Human Service Workers are often faced with the task of ethical decision-making. When making these decisions, they must be able to adequately support the decision that has been made. As we discussed in class this may require them to refer to their code of ethics, their agency’s policies and procedure manual, and the law. For this assignment, you will be given a case study, and you will need to respond to the questions that follow the case. When responding to the questions, you will need to refer to the text, the code of ethics, and at least one scholarly journal article beyond our course materials to help you make your decision and demonstrate support for your position. Your paper should be a minimum of 3 pages with a maximum of 5 pages, not including the title page and the reference page. You are also required to follow APA format for this assignment, double space, and utilize Times New Roman 12 point font. Paper must contain an introduction and conclusion.
Joy Green is a Psychologist with the Happy Hearts University Counseling Center. She also teaches an Introduction to Psychology class at Happy Hearts University.
Dr. Green has been treating 19 year-old Ava Jones for the past year. Ava began seeing Dr. Green after her parents were both killed in a car crash last year. Ava has worked through many layers of grief and loss, but continues to battle with depression. Feelings of abandonment and loneliness are the biggest triggers of depression for Ava and have, at times, caused suicidal ideation in her. She has recently begun to articulate these feelings of abandonment to Dr. Green, but they are a constant struggle for her. On several occasions, Ava has mentioned to Dr. Green that she would not have been able to get through this horrific ordeal without her help. She advised that she has begun to think of Dr. Green as a surrogate mother of sorts, knowing that she is the one person who is a stable source of support for her as she struggles in school, sorts out relationships with friends and boyfriends, and forges ahead with no parents and no other family members.
This semester, Dr. Green noticed that Ava has enrolled in her Introduction to Psychology class. Dr. Green initially decided that she should drop Ava from the class, fearing that she would not be able to differentiate between her role as Ava’s Psychologist and her role as Ava’s Professor. Dr. Green decided that Ava has already experienced too much loss and she began to worry about how dropping Ava from her class would affect Ava’s emotionally stability – and impact all of the hard work they have already done together. Dr. Green decided to keep Ava in her class, but brought up the issues of confidentiality and dual relationships with Ava in a session just before classes began. Ava reported that she understood the difference between Dr. Green’s roles and she stated that she would not discuss class in her treatment sessions and vice versa.
One month passed.
In treatment, Ava had done exceptionally well. It was nearing the time in treatment when Dr. Green and Ava would revisit their treatment plan and decide how, if at all, to proceed. Ava had already accomplished 5 out of 6 of her treatment goals; Dr. Green and Ava had bumped the number of sessions back from weekly to monthly; and Ava started to speak with her distant Aunt on a more regular basis, allowing her to form a connection with the only family she had left.
In class, Ava sat in the back row, never participated, and occasionally fell asleep. When it came time to grade the first set of papers, Dr. Green found herself trying to add more points to various parts of Ava’s paper – even when Ava did not deserve them. Dr. Green knew Ava’s history and her struggles in life and she wanted to make at least one part of Ava’s life easier. Dr. Green grappled with whether or not to discuss these feelings with Ava in her treatment session. She did not know if honesty with Ava would impact Ava’s role as a student or Ava’s progress in treatment, and she began to believe that honesty would actually create even more issues within their relationship. Dr. Green began to question her decision to keep Ava in her class…..the drop/add period was quickly coming to an end….but Ava’s treatment was likely coming to an end, as well…what should she do?
1. How ethical do you consider Dr. Green’s behavior based upon principles established in the Code of Ethics and ranked in the Ethical Principles Screen? Do you believe that Dr. Green should continue to see Ava as a client or keep Ava in her class or both or neither? Why or why not?
2. How could another provider oppose your view using the Ethical Principles Screen and Code of Ethics?
3. Compared to the great potential for harm that can exist in a sexual dual relationship, how dangerous does this situation seem?
4. Can Dr. Green remain objective in her work with Ava when she also sees her in class? Why or why not? How might this dual relationship impact her counseling work with Ava? How might it impact her ability to objectively teach Ava in this class?