I’ve already done my initial post. Please just type a one to two paragraph response to the two students posts below stating if you agree or disagree and why. Here is the topic:
Read Chapter 1 in your textbook and discuss your understanding of professional ethics in psychology. Explain the difference between risk management and ethical mindfulness posturing.
Give an example of a time you witnessed or knew about an unethical situation that involved others. Was this situation responded to with risk management or ethical mindfulness posturing? Explain your reasoning.
Student One’s Post:
Professional ethics refers to a certain set of rules of conduct with a goal of creating the basis for ethical practice. Ethics in psychology is the evaluation of human actions and in doing this, we essentially pass judgment of behavior, based on what’s considered to be socially accepted including what’s considered to be right, wrong, good, or bad (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). Deciding what the right thing to do in any given situation is not always easily recognized. As stated in the book, “prejudices, overriding personal needs, rationalizations, and insufficient training and experience are among the more common culprits responsible for biased conclusions, bad decisions, and regrettable actions” (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016).
Risk management is an approach to ethics that suggests ways to avoid ethical problems by maintaining and following certain policies, laws, professional standards, and the code of ethics in psychology in an attempt to avoid being in a tricky ethical or legal position (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). There’s a list of different groups of people that one should try to avoid treating as a precaution. There is also obsessive risk management which is the fear of treating high-risk patients due to the risk of potential litigation’s or complaints that could arise. A negative outcome of this is the risk of dismissing patient’s who are in desperate need of therapy. It can become harmful for both patients and the careers of mental health professionals (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). Although it is important for one to be cautious, being overly cautious can be damaging to all parties and the reality of it is, that it’s impossible to avoid any and all occurrences that have the possibility of breaking the code of ethics. Taking one’s training into consideration and using that along with one’s experience and professional opinions, can help reduce such possibilities while at the same time, treating those who are in serious need of treatment.
Ethical mindfulness posturing is something that takes place at the time of visiting with the patient. It’s actively paying attention in the present moment and without judgment. It’s the observation of mannerisms, behavior, what is being said and the tone in which one is talking, etc. It’s being aware of oneself and how you are presenting yourself. Being ethically mindful would be how a therapist interacts and engages with their client including whether or not they accept gifts/bribes, whether or not they take advantage of the client in any way, allow any type of physical contact during sessions, etc. This is important because, without self-awareness, your actions and words could be twisted and essentially turned against you down the road. Some reasons for possible lapses in self-awareness include magnifying our level of competence, inadequate cognitive strategies, think highly of our positive qualities, and a self-serving bias (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016). By keeping this in mind, mental health professionals will be more aware of how things can be misinterpreted and can better avoid different types of ethical misconduct.
Many years ago, I had a friend who was suicidal and in serious distress and at the time, she had been seeing a therapist for about two weeks twice a week. Her therapist had given out her cell phone number to her in case of an emergency. A few months later my friend had told me that she had contacted her therapist after hours because she was having a breakdown and that they met at a coffee shop and talked for a couple of hours. She also said that her therapist explained to her that she would be informing her superiors to avoid any possible conflicts or legal issues later on. When she met with her next, she was informed that she wouldn’t be able to contact her after hours anymore because she needed to keep things professional but that they did have an on-call line that she could use anytime. My friend was a bit upset about this and when she was telling me, I tried explaining to her that it wasn’t anything against her, it was strictly due to their policies and guidelines that they have to follow.
That being said, it sounds like risk management strategies were used here. The therapist taking the initiative to explain to the patient that she would be disclosing the meeting to her superiors and the fact that she followed through with doing so means that she knew to some extent that her behavior was unethical and that there could be ethical issues or even legal ramifications that could arise from the situation. I do believe though that she should have first consulted with her superiors before giving out her personal cell phone number to a patient, or, if she acted on a whim due to her personal beliefs and feelings, then she should have at least informed them of it once she had done it so it could have been dealt with immediately.
Koocher, G. P. & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Student Two’s Post:
Ethics is a branch of philosophy dealing with moral problems and judgments (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). Societies cannot exist without ethics, since it depends on the honest and empathetic behavior of its constituents. Ethics guide individuals toward honest and ethical behaviors. In the realm of psychology, clients depend on their therapists to conduct themselves in a manner that will enhance their well-being. Accepting gifts from clients, having sexual relationships with clients, neglecting to terminate faltering therapy sessions in a timely manner, and exploitation of clients are examples of unethical behavior by a therapist (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). These types of situations often result in undesirable outcomes; lawsuits, investigations, and ruined relationships are often the end result of poor ethical decision-making by a therapist (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008).
Risk-management is the attempt by the therapist to avoid future ethical conundrums (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). The therapist can simply refuse to see clients of a certain problematic type (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). Even though it is possible that there are certain types of clients that a therapist may always refuse, the therapist will nevertheless want to accept a reasonable variety of clients; therapists hardly want to send away the bulk of their future clientele (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008).
Ethical mindfulness posturing is the act of self-reflection by the therapist where he or she is aware of the risk of accepting a particular client, coupled with the awareness of his or her own competence and training as a therapist (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). When a therapist is aware of his or her strengths and the ethical guidelines of his or her profession, he or she can accept clients that correspond with his or her strengths. This clientele will keep the cautious therapist from falling into a state of paranoia and overzealous risk management (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). Risk management only focuses on negative outcomes, while mindfulness focuses on both negative and positive outcomes.
I once had a female teenage student who threatened a male teenage student after they got into a verbal argument. She said that she would beat him up when he was not on the campus. I had to keep them separated in order to prevent a physical fight. I could have sent them to the principal, but I gave them a good verbal reprimand instead. They were subsequently ashamed and sorrowful.
I emailed the principal when class was finished. In my ethical posturing, I knew that my reprimand would either stop or severely delay their mood and tempers. However, I also knew that I had to email my principal when class was finished, since I would be liable if the male student got hurt off campus. Hence, I managed my risk in this scenario as well. Should I have sent them both to the principal at the onset of the argument? Perhaps, but I knew how to affect these two students in ways that the principal did not. I made a judgment call in this situation.
Koocher, G. P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2008). Oxford textbooks in clinical psychology. Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases (3rd ed.). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.