Ethical Pitfalls for Psychology Professionals Week 3 Discussion 2.

Before we address this Discussion Question a brief discussion may help “place” this assignment. Prior to becoming a practicing therapist and researcher, I had little knowledge of or even concern about what truly encompasses “ethical practice.” However, the influence of my instructors and intern supervisors soon caused me to understand and acknowledge the importance of, as well as the subtleties, that relate to issues of ethical practice and principles.

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For myself, I identified two perspectives regarding ethical practice. One of those perspectives concerned issues related to “covert” unethical behaviors and attitudes. These covert concerns are not readily known to anyone but the therapist, dealing with minor decisions effecting the research as well as the therapeutic process. Note that it is imperative to think of ethics in terms of all psychological processes (such as research methods) and NOT to limit your thinking that ethics refers only to counseling.

Let me give you an example from the research process that is subtle and, for most psychologists, rather simplistic. When doing a statistical test and knowing the tradeoffs relative to analysis decisions, the researcher chooses a less stringent test (.05 as opposed to .01). The likelihood of getting significant results at the .05 level is more likely. However, in this case, the design of the study (its unique features) really would require the more significant level of .01. However, eager to ‘report significant findings’ the psychologist knowingly chooses to analyze the data at the .05 level. As I stated, this is subtle, but a real world example of an ethical dilemma the psychologist could face.

The second perspective is more obvious – one I term “overt unethical practices.” These are clearly explained to you in this module through the various readings. Before you attempt to create work toward this second discussion question, take the time to read both the Grenyer and Lewis article, as well as the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. These will help broaden your perspectives regarding what we mean by “ethics” in our profession.

Specifics to Discussion Question 2:

There are four sub-assignments asked of you:

  1. Select two complaints (from the Grenyer / Lewis article) and explain the ramifications of these two complaints. Ramification can be defined as “consequences” or “likely outcomes.” So, the ramifications of your chosen complaints could be a discussion of the “likely outcomes” when these two complaints are related to unethical practices..
  2. Assess the “role” of APA when identifying potential areas of misconduct. This is a straight forward explanation.
  3. Examine the areas you have chosen and formulate a plan (based on APA recommended courses of action) to avoid these pitfalls. Place yourself in the role of a licensed psychologist – what would you do to avoid these problem areas?
  4. I like this area of the assignment best, as it deals with a common and very problematic area – self care for the practicing psychologist who daily meets, greets and works to treat humans having complex and invasive issues. Often in the past I would listen to my colleagues talk about this topic – making it seem that all was well… when it wasn’t. In an attempt to make this portion of the assignment more motivating, I suggest you do the following:
    • Assume you were asked to address a group of counselors at a national convention. Write out a brief script as to what you would suggest for self-awareness leading to self-diagnosis of burnout, and steps to take to address this issue.
    • I will start for you: “Good day, fellow practitioners. I noticed a few months ago I left my practice angry and full of regrets for not making a difference in my clients’ lives. After talking with my wife, I realized I was experiencing a classic case of burnout. So how did I attack this? (Now you can finish this scenario…)
    • Be thoughtful, introspective, research the topic and have fun exploring!