Ethical Decision Making Model Essay Sample

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Introduction

Psychologists and counselors, like all other professions, have to follow up clear and sound ethical guidelines to practice their treatments and dealing with clients. Presented in the case is the thinking and reasoning of one psychologist who gives way to passion before his professional standing. He treats patients who have gown through mental and physical trauma with utmost care and compassion and offers free services to those most in need and are unable to pay. The case highlights majorly his attempt to treat or rather help out a lady who has had a seriously strategic life story, with sexual assaults to living without a job or a place to call home, together with assistance from a group of friends in related professions. His passion to help people is a major part of his profession and how well he is doing that, with respect to the given scenario, in terms of ethical conduct, can be assessed using the 7-step framework designed by Holley-Forrester Miller and  Thomas Davis. This framework ensures that an ethical decision making process takes place. Also, it allows assessing whether the steps are evident in the case under study. The paper first discusses what the framework is and then goes on to relate it with the case and draw conclusions as to the ethical soundness of the decisions made in the situation in the case.

The 7-Step Framework for Ethical Decision Making

With the works of Van Hoose and Paradise, Kitchener, Stadler, Haas and Malouf, Forrester-Miller, Robenstien, Sileo and Kopala combined the following 7-Step framework for ethical decision making can be established.

Step 1: Identification of the Problem

The first step is the clarification of information and the problem at hand. The first distinction to be drawn here is whether the problem at hand is an ethical one, a legal one, or a clinical one. In this stage the relevance of the problem is determined, as to whether it is substantial enough to be invested time and effort in. Vague problems pose the biggest dilemma towards decision making. For that matter, it is essential to clearly define the problem before proceeding on to further depth of the problem (Alabama Counselling, 2010).

Step 2: Application of the ACA Code of Ethics

Sometimes, when the problem is defined clearly, the solution springs up on its own. This is true for not-too-complicated ethical or legal issues. But when the problem is complicated, the next step is to follow the ACA Code of Ethics, whereby, the ethical guidelines related to various ethical issues are set beforehand to pave way for ethically sound decision making. However, this is not always the case. ACA Code of Ethics does not provide solutions to all problems. Some problems and situations are unique in nature and can be based on the guidelines but their solutions do not pre-exist (Alabama Counselling, 2010).

Step 3: Determination of the Nature and Dimensions of the Dilemma

External factors influence the situation as well which have to be taken into account when attempting to solve the situation. There are also hidden dimensions which have to recognize. For this reason, it is essential to do some ground work beforehand. For example, about patients or clients that is engaged in the problem situation at hand. The interests of the stakeholders involved have to be taken into account to asses the depth of the problem and foresee the consequences. In this step, potential solutions can be identified as well (Alabama Counselling, 2010). 

Step 4: Generation of the Potential Courses of Action

The alternative courses of action imply the use of several different ethical approaches found in the theoretical framework. These are the utilitarian approach, the Rights Approach, The Justice Approach, The Common Good Approach, and the Virtue Approach.

The Utilitarian approach is whereby the option that produces the benefit to the majority is taken into consideration. The Rights Approach on the other hand stresses the rights of the stakeholders and paves way for solutions that guard the rights of all those involved. Next comes the Justice Approach, which emphasizes on the equality of treatment for all the parties involved. The Common Good Approach suggests to choose the option that generates good consequences for the community as a whole and not jus the individual involved. Last is the Virtue Approach, which is based on the individual wisdom the person and identifies the ultimate aims that are to be achieved and where the person wants to be which has to be reflected in the solution chosen (Santa Clara Univeristy, 2010).

Step 5: Generation of the Potential Consequences of all Actions and determination of a course of action

Before selecting the approach, the potential consequence of each course of action should be foreseen beforehand to avoid any sort of inconvenience for the parties involved. Potentially drastic consequences only point to the negative direction and that particular option should not be chosen as it not logically and practically viable for the situation at hand.

Step 6: Evaluation of the Selected Course of Action

Evaluation comes after the selection of the course of action. Here, the short falls are assessed and removed and the course of action is made fool proof so that the objective in mind regarding the ethical decision can be achieved (Santa Clara University, 2010).

Step 7: Implementation of the Course of Action

Implementation can be difficult as some ethical decisions are quite demanding and challenging to practice, though with good formulation of the problem and analytical assessment of the dimensions of the problem situation, a plausible ethical decision can be assured and the consequences can be attained as desired by the practitioner or the professional (Corey et al., 2003).

The Implication of the 7-Step Framework in the Case

The relation of the model with the situation that Ken, the clinical psychologist, was in can be assessed putting myself in the situation and following each step accordingly.

Step 1: Identification of the Problem

The problem is the dilemma of the lady who has had tragedy up struck on her, after a series of sexual assaults and unemployment and loss of home. She is in need for a treatment but does not have money to pay for her treatment. She is traumatized and is concerned as to how to proceed with her problems. She is barely able to afford herself let alone pay for the clinical and legal assistance she is desperately in need of currently.

Step 2: Application of the ACA Code of Ethics

            According to Forrenser-Miller, the counselor or the psychologist has to above all ensure the benefit of the client. According to this ethical code, the lady’s problem, thus, rests at the hand of her helping-professional to resolve with or without any monetary reward. Since, she does not have any money whatsoever to pay, she does deserve ethically to be treated by her doctor or be given legal guidance.

Step 3: Determination of the Nature and Dimensions of the Dilemma

The major stakeholders involved are the psychologist, the lawyer, the friend whose favor has been called in for the air tickets and housing and cash of $500 for the lady to keep, and the woman herself who is in desperate need of shelter, safety and protection from the assaults she has been put under for the recent time period.

Step 4: Generation of the Potential Courses of Action

The Utilitarian approach is whereby the option that produces the benefit to the majority is taken into consideration but here the stakeholders are only concerned with benefit of the woman who is in need of help and their satisfaction lies in her safety. According to The Rights Approach, the rights of the stakeholders other than the lady point to the other direction however. These include the right to be paid for their services so this approach does not apply here. Next comes the Justice Approach, which emphasizes on the equality of treatment for all the parties involved. Here, this approach is also ineffective, as equality can not be established. The Common Good Approach suggests choosing the option that generates good consequences for the community as a whole and not jus the individual involved.

Now, this has implications in this situation as the lady is the member of the community and the community as a whole would want to safeguard all the ladies like her to feel safe and sound under the protection of the law and the helping professionals like Ken.  Last is the Virtue Approach, which is based on the individual wisdom the person and identifies the ultimate aims that are to be achieved and where the person wants to be which has to be reflected in the solution chosen. Here, this applies very well as the woman’s consideration to where she wants to be to feel safe and what she wants to do against the assaults are of the major concern here and the solution would draw the consequences relating to these two main objectives.

Step 5: Generation of the Potential Consequences of all Actions and Determination of a Course of Action

The consequences of the action to help her out despite of any payback would ensure her safety and allow her to establish a proper life that she deserves to have in a place where she has no threat from the sexual harassers. For the other stakeholders who are providing her the benefits the consequence will be the satisfaction of helping out a harassed soul.

Step 6: Evaluation of the Selected Course of Action

The decision to help her provide for food, legal advice and psychological counseling as a gesture of help and assistance without any remuneration is chosen as it has the highest benefit for the parties involved. It is ethically sound and goes by with the code of ethics of the psychologists and other helping professionals.

Step 7: Implementation of the Course of Action

For the implementation of the course of action it is essential to make sure that there is no background information that may affect the future of the woman in question missed out during the decision making process. The professionals have to be prepared to offer compassion and not be expecting any payment for their services in return.

Conclusion

The decision of Ken, is thus, ethically sound, as it follows directly with the criteria and the standard of the 7-Step Framework of Ethical Decision Making. It reflects compassion and the objective to help clients in their times of need which is the core essence of the helping professions of psychologists and counselors.

References

Alabama Counseling. (2010). A Practitioners Guide to Ethical decision Making. Retrieved 6,

April, 2010 from http://www.alabamacounseling.org/pdf/ACAguide.pdf

Corey, G. Corey, MS., & Callanan, P. (2003). Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions (8thh

Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Cengage.
Santa Clara University. (2010). A Framwork of Ethical Decision Making. Retrieved 6, April,

2010 from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html

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