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Recommend ways to use ethics to improve decision making in criminal justice system

The decision could be about your own conduct or about that of another. Some decisions will be easy because the guidelines are clear and the matter itself is inappropriate but no harm will likely result.

Others may be more difficult because the guidelines or circumstances are unclear and the wrong decision could carry consequences for others or yourself. Every now and again an issue of monstrous proportions may surface that affects you directly. For example, a client unexpectedly commits suicide or threatens or sues you, or a colleague damages your reputation.

You may confront a situation that offers no choice but to make decisions with ethical implications under ambiguous circumstances. Your own life may feel out of control e.

Principles of Effective State Sentencing and Corrections Policy

Confusion, pressure, frustration, anxiety, conflicting loyalties, insufficient information, and the tendency to rationalize are common responses to ethical challenges at these times. Such reactions complicate matters and greatly elevate the chances of errors in decision-making. Intense stressors can result in an inability to make sound judgments Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance, 2014. Even when our lives seem fine, ethical dilemmas can materialize in many ways, often abruptly when we least expect them.

Of course, most therapists do not knowingly get themselves tangled up in difficult situations. Some give in to temptations that overtake their professional objectivity. If you recommend ways to use ethics to improve decision making in criminal justice system similar to most of your colleagues, you have already faced at least one ethical dilemma that required a decision and possibly action on your part.

Note that choosing to not make a decision is a decision. You may not have created the problem, but you may have no choice but to respond. How you react could have significant implications for your reputation and your career. More recent writings stress how factors such as emotions, personal vulnerabilities, personality, and situational contexts influence how we make decisions, including ethical ones. Newer work also stresses the insufficiency of cognitive strategies to determine how decisions are made and how many nonrational factors affect our decisions e.

As we emphasize throughout this lesson, an early recognition of personal and situational risks can prevent many potential ethical problems from materializing or from escalating to the point of causing harm. We do not wish to frighten readers, but we must communicate why ethical decision-making is more critical than ever to you as a practitioner.

Not that long ago complaints were handled in confidential forums. Few avenues existed for the general public to discover the misbehavior of mental health professionals. Clients had few avenues for speaking out when they believed they had been wronged. In short, those who faced ethical sanctions were largely hidden from public scrutiny. Violators more easily dodged widespread humiliation and perhaps escaped long-term damage to their careers. All that has changed.

More likely than not, the identities of those who incur a formal ethical violation are now available for public viewing on the Internet. Many professionals and state licensing boards publish the names of those who have been disciplined sometimes including the entire record.

In addition, unhappy and disgruntled clients have access to a host of popular review sites that offer relative anonymity.

Sometimes the best one can do is to attempt to smother it by attracting more positive reviews. Finally, as reports of ethical violators become easily accessible, public trust in the mental health professions erodes. A supplement by the U. A desperate need for competent and ethical mental health professionals is obvious, but if potential consumers have a negative image of mental health professionals they may refrain from seeking needed help.

This course will not provide answers to every ethical dilemma, nor can it advise on every circumstance in which an ethical dilemma arises. Rather we strive to provide clues to help therapists recognize, approach constructively, and reconcile potential ethical predicaments, while at the same time remaining compassionate and attuned to the well-being of those with whom you work.

The series of scenarios presented below could play out with relatively benign — or more serious — repercussions, depending largely upon how you respond. Ask yourself what you would do. Scary Woman Your new client is very young and new to this country. She is proving difficult to engage.

She was brought in by her American-born husband because she seems secretive. She mostly sits sullenly looking down into her lap, answering your questions using the fewest possible words.

Why the biggest challenge facing AI is an ethical one

When she does look up, her expression is disturbing. She does divulge that she is very unhappy. You find her flashing eyes, her odd clothing, and her foreign accent somewhat intimidating. Actually, she scares you a little. It has even crossed your mind that she could be a sympathizer to an unfriendly group. Would you terminate her?

If so, how would you do that? What would you say? Are you sure you have enough information to make the best decision as to how to proceed? Do you have a reasonable understanding of her native culture? Could your continued treatment of her have any chance of being effective? She quickly pours drinks while announcing that she just sold a three million dollar home. Before you can respond, she bounces over, puts her arms around you and plants a kiss on your lips.

Learning Objectives

So, what are you going to do? Her arms are already around you, so what do you do with them? Should you just move on and share a drink, or is that a bad idea as well? Might she be seductive? Or is she only in a very good mood today? Can you tell the difference? Is The Session Over Yet? After 5 months, despite your efforts to remain objective and compassionate, you dread seeing this client. He also calls you by your first name, which you have not invited him to do.

Your dislike for him is increased after every session despite the fact that he seems to be improving in the areas for which he sought counseling. Did you let this fester for too long? Can you do anything to alter your negative feelings?

Should you terminate him even though he still has many issues to explore? Is it ethical to challenge his sexism when that issue is unrelated to his reasons for seeking counseling?

Letting Go Your client shows up on time, pays her bill promptly, and often expresses appreciation for your services.

She tells you she has seen many therapists, but you are the best. The problem is that after weekly appointments for a year, she is not improving.

The issues that keep her own life off track remain entrenched, and her minimal gains have stagnated. Her only source of pleasure seems to be her weekly sessions with you. Will you keep trying? Have you instilled a dependency at her emotional and financial expense?

Should you terminate her in the hope that someone else may be able to move her forward? Can this be accomplished without leaving the client feeling abandoned? All in the Family Your sister suspects that her daughter is having unprotected sex and possibly taking drugs. She asks if you will see the teenager as a client. The girl has refused to talk to anyone else, but she will talk to you. Your sister is very wealthy and wants to pay the full fee. You could really use the money. What do you say to your sister?

What problems could arise from accepting your own niece as a client, even if you would be fully compensated? Wild Eyes After venting frustration toward her spouse for nearly the entire session, your client has a wild look in her eyes. Is your client just releasing tension, or was that an authentic threat?

How do you make that decision? If you are worried, what exactly should you do now? Each of these scenarios could be handled somewhat adroitly by making appropriate decisions and communicating them in a way that does not significantly diminish the client's self-esteem. Or, each situation could turn into a disaster of one sort or another. Sadly, in the actual incidents from which these examples are loosely adapted, the outcomes were unfortunate.

Here is how each one played out. The newly licensed therapist's own cultural ignorance and fear-based judgments led to a misguided decision. He called the husband to try to get more information about why she was so unhappy. The husband seemed irritated and hung up. The client never returned, and the therapist soon read in the local newspaper that she had been badly beaten by her husband and may not survive.

This therapist eventually lost his license. The therapist, who had sandbagged his feeling towards the client he disliked exploded into a rage when the client pushed his buttons one too many times.