29 Aug 2022


Ethical Dilemmas: What Would You Do?

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 814

Pages: 3

Downloads: 0

The importance of resolving ethical dilemmas systematically by following established decision-making steps cannot be underestimated. It is impossible to solve an ethical dilemma the same way. Moreover, different professionals solve moral dilemmas in different ways. However, to resolve an ethical situation effectively, it is imperative to follow a systematic approach in ethical decision-making should the need arise to hold one accountable for the choice of course of action while resolving an ethical dilemma. 

I would implement a practical, sequential, seven step model as suggested by Forester-Miller and Davies (1996) in making my decision on an ethical dilemma case. 

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I would need to identify the problem looking at the conflicting issue from as many perspectives as possible by being specific and objective by separating facts from assumptions, hypothesis, or suspicions. By looking at the problem from an ethical, legal, professional, or even personal perspective, I would be able to apply the appropriate measure, for example, whereas a legal problem would require a legal solution, an ethical problem would require employing APA code of ethics guidelines to solve the situation. 

I will consult the APA code of ethics guidelines to find out if it addresses the problem the problem. Should there be an applicable standard, then a possible resolution of the problem should be available. However, should the problem be complex and the solution elusive within the guidelines, then this should be a true case of an ethical dilemma that might require the next steps of action. 

Also, I would look at the problem from various perspectives by looking at the six “moral principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity” to determine the scope of the dilemma by gauging which one applies to the situation (Corey, Corey, S & Callanan, 2007). I would also seek the professional opinion of other psychologists for a second opinion on the issue. 

I would then map out ideas that will formulate the next phase of action based on the facts about the dilemma by brainstorming possible courses of action. Once I have brainstormed on possible courses of action, I would then consider the possible consequences of each action on all parties involved. I would then eliminate actions that do not solicit the desired results, then analyze the remaining options and determine which option fits the identified situation. I would then carefully evaluation the selected plan of action to determine if it offers any new ethical issues. Should there be issues, then restart the process. If not, then I would proceed to the final phase. Lastly, I would finally implement the identified plan of action. It is important also to follow up once executed to ascertain if it has accomplished the desired objective. 

Ethical codes of conduct alone do not provide solutions to moral dilemmas. However, by incorporating established decision-making steps with an understanding of the codes of ethics, the one puts themselves in a position to clearly address and resolve the conflicting issue. As a result, accounting for the APA Ethics code is important as it not only provides guidelines but points the therapist towards finding a possible solution when faced with an ethical dilemma. 

The six moral principles are the foundation of ethical rules. Ethical guidelines cannot address all circumstances that a professional is bound to face. As a result, for a psychologist to be able to understand the conflicting issue at hand clearly, it is important to look at the dilemma in line with these six principles as they form the premise of ethical guidelines. As a professional, these “six moral principles: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity form the foundation “of the highest level of ethical functioning ( Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2007) . 

Autonomy seeks to address the issue of independence. At its core, this principle allows an individual the freedom to make independent choices and actions. It also addresses the responsibility of the psychologist to encourage clients to make autonomous decisions when appropriate. The therapist should assist the client to understand the implications of their decisions and values especially how such decisions might infringe on other people’s rights. Consideration of client’s ability to make sound choices and actions is required, for example, children or the mentally challenged should not be allowed to make choices that might cause harm to themselves or others. Nonmaleficence tackles the idea of avoidance of causing harm to others. It can simply be summed up as “above all do no harm”. This principle seeks to express and encourage the therapist to not inflict intentional harm or engage in risky actions that might cause harm to others. 

Beneficence addresses the therapist’s responsibility in contributing to the client’s welfare by doing good and discouraging intentional harm. While justice seeks to point out fairness without prejudice one’s race, sex, ethnicity, or even sexual orientation. Should the need to treat an individual differently arise, a therapist should be able to offer the rationale for the need to treat such an individual differently. 

Fidelity addresses issues of loyalty, faithfulness and honoring of commitments. A therapist is, therefore, bound to honor and stick to the commitments they have made to the client. The therapist should fulfill all obligations to the client. Veracity, on the other hand, addresses truthfulness. A good therapeutic relationship is dependent upon trust. For a good working relationship to grow, the therapist is required to be truthful with the clients. 

By looking at these six principles, the therapist puts themselves in a position to clearly understand the ethical dilemma and often, the means by which to resolve a particular situation becomes apparent. 


Corey, G., Corey, S.M., & Callanan, P. (2007 ). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th Ed). New York: Brooks/Cole/Thomson Learning. 

Forester-Miller, H. & Davis, T. (1996). A Practitioner's Guide to Ethical Decision Making . Retrieved from https://www.counseling.org/docs/ethics/practitioners_guide.pdf?sfvrsn=2 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Ethical Dilemmas: What Would You Do?.


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