Ethical Issues When Working with Nontreatment Staff
Discussion – Week 8
Ethical Issues When Working with Nontreatment Staff
Forensic psychology rests on a combination of legal and psychological principles. Some job settings serviced by forensic psychology professionals are multi-disciplinary in nature. As a result, forensic psychology professionals may work with others who have no background in forensic psychology. For example, a forensic psychology professional working in the family court system may work with case workers, victim advocates, attorneys, and other nontreatment professionals. In some forensic settings, a forensic psychology professional may be asked to engage in matters or make decisions that are contrary to forensic psychology professional ethics. Navigating such situations may be difficult, particularly when the directive comes from a nontreatment supervisor. Thus communicating clearly your position as a forensic psychology professional is important to the integrity of your role. Furthermore, asserting your role may influence your professional practice or have legal implications for the people you are treating.
To prepare for this Discussion:
• Review Chapter 5 in the course text, Risk Management: Clinical, Ethical, and Legal Guidelines for Successful Practice. Think about ethical issues related to consulting with other staff in forensic settings.
• Consider how you might work with nontreatment staff in forensic settings.
• Select at least two potential ethical issues/challenges that you might encounter in working with nontreatment staff in forensic settings.
• Think about why each ethical issue you selected might be a challenge and consider how you might address each.
With these thoughts in mind:
Post by Day 4 a description of each of the ethical issues and/or challenges you selected. Then explain why each is a challenge and how you might address it.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.
Application: Treating Adjudicated Forensic Populations
For this week’s Discussion, you looked at ethical issues related to working with nontreatment staff in forensic settings. For this Application Assignment, you will review case studies which highlight ethical challenges related to treating a specific set of the forensic population: adjudicated individuals. Treatment providers in multidisciplinary forensic settings may face challenges and ethical dilemmas on many levels. Potential pitfalls of providing treatment to adjudicated populations include confidentiality issues, boundary setting, chain of command, and conflict of interest. No matter the challenges/dilemmas, it is up the forensic psychology professional to provide the best quality of care possible to adjudicated populations while following ethical guidelines and upholding ethical standards. Doing so supports the professional in acting in the best interest of and protecting the rights of the adjudicated individual.
To prepare for this assignment:
• Think about ethical challenges and dilemmas that might arise related to the treatment of adjudicated forensic populations.
• Select the juvenile or adult case study to use as a basis of this Application Assignment.
• Review your chosen case study and identify ethical issues present in the case.
• Select three ethical challenges and/or dilemmas related to specific forensic psychology codes/guidelines.
• Review the APA’s ethical codes and AP-LS’ specialty guidelines. Focus on how the ethical challenges/dilemmas skirt or might violate codes and guidelines of forensic psychology in the case you have chosen.
The assignment (2–3 pages):
• Identify the case study you have chosen, juvenile or adult.
• Briefly describe at least three ethical issues that are present in the case study you chose.
• Explain why each poses an ethical challenge or dilemma.
• Explain the three challenges and/or dilemmas in terms of specific codes/guidelines that you selected. Include the specific codes or guidelines the challenges/dilemmas skirt or might violate.
• Share an insight or draw a conclusion about ethical challenges and dilemmas related to the treatment of adjudicated forensic populations.
Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.
Article: American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved fromhttp://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx#
Article: American Psychological Association. (in press). Specialty guidelines for forensic psychologists. Retrieved fromhttp://www.apadivisions.org/division-41/about/specialty/guidelines.pdf
Week 8: Case Studies
(continuation from week 7 case study)
Adult Case Study
The chief psychologist returns from vacation. As a result of your written recommendation that the inmate, if placed in segregated housing under the current circumstances, has an increased risk for self-harm and potential death. The warden quietly agrees to let the inmate go back to non-segregated housing without first spending time in segregated housing. The chief psychologist takes the inmate off of suicide watch and the inmate returns to regular housing away from the staff member he refused to verbally greet. The inmate does well for several weeks, but was discussing with other inmates and staff, alleged inappropriate behavior by staff during the inmate’s stay on suicide watch. The allegations include verbal and sexual threats by a middle-level manager whom you have known for years. The allegation of a violation, eventually are formally made, and the identified staff member is temporarily removed from the institution pending a formal investigation. The inmate is then placed back in the suicide watch cell, but is not placed on suicide watch. The inmate becomes upset and feels like he is being unjustly punished. You receive a call from the unit officer who tells you the inmate wants to see you. You know he is being treated by the chief psychologist so you pass the information along to her. On another day when you are on the unit seeing another inmate, the inmate being treated by the chief psychologist casually discusses the alleged reported behavior concerning the staff member who is under investigation. He also tells you the staff member in question discussed with the inmate very personal information about you that you know could have only come from this staff member. You simply change the subject with the inmate, but later report the alleged statements by the staff member to your supervisor and the warden. You wonder if you now have a conflict of interest in seeing this inmate, but you can’t get a hold of the chief psychologist to discuss the issue. However, the next evening when you are about to leave and are the sole remaining psychology staff in the institution you get another call from the unit officer. The officer tells you the inmate has a hand full of pills and is threatening to take them.
The officer requests you to come and see the inmate to talk him out of taking the pills. What do you do?
Juvenile Case Study
You are a staff psychologist working at a metropolitan youth detention center (YDC) and you have been asked by your supervisor, the chief psychologist, to provide counseling to a 15-year-old male who recently arrived. He has been placed in the YDC for sexually molesting his 12-year-old nephew. Upon investigation of the case there appeared to be no penal penetration of the victim, but your new client admitted to authorities that he fondled his nephew and performed oral sex on him. After meeting with your new client for several weeks you bring up the issue of the sexual molestation and your client flatly denies ever abusing his nephew. He does tell you, without prompting, that he was sexually molested by his paternal uncle from the ages of 11 to 14 years. He tells you that you are the first person he has ever told. After seeing your client several more times he tells you he is very angry at the uncle for sexually molesting him and plans to “kill him” when he (your client) gets out of the YDC. You ask if he has a plan to kill his uncle and he tells you he is going to light his uncle’s house on fire when he knows his uncle is home. You share this information with your supervisor, the chief psychologist, and she tells you your client is scheduled for release from the YDC in three weeks. She asks you to perform a “risk assessment” on your client to assess the likelihood he will be dangerous to anyone if released in three weeks. She says she needs the report as soon as possible because she needs to take the results back to the juvenile court judge to get your client’s sentence at the YDC extended. You also find out from other staff that your client has been visiting with his father and the paternal uncle who he alleges molested him. You also find out that the paternal uncle in question is dating one of the treatment staff at the YDC. You email the director of the YDC, a non-psychologist, and express your concerns about your client’s allegations of being molested by his paternal uncle and the uncle’s visits to the facility. In your email you attach an electronic version of the risk assessment report concerning your client.
What ethical issues are relevant in this case?