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APA Code of Ethics

Ethical Issues

The APA Ethical Code outlines steps you need to take when you recognize an ethical dilemma. You should read and reread the APA Ethical Code on a regular basis so that you can recognize ethical issues when they surface. Ignorance is not a defense for malpractice. Keep in mind while completing this Discussion that the APA Ethical Code will guide you but not provide final definitive answers to your dilemmas and questions. There are so many different types of scenarios and issues that can present themselves that it is virtually impossible for the APA Ethical Code to address them all. In addition to returning to the APA Ethical Code when you encounter a dilemma or ethical violation, you also should make it your practice to consult with other professionals and/or attorneys familiar with the field. The APA, other professional organizations, malpractice insurance carriers, and your employer all are likely to have attorneys available to you for consultation.

To prepare for this Discussion, review the Ethics Scenario presented in this week's Learning Resources.

With these thoughts in mind

A brief description of two ethical issues you identified in the scenario. Then, explain possible implications of these ethical issues on the psychotherapy process. Finally, explain how you might address these ethical issues. Be specific and cite the APA Ethical Code.

Week 1: Ethics Scenario
You are working on a university campus in the counseling center. You have been treating a 21-year-old man who sought psychotherapy after his girlfriend broke up with him. He is very distraught and having a difficult time coping with the breakup. He has not been able to sleep more than an hour or two per night for more than two weeks. He has no appetite and has lost eight pounds over the last two weeks. He denies any thoughts of suicide, but he states that he wishes he could fall asleep and never wake up. He is having difficulty concentrating on his school work. He goes to classes but cannot pay attention and is falling behind quickly. He has been calling his ex-girlfriend repeatedly, on a daily basis. She has made it very clear that she is not interested in resuming their relationship. He refuses to stop calling, believing that he can convince her that she is mistaken and that if they give it one more chance he will treat her better and make her happy. He expresses remorse for having treated her badly when they were together and begs her to give him another chance. In therapy, he suggests that he believes she is not thinking clearly and that he needs to convince her that she is mistaken. In addition, he has noted that she is now seeing someone else. He knows the other person and has stated, "I don't know what my frat brothers would do to him if they ran into him at a bar." As you continue the session, you find out that the man whom his ex-girlfriend is dating is currently overseas studying abroad, but he is due back for classes that start in two days. Upon further inquiry, you find out that the fraternity of which your client is a member is a fraternity with which you have consulted and to which you have presented workshops and training to reduce binge drinking. As a result, you are familiar with some of your client's friends. Further, this is also a fraternity of which you were a member while in college.

Solution Preview

One ethical issue is the fact that the young man being treated is being seen on an individual basis, and the therapist has also consulted with the fraternity which he is a member of, and which the therapist was also a member of while in college. Fraternities can many times be considered a family, and if the therapist is consulting with the fraternity, he should not take on any of the members as clients on an individual basis, as this could be considered a conflicting role (APA Code of Ethics 10.02) (1). In this situation, it would be best to refer the student to someone else in the psychological field to continue counseling sessions.

Another ethical issue is ...

Solution Summary

Discusses possible ethical issues in a scenario involving a young college student who has recently broken up with his girlfriend.

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