Ethical considerations for practising psychologists in Australia
As part of Part Three, this chapter focuses on the dynamics of professional and interprofessional ethics (see Figure 1.1).The author uses a real-life case study, namely the Tarasoff case, to illustrate these dynamics. The chapter draws on moral philosophy and consequentialism to debate issues of ethical practice. The standards of ethical practice will inevitably vary among people and professions and by country. Ethics can take on many theoretical perspectives but, in essence, it is, fundamentally, about knowing what is right and what is wrong in any given situation and exercising appropriate ethical judgement to act accordingly in new and developing situations (Margison and Shore, 2009). Two principal components that should always be expected to hold steadfast in ethical standards are those of nonmaleficence (to do no harm) and of beneficence (doing good) (APS, 2007). Ethical and moral standards are intertwined and it would be foolhardy in a professional context to attempt to separate the two; however, Francis (2009, p 25) suggests that the distinction lies in ethics being a '... codified set of value principles which have application to a nominated subset of people', while moral standards are related to known rules about behaviour that are not formally recorded, that is, not set down in a code. Ethically, professionals should attempt to conduct their professional lives with the utmost integrity and selflessness. As Koocher and Keith-Spiegel (2008) suggest, ethics are about knowing good from bad and right from wrong, and this will be based on an ethical understanding of what constitutes each component. It is about understanding where psychologists should be in relation to social responsibility (Davidson, 2010), especially considering the 'vulnerable group' that seeks professional support. In short, adhering to an ethical code is attempting to do what ought to be done in any given professional situation.
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an extract/chapter published in Exploring the dynamics of ethics in practice: Personal, professional and interprofessional dilemmas. Policy Press, Bristol, 28 March 2014]. Details of the definitive published version and how to purchase it are available online at: https://policypress.co.uk/exploring-the-dynamics-of-personal-professional-and-interprofessional-ethics
In Exploring the dynamics of ethics in practice: Personal, professional and interprofessional dilemmas. Edited by Divya Jindal-Snape and Elizabeth F.S Hannah. pp. 167-179. Policy Press, Bristol, 2014.
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