Knowledge Concerning Ethical Issues Involved Research Paper

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100). Much of the focus of personnel selection using psychological testing was on new troops enlisting in the military during two world wars and the explosive growth of the private sector thereafter (Scroggins et al., 2008). Psychological testing for personnel selection purposes, though, faded into disfavor during the 1960s, but it continues to be used by human resource practitioners today. In this regard, Scroggins and his colleagues advise, "Many HR practitioners, however, have continued to use personality testing with an optimistic and enduring faith in its ability to discriminate between good and poor job candidates" (p. 101).

In cases where cheating is suspected (such as in the case of an teen applicant possibly using a smartphone or consulting crib notes during testing by visiting the restroom), psychologists have a professional responsibility to conform to relevant privacy laws with respect to the results of such tests, including following the decision-making model provided by organizations such as the Canadian Psychological Association's approach which is applied to these issues in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Application of CPA's Decision-Making Model to Personnel Selection Results

Decision Step


Identification of the individuals and groups potentially affected by the decision.

1. Applicant.

2. Potential employers.

3. Testing organization.

Identification of the relevant issues and practices

1. Stakeholders have a reasonable expectation of accuracy in the administration of personnel selection tests.

2. Applicants have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the release of their test results.

Consideration of how personal biases, stresses, or self-interest might influence the development of or choice between courses of action.

Testing authorities may be biased against younger applicants and translate personal cyberphobias into perceptions of cheating.

Development of alternative courses of action.

1. Reveal suspicion of cheating to stakeholders.

2. Conceal suspicion of cheating to stakeholders.

Analysis of short-term, ongoing and long-term risks and benefits of each course of action.

If the suspicion of cheating is revealed, the likelihood of the applicant receiving a job offer is seriously diminished; conversely, if the results are concealed and applicant secures employment, it may be through fraudulent methods.

Choice of course of action after conscientious application of existing principles, values and standards.

The ethical issues in this case require the testing authority to reveal the suspicion of cheating.

Action, with a commitment to assume responsibility for the consequences of the action.

Reveal the suspected cheating and recommend an alternative testing regimen to confirm or refute the initial testing results.

Evaluation of the results of the action.

This step would dictate the steps that would follow.

Assumption of responsibility for consequences of the action.

If subsequent tests confirmed cheating, the action is substantiated. If not, the suspicions of cheating may have been based on personal biases.

Appropriate action, as warranted and feasible, to prevent future occurrences of the dilemma.

Prevent all testing subjects from leaving the testing area during the administration of the test and to leave all handheld mobile devices outside the testing area.

In addition, professional psychologists must conform to the ethic guidelines and codes of conduct in their respective states, as well as in national organizations such as the American Psychology Association (APA). According to the APA, "Membership in the APA commits members and student affiliates to comply with the standards of the APA Ethics Code and to the rules and procedures used to enforce them. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an Ethical Standard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct" (Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct, 2012, para. 2).

Rules concerning sexual intimacy with a client/former client

As noted above, dual relationships threaten the integrity of the therapeutic process and sexual relations with clients are violative of most professional standards of conduct. In fact, prohibitions against dual relationships and sexual intimacy with clients have been part of professional codes of conduct for therapists for more than a half century (Coombs, 2005). In this regard, Moleski and Kiselica (2005) report that, "Ethical decision making is an ongoing process with no easy answers. In order to promote the well-being of clients, counselors must constantly balance their own values and life experiences with professional codes of ethics as they make choices about how to help their clients effectively" (p. 4). Consequently, clinicians who find themselves becoming personally involved with a client should therefore refer the individual to another practitioner to avoid any
...For example, according to McEwan and Duncan (1999), "When being trained to work in the helping professions, many future therapists undergo some type of psychotherapeutic treatment as part of their preparation. This 'personal therapy' experience has been used in training psychoanalysts, other psychodynamic therapists, family therapists, group therapists, behaviour therapists and clinical psychologists" (p. 186). Such personal psychotherapy coursework also provides a useful foundation in conducting social research to help clinicians avoid deceptive practices that would interfere with clients' understanding of their treatment in ways that would influence their voluntary provision of informed consent (Ross & Grant, 1999).

Special concerns and particular benefits

Some adolescents who suffer from substance abuse problems require inpatient detoxification and follow-up treatment. In other cases, teenagers can avail themselves of outpatient treatments. Young clients are more likely to use outpatient services because they allow them the freedom to pursue their normal lives otherwise. For instance, on the one hand, Milhorn (1999) advises that, "The advantages of outpatient treatment include the fact that it is less expensive, allows the adolescent to live at home, and allows him to continue going to school full-time" (p. 135).

On the other hand, though, Milhorn (1999) also cites the potential downsides to the provision of outpatient care for teenage alcoholics: "The disadvantages of outpatient treatment are the lack of a structured living environment, more access to drugs, less intense treatment, less impression on the adolescent of the gravity of the situation, and less integrated health care services" (p. 135). In sum, inpatient treatment affords the best opportunity for initial intervention but outpatient care represents the optimal use of community-based resources for subsequent recovery and rehabilitation.

Other special concerns exist when there is evidence of domestic violence, particularly given that teenage substance abuser and alcoholics are at higher risk of being exposed to domestic violence as well as participating in violent acts themselves (Westman, 1999). The following vignette is illustrative of the ethical considerations and exigencies that are faced by counselors in every day situations.

Maria is a 32-year-old, Latina. Her child, Rosalinda, age 6, was referred to counseling after having been exposed to domestic violence (Maria reports having been the victim) in the home. Maria is separated from Rosalinda's father who is the alleged perpetrator in the domestic violence. When Maria brought Rosalinda to her first evaluation session (symptoms included: nightmares, regression, easily moved to tears, clingy with Maria), Maria read and signed an informed consent form while in the waiting room. The form was fairly standard issue, citing all the usual exceptions to confidentiality. The psychology intern properly introduced herself to Maria and briefly went over the informed consent. Maria expressed understanding of and agreement with the evaluation and treatment for her daughter.

Maria was the principal informant during the assessment, and the psychology intern documented in her notes that Maria reported she had started to date again. She noted that Rosalinda's symptoms had gotten worse (for example, she is upset when left with the family babysitter). Given these circumstances and the father's history of violence and abuse, Rosalinda's father should not have access to the child's record, but the reference to Maria starting to date should be documented in the record; however, as the suspected perpetrator of the domestic violence, the father should not have access to this information either. This approach is congruent with Sonkin who emphasizes that, "Therapists, because of the special relationship they have with clients, have a duty to take reasonable care to protect the intended victim" (2012, para. 2). Moreover, the potential for new violence exists even while the therapeutic interventions are ongoing and counselors must recognize when laws besides those that specifically apply to their profession are being violated and when they need to contact law enforcement authorities. For example, Sonkin adds that, "Other laws affect the profession but may not be specifically included in the licensing law. These laws often include reporting abuse. Other relevant laws address issues such as fraud, patient access to medical records, and the rights of minors to name just a few" (2012, para. 3).

The variables in the above-described vignette could be changed to reflect a virtually limitless combination of circumstances that could potentially present ethical…

Sources Used in Documents:


Barnes, F.P. & Murdin, L. (2001). Values and ethics in the practice of psychotherapy and counseling. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Bersoff, D.N. (2008). Ethical conflicts in psychology. American Psychological Association.

Bonventre, V.M. (2005, Spring). Editor's foreword. Albany Law Review, 68(2), vii-ix.

Charman, D. (2004). Core processes in brief psychodynamic psychotherapy: Advancing effective practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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