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Ethical Decision-making Models

The ACA Code of Ethics dictates to counselors that because "... there is no specific ethical decision-making model that is most effective, counselors are expected to be familiar with a credible model of decision making that can bear public scrutiny and its application" (ACA, 2005, p. 3).

The ACA recognizes that adherence to a code of ethics alone cannot solve all the ethical dilemmas that a counselor may professionally encounter; there are just too many possible gaps or legal contradictions. Therefore, it is necessary for counselors to have a process and strategies in place to help them make difficult ethical decisions.

Give an analysis of two ethical decision-making models. Then evaluate two strengths and two limitations of each model. In your evaluation, be sure to include why you think each is a strength or limitation.

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Question #1

To reiterate, Klein's ethical decision-making model is employed to address an ethical dilemma in a case that involves a dual role of a psychological as consultant to a military team, and the guard of a detainee. The RFD decision-making model is based on three factors: (A) situation recognition, (B) serial operation evaluation, and (C) mental simulation. Across these three factors, the RPD Model utilizes four dimensions as a frame of reference for decision making: (1) safety issues, (2) legal issues, (3) ethical issues, and (4) effective actions.

In this particular case, and based on the first step in the model, (situation recognition), it is recognized that this is not a typical role for an Operational Psychologist to be required to detain a prisoner. On this basis, the psychologist utilizing the four dimensions to arrive at a decision (COA), the psychologist may decide that guarding the prisoner is less risky than jeopardizing her relationship with team. According to Stephenson & Staal (2007), this would be a rational, just and well-thought out decision.

*According to Stephenson & Staal (2007), although the RPD model is weighted toward expert decisions makers, they find it useful for the novice. As they explain, through simulation (e.g., case studies), novices learn how "experts became experts" rather than learning to make "expert-like" decisions. This imitation of other decisions, according to Stephenson & Staal can help them to prepare for real world situations.

Question # 2

There is nothing immediately observed as unethical with the request for the psychologist to guard the detainee. Standard 3.05 of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2002) does not prohibit psychologists from taking on dual roles. However, as it is stipulated in the APA Ethical Codes, and pointed out by Stephenson & Staal (2007) if the circumstance arises in which the detainee becomes the target of abuse, the psychologist is ethically obligated (Standard 3.04) to reject the role, and report the abuse.


American psychological Association. Ethical principles for psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org.

Stephenson, J. A., & Staal, M. A. (2007). An ethical decision-making model for operational psychology. Ethics Behavior, 17 (1), 61-82.

Give an analysis of two ethical decision-making models. Then evaluate two strengths and two limitations of each model. In your evaluation, be sure to include why you think each is a strength or limitation.

I did not choose APA. It just happens to be cited in the article. APA and ACA are organizations-not models. The question as presented was to provide two ethical decision-making models, and evaluate strengths and limitations of each model. The ethical dilemmas cited in reference to the models can be addressed based on both the APA and ACA Code of Ethics. Now if you need to specifically relate these models to ACA ethical guidelines they are addressed as follows:

Model 1 - an ethical issue is the concern over the "the duty to be protect" , and it is addressed in Section B6h "Reasonable Precaution" of the ACA Code of Ethics which states ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses ethical decision-making models based on the American Counseling Associaiton (ACA) and the American Psychological Association (APA ) Code of Ethics.