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Essay A Case Study of Ethics in Psychology

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In this case, the psychologist is presented with several ethical issues which could cause harm to the client. The first ethical issue that arose in this case is the potential for a role conflict. The psychologist and Mr. Hartwig had contact prior to the development of a therapeutic relationship when the psychologist bought a car from Mr. Hartwig. It may not be enough that the brief, informal relationship ended. The psychologist must assess the dimensions of the previous relationship from the viewpoint of the client as well as his/her own personal feelings (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). For example, the client could feel that he gave the psychologist a good deal and that the psychologist was indebted to him. This could leave the psychologist vulnerable to being manipulated by the client. Or, what if the car broke down? This could leave the psychologist feeling cheated and resulted in hostile feelings toward the client. The psychologist has an ethical responsibility to examine both relationships for role incompatibility prior to forming a therapeutic relationship. The psychologist seemed to be aware that there was the potential role conflict resulting from their initial meeting, and he acted ethically by attempting to refer Mr. Hartwig to a Psychology Registry.
It is necessary to point out that not all dual relationships can be avoided. They live in a small town, and it is possible that this psychologist was the most qualified to help treat job related stress. The psychologist should have then consulted the appropriate APA guideline which states “multiple relationships that would not reasonably be expected to cause impairment or risk exploitation or harm are not unethical” (APA, 2010). Given this ethical guidelin...


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...ormulated a plan to protect the client from causing harm to himself in the future.
The sixth ethical issue arises when the client is denied access to his medical chart. Currently, HIPPA (2006) grants clients access to their medical records. An exception to this is if the information contained within the medical records is “reasonably likely” to cause harm to the client (HIPPA, 2006; APA, 2002). The records were unlikely to cause harm to the patient and, therefore, the client should have had access to them.



Works Cited

Koocher, G.P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2008). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
American Psychiatric Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychological Association (APA), Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx


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