Ethical Decision Making Debate




Describe your selected ethical dilemma and why it is a dilemma

The Ethical dilemma chosen for debate was multiple relationships. This can be characterized as any situation where the client becomes anything other than a client. Multiple relationships are considered a dilemma because these multiple relationships can impair a therapist’s effectiveness, competence, and/or objectivity in job performance. Therapists are supposed to not cause any more harm than already done. Multiple relationships provide opportunity for exploitation of the client.

Provide an argument for two methods of resolving the issue and justify the ethical resolution process you would take under each method. 

Argument 1 (Clarence)

Psychologists can sometimes find themselves in multiple relationships, meaning , taking on the role of psychologist as well as other types of relationships with their clients. This can prove to be an issue. Psychologists should refrain from entering multiple relationships because doing so could have an effect on their abilities as a psychologist in performing their duties and abilities (Fisher, 2013). There is also a risk of impairment and potential harm when multiple relationships exist . There are ways that psychologists can take steps in avoiding multiple relationships with their clients . One such example is by setting boundaries . By setting boundaries , psychologists can take a step back and ask themselves if relationships such as these would benefit the client or potentially risk the treatment that the patient has already received (Good Therapy Staff, 2015). The process of setting boundaries can help in the prevention of multiple relationships occurring in the future and can aid in the overall treatment process .

Provide an argument for why each method should be used.

Argument 1 (Aliyyah)

Standard 3.05 states that engaging in multiple relationships can be unethical whether the various relationships involve one individual or multiple individuals who are closely associated with each other. Standard 3.05 also states that engaging in multiple relationships must “be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing his or her functions as a psychologist” (Fisher, 2013). With that being said, multiple relationships are not all considered unethical.

When a psychologist engages in multiple relationships with clients or co-workers, 1 solution is to maintain these relationships by taking the necessary steps to ensure each relationship is healthy and consistent with the APA’s Code of Ethics. To be more specific, psychologists need to establish boundaries and expectations with the individual or individuals in which he or she has an established relationship with. “A boundary symbolizes limits of a professional transaction” (Dewane, 2010). In other words, acknowledging boundaries up front with an individual allows the psychologist and the client or co-worker to understand the goal(s) of their relationships, what is to be expected from the relationship, and what is not acceptable while engaging in that particular relationship. Therefore, the psychologist is able to complete his or her duties in that particular relationship effectively and efficiently.

Argument 2 (Lauria)

maintain high standards and being competent with in the boundaries of their profession. Such things as dual relationships may not make it professional to have a dual relationship between the psychologist and client. Behaviors from professional psychologist may cause conflict if the psychologist is treating a client well as teaching at a local college where the client attends as a student. Being a practicing psychologist and a professor at a college, this could arise to cause ethical dilemma for the psychologist. This could fall under several general principles from the ethical principles of psychologist and code of conduct (APA, 1992). Principle A competence states that psychologist maintain high standards and to be competent in their work environment (APA, 1992). This could cause a conflict from the relationship between the psychologist and client for reason such as the different inter action settings. Principle D respects the rights and dignity and worth of people, this also could cause the psychologist to form bias or different beliefs of the client because of the cultural setting (APA, 1992).

Psychologist have a social responsibility principle F, under misuse of their work could cause conflict in perception between the psychologist and client as well (APA, 1992). Examples of each of these could result in altering values they share, attitudes towards each other, or cause personal conflicts that could interfere with how effective the therapy is or class room studies.


American Psychological Association: (2016).

Dewane, C. J. (2010). Respecting boundaries: The don’ts of dual relationships. Social Work Today, 10(1), 18.

Fisher, C. (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists, 3e

Good Therapy Staff. (2015, August 6). Dual relationship . Retrieved from