Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychology

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The ethics of clinical psychology are often associated with the ethics of the psychologist. The clinical psychologist must maintain an intimate, yet restrained and respectful relationship with their client. Theoretically, their education (through PhD or Psy D) has prepared the psychologist for the rigors of practice, for diagnosing patients and for maintaining their cool.  However, what control factors are in place to be certain that the psychologist is not themselves suffering from depression or psychological disorder. Ethically, if the psychologist is receiving treatment for such a disorder, should they disclose that to their patients? Should they be practicing therapy?

At the same time, if the treatment is successful, (such as taking prescription for generalized anxiety disorder) and they are in good shape, does the fact that they have a condition have a bearing on their ability to practice? This is the type of situation that can and may lead to malpractice, abuse or an inability to correctly counsel patients; yet who makes that decision? In larger practices, mentoring and having a psychologist ‘sit in’ on sessions can reduce these problems,

Clinical psychologists are expected to be trustworthy and reliable, ethically gray areas exist in all walks of life, but require absolute definition when it comes to mental health. Another ethical area is that of the dual relationship. Psychologists should not treat their family or friends and they shouldn’t cross the boundaries with their patients and become involved with them on a personal or romantic level. Psychologists who engage in dual relationships with their clients can contribute more harm than good and run the risk of losing their licensing (Plante, 2005).


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