Ethics are the right and acceptable rules of manner necessary when conducting professional tasks. Psychologists have a moral duty of protecting their clients and the generally interested parties from malpractice. The ethics and codes of conduct that are followed by professional psychologists and counsellors are set by the American Psychological Association. The Ethics Codes apply only to the activities of psychologists that are components of their instructive, scientific or practice responsibilities as psychologists. Areas covered include the various branches of psychology like the educational, developmental, counselling, and forensic and industrial psychology. Other personnel in the field like researchers, teachers, supervisors of trainees and public servants are also bound by the APA ethical principles(Corey, & Callahan 2007).
Members in the Psychological Association must act in accordance with its standards and adhere to the regulations and measures used to enforce them. Lack of knowledge of or misinterpretation of the Ethical Standard is taken as ignorance of the ethical and moral conducts. The association may impose to take stringent actions on its members who violate the standards of the Code of Ethics, including one being stripped of their membership. It may notify other professional bodies like the British Psychological Society and other interested individuals of the actions it may have taken.
Ethical and moral issues in the practice of psychology include confidentiality, informed consent, multiple relations, among others. Confidentiality is where clients’ identity and the information attained from them must be kept a secret unless they permit, though their full consent, the release of such information(Everstine, L, &Seiden, 2003).
Multiple relationships is where a psychologist in professional task practices with a person who they are in another relationship with. For example, counselling a husband, aunt, or parent is a part of multiple relations. It may be referred to as a dual relationship. The ethical issue also emerges when a psychologist promises to get into another close encounter in the future with the client, or a person strongly associated with the client.Everstine&Seiden (2003) explains that multiple relationships can practically impair the objectivity of the psychologist, their competence and efficiency in performing their professional obligations as psychologists. They also risk malpractice to, exploitation of, or harm to the individual with whom the qualified professional rapport exists.
Utilitarianism is a moral theory which explains that an action is right as long as it causes good, admirable results when compared to available alternative acts, and will be wrong if it does not. In multi-relationship, the theory can be used to treat close relatives to the psychologist as long as they will recover from their disorders. If a client does not heal, then multi-relationship is deemed unethicalTribbensee&Claiborn, 2003).
There is the virtue ethics theory by Aristotle. Aristotle puts it that our personal prosperity and happiness is the eventual aim people should work towards. He then consequently, argues that human should become skilled at behaving in ways that guide them to their own happiness.
Principles in APA code of ethics include that of beneficence and non-maleficence. Psychologists must benefit those they serve and avoid harming them. In their professional duties, psychologists should seek to defend the benefit and the rights of their clients and other affected people. Psychologists should avoid getting into relationships with people they know too well and must attempt to solve these situations in a responsible style that avoids dual-relationships or that reduces them (McLeod,2007).
Integrity is another principle in the code of ethics applicable under APA guidelines. Psychologists should seek to uphold honesty, precision, and genuineness in the field, in practice, and teaching.of psychology. Corey & Callahan (2007) have it that in these actions, psychologists should avoid stealing, cheating, deliberate falsification of facts or engage in fraud. It is difficult to do this when in a helping relationship with a close person. Mainly because telling them the truth might hurt them. Hence Psychologists must strive to maintain their promises and avoid unwise dedications. In a situation where dishonesty is morally justifiable to minimize harm and maximize benefits, professionals must consider the probable consequences of distrust and other dangerous effects that might arise from the application of such methods. This can easily happen in multiple relationships.
Justice is another principle that Psychologists use. They must realize that justice and equality are entitled to all clients. Processes, procedures and methods they use should be equally applied all over the range of clients. Everstine&Seiden (2003) writes that in multi-relationships, it is difficult to administer demanding processes. Psychologists must apply reasonable decisions and be cautious in ensuring that their capability and professionalism do not allow the unfair practice.
Respect for the rights of the people and their dignity must be respected by psychologists. All people are worth and have rights to privacy, self-determination and confidentiality. Psychologists should be aware that particular is necessary to shield the welfare and rights of the clients. In multiple relationships, rights and welfare might not be safeguarded due to contempt and deep knowledge of the client.
According to McLeod (2007), the common-good approach to moral decision-making assumes that society is made up of individuals whose personal good is linked to the welfare of the whole community. Thus community members must pursue common goals and values of attaining goodness. This might mean that multi-relationship should be avoided in society because it often leads to malpractice so that clients can achieve their own goodness. If the relationship leads to the required good, it can be practised too.
Corey, & Callahan (2007). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions.Brooks Publishing.
Everstine, L,&Seiden, H. (2003). Ethical conflicts in psychology (3rd ed.) Washington, DC: APA.
McLeod, A. (2007). Psychology Research Ethics.
Tribbensee, E. &Claiborn, D. (2003).Confidentiality in psychotherapy and related contexts.
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