Ethics & Risk Management – New Online CE Course

Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 9 is a new 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that addresses a variety of ethics and risk management topics in the form of 26 short articles, written by experts in the field.

Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 9 is a new 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that addresses a variety of ethics and risk management topics in the form of 26 short articles, written by experts in the field.

The articles included in Ethics & Risk Management 9 are:

  • Addressing Boundary Issues – Discusses the risks, benefits, and ethics of boundary crossings and multiple relationships in therapy.
  • Consider Risks When Contracting with Commercial Teletherapy Companies – Highlights the risks and provides suggestions for working in e-therapy.
  • Ethical Considerations in Hospital Settings – Discusses the unique ethical challenges professionals in hospital settings face.
  • What is a Disability, Anyway? – Discusses the legal considerations involved in certifying a patient as “disabled” or having a “disability related need.”
  • Pre-Employment Evaluations for Police and Public Safety – Reviews clinical criteria for completing pre-employment psychological evaluations.
  • Exposure Varies in Alternative Practice Models – Discusses potential risks and benefits of alternative practice models.
  • Confidentiality Limited for Service Members – Provides guidance for civilian clinicians that provide mental health services to members of our military.
  • To Terminate or Not to Terminate? – Offers practice tips for clinicians to use when considering terminating therapy with clients.
  • Investigation Notice Not Cause for Panic – Illuminates steps you can take to prepare yourself and your practice, now and ahead of time, for the inevitable complaint.
  • Duty to Warn: Don’t Get Distracted by Legal Cases – Evaluates that laws may change, but the focus of “duty to warn” stays the same.
  • Taking on a Supervisee – An overview of best practice tips practitioners would be wise to consider before beginning a supervisory role of their own.
  • African American Families, Diversity and Ethics – A navigators’ guide to traversing the complexity of African American diversity with integrity and effective professionalism.
  • Protect Yourself from Ransomware – Explores common cyber-security threats and what can be done to mitigate these risks to your practice.
  • The Importance of Informed Consent – An answer to the question, “When and which elements of informed consent are required in the case of court-ordered evaluation?”
  • Laws/Rules Vary for Telepsychology Practice – Discusses the need for researching the ethical and legal guidelines before offering telepsychology services.
  • Working Ethically with LGBTQ Clients – Explores complications that can arise when treating sexual and gender minority clients and offers suggestions to help the clinician.
  • Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Clients Require Special Ethical Consideration – Provides a look at why it is important to offer interpreters to HOH or deaf clients and the ethical concerns associated with it.
  • How to Fine Tune Consultations – Offers advice on how to determine when a consultation may be necessary and who may be best equipped to provide you the necessary information.
  • High Quality, Well Documented Patient Care is Risk Management – Explains how developing habits of good practice and judicious competence underlie risk management protocols.
  • Ethics of Technology and Clinician Responsibility – Differentiates between psychological testing and assessment of patients and highlights the importance of the clinician’s expertise in the process.
  • Unique Peer Consultation Issues in Rural Alaska – Highlights the need for developing connections with trusted peers, who can support the clinician living and working in a rural Alaskan community.
  • Therapists Vulnerable to Sexual Misconduct Accusations – Reminds practitioners of the importance of having effective policies, practices, and education in place to protect oneself against allegations of misconduct.
  • When Being Too Helpful Can Backfire – Discusses the difference between ‘good customer service’ and a therapeutic relationship.
  • How to Handle Conflicts of Ethics and the Law – Provides examples of times when the Ethics Code conflicts with the law and offers strategies to resolve these conflicts.
  • Managing Risks of Telepsychology – A brief overview of the possible risks associated with telepsychology.
  • Supervising in the Age of #MeToo, Trigger Warning and Safe Spaces – A look at the nuances of interactions between supervisors and supervisees in light of the current social and political climate.

Course #31-22 | 2019 | 51 pages | 26 posttest questions

Click here to learn more.

Ethics & Risk Management 9 provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more.

Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Ethics and Law CE for Florida Psychologists

New Online CE Course @pdresources.org

Ethics and Law in Florida PsychologyEthics and Law in Florida Psychology is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that meets the ethics and law requirement for license renewal of Florida psychologists.

The purpose of this course is to ensure that Florida-licensed psychologists are fully aware of the ethical and legal privileges and constraints under which they are licensed to practice in the State of Florida. It provides the opportunity for a comprehensive reading of the APA Code of Ethics and the three sets of statutes and rules governing the practice of psychology in Florida. Completing this course will fulfill the requirement that licensed psychologists in Florida complete each biennial renewal period three hours of continuing education on professional ethics and Florida statutes and rules affecting the practice of psychology.

Case examples are included in this course for the purpose of illustrating the types of practices errors that occur in real life and their real consequences for clients. They are actual cases found in the official public records of the Florida Department of Health Division of Medical Quality Assurance. Licensing board complaints are a matter of public record. Nevertheless, the case reports outlined are included only for the purpose of illustrating the kinds of errors that occur in the practice of psychology and therefore contain no specifics like names, dates, or case numbers.

Course #31-05 | 2018 | 55 pages | 20 posttest questions

Courses also required for renewal of Florida psychologists:

Florida-licensed psychologists are required to complete a total of 40 hours of continuing education during each 2-year renewal cycle. All 40 hours may be obtained through online courses provided by APA-approved sponsors. The current license renewal cycle will end on May 31, 2018.

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Why Therapists Need Ethics

By Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT @pdresources.org

EthicsThere is a good reason that ethics is a required component of our continuing education for license renewal. Ethics alone can be grounds for losing your license. It can also be grounds for a lawsuit. And more often than not, it is the source of client harm – even when it is not meant to be.

A therapist who means well but doesn’t fully understand client privilege or confidentiality can harm a client just as much as therapist who simply ignores ethical protocol. Today, with the explosion of social media, it has become even more difficult to decipher the difference. For example, let’s say a therapist runs groups for a treatment facility and happens to post on Facebook about a particularly challenging group session, tagging her workplace in her post. While one could argue that she meant no harm, she has exposed the identity of the clients in the group because she identified the facility in which she works.

This becomes even more important because today many therapists work in a variety of capacities – even virtually. Let’s say, for example, that a therapist becomes well known in a particular subject area and is now asked to give radio interviews about his subject matter. What is the ethical protocol here? Or, perhaps the same therapist is asked to create webinars on his area of expertise. Can he reference places that he has worked in the past? Can he mention clients he has worked with if he alters their names? What if he is asked to write a book on the subject? What ethical measures should he take then?

Ethics, as you can see, is no less important to the seasoned therapist than the new one, and in many ways, it is actually more important. With more experience comes more opportunity and with more opportunity comes more risk.

This is risk that can easily be avoided with a thorough understanding of ethics that are relevant to today’s therapist. Through learning about topics such as managing negative online reviews, taking on supervisees, being asked to write letters for clients who seek to have Emotional Service Animals, conducting group treatment, managing a social media profile, creating cloud storage for notes, purchasing liability insurance, correcting records, closing a practice, giving professional commentary on public figures, and doing media presentations, therapists can enjoy a wide variety of working capacities in a safe and ethical way.

So where do therapists go to find this information? Professional Development Resources, an accredited provider of online continuing education courses, offers ethics courses for psychologists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists (MFTs), occupational therapists (OTs), speech-language pathologists (SLPs), and registered dietitians (RDs). Click here to learn more.

Online Ethics Continuing Education Courses:

Ethics & Boundaries in Psychotherapy is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course intended to give psychotherapists the tools they need to resolve the common and not-so-common ethical and boundary issues and dilemmas that they may expect to encounter in their everyday professional practice in the 21st century. Among the topics discussed are definitions of boundaries; resolving conflicts between ethics and the law; boundary crossings vs. boundary violations; multiple relationships; sexual misconduct; privacy and confidentiality in the age of HIPAA and the Patriot Act; ethics issues with dangerous clients; boundary issues in clinical supervision; ethics and cultural competency; ethical boundaries in use of social media; ethical practice in teletherapy; fees and financial relationships; and a 17-step model for ethical decision making. *This course satisfies the ethics & boundaries requirement for license renewal of Florida counselors, social workers & MFTs. It also include teachings from the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics to meet the ethics requirement of West Virginia counselors. Course #30-77 | 2017 | 42 pages | 21 posttest questions

Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication? The purpose of this course is to offer psychotherapists the opportunity to examine their practices in regard to the use of social networking services in their professional relationships and communications. Included are ethics topics such as privacy and confidentiality, boundaries and multiple relationships, competence, the phenomenon of friending, informed consent, and record keeping. A final section offers recommendations and resources for the ethical use of social networking and the development of a practice social media policy. Course #20-75 | 2016 | 32 pages | 15 posttest questions

Ethics for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that presents an overview of ethical issues that arise in speech-language pathology and audiology practice. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists encounter ethical issues across the spectrum of practice settings, from pediatric treatment to care of elders in skilled nursing facilities. This course will discuss barriers to ethical thinking, evidence-based ethics, economics, discrimination, abuse, bullying in the workplace, boundaries, confidentiality, social media, and infection control. Course #21-04 | 2015 | 30 pages | 15 posttest questions

Ethics for Occupational Therapists is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches OTs how to handle ethical and moral dilemmas in practice. Ethical and moral issues pervade our lives, especially in the healthcare arena. Occupational therapists are frequently confronted with a variety of ethical and moral dilemmas, and their decisions can have long-range effects both professionally and personally. Why does one decision win out over another? What does the decision process involve? How do these decisions impact those involved? Occupational therapists, by the nature of choosing this particular profession, are engaged in an “ethic of care,” where activities of daily living are not just a function, but also an expression of values. Helping people maintain their maximum possible functioning is seen in relation to society and the common good of all persons. This is an abstract ideal that must be put into practice in an imperfect world. How does the occupational therapist make decisions about what is best for the person when there are difficult choices to make? This course will address these questions from the framework of ethical decision models and the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Code of Ethics. Course #30-89 | 2016 | 43 pages | 20 posttest questions

Ethics for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU/CPEU) course that addresses the ethics of practice in nutrition and dietetics and satisfies the requirement of the Commission on Dietetic Registration that RDs and DTRs complete a minimum of 1 CPEU of Continuing Professional Education in Ethics (Learning Need Code 1050) during each 5-year recertification cycle. The practice and business of nutrition and dietetics grow and change but ethical practices remain paramount regardless. Potential situations arise that require a review of what the ethical solution(s) should be. This course includes real-life scenarios so you can utilize the profession’s Code of Ethics to identify these ethical issues and come up with solutions and ways to avoid unethical behaviors. Course #10-60 | 2014 | 10 pages | 7 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

New Ethics & Risk Management CE Course

New Online CE Course @pdresources.org

Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 8Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 8 is a new 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that addresses a wide variety of really interesting ethics and risk management topics, written by experts in the field. Topics include:

Can Confidentiality be Maintained in Group Therapy? – Discusses ethical issues involved in conducting group psychotherapy.

A Short Course on Encryption and Cloud Storage – Provides answers to common questions about encryption, cloud storage, confidentiality, and HIPAA.

Retiring Ethically – Reviews the professional aspects of preparing for retirement and the various tasks and challenges involved.

Coping with Disruptions in Practice Due to Death or Disability – Shares two stories of a practice lost to sudden death, and the steps you can take to prepare for unexpected disruptions.

Informed Consent: Ethical Challenges and Opportunities – Provides an overview of the ethical obligations related to informed consent and outlines three ethical challenges.

Ethical Practice and the Challenge of Vicarious Trauma – Examines how vicarious exposure to traumatic material can dramatically impact clinicians both personally and professionally.

Competence for Execution: the Ethical Binds – Summarizes the complex issues involved in determining if a person is competent for execution.

Sorting through Professional Liability Insurance for Needed Coverage – Offers guidance and considerations for choosing between Occurrence Form Coverage and Claims Made Coverage.
Closing a Practice: Practical, Ethical and Clinical Dimensions – Reviews the tasks and challenges involved in terminating a psychotherapy practice.

Is it Ethics or Law? – Discusses the similarities and differences between ethics and law, and what to do when they conflict.

21st Century Changes Ethics for Private Practice – Shares personal experiences dealing with security breaches and offers guidelines for using technology in your own practice.

Ethical Considerations for Clinical Supervisors – Examines the impact of supervision on supervisees and their clients, including competence, clinical oversight, and informed consent.

Correcting vs. Altering Records – Discusses the importance of keeping good treatment records and offers guidance for what to do (and not to do) when needing to make a correction to your records.

Ethical Considerations for Media Presentations – Offers considerations to keep in mind when using the media for professional purposes (the article focuses on radio and television, but can also be applied to the internet).

‘Ghosting’ May Create Ethics Issue – Discusses the passive-aggressive strategy of “ghosting” and offers guidance for what to do when it happens to you, the therapist.

Reducing Risk in Treating Divorcing Families – Provides an overview of several risk management practices for therapists who work with divorced or divorcing families, particularly the children of divorcing families.

Who Let that Doggie on the Airplane? – Examines the growing trend of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and what to do when you are asked to provide an ESA support letter.

Informed Consent: Records and Fees – Highlights areas of the treatment relationship and issues related to informed consent in the areas of providing records when requested and in establishing fees.

Cloud-Based File-Sharing Can be HIPAA Secure – Shares several options for storing and sharing information securely through the cloud, so therapists no longer have to rely on the burdensome methods of faxing or sending patient documents via proprietary networks.

Social Media and Ethics – Offers guidance to help clinicians engage in meaningful self-reflection prior to engaging in social media for the purpose of preventing ethical breaches.

Therapists Must Keep Pace as Technology Changes Practice – Discusses the change in the method of creating and maintaining patient files, evidenced by the increased use of electronic records, and the areas of concern involved.

Ethical Ways to Counteract Negative Reviews Online – Explains how to manage your online reputation, including what you can ethically do if you receive a negative review – real or not.

The Wounded Psychologist: Adverse Effects from a Licensing Complaint – Explains why licensing boards were created, how licensing board complaints are dealt with, and the negative effects of complaints on clinicians.

Disclosures for Forensic Evaluations – Discusses the requirements for disclosure in forensic evaluations.

Reimbursement Diagnoses may be Co-Morbid 
– Reviews the ethical, legal and professional challenges of balancing concern for diagnostic work with insurance reimbursement issues.

Giving Professional Commentary on Public Figures – Offers advice on what you can or shouldn’t say when asked to comment on public figures.

Managing Risk with Alcohol-Abusing Clients – Provides guidance on developing a dual-purposed informed consent agreement with working with special populations such as alcoholics or those characterized by high risk (e.g., suicidal or borderline personality disorder) behaviors.

Direct Secure Messaging is Best Electronic Option for Mental Health Records – Discusses use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), concerns about the potential unrestricted flow of Protected Health Information (PHI), and how Direct Secure Messaging (DSM) can help.

Course #30-99 | 2017 | 49 pages | 20 posttest questions


Click here to learn more.

Ethics & Risk Management: Expert Tips 8 is an online course that provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

Recognizing Ethical Dilemmas

Course excerpt from Ethical Decision Making for Psychologists: A Practical Model

From time to time, psychologists are confronted with ethical dilemmas that are difficult to resolve. How do you know when an ethical issue arises that requires action on your part? What do you think are some of the characteristics of ethical dilemmas as they apply to psychotherapy? It does not take very long to answer these questions.

Recognizing Ethical Dilemmas

From time to time, psychologists are confronted with ethical dilemmas that are difficult to resolve.Kidder (1995) suggests that ethical dilemmas oftentimes involve right versus wrong choices or “moral temptations.” This certainly applies to a variety of situations including becoming involved in sexual relationships with clients, falsifying data, failing to be up front with clients about policies or procedures pertaining to the psychotherapy process, and using therapeutic techniques without having been trained in the use of those techniques. Most psychologists have either dealt with or thought about situations that make them question what the right thing to do is.

Denise and Andrew were certainly confronted with ethical dilemmas in slightly different ways. You can probably place yourself in their shoes and understand how they must have felt in their respective situations especially being new to the field: confused, surprised, and perhaps overwhelmed. In fact, recognizing ethical dilemmas oftentimes starts with a feeling, specifically, an awareness that you are feeling uncomfortable or uneasy.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for one’s unconscious self to pick up on and react to elements of a situation that one’s conscious self may overlook or fail to react to as quickly. This is not unlike the action of antivirus software, continually monitoring activities that are going on in the background of our computers while we are surfing the net. Although there may be times you are cognizant of the dilemma that aroused these feelings, other times you may realize that something is not right about a situation, but not necessarily be able to put your finger on it until you give it more thought. But it is the realization that “something’s not right” and the associated feeling that is your initial clue that you are dealing with an ethical dilemma.

It is important for you to be tuned in to the feelings that are kindled by ethical dilemmas and to use your feelings as data in the ethical decision-making process. Indeed, Remley and Herlihy (2007) point out that, “Virtue ethicists believe that emotion informs judgment.” They likewise provide the following advice: “Consider what emotions you are experiencing as you contemplate the situation and your possible actions…Your emotions can help guide you in your decision making” (pg. 13).

Think back to when you were a child. Did you parents ever tell you that everyone has a little voice inside that helps us distinguish right from wrong? Some people refer to this as a conscience. The same principle applies to recognizing ethical dilemmas. You might have a gut-level feeling that a situation is somehow problematic and demands action on your part. Although you may not know what you are supposed to do at that moment, you realize that “something’s wrong,” and that feeling does not go away. The emotional uneasiness produced by the dilemma yearns for a response from you to, in essence, put it out of its misery. Knapp and VandeCreek (2006) note that, “…for many psychologists the first indication of a problem comes from their own ‘gut’ reactions or the reactions of a patient. That is, a strain in interpersonal relationships or a feeling of emotional uneasiness is often the first indication of an ethical problem” (pg. 43).

Recognizing ethical dilemmas not only becomes easier with supervision and experience, but if the foundation of your professional identity is the six moral principles, then you will understand intuitively when an issue arises that demands sound reasoning and judgment. There is not one particular moral principle that will help you recognize an ethical dilemma. Psychologists continuously filter experiences through their moral principle net, and when issues get caught in the net they experience a twinge of discomfort that spurs the reasoning and resolution process.

Hare (1991) argues that moral reasoning starts with intuition: “…the intuitive level, with its prima facie duties and principles, is the main locus of everyday moral decisions” (p. 35). Cottone and Tarvydas (2007) likewise note that “The intuitive level of analysis always constitutes the first platform of decision making, even when the situation requires the more detailed level of analysis involved in the critical-evaluative level of consideration” (p. 91). The important point is that intuition is simply a starting point. Psychologists are trained to be self-aware so that they are sensitive to issues that should be addressed with clients. When considered in terms of a scientific process, intuition serves to generate hypotheses that can be confirmed or disconfirmed as psychologists interact with clients throughout the course of the psychotherapy process and discuss ethical concerns with colleagues.

Let’s take into consideration how this might work in the real world. Two psychologists have psychotherapy clients who both suffer from depression. Psychologist A, who is fresh out of graduate school, is concerned that his client is becoming too dependent on him given that the client calls him at home at all hours of the night and will do whatever he tells him to do. Psychologist B, who has been in the field for several years, is also dealing with a depressed client with dependency issues, but has taken a different approach. Psychologist B has placed limits on the number of calls she is willing to receive from the client and has requested that the client not call her at home.

How do the moral principles play a part in the reasoning processes of both psychologists? Psychologist A recognizes that something is wrong, but his moral principle net is “too loose” to catch the problem. Psychologist B understands that allowing the client to call her at home as often as he would like only fosters dependency and is not in the client’s best interests (the moral principle of beneficence or “helpfulness”). Although the client does not like the fact that Psychologist B has placed limits on him, he reluctantly agrees to abide by the rules. Psychologist B felt uncomfortable the first time the client attempted to maneuver into a dependency role and that feeling sparked a response that prevented her from enabling this behavior. But it was only because the discomfort was interpreted in relation to the moral principle of beneficence that Psychologist B understood why it was necessary to set limits.

Learn more:

Ethical Decision Making for PsychologistsEthical Decision Making for Psychologists: A Practical Model is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides psychologists with an intuitive method of resolving ethical dilemmas that is grounded in best practices as outlined in the professional literature as well as the APA Code of Ethics. Topics include the differences between ethics and the law, identifying moral principles which underlie the ethical practice of psychotherapy, and how to apply a practical approach to ethical decision-making. The course is written in a conversational style and includes mnemonics to assist in learning the material and drawing upon this knowledge as necessary when ethical dilemmas arise throughout one’s career. Closeout Course #30-41 | 2009 | 32 pages | 24 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Florida Board of Psychology and the Office of School Psychology (CE Broker Provider #50-1635).