Ethical considerations are paramount in today’s workplaces, spanning various roles and responsibilities. From customer service representatives to CEOs, individuals must cultivate an ethical mindset in their thinking and actions. Ethics in the workplace encompass a wide range of aspects, including codes of conduct, standards of behavior, and the ability to apply moral and ethical principles to everyday dilemmas and business interactions.
One prevalent example of an ethical issue in the workplace is the misuse of the internet, where employees engaging in personal activities instead of fulfilling work-related tasks is considered ethically wrong. PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
Ethical Dilemmas in Psychology
Ethical considerations are not limited to personal ethics; they extend to professional codes of conduct within specific fields, such as psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) has established an ethical code that guides psychologists to ensure the highest standards of professional behavior. However, ethical dilemmas can arise, blurring the lines between different ethical principles that psychologists rely on to guide their actions.
Confidentiality, Part 1
Let us examine a case involving Mr. Lee, who sought therapy from Dr. Wagner to address his depression. Unfortunately, Mr. Lee experienced a fall on a slippery floor, resulting in a head injury that caused significant cognitive impairment, trouble understanding, confusion, and a decline in his daily functioning. In response to the accident, Mr. Lee’s elderly mother has hired an attorney who reaches out to Dr. Wagner to discuss Mr. Lee’s condition.
PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
Confidentiality between a therapist and patient is a sacred contract, ensuring that information disclosed during therapy remains private and confidential (Christie, Christie, & Mitchell, 2016). In Mr. Lee’s case, his diminished mental capabilities raise concerns regarding the validity of any waivers he might sign due to his limitations.
Dr. Wagner should exercise caution and avoid discussing why Mr. Lee initially sought therapy. Instead, she should limit her conversation with the attorney and other medical professionals to changes she observed in Mr. Lee after the accident, providing only essential and relevant information (Constable, Kreider, Smith, & Taylor, 2011).
Dr. Wagner must respect the boundaries of confidentiality to preserve trust and protect Mr. Lee’s rights. By disclosing excessive information, Dr. Wagner risks violating Mr. Lee’s privacy and breaching his right to confidentiality. PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
Such actions would contravene several standards outlined in the APA’s ethical guidelines, including Maintaining Confidentiality (Standard 4.01), Discussing the Limits of Confidentiality (Standard 4.02), and Disclosures (Standard 4.05) (APA, 2010).
Confidentiality, Part 2
Consider another case involving an adolescent named Jane, who has developed a trusting relationship with her therapist, Dr. Giles. Jane feels close to Dr. Giles and believes she can confide in her about anything.
During their sessions, Jane reveals that she is a victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by her mother’s boyfriend. However, Jane pleads with Dr. Giles not to disclose this information to anyone, expressing her fear of potential consequences.
Before commencing therapy, particularly with adolescents, therapists like Dr. Giles need to address mandatory reporting laws. These laws aim to protect therapists and potential victims from harm by requiring therapists to report cases of abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities.
PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
While Dr. Giles empathizes with Jane’s desire to maintain confidentiality, she is bound by mandatory reporting laws, which do not leave room for discretion. The law mandates protecting potential victims from further harm; failure to report would constitute a violation. Dr. Giles must present the facts to the relevant authorities, who will determine whether abuse or neglect occurs (APA, 2010).
Handling this delicate situation requires Dr. Giles to engage in a detailed Conversation with Jane, explaining the necessity of reporting for her well-being. Dr. Giles can emphasize the importance of the trust built in therapy while underscoring the duty to ensure Jane’s safety.
Openness, honesty, and transparency can help preserve faith within the therapist-patient relationship while fulfilling the legal obligations imposed by mandatory reporting laws. PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
In another scenario, Amy completed therapy for an eating disorder under the guidance of Dr. Abbot. Two years later, Amy coincidentally encounters Dr. Abbot and starts a conversation, discovering they have many shared interests. This chance meeting leads to a romantic relationship between them.
This situation presents numerous potential ethical violations according to the APA Ethics Code. Specifically, it contravenes Standard 3.05, which prohibits psychologists from assuming multiple roles with individuals they know in a professional context.
Psychologists are cautioned against becoming friends or engaging in sexual relationships with their clients, as these relationships may harm the clients or compromise professional judgment (APA, 2010).
Dr. Abbot’s prior knowledge about Amy’s struggles and vulnerabilities creates an unfair advantage in the relationship. This power imbalance could lead to the exploitation of Amy’s weaknesses, resulting in harm. PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
Summary and Conclusion
Ethical considerations are critical in all work settings, with psychology incorporating a comprehensive moral code established by the APA. While interpretations of ethical guidelines may vary, it is essential to identify potential conflicts between ethical principles and determine the priority of different ethical considerations.
Striving for a clear understanding of ethical standards and their practical applications ensures the highest ethical conduct in professional settings.
By upholding codes of conduct, adhering to confidentiality requirements, respecting boundaries, and avoiding multiple relationships, professionals in psychology and other fields can create an environment that promotes ethical behavior, maintains trust, and safeguards the well-being of those they serve.
Continual reflection on ethical dilemmas and seeking guidance from professional organizations and colleagues can assist in navigating complex situations and upholding the highest ethical standards in the workplace. PHI 2000 Unit 2 Ethics
American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from
Constable, E. G., Kreider, T. B., Smith, T. F., & Taylor, Z. R. (2011). The confidentiality of a confession: A counseling intern’s ethical dilemma. Retrieved from
Christie, L., Christie, C., & Mitchell, S. (2016). Breaches of Privacy and Confidentiality in Psychotherapy. Course excerpt from Preventing Medical Errors in Behavioral Health. Retrieved from