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The Importance of Ethics

What does this case illustrate about the importance of ethics in forensic psychology?


The case illustrates that negligence in conduct of forensic psychology has serious consequences to the career of the psychologist. Consideration of ethics is crucial and it is principle code of conduct in forensic psychology. Forensic reports and data require truthfulness and confidentiality; breaching these requirements puts the psychologist at danger in his/her profession.

The case also illustrates that forensic reports are considered complete and suitable to use in making conclusions and recommendations only when there is enough support for the information presented and also when the client is aware of the kind and usefulness of information taken from him/her.

What problems did this psychologist's poor ethical thinking cause for the family involved?

The psychologist seemed to have conflict of interest when dealing with the family issue; her conclusions and recommendations were in favour of Ms. Stroganoff’s husband. The psychologist also conducted incompetent testing to diagnose the problem facing the family. For instance, she made the interpretation that the Ms. Stroganoff could plan abduction of the child and flee to Europe since she mentioned that she enjoyed living in Europe. There is also biasness in presentation of information as much of it showed objection towards Ms. Stroganoff.

Would you have been able to read the evaluation and spot the ethical problems? Did you catch any? Did you miss some? Explain

Ethical problems in Dr. Gallager evaluation strongly come out especially because she seemed to emphasize on the behaviour of the mother than she does for the husband. Secondly, she left several points hanging concerning the mentioned behaviour of the husband but in case of the mother, she elaborates. For instance, in the psychological testing when the mother talked of domestic violence, she does not give a comprehensive report on what happened after the violence.. Also in her reporting, it is clear that some allegations were made against Ms.Stroganof without her consent this is one major ethical issue in forensic psychology.

I had missed the point on failure of Dr. Gallager to consult medical providers who had earlier on treated Ms. Straganof. After reading the file about decision by the board, I understand that reaching previous medical providers would have been an ethical procedure when diagnosing Ms.Stroganof for any medical condition. I had also missed the point that Dr. Gallager made diagnosis without providing psychometric evidence.

What could the psychologist have done differently that would have made this an ethical evaluation?

From what the complaint provides, it is possible to point out the ethical steps when handling such forensic evaluations. To begin with, any forensic psychology evaluation should be made with the consent of the respondents. An ethical evaluation should not show bias; Dr. Gallager’s evaluation shows objectivity and seemed to be in favour of the husband. She also presented incomplete information of incidences such as that of domestic violence and these made some of her conclusions and recommendations inappropriate.  

Therefore the psychologist should have considered ethical procedures in the evaluation such as ensuring that the clients are aware of the evaluation being done, avoiding objectivity and performing proper psychological testing.

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