Flashcards in Chapter 5 Professional judgement and ethics Deck (27):
What is the question that community practitioners are required to address?
“What is the (morally) right thing to do?"
What topics cut across all of the other core competencies?
Professional judgment and ethics in community psychology practice are topics that cut across all of the other core competencies
Pertains to what is morally good and bad and to moral duty and obligation
What are the 3 viewpoints that ethics can be viewed from?
1. Ethics includes core principles of moral behavior that should apply to everyone (Example: “Thou shall not kill” applies to most societies)
2. Ethics relates to principles and guidelines that members of a profession develop to inform their work (Example: In medicine and research, getting informed consent from patients/participants is a fundamental professional responsibility)
3. Ethics can refer to the study of individuals’ beliefs and actions relevant to morality. (Example: One can investigate the extent to which informed consent is fully obtained from participants in a given intervention)
How are ethical judgments in community psychology a subset of professional judgments?
There are many occasions when a community psychologist might be called upon to
exercise professional judgment even if there is no particular ethical issue at stake.
• Example: A practitioner may be considering two different strategies for launching a community program. If there are compelling arguments in support of both strategies, the practitioner’s choice is likely to reflect his or her professional judgment about which strategy
has the best chance of success in the current circumstances
Has community psychology developed an official set of ethical guidelines to inform its practice? What does it have?
Community psychology has not developed an official set of ethical guidelines to inform practice, although the Society for Community Research and Action’s (SCRA’s) statement of goals refers to issues that have ethical implications.
• Example: The field is “committed to promoting equitable distribution of resources, equal opportunity for all, non-exploitation, prevention of violence, active citizenry, liberation of oppressed peoples, greater
inclusion for historically marginalized groups, and respecting all cultures” (SCRA, n.d.). (emphasis on social justice and human rights)
Association between values and ethical practice in community psychology
Insofar as other fields share these values, professional standards made in those fields can assist community psychologists in addressing ethical concerns in their own field.
Strongly held ideals about what is moral, right, or good
Fundamental, broadly stated prescriptions for ethical
Specific statements that provide guidance for ethical
behavior, often framed in terms of ideal or model behavior
Association between community-based interventions and ethical obligation
Anyone who endeavors to design and/or implement a community based intervention has an ethical obligation to be mindful of the intervention’s potential consequences throughout and beyond the system where it is introduced.
Implications of principles on community psychologist’s two most fundamental roles
A principle such as Responsibilities for General and Public Welfare has implications for community psychologists in two of their most fundamental roles: researchers and change agents/facilitators.
4 major ethical concerns that can arise in community interventions and descriptions of each**
• can take multiple forms depending on the varieties of stakeholders involved, the sensitivity of the issues addressed (e.g., violence, substance use, sexual behavior), and the intervention context (e.g., information shared within programs, across programs, or even with
external law enforcement officials in the case of mandated
• can include both the informed consent of intervention participants and, in some cases, the wider community where the intervention/program takes place. Prevention programs, for example, are often implemented at multiple ecological levels, which can greatly complicate the task of obtaining informed consent (typically the target population is a group that is not actively seeking help)
• the adequacy of the education, training, and experience of the change agents/facilitators, as well as to the “due diligence” and skills that are displayed in the implementation of the intervention.
• Community psychologists need to be mindful of the wide range of competencies that the field has, and be clear about which ones are needed in any given intervention
4. Conflict of interest
• involves situations where one’s personal interests (financial, political, social, etc.) could influence one’s objectivity or effectiveness in carrying out responsibilities of that intervention.
• Example: being asked to provide a professional evaluation of the job performance of a close friend in a community program would represent a conflict of interest.
• Conflicts of interest are widespread in the world of community psychology practice, but the mere existence of such a conflict does not determine its ethicality. Rather, it is the response of the individual to the conflict that is crucial
Curricula of graduate programs in ethics in their courses (main finding from
Neigher & Ratcliffe (2011) study)
they report that at least 90% of their sample of
146 community psychologists indicated that training in “ethical
professional practice” had been available to them.
Are ethical challenges in community psychology practice in the eyes of the
5 ethical principles according to American Psychological Association’s (APA’s; 2010) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and descriptions of each**
1. Beneficence and Nonmaleficence: This involves acting in ways that benefit others (“doing good”) rather than injure them (“doing no harm”). The goal is often one of maximizing benefits while minimizing harm
2. Fidelity and Responsibility: This principle emphasizes the need for psychologists to develop trusting relationships with others as a result of being seen as
professionally responsible. For a community psychologist it requires, explaining to stakeholders the values that govern one’s behavior and acting in accord with those
values ( e.g., enact a collaborative role in working with stakeholders)
3. Integrity: Integrity focuses on “accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching and practice of psychology” Interacting with others in a transparent manner is key here.
4. Justice: As a field, community psychology commits itself to social justice, which emphasizes a fair allocation of resources, opportunities, obligations, and power throughout society, with special attention paid
to marginalized groups and the advocacy that is often needed to achieve justice for them.
• Social justice is often a contested terrain and that one person’s “moral right” can constitute another’s “moral wrong.
5. Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity: This principle affirms the “dignity and worth of all people, and the
rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and selfdetermination”
• It also asserts the need to be responsive to diversity, noting the various dimensions on which individuals can differ (age, gender, culture, race, disability, socioeconomic status, etc.). The community psychology’s frames such rights at the group and community levels (not the individual level)
Importance of ethical competence in decision making
Ethical competence requires more than just a knowledge of ethical principles, and community psychology values.
• One must become skilled at using this knowledge to guide decision making in the specific situations that community psychologists encounter in their work.
How do I recognize an ethical challenge when I see one?
Most obviously, you believe (perhaps only intuitively) that
something is “wrong” (unfair, unjust, inequitable, etc.) or threatens to become wrong if action is not taken. (e.g., voices of less powerful stakeholders are silent or are not being taken seriously by more powerful stakeholders.
• Stakeholders claim that an ethical issue has presented itself.
• Colleagues not directly involved in the situation, but who have knowledge of it, raise ethical concerns.
How should these principles, values, and standards be balanced against one another when making a decision?
No formula exists for combining a given set of ethical perspectives and then extracting the “right” decision
• Examine details of the case (who is involved, what are the issues etc.)
• Make a judgment on overall what would probably be the most ethical course of action (uses professional judgment and training, but also your own thoughts, opinions and biases)
Can one ethical principle be more important than others?
do not harm
Do different professionals come up with the same of different conclusions or actions? Why?
1) Circumstances can be complex
2) Individuals can differ in how they see a given principle or value applying to an ethical challenge or if they see it applying at all
3) Individuals can differ in how they prioritize certain values and principles in their own practice
4) Individuals’ personal values can differ
When dealing with an ethical challenge is there one right answer?
Often no “one right answer” that all community psychologists would agree upon when dealing with an ethical challenge
• Importance of: comprehensive analysis (exploring various
dimensions of a given situation – be a conscientious professional), reflection, and being able to support your selected course of action (why did you make that particular decision)
How do my personal values interact with the ethical challenge I am facing? What is most important?
our education and professional training, our culture, our childhood, and all other formative experiences that have shaped who we are (personal value system and sense of self)
• Example: If you are supporter for gay rights, you would probably not elect to work on an intervention that discriminates against or purposely excludes gay parents
Advantages of input from other stakeholders
1. provide perspectives on the ethical challenge that we may not have considered
2. help to reframe the issue (which can lead to strategies and solutions that otherwise would not have been contemplated)
• Allows people to challenge our views (playing devil’s advocate)
• Allows us to predict implications or consequences of our actions
• Thorough early analysis – less potential for ethical dilemmas later
How do I proceed if I conclude that the ethical thing to do puts me at personal risk?
Ethical issue does not necessarily end when one identifies what one believes is the “right” course of action
• The right course of action could be personally costly
• Sometimes acting ethically involves a personal sacrifice or takes moral courage
When does morally courageous behavior occur?
1. an individual’s motivation is rooted in ethical principles,
2. the individual is aware of the personal risk associated with supporting those principles, and
3. he or she is willing to accept that risk