Steps to avoid harm


Ethical decision making process can be defined as the ability to make a decision that favors both parties and that is ethically upright when faced with a complex situation and also the ability to implement the said decision effectively (Pope, & Vasquez, 2011). This study is meant to analyze two ethical situations that a psychologist can be faced with; ethics is therefore needed to tackle the dilemmas.

The first situation involves a patient named Larry who refuses prosthetics because he thinks that the legs will slowly grow back. My duty as a psychologist in this case is to convince the patient to accept the said prosthetics while observing the ethical decision making process. The second situation involves a new company that wants me to handle the pre-screening of potential employees but the test they wants me to use cannot be validly applied to the demands of that specific job. In order to tackle these situations, it is important to go through some few steps that have been recommended by psychologists worldwide. These steps are as follows:

Step 1: Gather all the information and facts needed.

In this case, it is important to review the history of Larry and understand his beliefs, fears and his overall well-being. The psychologist will analyze this situation and try to be as neutral as possible by trying to listen to him and understand his argument about the situation at hand.

On the next case, it is prudent for the psychologist to analyze the tests and analyze himself with the job demands. I will research about the tests in question and gather all the information about them.

 Step 2: Anticipate who will be affected by the decision.

In this case, the patient will be informed of the effects of his decisions on his daily activities and how hard it will be for his family to help him out even in simple tasks like going to the bathroom.

On the next case, the employees will be directly affected if I decided to go ahead with the tests. The fact that there is no evidence available about the tests being applied to that kind of job could directly cause harm to the employees in question.

Step 3: Figure out who is the client is

Larry who lost his legs due to frostbite during winter and he refuses the prosthetics because has been referred to me because he believes that his legs will grow back. The doctor who asked for my help is involved in this situation and he will be the one paying for the sessions after he gets paid by the client because Larry is initially his client who was just referred to me.

The second case is clear that the main clients are the directors of the new company who will cater for all the bills and the necessary equipment needed for the screening of the potential employees.

Step 4: Assess if I have the skills and knowledge to help in this situation.

In the case of Larry, I believe I can be of great help in the situation at hand, and if it seems necessary, I will invite one of the family members to convince him more.

In the case of pre-screening, I have the necessary skills since I have done it before to other different companies that had previously needed my expertise.

 Step 5: Review relevant formal ethical standards

This Larry situation has been referred directly by the ethical standards on a section where the psychologists are allowed to take reasonable steps if they feel that they will be avoiding more harm to the client in accordance with the APA code of ethics (APA, 2010).

The issue with the organizational demands have also been tackled by the ethical standards which state that If the if the organizational requests conflict with the code of ethics, the psychologists in question should always make sure to follow the ethics code (APA, 2002).

Step 6: Review relevant legal standards

The issue of Larry is consistent with the legal standards and also the code of ethics and the ethical standards which talks about preventing the client from harm. In this case, I would be preventing Larry from unforeseen harm that may occur without the prosthetics.

On the case of the pre-screening, the situation is a bit complicated as it conflict with the ethical standards so I would need to consult an attorney to clarify on this issue and also obtain some legal guidance in order to know whether to go ahead with the screening or not.

Step 7: Personal feelings, biases, self-interests

The sympathy in the Larry case may affect my judgment about his real needs but I should follow the ethical code and standards that requires me to prevent him from foreseeable or unforeseeable harm.

The prescreening case on other hand, I might get biased due to the money offered but a good psychologist is required to stand his ground and observe the code of ethics with no exception at all.

 Step 8: Develop alternative courses of action.

The Larry case might need some alternative courses of actions if he continues to reject the prosthetics. I might also need to consult other professionals to help explain to him more that the legs would not grow back without hurting his feelings.

About the pre-screening case, I would consider asking the management to change the tests and get the verified ones which I would be happy to work with.