Ethical Dilemma Paper:
The purpose of this assignment is to identify an ethical
dilemma and to use the course theories and concepts to analyze the complexity
and moral ambiguity of the ethical situation to come to a theoretically
For this paper, you will be selecting an ethical dilemma
from your own human service experience.
If you absolutely cannot come up with a conflict or if you have no human
service experience then I will provide you with an ethical dilemma. You must contact your instructor immediately
if you need assistance with a dilemma.
One of the most important aspects of the assignment is to
make sure that the problem that you come up with is actually a true ethical
dilemma. Many students come up with
examples that are ethical problems, but not ethical dilemmas. One of the keys to recognizing whether or not
a problem is truly an ethical dilemma has to do with the level of moral
ambiguity. Ethical dilemmas are high in
moral ambiguity. Let me point you to two
sections in the text that may be of some help.
On pages 59-60, Linzer discusses the concept of “moral traces”. He states: “The concept ‘moral traces’ refers
to the consequences of having chosen one path, as opposed to the other path in
an ethical dilemma. Since both choices
are ethical, the decision to act on one creates the feeling of having violated
the other. There is no winner in ethical
decision making” (p. 60 italics added).
One of the observations that Dr. Linzer made in his lectures was that in
a true ethical dilemma you never know whether or not you made the “right”
decision because both arguments are compelling and you will never know the
outcome of the option that you did not choose and you will always wonder if you
make the right decision. That is the
The second section that you should read is on pages 204 to
207. Linzer notes: “In circumstances
pervaded by ethical ambiguity, the key is to acknowledge the complexity of the
issues and the pull of contradictory moral imperatives” (p. 205). Read that section and if you want to be sure
that your scenario is a true ethical dilemma you can check with me. I don’t want you to spend a lot of time
developing and writing the paper only for me to tell you that it is not an
ethical dilemma. It is much easier if
you have any doubts to contact me directly and describe the scenario. And remember, in an ethical dilemma it is you
and not the client who has to make the decision.
When writing your
paper, please follow this outline:
describe your agency’s services and setting.
2. Present a
conflict situation from your own human service work that involves any number of
parties, including yourself (you must be a part of the conflict/dilemma), the
client, the family, the agency, the board, the funding agency, etc. Summarize the conflict in one paragraph.
state the ethical dilemma. Discuss what
makes this an ethical dilemma. It would
be excellent if you can identify the values that are in conflict (For more on this
please see the mini-lecture on Beauchamp and Childress). Analyze the conflict
from the value perspective of each of the parties. (You could use Levy’s classification of
values to do this.)
your resolution of this dilemma and the reasoning behind your decision. Your decision should be theoretically
justified. (You cannot simply say that I
decided to do this based on my own personal values.) Be sure to substantiate your
rationale with the relevant literature.
It is strongly suggested you seek the guidance of the
writing center before submitting your paper. Please review the APA information
listed on the course for assistance and you may even refer to the Unit 1
discussion board under the course information thread for great resources.
SCHOOL COUNSELING WITH A TEENAGER
You are employed by a school district, providing counseling
services for students in a program for emotionally &
One of your clients is Max, a 16 year old boy who struggles
with mood swings, depression, and aggressive acting-out. He has a long history
of suspensions and other disciplinary actions at school. He lives with his
father, and about a year ago you had to contact Child Protective Services after
Max disclosed that his father had beaten him up while drunk. The father was
extremely angry at Max and at you, threatened both of you, and Max had to live
in a foster home for about 6 months. At the time you considered getting a
restraining order based on the father’s threats toward you, but decided against
Max returned to his father’s home about half a year ago, and
things seem only slightly better. Father continues to drink and to threaten
Max, but so far he has not been violent. You’ve tried to contact the father to
discuss issues having to do with Max’s behavior at school, but he remains angry
at you and very negative about his son.
You and Max have developed a good relationship and over time
he’s been more trusting in his conversations with you. He has made good use of
counseling, and teachers report progress in the way he handles himself at
school. A year ago he was on the verge of being kicked out of the program due
to his acting-out, now he is doing much better and the school is considering
moving him to a more mainstream program.
One day Max begins a session by reminding you of
confidentiality. You had explained that you would only break confidentiality if
he told you something that could be seriously dangerous to himself or others,
and he asks if that’s still true. You say yes. Max says he’s felt like he’s
lying to you lately because he’s been keeping a secret, and he wants to tell
you. The secret is that he recently started growing marijuana in a lot behind
his house. He intends to smoke a little of it, but most of it he’ll sell to an
adult he trusts. Max says his foster care experience taught him that he needs
to build some independence, and making this money from marijuana will give him
some independence. He says he’s been very careful because he knows his father
would kill him if he knew, and because he doesn’t want to get kicked out of
school or mess up his chances of moving to the mainstream program.
Max says he wants you to know because he trusts you and had
to tell someone, but that he does not want you to do anything about it. He asks
you not to try talking him out of it, and definitely not to tell his father,
school, or the police. He’s trusting you to keep his confidentiality.
Your dilemma is whether or not to share this information
with Max’s father, school, child protective services, and/or the police, and
how to proceed with whatever you decide. nine pages a must!