The ethical issue identified from the case study is related to the controversy between the warden’s willingness to take the inmate off of suicide watch and the real facts that speak against such a decision as the inmate is at high risk of committing suicide. Therefore, the staff psychologist needs to find an effective solution taking into account both the pressure put by the warden and the professional duties that suggest caring for the prisoners that experience severe psychological problems and can hurt themselves.
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The Steps in the Ethical Decision-Making Model
After identifying the issue, other steps of the ethical decision-making model should be followed. The principles involved in decision-making should be identified (Doverspike, 2008). In this case, guiding principles include institutional policies and professional ethical standards. Then, choice options should be considered based on divergent thinking (Doverspike, 2008). The staff psychologist has two options: either to obey the warden and take the inmate off of suicide watch or to insist on continuing appropriate procedures to prevent the suicide of the inmate. Considering doing nothing at all is the next step (Doverspike, 2008). In this case, such behavior would be inappropriate as lack of action can put the inmate’s life a serious risk. Then, consequential thinking should be considered (Doverspike, 2008). The consequences of obeying the warden can have fatal results for the inmate while disobeying can cause tense relations between the warden and the psychologist. Choosing the first option will be unethical as it contradicts moral and professional principles. Therefore, the second discussed a course of actions that should be followed.
Two Possible Solutions
Two possible solutions, including obeying the warden’s initiative of finishing suicidal watch of the inmate and insisting on continuing them were identified. The first solution is based on the disposition to obey the instructions of those who occupy superior positions and unwillingness to have conflicts with the warden. The second solution reflects the moral and professional standards.
Consequences of the Solutions
The consequences of the first solution can include the suicide of the inmate. While the relations with the warden will be improved, a strong feeling of personal guilt and remorse are likely to be experienced by the psychologist. The consequences of the second solution can include the possible worsening of the relations with the warden.
Based on the results of applying the ethical decision-making model, it is easy to determine that the second solution appears to be the best option to rely on while choosing the appropriate course of actions. Presenting proofs of the necessity to continue the suicidal watch of the inmate to the warden and persuading the inmate to avoid demonstrating deviant behavior will help to reduce the risk of fatal outcomes and decrease the duration of the required suicidal watch.
The ethical decision-making model can benefit any person, as professionals in all fields experience ethical problems (Stenmark, 2013). The place of ethics in social work practice cannot be overemphasized (Icheku, 2011). Applying an ethical decision model helps to avoid nonrational processes that often affect our decisions (Rogerson, Gottlieb, Handelsman, Knapp, & Younggren, 2011). Rationality helps to find the most appropriate solution suitable for the situation (Hardman, 2009). It helps to follow the particular norms, procedures, and legal, ethical rules that are present in any practice area (Mather & Levin, 2012). Therefore, effective usage of the ethical decision-making model helps to make the process of finding the best solution more objective and brings great results.
Doverspike, W. (2008). How to make good decisions. Web.
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Hardman, D. (2009). Judgment and decision making: Psychological perspectives. Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Icheku, V. (2011). Understanding ethics and ethical decision making. Bloomington, Indiana: Xlibris Corporation.
Mather, L., & Levin, L. (2012). Lawyers in practice: Ethical decision making in context. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Rogerson, M., Gottlieb, M., Handelsman, M., Knapp, S., & Younggren, J. (2011). Nonrational processes in ethical decision making. American Psychologist, 66(7), 614-623.
Stenmark, C. (2013). Forecasting and ethical decision making: What matters? Ethics & Behavior, 23(6), 445-462.