Psychologists Ethical Dilemma Cases

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Psychologists are faced with different dilemmas day to day, which may sometimes put their decision making in a compromising position. Ethical challenges in these practices deals with rights duties, needs, interests, relationships, motives, and the maintained or the transgression of prevailing norms “. (Banks, 2010, p.12). As complex ethical dilemmas often surface unexpectedly within everyday practice. With the guidelines of the American Counseling Association (ACA) or American Psychological Association (APA) code of ethics to make sure guidelines are being followed properly.

Dilemma Case 1

Lizzy a newly transferred psychologist whom travel a lot has realized that her laptop is missing. And that particular laptop contains confidential client records. And now Lizzy is a little unsure if she should inform the clients without breaking any ethic codes, or if it is her best interest not to inform her client but try and start the process over without the client knowing. Lizzy has also informed her supervisor about the incident but in their response, they informed her that she will have to be reassigned to another location if she cannot figure out a way to solve the dilemma.

In such a situation I feel as though the most appropriate decision, Lizzy could decide would consider first the record keeping and confidentiality practice used in her work place. Such as treating their electronic records with the same level of security as their paper records. As well as going back to Ethics Code that may offer guidance on such issues. In section 6.02 it states that “Psychologist maintain confidentiality in creating, strong, accessing, transferring, and disposing of records. It also, states that 6.02 B that confidential information concerning recipients of psychological concerning and the usage of coding or other techniques to avoid the inclusion of personal identifiers (American Psychological Association, 2010).

Dilemma Case 2

A newly licensed counselor has started doing his sessions and after a few weeks he has a new client that he has vastly became attracted too. So, he decided to invite her to attend a lecture on eating disorders knowing that the client suffers from anorexia nervosa. The client accepted the offer as she thought it would be appropriate professional invitation. The counselor also proceeded to invite the client to dinner after the lecture, and the client accepted. In the next session the counselor began to accept gifts from the client.

The following week the counselor agreed to another date at the client’s home, which began with several glasses of wine. After several weeks the affair ended as the therapist began talking to someone else. The client found out and became upset and in response the counselor decided to terminate the therapy relationship. In return the client sued the counselor as she reported a complaint of malpractice. Somer and Saadon(1999) observed that 25% of clients that admits to sexuality with their counselors declared that they are initiated the first encounter. Nonetheless counselors have to learn to resist their feelings of attraction.

As counselors upholding an ethical standard that cannot be assigned to the client. Pope (1989,1994) stated that symptoms that are experienced by clients that’s has sexual relationships with their counselors. Sexual intimacies between a client and their counselor are considered one of the most immortal acts in the profession. It violates the law, and the principles of beneficence as the act of mercy and kindness with strong connotation of doing good to others moral obligation. Nonmaleficence inflicting the of less harm that can reach beneficial outcomes. and the autonomy in the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles and code of Conduct (APA, 2010) as well as the multiple ethical standards within the code. But most importantly such acts can cause a significant damage to the mental health, emotional health and the clients well-being.

Case Dilemma 3

Lisa is a well-known counselor who has helped numerous of clients deal with their relationships. Recently in the last three months she has took on a client that is trying to rebuild his life and reintegrate back into society, after spending six years in prison for drugs. For the last month Lisa has been working on issues of him wanting to go back to selling drugs. As well as he is lying about his lifestyle to his new girlfriend whom he met online. Last weekend, Lisa best friend invited her to a house warming party she was throwing and really wanted her to meet her new boyfriend. As the best friends stated she has been talking to him for a while for the past three years or longer. To Lisa surprise when she arrives to her best friend party, her boyfriend arrives as well and its none other than the new client.

In this particular dilemma it involves the critical ethical considerations of confidentiality and dual relationship boundaries. As a counselor there are strict guidelines that are not to be disclosed that has occurred in therapy. Even if Lisa has the urge to inform her best friend about her new boyfriend she has a duty to withhold, not disclosing any knowledge of her client or his actions. Also, as a counselor responsibility it is the duty to provide services effectively, as Lisa has a moral responsibility to take appropriate actions in her client’s welfare.

Therefore, in this particular situation Lisa should explain to her client and identify to him how the dual relationship has created an ethical dilemma between them. And the best option would to. Appropriately refer and assist him in transitioning to another counselor.


  1. American Psychological Association. (2010) Ethical principles of psychologists and code of Conduct. American Psychologist, 57, (12), 1060-1073
  2. Pope, K.S. (1989). Therapist-patient sex syndrome. A guide attorneys and subsequent therapist to assessing damage, In G. Gabbard (Ed.) Sexual exploration in professional relationship (pp.39-55). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
  3. Pope, K.S. (1994). Sexual Involvement with therapist: Patient assessment, subsequent therapy, forensics. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Cite this paper

Psychologists Ethical Dilemma Cases. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/psychologists-ethical-dilemma-cases/

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