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    Ethical Issues Concerning Vulnerable Populations

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    Mental health counselors often work with children and adolescents; people who have cognitive, emotional, and/or physical disabilities; and people in prison or on probation. It is important to keep in mind the issues of informed consent and assent for treatment with all clients, but especially those clients from vulnerable populations. Other ethical issues that may require special attention when working with vulnerable populations relate to confidentiality (e.g., exclusions to confidentiality), parameters to disclosure (e.g., HIPAA and working with minors in school and non-school settings), and the legal status of relationships within a family (e.g., legal dependents, legal guardianship, marriage, and custodial/non-custodial parent).The ethical issues related to working with minor clients can also apply when working with adults who may be legally defined as having diminished capacity. In addition, many states now have statutes that guide mandated reporting for suspected abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons.

    Provide a brief description of two vulnerable populations, including details on why these groups are considered vulnerable. Then, evaluate the related ethical issues and challenges, citing the relevant ethical codes. Finally, discuss the steps you would take if a client's legal status changed during the course of treatment.

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    (1) Give a brief description of two vulnerable populations, including details on why these groups are considered vulnerable. Then, evaluate the related ethical issues and challenges, citing the relevant ethical codes. Finally, discuss the steps you would take if a client's legal status changed during the course of treatment.

    Examples of two populations that are considered vulnerable are African American and Gay, Lesbians and transgendered groups. These groups are considered vulnerable because members of both populations have been subjected to a history of differential treatment and discrimination. Considering African American women who also imay dentify as lesbians, as Janson & Steigerwald (2002) point out, beyond family dynamics they have encountered; they continue to experience discrimination as persons of color, as women, and based on their sexual orientation as lesbians. On this basis, this population of women face multiple ethical challenges for the counseling professional. Aitken & Burman (1999) note that working with Black women as a White researcher in therapy is not without tensions because of power differentials, and the multiplicity of problems Black women present in therapy.

    Similarly, GLBT clients face numerous unique, ethical challenges that in addition to their sexual orientation include how to disclose their sexuality to family members. For instance, Janson & ...

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    This solution focuses on the ethical issues and challenges for psychologists when working with vulnerable populations.

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