Ethical and Moral Dilemmas in Psychotherapy: Applying a Religiously Sensitive Framework to Therapy

Ethical and Moral Dilemmas in Psychotherapy: Applying a Religiously Sensitive Framework to Therapy

Rabia Dasti (University of the Punjab, Pakistan), Rabia Farhan (KidsAbility, Canada), Tehreem Fatima Naqvi (University of the Punjab, Pakistan), Aisha Sitwat (University of the Punjab, Pakistan) and Iram Zehra Bokharey (Mayo Hospital, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0018-7.ch013
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The chapter highlights the importance of ethics and ethical codes in the light of the existing literature. It explains the various ethical dilemmas that can arise in the context of therapy. Moreover, it specifically explains the various ethical dilemmas experienced by Muslim psychologists with case examples to strengthen the argument. The worldview of the Muslim therapist is emphasized and the religious sensitivity in the outlook explained. The importance of professionals to safeguard their religious identity and also uphold the ethical precepts of the profession are discussed. The chapter also addresses difficulties and challenges faced by non-Muslim therapists while dealing with Muslim clients. The concept of cultural competence perspective is further highlighted stressing on the continuous self-reflection and educating oneself. The chapter concludes by stressing on the importance of incorporating knowledge of both religion and psychology for furthering the scope and vision of therapy.
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Ethics have been defined since the earliest times by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle as “what we ought to do” (Freakley & Burgh, 2000, p. 97). A more precise and recent definition of ethics was proposed by Singer (1994) describing ethics as a “set of rules, principles or ways of thinking that guide, or claim authority to guide, the actions of a particular group” (p. 4). The development of an ethical code is deliberated as an integral part in the progression of a discipline, which forms the cornerstone for self-regulation. An ethical code of conduct tries to take hold of the moral values and beliefs cherished by the group for which it is formulated (Keith-Spiegel & Koocher, 1985). Over the course of time various professions such as medicine and nursing developed their codes of ethics in order to guide their professionals about the do’s and don’ts of the field, they are practicing in. However, the emergence of the first code of ethics in the field of psychology is not so long ago, given the history of the discipline. It was in 1952 that the American Psychological Association (APA) put in place some ethical codes with the intention of safeguarding client’s rights and helping out psychologists in resolving dilemmas that may arise over the course of therapy (Sikora, 2013). The ethical code is designed to provide common grounds to practitioners upon what they can set up their professional and scientific enquiry. The present ethical code of conduct rests upon five general principles that have inspirational value in guiding therapists to the highest possible ideals of ethics in the profession. Under the first principle of beneficence and nonmaleficence, therapists are entrusted with the responsibility of benefiting the clients they work with and avoid any harm to them at all costs. In case of a conflict or confusion, therapist is expected to reach a solution responsibly, avoiding or minimizing the harm possible. The next principle of fidelity and responsibility talks about the professional responsibilities of therapists towards the client and the society as a whole. They are to keep the interest of the client at the top by outlining their own boundaries, and act accordingly when required. As part of the principle of integrity, therapists are to promote, encourage and practice honesty, accuracy and truthfulness in any role that they play (be it a teacher, researcher or practitioner). The principle of justice highlights the fairness by which all individuals are entitled to profit from the contributions in the field of psychology and interventions. Therapists are to be conscious and mindful in avoiding any unjust practice resulting from their possible biases, potential limitations in their own expertise, etc. The last principle advocates respect for people’s rights and dignity by highlighting the numerous factors such as ethnicity, age, culture, gender, religion etc. that can serve as a basis of bias. Therapists are to actively work on avoiding any prejudices that may arise from these factors and stay away from activities of someone else too that may rest upon these biases (APA, 2002). These ethics give a clear and systematic way of understanding, describing, analyzing and distinguishing right from wrong, desirable from undesirable and bad from good in relation to the wellbeing of individuals and society (Burke, Harper, Rudnick, & Kruger, 2006; Lawton, 2004). Therefore, ethical code provides a moral framework for self-regulation of professionals working in the field (Pettifor & Sawchuk, 2006).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Jinn: An intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans.

Deen: It is the Arabic word for religion or faith but is used in the broader sense as it encompasses directives for all domains of life including religious, political, social, economic, and spiritual.

Ibadah: It is an Arabic word meaning service or servitude. In Islam, ibadah is usually translated as “worship.”

Sunnah: It incorporates the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who Muslims believe is the last messenger sent by Allah

Nazar: A look, glance or thought believed to have the power of inflicting harm or injury, known as the evil eye in English language.

Value Neutrality: Being impartial and not influenced by personal beliefs, attitudes, or values.

Allah: According to Muslim tradition, this is a personal name of God.

Quran: The Quran is the Holy book of Muslims. Muslims believe that this book is a Divine revelation and word straight from Allah Himself.

Value-Laden: Presupposing the acceptance of a particular set of values.

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