Competency Case Dilemma

Competency Case Dilemma
Corey, Corey, and Callanan (2011) address the steps involved in ethical decision-making.
The APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct also presents possible
solutions or opportunities for the resolution of ethical dilemmas that commonly arise.
Ultimately, psychologists also need to draw on their education and understanding of best
practices to effectively resolve dilemmas. This can be particularly challenging if the
dilemma is related to the psychologist’s own competencies. Proactively examining these
types of dilemmas can foster successful future resolutions.
In a 3-4 page paper (excluding references and title page), discuss a competency-related
scenario or case of your choice from our readings in which you address the specific steps
you would take to embrace ethical practices in your work. In what ways does the case study
you have selected present an ethical, legal, professional, or moral problem related to
competency issues? In what way does the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code
of Conduct offer possible solutions or opportunities for resolution? What are the
implications of your ethical decision-making and actions for the client in this case, for those
related to the client, and for you as a professional? In addition to the required readings,
cite at least two additional references.

Competency Case Dilemma
Introduction (case study)

A psychologist has to ensure that they apply the five general principles set by the
American Psychological Association (APA) in all their professional activities. This means that
they always have to put the principles first above their personal principles and opinions,
especially if they contradict the general principles (APA, 2010). However, psychologists may
encounter challenging situations, which test their moral fiber, as to whether they will still abide
by the five principles. Some of the biggest challenges faced by psychologists are the moral
dilemmas, which involve their own competency, and such situations require a critical self-
assessment so that they can be resolved. For example, when a psychologist is asked to handle the
case of a rapist and a murderer who killed young girls after raping them, his instincts will tell
him to give a negative review so that the offender can be sent to prison. However, his evaluation
may have revealed that he has a significant psychological problem, which led him to commit the

cruel actions. The psychologist must abide by the general principles and give an accurate
Problems related to competency issues
Lack of fidelity and responsibility
In a scenario where psychologists are working together, this principle indicates that the
psychologists should mind how their colleagues are working and whether they are conducting
themselves in an ethical manner (APA, 2010). In case the psychologist notices that one of his
colleagues is acting unethical, it is his responsibility to alert the colleague about his violations in
a respectful manner. This is because the resolution of ethical issues is an extremely complicated
process, and there may be other factors outside the control of the psychologist, which may be
affecting the psychologist. What a psychologist is required to do is that, he should help his
colleagues to improve their work quality by reviewing their work and providing constructive
feedback. From the above case study, the psychologist should refer to his colleagues on the most
ethical solution to his dilemma, which would ho along way in terms of helping the psychologist
to make an ethical solution. By sharing his dilemma with a colleague, the psychologist will also
have reduced the emotional burden of making such a tough decision due to the moral support and
guidance from a fellow professional.
Lack of integrity
As a researcher in the field of psychology, integrity is a key part of the research process
as all researchers are required to provide accurate results of their research, and they should not
fix results. The research conducted by psychologists is vital to the human race and is mostly used
to influence policies that affect many people. Some of this research is also used as a basis for the
manufacture of drugs to treat some psychological disorders. If a research with fixed results is

used as the basis for the manufacture of new drugs, there would be widespread damage to many
people who would use such drugs. Therefore, every psychologist should apply the principle of
integrity in their professional activities, especially when conducting research (APA, 2010).
According to the case study, we find that the psychologist is in a dilemma, which may cause him
to violate his integrity and give a false report about the offender. However, the psychologist did
not violate the code of conduct and he was able to retain his integrity by giving the correct
Possible solutions according to APA ethical principles
The possible solution provided for in the APA ethical principles include the importance
of providing accurate feedback and also of colleagues supporting each other in order to get over
such personal dilemmas. By seeking the opinions of other professional regarding the nature of
providing the correct feedback, the psychologist was further motivated to abide by the true
results. The other solution provided by the APA code of conduct is the importance of integrity
as the results of the evaluation may be applied to many other people, and if they are not
accurate, then they could cause significant damage to others (APA, 2010). These two principles
provide an adequate solution to the dilemma of competency faced by the psychologist. With such
clear principles and code of conduct, it was fairly easy for the psychologist to resolve their
moral dilemmas as they serve their patients. The above problems, which were highlighted during
the case study are both moral, professional, and ethical problems, but their solutions were found
within the general principles.
Implications for ethical decision making
One of the major implications of the ethical decision making in this case study is that
because of the accurate assessment of the suspect by the psychologist, the suspect will receive a

fair trial in the courts where justice will prevail. This is the most important implication of the
ethical decision. Another implication is that the suspect would also have a chance to receive the
appropriate psychiatric help, which will treat his mental condition. These two implications will
benefit the client significantly, however, the psychologist will also benefit as he will have abided
by his professional code of conduct as well as upholding his integrity, which is a great
psychological benefit. If the psychologist had not acted in accordance with professional ethics,
he would have been left with a lot of guilt, especially if the client had been sentenced to death.
He would have been hounded by his decision for a long time. The psychologist also benefits
from the ethical decision because if had acted in an unethical manner, he would have risked
losing his license as well as being prosecuted for misconduct if his actions were discovered.


In conclusion, it is evident that a psychologist must abide by the general principles set
by the APA even in circumstances that make it difficult to do the same (APA, 2010). Both the
psychologist and the client (suspect) benefitted significantly from the ethical solutions provided
by the psychologist, which is the underlying principle within the field of psychology. This means
that professionals who abide by the code of conduct are vital to any community and should be
appreciated for their efforts in maintaining ethical standards within their profession.



American Psychological Association. (2010). American Psychological Association ethical
principles of psychologists and code of conduct.

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