As in any human services profession, HAS workers may face a number of ethical dilemmas in their practice. An ethical dilemma involves a conflict teen two or more ethical principles (Miller, 2014). Before any client- human service professional relationship begins, there are expectations and ground rules set up. Each party is bound and expected to follow these rules, otherwise an ethical dilemma comes up. The service professional-client relationship can become strained or may even be severed when these rules or expectations are broken.
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Before becoming a client, he or she must be informed of his or her rights and responsibilities as a client. The client must be informed of his right to consent to treatment, rights to privacy and infallibility, right to autonomy (or the right to choose his course of action), rights to privileged communications, right to know the risks and benefits involved in the treatment or refusal to treatment and etc. Clients also have responsibilities like full cooperation with the treatment and disclosing as much information that would help the case to move along.
At the same token, HAS professionals are bound to these rules like keeping their client’s information confidential, clearly stating their qualifications to handle the case, knowing when to share or not to share information with other personnel for he protection of the client or the protection of the worker and others that may become involved with the case, ensuring to keep their own personal values and morals to themselves to avoid influencing the client or the treatment and more.
Human service workers must also possess the knowledge and comprehensive understanding of the law, the code of ethics of the organization he or she works with and not just the code of ethics of the profession. Knowing and understanding the code of ethics and the law would help tremendously in avoiding ethical dilemmas like this one: For many months, you have been the case manager for a man who has a long history of marrying women and not bothering with divorce. Recently, it came to your attention that he is dating your sister, although neither is aware of your relationship with the other.
What are the ethical issues involved here? This scenario is a tricky one. As the therapist of this man, I would want to, first of all, help him realize the issue about marrying another person without severing his ties and finishing up his business, settling his obligations and responsibilities to the first wife or wives is unethical and against the law. This is bigamy. Bigamy is being married to people at the same time. In California or any other states, bigamy is illegal.
If you are married to two people at the same time, the marriage that occurred second is generally illegal and considered void. (Fame. Code, S 2201 I) Bigamy is punishable by a fine not exceeding $10, 000, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison. (Pen. Code, 5 283. ) If your spouse is absent for more than five years and you believe him/her dead, then marrying again is not considered bigamy. (Fame. Code, 2201 (“ Chapter 6 – Domestic Relations I State Of California – Department Of]justice – Kamala D.
Harris Attorney General”, 2014) As the therapist, it is my moral, ethical and legal obligation to inform my client that what he’s doing is wrong and unfair to the women involved and unfair to the children, if they have any from any marriages. I need to make sure that he understands the ramifications of what he is doing or if he even truly comprehends that it is against the law. Would also inform him that as his therapist, I have the moral and legal obligation to report this; otherwise, I can be in big trouble as well.
Then finding out that my sister is his possible next victim that adds complications to everything. Dual relationships in human service profession is prohibited, at least strongly discouraged. If this young man’s relationship with my sister continues, for sure my connection with each of them will be revealed at some point. The situation also poses conflict Of interest for me and I will be faced with the question of, who should I protect? Of course, the first thought is would want to protect my sister and I do not want to see her get hurt.
The natural instinct is to protect your family and do not let them suffer emotional trauma. But once I tell her of her boyfriend’s actions, I might face a lawsuit and criminal hares from my client for violating his privacy and confidentiality. That could also put my career and job in jeopardy. Am also facing the dilemma of how to address this with my organization supervisors. Should alert the authorities directly or should discuss this first with my superiors? As a therapist, believe this is how I would handle this situation. First, want to discuss things with my client.
I need to understand first his reasons and explanations about marrying women without severing ties with the other first. Want to know and understand his comprehension level and his mental and emotional stability. Maybe he truly does not know it is against the law or maybe he does know what he’s doing and he is just avoiding obligations and responsibilities. If he doesn’t then that tells me that more work needs to be done. If he does, then work still needs to be done and also I need to inform him that I have my legal obligations as well as ethical responsibilities to report his actions.
This way the client is fully informed of his rights, obligations and responsibilities to the women and children if there are children involved and his choices on what to do. Hopefully this way also would help him decide to do the right thing to do. I guess believe in giving people first a chance, give them the benefit of the doubt, helping people realize, know and understand things, give them the opportunity to make their decisions and help them know and understand the consequences of the decisions they are making or going to make.
When I do not see positive progress from the client, would then discuss this with my supervisor, inform them of the whole situation and ask them to transfer the client to another therapist because of his involvement with my sister. We can also then discuss how, who and when we should report the case to the authorities. If the client then decides he wants or need help in settling and fixing his issues, they can then plan how they can do this. Maybe the organization cannot help him with this, and maybe the least We can do is refer him to the proper professionals that could help him with his legal obligations.
The issue with my sister is another matter. I will give my client the opportunity to set things right. If he said that he truly loves and cares for my sister and I see that he really wants to do the right thing, then won’t say anything and will let him resolve things. I need him to tell my sister though eventually what he had done. It will be up to them then how the turn of that revelation will go. There is no need for either of them to find out my connection with each of them unless I see that my sister is getting hurt already or if my client is not going to set things right.
I have to observe the actions this client is going to take after all the information that have provided him. It will not be easy to do to just sit and wait for his next action I’m sure, but I also have to protect my client, my sister and myself. Ethical dilemmas like this is not easy, but as HAS professionals we have to pep a level head and do the best we can to resolve the issue in a positive manner where least people will get hurt and be involved.