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Ethics and Law for School Psychologists - Paper Example

6 pages
1438 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Toula who is the college counselor acted in an unprofessional manner when she decided to continue offering her services to both Andrew and Louisa. Her decision was in contravention with the APA Ethics Code Standard 3.05 whose primary objective is to safeguard the welfare of clients including creating public awareness on the ethical standards of multiple role relationships (APA, 2018). Therapeutic sessions involve the establishment of emotionally meaningful interactions thus counseling both clients would result in conflicts of interest. This phenomenon may be embodied by the fact that the psychologists effectiveness, competence, and objectivity may be obscured thus interfering with the appropriate execution of her professional duties. Equally important is the fact that the clinicians decision to counsel both clients contradicts the ethical principle of non-maleficence and beneficence. Such an occurrence may be attributed to the fundamental principles of psychology, which denote the need for creating a safe space where a client might share some of their intimate thoughts (Pope & Vasquez, 2016). Toula also runs the risk of exploitation as prejudice may compel her to reveal sensitive information to one client in preference to the other during therapy. For instance, the psychologist may be sympathetic with Andrew and inform him that his ex-girlfriend has found a new lover who is of the opposite sex.

Perhaps the ideal approach for addressing the ethical conflict of multiple role relationships is aligning professional duties with the conceptualization of informed consent. This implies that the psychologist has the professional responsibility of educating her clients on the expectations during therapy including defining the boundaries of relations. In Tuolas case, she ought to inform the clients that due to some unforeseen factors, there has been the development of a multiple role relationships. Then she proceeds to take the necessary measure to resolve the underlying conflict in regards to the best interests of the clients and compliance with the ethical guidelines as perceived by the APA (Corey, 2015). Nonetheless, some of the competing values that may interfere with the psychologists reluctance of executing due diligence in applying ethical principles may be her bias towards a particular client. If found guilty of such a violation, it is advisable that the APA takes the necessary measures and issue a warning on her misconduct and that a repeat offense would result in confiscation of her license. The APA Ethical Codes recognize that psychologists role transcends beyond the families, community, and social lives thus multiple relationships may arise in unprecedented ways (Jacob, Decker & Lugg, 2016). The psychologist is thus expected to address unanticipated factors and taking the logical processes of avoiding contravening ethical principles of psychology. Some of the ethical guidelines include the policy of not harm and observing the rules that define confidentiality terms between the client and the counselor.

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Dorian acted in an unprofessional manner when she chose to disclose information concerning the diagnosis of her client Roberta. Psychologists must take all the necessary precautions to safeguard confidential information that may have been gathered through different media. Moreover, the professionals are expected to recognize the limits of confidentiality as is defined by various institutional rules, scientific or professional relationships (Welfel, 2015). In essence, the counselor ought to discuss with Roberta the relevant limits of confidentiality and the potential use of the information generated during therapy. Additionally, in cases where it is not feasible, or there are no contradictions, the psychologist needs to discuss confidentiality by at the inception of the relationship with the client and after that as and when developing circumstances may warrant. The psychologists also need to inform the client on the limits to confidentiality and the risks involved in gathering data through electronic transmission.

In the case of Roberta, the psychologists revealed confidential information without the consent of the client or any other person who is legally sanctioned to take action on behalf of the client. Although the client demonstrated challenges with independent living and was seemingly distractible and unfocused in her comments, she was not disoriented to the level of being incapacitated or meeting her own needs. This implies that she is of sound mind and has the autonomy to make an informed decision despite experiencing a decline in her mental capacities. Nonetheless, the psychologists are expected to disclose confidential information without the consent of the client as a requirement by law especially in the instance where the client demonstrates elements of dangerousness to self or others. In the case of the Roberta, she confesses that she would commit suicide if she were forcefully pulled out of her current residence. Since the counselor has concluded that it would not be prudent for her client to have the responsibility to have a significant home of her own, it is essential that she involves the relevant authorities to provide supporting mechanisms to the client (Tribe, R., & Morrissey, 2015). For instance, social services may be contacted to provide more affordable housing for Roberta since she possesses suicide risks. Moreover, a revelation of the clients suicide ideation to the relevant authorities would be of the essence so that the psychologists are not accused of aiding and abetting in committing suicide, which may be categorized as a crime. Equally important is the fact that Dorian has the responsibility of protecting the clients and others from potential harm thus it would be advisable to ensure that the client gets an affordable house to live. The profession of psychology also involves the comprehension of the role of cultural sensitivity and stereotypes in therapy, especially when dealing with individuals from minority communities such as African-American. The psychological tests to be administered to Roberta ought to be adjusted to incorporate sensitive cultural elements such as language preferences, competence, and the reliability of the assessment on its application to the population it is intended. Accordingly, the psychologists have the mandate to safeguard the ethical principle of confidentiality including preventing the risk of harm to the client and the whole society in general.

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Because the psychotherapist has had previous contact with Brenda in family therapy, the ethical conflict of dual relationships is bound to arise. As such, the client is expected to define the nature of the therapist-client relationship from the outset of the interview. Moreover, the psychologists are expected to offer informed consent to the client where he comprehensively explains the fees, course of therapy, limits to confidentiality and the necessary involvement of third parties (APA, 2017). Considering the client is a mere student whose earnings are meager to cater for her consultation fees, it would seemingly be unethical on the part of the therapist to compel her to come up with one-time funding by appraising and selling her artwork. Even though the client declined the original sliding-scale fee proposal, Earl should have employed his empathetic proficiencies and propose that he would readily offer consultancy on pro-bono basis owing to their previous mutual client-therapist interaction. Moreover, there is the possibility of multiple role relationships developing thus the objective would be confining to the construct of protecting the welfare of clients members of the society regarding the ethical standards of discipline (Hancock, 2014). Moreover, the Earl will be in violation of the moral principle of do no harm as it would seemingly be cumbersome for the client who is a student to be forced by circumstances to pay for her fees yet she accounts for the not so well-off individuals who qualify for free services. Carl may demonstrate cultural sensitivity by adjusting any psychological instruments to the suitability and comfort of the client who is of Korean-American descent. Elements such as language preference, competence and the validity of the tests are vital to ensure consistency in the results obtained. Regarding the fees to be advanced, the psychologist ought to avoid misrepresenting the expected prices. If there have been anticipated limitations in financing the psychologist has the responsibility to develop a reasonable payment plan for their clients.


APA. (2018). Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from: (2018). Multiple relationships and APAs new Ethics Code Values and Applications. Retrieved from:, G. (2015). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Nelson Education.Hancock, K. A. (2014). Student beliefs, multiculturalism, and client welfare. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(1), 4.Jacob, S., Decker, D. M., & Lugg, E. T. (2016). Ethics and law for school psychologists. John Wiley & Sons.Pope, K. S., & Vasquez, M. J. (2016). Ethics in psychotherapy and counseling: A practical guide. John Wiley & Sons.Tribe, R., & Morrissey, J. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of professional and ethical practice for psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists. Routledge.Welfel, E. R. (2015). Ethics in counseling & psychotherapy. Cengage Learning.


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