Handling Disparate


Case 7. Handling Disparate

Information for Evaluating Trainees

Rashid Vaji, Ph.D., a member of the school psychology faculty at a midsize university,

serves as a faculty supervisor for students assigned to externships in schools. The

department has formalized a supervision and evaluation system for the extern program.

Students have weekly individual meetings with the faculty supervisor and

biweekly meetings with the on-site supervisor. The on-site supervisor writes a midyear

(December) and end of academic year (May) evaluation of each student. The

site evaluations are sent to Dr. Vaji, and he provides feedback based on the site and

his own supervisory evaluation to each student. The final grade (fail, low pass, pass,

high pass) is the responsibility of Dr. Vaji.

Dr. Vaji also teaches the Spring Semester graduate class on “Health Disparities in

Mental Health.” One of the course requirements is for students to write weekly

thought papers, in which they are required to take the perspective of therapy clients

from different ethnic groups in reaction to specific session topics. Leo Watson, a

second-year graduate student is one of Dr. Vaji’s externship supervisees. He is also

enrolled in the Health Disparities course. Leo’s thought papers often present

ethnic-minority adolescents as prone to violence and unable to “grasp” the insights

offered by school psychologists. In a classroom role-playing exercise, Leo “plays” an

ethnic-minority student client as slumping in the chair not understanding the psychologist

and giving angry retorts. In written comments on these thought papers

and class feedback, Dr. Vaji encourages Leo to incorporate more of the readings on

racial/ethnic discrimination and multicultural competence into his papers and to

provide more complex perspectives on clients.

One day during his office hours, three students from the class come to Dr. Vaji’s

office to complain about Leo’s behavior outside the classroom. They describe incidents

in which Leo uses derogatory ethnic labels to describe his externship clients

and brags about “putting one over” on his site supervisors by describing these clients

in “glowing” terms just to satisfy his supervisors’ “stupid liberal do-good”

attitudes. They also report an incident at a local bar at which Leo was seen harassing

an African American waitress using racial slurs.


Psych 660 Case study seven

Student’s Name

Institution Affiliation

Psych 660 Case study seven

Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame the nature of the dilemma?

The whole scenario is an ethical dilemma. First, this is because Rashid Vaji, who is a member of the school psychology faculty and teaches Leo, and the On-Site supervisor, who evaluates Leo, has provided their evaluations differently on Leo. This is quite a difficult situation to come into a common evaluation as both the supervisors have their stands on the student Leo. With 6 weeks of supervision left with Leo, Dr. Vaji will have limited time to evaluate Leo and come to terms with the On-Site supervisor. The other thing that weighs in on the ethical dilemma is the other fellow students, who have complained to Dr. Vaji about Leo’s behavior outside the classroom. The other ethical dilemma is whether Leo has been intentionally deceiving both supervisors. This is an ethical dilemma because if he does deceive the two supervisors, then he may be quite ineffective or harmful as a therapist to his current clients than either the supervisors realized. It may also indicate some personality disorder or lack of integrity.

The APA principles that help frame the nature of dilemma is Standards 1 on resolving ethical issues, Standards 3 on human relations, Standards 7 on education and training, and Standard 9 on assessment.

To what extent, if any, should Dr. Vaji consider Leo’s ethnicity in his deliberations? Would the dilemma be addressed differently if Leo self-identified as non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, on non-Hispanic Black?

Dr Vaji should consider Leo’s ethnicity to within the insights offered by the school psychologists. He should consider only within the class-room role-playing exercise and he should not consider what goes on outside the precincts of the school.

The dilemma would still be addressed the same if Leo self-identified as non-Hispanic white, Hispanic or non-Hispanic black. This is because the whole ethical dilemma centers on deceiving the two supervisors and complains that the two has on him. In essence, any cases of deceiving on matters of classroom or breach of human relations does not base on race, or color or whichever the case.

How are APA Ethical Standards 1.08, 3.04, 3.05, 3.09, 7.04, 7.05, and 17.05 relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?

Standard 1.08 is relevant to the case because there is unfair discrimination against complainants and respondents. The students, who were also Leo’s respondents in the externships program, were discriminated when they complained about Leo’s unbecoming behavior outside the school. The supervisors should have heard the students complains and take appropriate action on Leo.

Standard 3.04 is on avoiding harm. This standard is relevant to the case because psychologists must take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients, students, research participants among others with whom they work with, and to make sure they minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable. In this case, Leo had harassed other students outside the school. The other students reported the case to their supervisors. However, the supervisors did not take any steps to avoid Leo from his continuing behavior.

Standard 3.05 is on multiple relationships. This standard is also relevant to the case because Dr. Vaji is in two professional roles with Leo at the same time he is in another role. For instance, Dr. Vaji does the role of supervising Leo on weekly meetings and also teaches Leo on health disparities in mental health. This standard, hence, should be applied in this case because a psychologist should refrain from entering into a multiple relationship if the multiple relationships could impair the psychologist’s objectivity, effectiveness or competence in performing his or her functions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks harm or exploitation to the person who professional relationship exists.

Standard 3.09 is on cooperation with other professionals. In this standard, psychologists have to cooperate with other professionals such that they serve their clients or patients effectively and appropriately. This standard applies to Leo, and this is because he does not want to cooperate with the other students and also there is likelihood that he is deceiving his supervisors. This is an indication that he is not cooperating with other professionals.

Standard 7.04 is on student disclosure of personal information. In this standard, psychologists do not require supervisees or students to disclose personal information in course- or program-related activities except if the program has identified the requirement in its admission and program materials. From the case, it was evident that some students did disclose their ethnicity or cultural background, and this might have made Leo to take advantage and harass other students outside the school.

Standard 7.05 involve mandatory individual or group theory. This standard states that when an individual or group therapy is the requirement, then psychologists that are responsible for such a program allow students the option of selecting such therapy from practitioners unaffiliated with the program. Part B states that the faculty responsible for evaluating student’s academic performance does not provide the therapy. It was evident that Leo might have intentionally deceived both supervisors and this may be harmful as a therapist to his current client. This might have been or shows a personality disorder and someone else or psychologist should address the therapy.

What are Dr. Vaji’s ethical alternatives for resolving this dilemma? Which alternative best reflects the Ethics Code aspirational principle and enforceable standard, as well as legal standards and obligations to stakeholders?

Dr. Vaji’s ethical alternative is for him to stop Leo from role-playing exercise that involve ethnic-minority student client. This is what makes Leo to advance his behavior that he might be learning in such activity. In essence, what is being taught to role-play makes him to take serious about such issues, and that is the reason he uses derogatory ethnic labels to describe his externship clients and also brags about “putting one over” on the site supervisor. He even describes his supervisors as with stupid liberal do-good attitudes. Therefore, it is not ethical for Dr. Vaji to continue allowing Leo to role-play an ethnic minority student client. The best alternative is for Mr. Vaji to stop Leo from such activity.

The other alternative is to hold a discussion with Leo and determine whether he is deceiving his supervisors. If this is quite true, then he should be cautioned. The discussion should also include whether he has had any personality disorder or even lack of integrity. Sitting down and discussing the problems Leo face is another alternative.

The best alternative that reflects the ethics code aspirational principal and enforceable standard, as well as legal standards and obligations to stakeholders involves the APA ethical principles. This is because the principles are well explained, and it is enforceable. They are also legal standards that apply to all the stakeholders.

What steps should Dr. Vaji take to ethically implement his decision and monitor its effects?

Dr. Vaji should not see this as obvious, but it is vital that he makes the point that deciding one of the best alternatives is not the same as doing something. The action that he should take should be real and tangible step in changing the situation. Some of the steps involve utilizing the most appropriate practice skills and competencies in psychology evaluations. He has to make use of communication, cultural competencies and skillful negotiations. This may enable Leo to see his impact on clients and to take some appropriate action. In order to monitor the effects, he has to reflect on the outcome of the ethical decision making process that he experienced. He has to evaluate the consequences of such a process for Leo and his clients and professionals such as supervisors.


Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

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