. All psychologists are bound
by these guidelines.Though ethical guidelines have been established,
there is often a debate on whether or not certain issues fall within them
and what psychologists should don when they occur. Still, the place of
ethics in psychology is not newly found. Aristotle made several important
psychological observations concerning the limits beyond which humans
cannot control their own behavior, sanity and their capacity for
emotional response (Upton). Though these principles have been studied for
many years, other issues have arisen specific to new situations and
debates. That is why understanding the code of ethics and why it has been
established is essential to solving various issues that can, and often do
occur.The code of ethics outlines the responsibilities of the
psychologist and establishes what is considered acceptable and
unacceptable in regards to the practice of psychology. This code of
ethics is multi-dimensional and must be adhered to in order for a
psychology to maintain his or her license (Kafka). Since licenses are
granted by each individual state of residence, a psychologist working in
any particular location is bound by the specific practices established in
that place. This practice is defined through roles and obligations a
psychologist will possess so there will be consistency within the field.
Likewise, the license a psychologist obtains will have meaning to the
public who can easily learn what is expected of a professional working in
the field.The main goal is the psychological code of ethics is to insure
that all clients and patients are treated in a professional, lawful and
respectful manner when seeking treatment (Kafka). Here behaviors are
defined that specify how the psychologist will handle the various
situations that may arise during the course of treatment for all clients
or patients. The ethical code regulates the way in which many behaviors
are dealt with and how situations may be resolved. This includes both the
private and institutional practice of psychology. This guarantees that
anyone who receives service from a psychologist who is adhering to the
code of ethics is insured professional, humane treatment that causes no
psychological or physical harm. Should the ethical code be breeched for
any reason, the situation is investigated and handled accordingly.The
code of ethics is also designed to protect the public from uses and
abuses that may result from the mishandling of a particular situation.
These protections include: physical, emotional or even financial and
cover a wide range of factors related to the practice of psychology. The
code contains numerous clauses that clearly specify practices that are
considered to be acceptable in regards to billing procedures, file
maintenance procedures and even what should occur during appropriate
therapy termination. Many aspects include: job handling, office
management and client handling. The acceptable versus unacceptable
behaviors are defined as well as what actions should be taken if any part
of the code is breeched.The code of ethics directs both the psychologist
and client or patient away from conflicts of interest. The existence of
dual roles is one conflict that can occur when inappropriate
relationships are established between psychologists and those they serve.
The ethical code specifies how these situations should be handles and
helps both parties in maintaining lawful, socially responsible behavior.
This insures the psychologist will be able to treat clients or patients
in a positive manner that will promote rehabilitation while clearly
drawing the line for those receiving the treatment that clearly defines
the appropriate relationship of psychologist and patient. While there may
be many arguments surrounding specific situations and what actually
constitutes an ethical dilemma, the code is clearly defined and should be
closely followed at all times. There are many situations that can
certainly present ethical dilemmas, but the code remains in place to help
guide psychologists when they must deal with issues that may prove rather
difficult. This well-established code not only serves as a guide but also
as a way of protecting everyone involved in the treatment process. The
ethical code is an important part of the psychological practice because
it clearly defines how to deal with important issues that can arise
during the course of treatment. This aids psychologists in making
important decisions and helps them to better understand the psychological
professional as a whole.REFERENCESKafka, Pauline. May 7, 2008.
Psychologist Code of EthicsUnderstanding the Professional Conduct of
Psychologists. Taken from http://clinical-
psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychologist_as_professionalLucignano
, Geraldine, Lee, Sandra. Ethical Issues Involved in the Role of
Psychologists in Medical Settings. Taken from
www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&se=gglsc&d=5002168429.Upton, Candace L. The
Journal of Ethics. Virtue Ethics and Moral Psychology: The Situationism
Debate. Taken from scienceofvirtues.org.      For more information,
please contact Dr. Joseph Coleman at jcoleman05@bellsouth.net or via
phone at (504) 621-0966


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