Psychologists play a key role in society by observing human behavior and providing guidance or therapy over how to overcome some conditions such as marital problems, mental health issues, and drug addiction challenges (APA, 2019). However, psychology is a sensitive profession that is always faced with numerous challenges and ethical considerations. Therefore to guide psychologists, there are multiple codes of ethics that stipulate their decision-making. One fundamental guideline is the 'Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct' designed to avail standards that cover situations encountered by psychologists and to protect those who interact with them (APA, 2017). It is vital to interact with practicing psychologists who have vast experience in the field to gain deeper knowledge. The interview in this paper was designed to uncover some of the key ethical concerns such as privacy and confidentiality, how to remain professional, and conditions for termination of service that are often controversial.
How important are privacy and confidentiality in this profession? Consider a case where the life of a client is in danger. Would you disclose his personal information?
Privacy and confidentiality are some of the key pillars of psychology. When a client seeks the services of a psychologist, they do so with the trust and hope that the information they will reveal will not be disclosed. Some patients do not even want the public to know they are seeing a psychologist. Therefore, as a psychologist, it is vital not to disclose the information provided by a client to give them a safe space for sharing to assist in their treatment or therapy.
In the scenario provided, the code of ethics provides guidance or exceptions as to when a psychologist is allowed to disclose details of a client. Under normal circumstances, a psychologist is allowed to disclose the information if permitted by the client. However, the law makes a provision for psychologists to reveal the contents of their sessions to protect the client or other parties from harm. Therefore, if the client is in danger and information I have would help protect him, then I would disclose it.
How do you manage to deal with clients with contrasting views, beliefs, and traditions? How do you separate your beliefs with those of the client?
Every client is unique and should thus be treated separately. I get clients from different religions, with varying political views, and different races. As a psychologist, it is vital to keep your views to yourself and not impose them on clients. The moment you try to impose your beliefs on a client, you risk losing them. Therefore, it is key to remain impartial and respect the views of clients at all times.
Is it ethical for a psychologist to be in a relationship with a current or former client? How do you maintain professionalism?
This is a highly debatable topic. However, from a personal perspective, it is unethical and inappropriate for a psychologist to date either a current or former client. A relationship entails sexual involvement with a client, which highly compromises the professional relationship. In some cases, the psychologist may be seen as taking advantage of the client due to their vulnerability. Therefore, it is vital to keep a professional distance with clients and not to lead them on to avoid any personal relationships.
Under what circumstance would you terminate your services to a client? If you felt that you could not help a client, would you abandon them?
A psychologist should continue offering services to a client up to until the point where they feel that the client no longer needs their help. However, in the case you have mentioned, if I feel incompetent and I cannot help a client, I would refer them to another psychologist who is in a better position to help them.
Are psychologists responsible for worsening conditions for a client? In case a suicidal client goes on to commit suicide after seeking the services of a client, should a psychologist take the blame?
The role of a psychologist is to assist clients in overcoming their conditions. Suicide is seen as preventable from a professional perspective. Therefore, it is common for some families to even sue psychologists in case the client commits suicide. The question lies in whether the psychologist was competent to help the client. Was there any malpractice? What sort of treatment did the psychologist give the client? This is a complicated situation that is hard to determine. But the most important thing is for psychologists to only deal with clients whom they are competent enough to assist in avoiding such cases.
From the interview, privacy and confidentiality have to be respected at all times. Another critical principle is that of beneficence and nonmaleficence. It stipulates that psychologists should protect the rights and welfare of their clients (Haeny, 2014). This principle guides against sexual involvement with clients or dealing with clients whom a psychologist cannot help. Brown, a psychologist, had a client commit suicide right after their session (Anderson, 2015). There were questions over malpractice. The key lesson is that psychologists should adhere to the codes of ethics to ensure they offer quality services to clients without being involved in controversial situations.
Anderson. S. (2015, Jan. 20). How patient suicide affects psychiatrists. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/how-patient-suicide-affects-psychiatrists/384563/Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. (2017). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
Haeny A. M. (2014). Ethical considerations for psychologists taking a public stance on controversial issues: The balance between personal and professional life. Ethics & behavior, 24(4), 265-278. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2013.860030
What do practicing psychologists do? (2019, Dec. 11). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/about-psychologists
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