Professional Ethics in the Context of Psychotherapy

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Professional Ethics in the Context of Psychotherapy
September 18, 2008 Evidence Based Psychotherapy

Learning Objectives
  Summarize the APA 5 general ethical principles
  List the Ethical Principles outlined in the Professional Code of Conduct that relate directly and indirectly to service delivery
  Differentiate between Utilitarian and Deontological approaches to ethical decision making
  Apply ethical decision making to therapyrelated case examples

  What are ethics?
  Rules   Decision Framework   Most professions have an ethics code,
that guides the ethical decision making process on a day-to-day basis
  How are codes developed   What do you do if the dilemma is not
directly addressed by a code?
  Answer: ethical decision making

Ethical Approaches
  Utilitarian   Deontological

Note: the Utilitarian and Deontological Slides were created by Richard DeGeorge, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy University of Kansas

Basic Generalization:
Actions are right if they produce more good than bad when the consequences to all affected parties are considered. Otherwise, they are wrong.
Also known as the “greatest happiness principle”: An action is right if it produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.

Pleasure Absence of pain Happiness Satisfaction of preferences Well-being

1. Analysis is universal: If action is right for me, it is right for all similarly placed.
2.  Each person counts equally. 3.  The consequences for all are considered. 4.  Not just a cost-benefit analysis. 5. Calculation is objective.

 Act utilitarianism: Consider effects of this particular
act in this particular circumstance.
(E.g., Provide this treatment for this particular person)
 Rule utilitarianism:
Consider effects of following the general rule covering this class of actions
(E.g., Use this treatment whenever you feel like it)

1.  State the action to be evaluated 2.  State all the pertinent facts 3.  Identify all affected by the action 4.  Specify all the good and bad consequences for all
affected parties 5.  Total the good and bad. 6.  Consider all alternatives imaginatively
The action that produces the most good over bad is the morally correct action

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Professional Ethics in the Context of Psychotherapy