Ethical Issues in Couple and Family Research and Therapy

Ethical Issues in Couple and Family Research and Therapy

Maria Nicoleta Turliuc, Octav Sorin Candel
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6310-5.ch012
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In couple and family research and therapy, the perspective changes from the individual to the dyad or group. As such, professionals in this field discuss some new ethical dilemmas that are particular to their line of work. While some authors present problems such as confidentiality and allegiance to only one part of the family system, others address a series of ethical consideration caused by the state of current research. The aim of this chapter is to present an overview of modern research topics such as intimate partner violence, illness, or multiculturalism and their ethical implications and effects on the family functioning, child development, and the research results. Also, the authors want to present the most relevant ways in which professionals can work within such ethical dilemmas without damaging either the outcomes of therapy or research or to cause harm to the participants.
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Each step in the process of research can be thought through ethical lenses. Firstly, the ethical research can be conducted only when the design is good. In any other case, the scientist risks not only to promote bad results but also to waste the time of the participants (Rosenthal, 1994). Still, regardless of their scientific quality, some types of research can cause harm to the participants, human and non-human. By trying to adhere to constantly growing and changing ethical guidelines, psychology, both in the domains of research and therapy, has been keen on finding new meanings behind human behaviours, cognitions, and emotions. Furthermore, these meanings were combined to form techniques and interventions that would be beneficial to the world.

“Ethics is the study of the principles and standards of human conduct” (Pettifor, 1996: 1). As such, ethical guidelines are used to differentiate between right and wrong, to protect those who are not in a position of power or to present a model for all the professionals in a field (Mabe & Rollin, 1990). While the history of ethics is long and laborious, the ethics of psychology were developed recently, a few decades after the birth of this domain.

The beginning of scientific psychology is marked by the establishment of Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory in 1879 (Rieber & Robinson, 2001). Still, the first guidebook for ethical research and practice was developed by the American Psychological Association in 1953, almost 70 years after the inception of psychology. Also, only in 2008, a Universal Declaration of Ethical Principles for Psychologists was proposed to encourage each nation to create their own form of ethical code (Walsh, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Psychological Intervention: Any set of strategies that are used to change behaviors, emotions, or cognitions.

Family Therapy: An umbrella term for the psychotherapies that work with couples and families in order to achieve the development of the individuals or of the family system. These schools of therapy consider that the family system is the base for all the individual problems and try to solve the problems by changing the system.

Informed Consent: The permission that is given by the client or by the participant before a therapeutic process or a research.

Client: The person who goes to therapy in order to develop and change. By using the term client instead of patient , the therapists create a relationship that is not about curing an illness, but about helping the person achieve their best solution for their problems.

Confidentiality: A set of rules that limits the access to some information. In the cases of therapy or research, the actions undertook by the psychologist in order to protect the personal information of their clients.

Disclosure: The release of confidential information by the therapist or researcher.

Psychological Assessment: A set of techniques that are used for the purpose of investigating the behaviors, cognitions, and emotions of an individual.

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