Case Study Four Worksheet

Case Study Four Worksheet

PSYCH/660 Ethics and Professional Issues

08-Oct-19Case Study Two Worksheet

Respond to the following questions in 1,500 to 1,750 words.

Case study four is regarding Dr. Yeung a community psychologist who has been conducting a study that is federally funded researching attitudes toward their intimate partners with whom they have been violent with in the past causing incarceration. One client, Aiden, has been interviewed 8 times in the past by Dr. Yeung has recently began drinking again and has left a disturbing and cryptic message on Dr. Yeung’s answering machine leading her to believe that Aiden may be posing a threat to not only his girlfriend but perhaps those around him as well as himself (Fisher, 2013). Dr. Yeung is now placed in a predicament in which she must make an ethical decision to notify the authorities and release information. This paper will address the questions in the worksheet provided for this assignment.

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

Dr. Yeung is faced with an ethical dilemma due to a moral obligation to uphold the law due to the seriousness of the issue that Aiden is presenting with the phone call that he has left on the doctor’s answering machine. During the time that Aiden was a participant in the doctor’s research study, he openly discussed personal information regarding his drinking and anger issues which caused him to become violent towards his girlfriend and others. Aiden has seen Dr. Yeung as more of a treating psychologist than a researcher by his actions of ultimately reaching out to her upon his downfall with returning to alcohol. Though Dr. Yeung was not Aiden’s primary psychologist, she still feels as though she is obligated to assist Aiden because he reached out to Dr. Yeung leaving information stating that he could potentially be a threat to not only himself but others as well. Dr. Yeung may not be a clinical psychologist, but she is trained in the role to adhere to APA ethical principles such as Principle A which is, “Beneficence and Nonmaleficence” (, 2003). This principle would suggest that she attemptto do good and protect those that she works with from doing harm. Should Dr. Yeung choose to ignore this principle there is a risk that Aiden in fact might harm himself or others while he is drinking though she does risk breaking confidentiality between her and Aiden. As Dr. Yeung was only working as a researcher and not as an individual psychologist, there is no confidentiality contract or obligation regarding an illegal act that could potentially happen in this circumstance. Principle B “Fidelity and Responsibility” (, 2003) is a factor as well in which Dr. Yeung wants to avoid a conflict of interest that potentially could threatentrust though could also present a dangeroussituation; thus, it would be responsible for doctor to report the phone call to the authorities to have a well-check done on Aiden at his home. Principle E “Respect for people’s rights and dignity” (, 2003) states that it is important to respect the rights of Aiden as an individual to do as he wishes, but it is also important to make decisions based on the rights of others as well in this situation, as it is the right for safety of those involved in Aiden’s life that pose a risk of being in imminent danger of his actions.

Does this situation meet the standards set by the duty to protect statue? How might whether or not Dr. Yeung’s state includes researchers under such a statute influence Dr. Yeung’s ethical decision making? How might the fact that Dr. Yeung is a research psychologist without training or licensure in clinical practice influence the ethical decision?

Dr. Yeung is in a comparablepredicamentas seen with the Tarasoff case and the duty to protect or warn, Dr. Yeung could potentially have the moral and ethical marginal route to take to alert the authorities to the potential / cryptic threats made by Aiden and the message that he left for the doctor. With Aiden’s history of violence and spousal abuse as reported in the study to the doctor, she does have credible requirements to act upon making the decision to report even though Aiden does not specify who his potential victims are. AS the Tarasoff case pertains to “the duty to protect” this is what Dr. Yeung would be doing if she contacted the authorities to at least do a well check on Aiden since his phone is staying a constant busy signal and she is unable to contact him, this would protect her from breaking confidentiality to a third party and creating potentially unnecessary problems for others. APA Ethics Code Standard 3.04 states, “Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable” (Fisher, 2013). With Dr. Yeung, not being licensed to handle a case such as this on her own, it would be necessary that she refer to APA Ethics Code Standard 2.01 Boundaries of Competence, this would help her by means of understanding her own boundaries in this case and to reach out to professionals that are licensed to handle something such as this; thus, incorporating standard 3.09 which covers coordinating with other professionals in case management to assist with progression of cases.

How are APA Ethical Standards 2.01a b, and c; 2.04; 3.04; 3.06; 4.01; 4.02; and 10.10a relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?

There are several ethical standards that apply to this case, beginning with 2.01a and b. APA Ethics Code 2.01a, b, & c cover “Boundaries of Competence” (, 2017). Dr. Yeung is a community psychologist that is doing research, this meaning that she is not doing clinical psychology and she must remain within the margins of practice, 2.01a would help Dr. Yeung to ensure that the research studies are within her competence boundaries and 2.01b would propose that she can and will make the proper referrals for her client when she finds that she lacks the education to treat her participants properly. APA Ethics Code standard 2.01c would ensure that Dr. Yeung has the proper training to conduct research in this field with competence and does not conduct any research that she has not had proper training for. APA Ethics Code Standard 3.04 is “Avoiding Harm” under Human Relations of the Ethics Standard (, 2017). This standard is applicable in this case as Dr. Yeung has Aiden’s message as proof of potential harm to others thus, making it an ethical move to move forward in contacting the authorities to check on Aiden in this situation to not only protect him but those around him. Ethical standard 3.06 “Conflict of Interest” (, 2017), is identifiable in this scenario if Dr. Yeung should contact those who could potentially be in harm’s way or contacting the authorities instead. As mentioned earlier, Aiden never disclosed any names with his message as it was cryptic in nature and potentially the doctor could be releasing sensitive information without cause to the wrong people or third party. Dr. Yeung is not the clinical psychologist in this matter and this could fall under this standard as well since that could potentially be a conflict of interest also. Standard 4.01 pertains to maintaining confidentiality and if Dr. Yeung exposes Aiden’s confidential statements made to her during research studies she could take the risk losing the rapport she has built with him, if she had been his clinical psychologist this would pose more of an ethical dilemma than simply being the researcher for study in this case. Ethical standard 4.02 discusses the limitations of confidentiality and what can be discussed with Aiden and the legal system pertaining to discussions before Dr. Yeung began her research. Dr. Yeung would need to have discussed the probability of Aiden’s history and future actions should he begin to show symptomatic signs of prior actions again and the doctor’s obligation to release information to the authorities and those in potential danger as a preliminary precaution before research began. Standard 4.05 could be referred to in this situation as it covers a professional has the right to divulge confidential or private information to protect all involved in this case, again it should be noted that proper documentation of this would be necessary. Standard 10.10a is relevant to this case between Dr. Yeung and Aiden due to the doctor can terminate further research as it does not further itself useful or needed within the scope of competence or therapy for Aiden or for Dr. Yeung.

What are Dr. Yeung’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 Dr. Yeung’s obligations to stakeholders?

Dr. Yeung does have some ethical alternatives to resolve this dilemma with Aiden, though it is noted that the alternatives won’t be easy decisions. Dr. Yeung could potentially gain further training to continue treatment for and with Aiden outside the scope of research study and more in the field of clinical psychology as a future alternative. As an alternative for the current time frame of the situation, she could go to the authorities and the third parties involved to keep other’s from potentially being harmed. The alternative that would prove to be most beneficial and reflect principles and enforceable standards, legal standards, and obligations to interested partywould be to report the incident at the time of occurrence in full detail. It would be best to treat Aiden’s behavior as imminently dangerous behavior as it holds similar values as the Tarasoff case. Because Dr. Yeung is lacking the proper credentials to treat Aiden within her own boundaries of confidence, she could refer Aiden to another professional who is professionally trained which shows her ethical behavior by means of cooperation with other professionals; thus, allowing her to terminate all actions with Aiden as she is unable to properly give Aiden the treatment that he needs.

What steps should Dr. Yeung take to ethically implement her decision and monitor its effects?

Dr. Yeung displays her commitment to helping others and has faced her own struggles between ethical and moral decision making with this case. She struggled with making the decision to contact the authorities or if she should contact Aiden’s parents and girlfriend due to past reported history and current his current cryptic threats made on his phone message. The traits are similar in this case as the ones found in the Tarasoff case and the potential dangers associated with it should be taken seriously. Dr. Yeung should contact the authorities to have a well check performed on Aiden and give the names of his parents and girlfriend to them as well explaining to the authorities that Aiden is unable to be reached after leaving his message on her answering machine. Ethics code 4.02 and 4.05 allow Dr. Yeung to disclose confidential information that could protect others from harm. Upon following up with Aiden after the authorities have been involved, Dr. Yeung should go through the appropriatechannels to terminate services as stated in ethics standard 10.10a and explain to Aiden that further contact could be harmful to Aiden without Dr. Yeung being properly trained in clinical psychology, his needs are beyond her scope of practice. Dr. Yeung ought torefer Aiden to another psychologist, 3.09 and 2.01, which allows that Aiden will receive the treatment and care that he needs by someone that has been properly trained and licensed.


American Psychological Association. (2003). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of

Conduct. Retrieved from:

American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of

Conduct. Retrieved from:

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

Oaks, CA: Sage.