Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology

PSY-510 Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology

Handling Disparate Information

1. Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame the nature of the dilemma? Comment by DELL: The nature of the dilemma should be explained in terms of principles in conflict. See course announcement, TIPS for Week 4 Assignment.

Dr. Vaji’s assessment on Leo should be independent of other graduate’s opinions and remarks. As a supervisor, he should grade his students based on their performance and not an external influence. On the other hand, if Dr. Vaji does not address the issues reported by the other students about Leo, he will be equally doing wrong. Principles framing the ethical dilemma include respect, competency, integrity, and responsibility (Knapp et al., 2012). Leo has not been truthful to his supervisors, and he risks doing the same being unjust to his clients in the future, lacking concern for their welfare. Dr. Vaji will lack integrity if he evaluates Leo based on other students’ remarks. Comment by DELL: The relevant principles should be identified by letter; e.g., APA Principle E: Respect for the rights and dignity of others. Comment by DELL: This has not been proven yet…. 4/6

2. Who are the stakeholders and how will they be affected by how Dr. Vaji resolves this dilemma?

The stakeholders in the ethical dilemma include Leo, his supervisors, the institution, and his current and future clients. If Dr. Vaji addresses Leo’s issues based on other students’ observations to resolve the ethical dilemma, Leo is likely to fail in the extern program. Dr. Vaji, as a supervisor, will have foregone the ethical standard of integrity. If the ethical dilemma is solved by allowing Leo’s issues go unaddressed, he is likely to pass the program. Therefore, Leo will become a practicing therapist, although, lacking competency and integrity. Dr. Vaji notes that Leo is ineffective to his clients, as evidenced by the reduced larger than a usual number of clients who have stopped going for their session with him. Comment by DELL: Good! There are additional stakeholders; this question is worth up to 8 points. See scoring guide. 6/8

3. What additional information might Dr. Vaji collect to provide him with a more accurate picture of Leo’s multicultural attitudes and professional skills? What are the reasons for and against contacting Leo’s supervisor for more information? Should he request that Leo’s sessions with clients be electronically recorded or observed?

Dr. Vaji should consult Leo’s current clients to gain more insight into Leo’s multicultural attitudes and professional skills. Dr. Vaji has noted that an unusual number of clients have ceased attending their sessions with Leo. He should consult them to ascertain if Leo’s lack of integrity is the cause. Further, Dr. Vaji should consult Leo’s on-site supervisor to confirm if truly Leo has been deceiving them. The downside of Dr. Vaji consulting the on-site supervisor is that the on-site supervisor’s reports in the future may be influenced by the revelations of Dr. Vaji. Besides consulting the on-site supervisor, Dr. Vaji can have Leo’s sessions recorded electronically for later review. It will also help in approaching Leo without involving the other students. Comment by DELL: This idea is heading down the right track…consider how, without breaking Leo’s confidentiality. Cite APA standards to support conclusions. See announcement, TIPS for Week 4 Assignment. Comment by DELL: If Leo is faking good around supervisors now, this information would not be accurate, because he and his clients would have to know they were being recorded. 4/6

4. Is Dr. Vaji in a potentially unethical multiple relationship as both Leo’s externship supervisor and his teacher in the Health Disparate class? Why or why not?

By being both Leo’s externship supervisor and lecturer in the Health Disparate class, Dr. Vaji is not in a potentially unethical multi-relationship. Being Leo’s teacher has helped him acquire more insight into Leo’s behavior by comparing his report as a lecturer and the other supervisor’s report. As the externship supervisor, Dr. Vaji would only depend on the lecturers’ reports to evaluate Leo. However, Leo appears to be deceiving his supervisors by acting differently in either’s presence to receive good grades. Leo’s harmful behavior, especially as a practicing therapist, is likely to go unaddressed if not for Dr. Vaji’s multi-relationship. Comment by DELL: Cite relevant APA standards to support your conclusions. In this case, 3.05 c would be relevant. 5/6

5. To what extent, if any, should Dr. Vaji consider Leo’s own ethnicity in his deliberations? Would the dilemma be addressed differently if Leo self-identified as non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, or non-Hispanic black? Comment by DELL: This aspect of the question was not specifically addressed in the response.

Dr. Vaji should consider Leo’s ethnicity when deliberating on the ethical dilemma. Leo has probably been brought up in a community with poor multicultural attitudes. Else, Leo might have lived in a community where his population is the ethnic minority. This insight about Leo’s ethnicity should explain his behavior and, therefore, his supervisors will know how to approach him. However, a professional therapist should not be influenced by their ethnicity (Knapp et al., 2012). Comment by DELL: These statements appear contradictory. If ethnicity should not be an influencing factor in professional behavior, why should it be considered during an internship? 2/6

6. Once the dilemma is resolved, should Dr. Vaji have a follow-up meeting with the students who complained?

Once the ethical dilemma has been solved, the other graduate students should have a follow-up meeting with Dr. Vaji as well. Leo appears to be deceiving his supervisors in class but shows his true character to other students. The meeting should only be used to assess if Leo has improved his behavior outside class and not for academic assessment. Comment by DELL: Cite relevant APA standards to support your conclusions. In this case, Dr V has an ethical responsibility to Leo, as well; Leo is also a stakeholder. 0/6

7. How are APA Ethical Standards 1.08, 3.04, 3.05, 3.09, 7.04, 7.05, and 7.06 and the Hot Topics “Ethical Supervision of Trainees” (Chapter 10) and “Multicultural Ethical Competence” (Chapter 5) relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?

The APA ethical standards are the foundations on which a competent psychology practitioner is built (Knapp et al., 2012). For this reason, the article constantly refers to these principles. The Hot Topics are to this case since they raise the issues of supervising trainees, discrimination especially of the ethnic minority, multicultural attitudes, accountability and responsibility, and professional skills. APA ethical standard 4.03, recording, could also be applicable. Dr. Vaji could have Leo’s sessions with his clients recorded for better reference and correction of his behavior. Another applicable APA ethical standard is 2.03, maintain competence, as both Leo’s supervisors have noted that he is not competent enough yet. Comment by DELL: Each of the standards in question should be addressed individually in this response. Standards differ from principles, so the statement about the Knapp article is unclear. This question is worth up to 10 points; see scoring guide and TIPS for Week 4 assignment. 3/10 Comment by DELL: See comment # 6, above.

8. What are Dr. Vaji’s ethical alternatives for resolving this dilemma? Which alternatives best reflects the Ethics Code aspirational principles and enforceable standards, legal standards, and obligations to stakeholders? Can you identify the ethical theory (discussed in Chapter 3) guiding your decision? Comment by DELL: This aspect of the question was not addressed.

The ethical alternatives that Dr. Vaji should implement include stopping Leo from role-playing and determining if Leo has a personality disorder or he lacks integrity. Leo is probably picking up his bad behavior from his role-play and advancing it to his clients. The best ethical alternative, however, is explaining the APA ethical principles as they are legal standards enforceable on all stakeholders. Comment by DELL: How is this an ethical alternative? Explain. Role play is utilized for practice and is an important component of training. How would Dr V determine if Leo has a disorder? Support conclusions by citing relevant APA standards. 2/6

9. What steps should Dr. Vaji take to implement his decision and monitor its effect? Comment by DELL: The 6 steps of ethical decision making should be cited and explained in this response. See course announcement, TIPS for Week 4 Assignment.

Dr. Vaji should organize for more ethnic minority clients to attend Leo’s sessions. This way Leo will have more cases to discuss within the remaining period. Dr. Vaji will use the increased sessions to evaluate improvement of multicultural attitudes and professional skills after their meeting. If an unusually large number of clients do not stop their sessions, then Leo will have improved. Comment by DELL: Not without ensuring that Leo is well trained; that would be ethically irresponsible. 0/6


Knapp, S., Gottlieb, M. C., Handelsman, M. M., VandeCreek, L., & American Psychological Association. (2012). APA handbook of ethics in psychology: Vol. 2. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.


Q’s # 1, 3-6, 8, and 9 are worth up to 6 points each.

Q 2 is worth up to 8 points.

Q # 7 is worth up to 10 points.

The total will be equal to a percentage, where 60 points =100 %.

T=26/60=43 + 17 curve= 60/100

Please see comments # 1-16 in right margin.

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