Challenging Work Settings
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image 8.1 (democracynow.org)
There are certain settings that require special skill sets, training, and a finely tuned ethical compass. In Module Eight, we will explore some of these settings and some of the problems professionals face in challenging work environments.
Some basic considerations to keep in mind as you read the text involve seemingly simple concepts, such as who the client is. This appears simple to do, yet professionals are often faced with needing to clarify this beginning element. Consider a situation where parents come in and want you to see their daughter, who is 11 and dealing with anorexia. The parents are hostile, angry, and anxious. You surmise the parents need help, the girl needs help, and you know there are four other children in the household. Who is the client in this case? This answer will come from a couple of different ethical strategies. For one, it depends on what type of therapist you are. If you work with children, adults, and families, you have one set of choices. If you work with adults only, you have another set of choices. Still, if you work only with children, there are more choices. Secondly, you need to identify the client in order to bill insurance. Is the client the whole family, the child, the parents, or one of the parents? These are some of the complexities involved in the daily practice of therapists.
Skill sets are another consideration. One needs certain skill sets for certain types of psychological work. It is unethical to work outside one’s scope of expertise. These are just a few of the issues you will read about in Module Eight.
Challenging settings are another matter. Professional psychologists work in many settings: in private practice, group practice, corporations, and the military; as consultants to many organizations; as academics and faculty; as supervisors of training in psychology; as researchers in academic and other settings; as school psychologists; as child and protective service providers; in hospitals, hospice organizations, pastoral settings, the courts, prison settings, on death row, and internment camps; with the CIA and FBI; and so on. As you can imagine, not all of these are easy settings to work in. To do so requires well-honed ethics, special skill attainment, and a conviction to stay on top of your craft in psychology.
This module will give you an opportunity to explore torture and the participation of psychologists in the development of torture designs for detainees. We will also look at the psychologist in and outside of work settings. Do psychologists have a responsibility to conduct themselves ethically at work and at home? The answer to that is yes.
Tuchsen, L. (2010, March 16). The Right Way [Image]. Flickr. https://openverse.org/image/5d379003-7eef-443e-ad62-6457931fd7b9?q=right%20way. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). March 16, 2020.