Clinical Psychologists Within The Military Social Work Essay

Clinical psychologists within the military have a hard function to continue. They face many ethical quandary adhering to both the American Psychological Associations codification of moralss every bit good as the Department of Defenses ordinances. Many times these different codifications straight contradict each other. The chief ethical quandary faced by a clinical psychologist in a military scene are: boundaries of assurance, multiple functions, confidentiality breaches, and the possibility of being called into an question, rating of his or her ain psychological fittingness, cultural competency in the alone military community, every bit good as in working with LGBTIQ clients.

Clinical Psychologists in the Military

The function of the clinical psychologist is a alone one. They face many ethical quandary including: boundaries of assurance, multiple functions, confidentiality breaches, and the possibility of being pulled into an question. The clinical psychologists in the military scene besides must measure his or her ain psychological fittingness while working in a military community, every bit good as measure their cultural competency ; non merely in the alone military community but besides in how they approach single ‘s sexual orientations.

Serious Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Psychologists in the Military

Boundaries of Competence

As we know, no psychologist has the competency and preparation to set about every job that may originate in pattern. Harmonizing to the American Psychological Association ( APA ) ethical criterion 2.01 ( degree Celsius ) boundaries of competency, psychologists be aftering to supply services, Teach, or behavior research affecting populations, countries, techniques, or engineerings new to them set about relevant instruction, preparation, supervised experience, audience, or survey ( APA, 2002 ) . Hence, a clinical psychologist in the military must be competent in the countries that are most common to military forces and clients. Areas such as station traumatic emphasis upset, and deployment stressors ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . Harmonizing to Johnson et Al. ( 2006 ) , these competences must include prevailing upsets within the military, different sorts of client types, and different interventions.

Ethical criterion 2.01 ( a ) states that, psychologists provide services, Teach, and behavior research with populations and in countries merely within the boundaries of their competency, based on their instruction, preparation, supervised experience, audience, survey, or professional experience ( APA, 2002 ) . Within the military scene nevertheless, a psychologist must be careful of his or her ain boundaries of competency. This may turn out hard sing that there may be times that there is merely one psychologist in a state of affairs, such as on a military base ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . If an issue out of the psychologist ‘s competence country does originate the psychologist should make the appropriate research on the subject, or confer with an expert. Harmonizing to standard 2.01 ( vitamin D ) when psychologists are asked to supply services to persons for whom appropriate mental wellness services are non available, and for which psychologists have non obtained the competency necessary, psychologists with closely related anterior preparation or experience may supply such services in order to guarantee that services are non denied if they make a sensible attempt to obtain the competency required by utilizing relevant research, preparation, audience, or survey ( APA, 2002 ) . A psychologist should ne’er seek and take on an issue they are non familiar or comfy with, yet this may turn out ineluctable in certain scenes for the military psychologist.

Multiple Roles and Dual Identities in the Military

Koocher and Keith-Spiegel ( 2008 ) province that they to the full recognize that one can non perchance avoid all nonprofessional contact with one ‘s clients. This is frequently the instance with psychologists in the military. Active responsibility military psychologists are frequently times stationed in topographic points, for illustration a military base, where they must populate within the same environment as their clients ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . The psychologists have regular interactions with their clients in common topographic points, such as the food market shop. A psychologist in the VA system would besides most likely have interactions with a current, former, or future client such as in the cafeteria, or even while they are walking through the VA to turn in paperwork. Harmonizing to moralss code 3.05 multiple relationships ( degree Celsius ) , when psychologists are required by jurisprudence, institutional policy, or extraordinary fortunes to function in more than one function in judicial or administrative proceedings, at the beginning they clarify function outlooks and the extent of confidentiality and thenceforth as alterations occur ( APA, 2002 ) . Therefore, before get downing therapy with a client a military psychologist must really clearly map out and put boundaries with client in a elaborate informed consent signifier.

Another hard facet for a military psychologist is the multiple relationships that may happen. Often the clients are officers who are ranked either higher or lower than them. This can do a really unusual power moral force in therapy, and can hold a immense impact on the curative relationship ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . Another thing to see is that the military community is a tight knit one and it could easy be that a patient is a former friend or companion, which could present a serious ethical quandary ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . These relationships could present a serious quandary in adhering to the APA moralss codification, and avoiding multiple relationships. These are already established relationships and multiple relationships would be inevitable.

The Psychologist ‘s Own Psychological Fitness

Pope and Vasquez ( 2007 ) province, “ effectual ego attention includes supervising the ways in which our demands for self-care can alter over clip, naming us to make new schemes ( p. 66 ) . A psychologist in the military must invariably see his or her ain psychological fittingness. They besides may hold transference issues with clients that have experienced something familiar to the psychologist. Lack of ego attention can take to serious effects including: disrespecting clients, disrespecting work, doing more errors, missing energy, going self dying, and utilizing work to barricade out unhappiness hurting and uncomfortableness ( Pope & A ; Vasquez, 2007 ) . Clearly, if cautiousness is non taken by military psychologists sing their ain psychological fittingness, some serious ethical quandary may originate.


Though it is rare, sometimes psychologists in the military become entangled in an question ( Johnson et al. , 2006 ) . This is rather a riddle sing the ethical rules A ( beneficence and nonmaleficaence ) and E ( and regard for peoples rights and self-respect ) ( APA, 2002 ) . A psychologists involved in an question besides straight conflicts with ethical criterion 3.04 avoiding injury, which states, psychologists must take sensible stairss to avoid harming their clients/patients, pupils, supervisees, research participants, organisational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimise injury where it is foreseeable and ineluctable ( APA, 2002 ) . Engagement in an question is non speaking sensible stairss in avoiding injury to the individual in the question. Simply take parting in the question with the impression that it will be psychologically harmful to the single being interrogated is interrupting the codification. As Johnson, ( 1995 ) provinces, this type of state of affairs besides raises issues about legion other ethic codifications including: 1.01 abuse of psychologist ‘s work ( take parting in an question is a abuse of the psychologists knowledge ) ; 1.02 struggles between moralss and jurisprudence, ordinances, or other regulating legal authorization ( there is considerable struggle in an question state of affairs between moralss and the authorities who is in charge ) ; 2.01, boundaries of competency ( psychologists are trained in the human head, non in authorities questions, engagement is coercing psychologists to work out of their competence boundaries ) ; and 4.06, audiences ( which in an question there is no audience whatsoever ) ( Johnson, 1995 ) .

Johnson ( 1995 ) provinces, that psychologists are trained in human behaviour and the military many times finds it appropriate to hold psychologists involved in questions. Johnson ( 1995 ) suggests nevertheless that the armed forces should possibly develop their ain forces in human behaviour and questions to avoid this serious ethical quandary. Johnson ( 1995 ) , besides states that psychologists have an ethical duty to describe such things to allow governments due to a policy made by APA council in 2006 which prohibits anguish or any other type of inhumane, cruel or degrading interventions.

Cultural Competence

Ethical motives code 2.01 boundaries of competency ( a ) requires that psychologists must be competent to supply effectual services, this includes understand factors refering to: age, gender, gender individuality, race, ethnicity, civilization, national beginning, faith, sexual orientation, disablement, linguistic communication, or socioeconomic position is indispensable for effectual execution of their services ( APA, 2002 ) . This is a really of import codification to the military psychologist since active military forces come from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, and have different traditions, household values and tabu, and the military community as its ain group has a societal construction, civilization, imposts and belief system ( Phillips et al. , 1992 ) .

Some of these beliefs include the Army ‘s mission to supply national defence. This understanding seems to umbrella a set of beliefs as Reger et Al. ( 2008 ) provinces, “ the mission is of extreme importance, functioning in the Army requires personal forfeits, anyone who joins the Army should be ready to contend, personality features that are adaptative for contending are valued, and features that could set other squad members at hazard are devalued ” ( p.27 ) . These are all improbably of import to see when working as a psychologist in the armed forces, because something that may be deemed as irrational or maladaptive in another scene may be adaptative within this community. For illustration, being ready to contend at all times, or valuing features that are adaptative for contending may be seen as improbably violent and maladaptive if seeing a client out of the military context. So these cardinal beliefs of this alone community must be considered to guarantee competency in intervention.

Johnson ( 1995 ) provinces there are besides a few other cultural features to see in a military community including the nomadic quality of the military community and the alone stressors that soldiers and active responsibility forces face. The stressors they face include relocating, deployment, service committednesss, sing wartime injury, every bit good as household committednesss and separations ( Johnson, 1995 ) . Active responsibility forces are ever relocating, whether it be to a station in a another province, deployment in wartime, or a base in a foreign state. Most military forces relocate every few old ages ( Burrell, 2006 ) . This leads to another ethical quandary of ethical criterion 10.09, break of therapy, which states, that when come ining into employment or any type of contractual relationships, psychologists make sensible attempts to supply for orderly and appropriate declaration of duty for client/patient attention. This is done in the instance the employment or contractual relationship terminals, with top consideration given to the public assistance of the client or patient ( APA, 2002 ) . Duration of therapy with these clients must be carefully considered at consumption and in the informed consent.

American Psychological Association vs. Department Of Defense

In add-on to all of the ethical predicaments I have already discussed the military psychologist must, as Johnson ( 1995 ) , states “ function two Masterss ” ( p. 281 ) . The Department of Defense ( DOD ) has its ain set of codifications and regulations that a psychologist practicing in the military scene must stay by. Many of these codifications straight conflict with the APA codification of moralss. These direct struggles lie within the countries of confidentiality, competency, doing injury, multiple functions, and unjust favoritism. I will be concentrating on confidentiality with patients every bit good as unjust favoritism in the ethical attention of sapphic, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, in oppugning ( LGBTIQ ) service members. These are two of import issues in which the APA straight conflicts with the DOD.


Confidentiality is ever in hazard for the military psychologist and their clients. The APA moralss code clearly provinces in codification 4.01 maintaining confidentiality, that psychologists have an duty and take sensible safeguards to protect confidential information obtained or stored, and they must acknowledge the extent and bounds of confidentiality which may be regulated by jurisprudence, established by institutional regulations, or a professional or scientific relationship ( APA, 2002 ) . DOD directives, on the other manus, authorise entree to confidential stuff by federal employees with a “ demand for the record in the public presentation of their responsibilities, and is meant to guarantee both security and preparedness for military operations and the safety of those service members involved in risky responsibility ” ( Johnson, 1995, p. 282 ) . This is a direct contradiction between codifications. A military psychologist must supply at the beginning of the curative relationship a clear and elaborate informed consent, which explains the DOD bounds to confidentiality, which may compromise the curative relationship.

Ethical Care of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Service Members

Harmonizing to moralss code 3.01 unjust favoritism, psychologists must non show unjust favoritism in their pattern based on age, gender, gender individuality, race, ethnicity, civilization, national beginning, faith, sexual orientation, disablement, or socioeconomic position ( APA, 2002 ) . Military psychologists break this codification by adhering to the DOD alternatively of the APA codifications when they discriminate against homosexual, sapphic, homosexual, transgender, or in oppugning clients.

In the early 1980 ‘s the first nonmedical regulation was made for excepting homosexual and sapphic people from military service ( Johnson & A ; Buhruke, 2006 ) . Harmonizing to the DOD in 1982, homosexualism is non compatible with military service, and it earnestly impairs the achievement of the military mission. They besides province that the presence of such persons negatively affects the ability to keep subject, good order, and morale in the armed forces ; to further common trust ; to guarantee the unity of the system of rank and bid ; every bit good as keeping public acceptableness of military service ( DOD, 1982, Part 1, Section H ) .

In 1993, the regulation was once more changed to the National Defense Authorization Act or as it is more normally known “ Do n’t Ask, Do n’t State ” ( DADT ) ( Bender, 2005 ) . This federal jurisprudence ( Pub.L. 103-160, 1993 ) includes the prohibition against homosexual behavior, and forces policies which exclude individuals whose presence in the armed forces would make an “ unacceptable hazard to the armed forces ” ( Pub.L. 103-160, 1993 ) , and it prohibits the presence of individuals who demonstrate a leaning or purpose to prosecute in homosexual Acts of the Apostless that they believe would make “ an unacceptable hazard to the high criterions of morale, good order and subject, and unit coherence that are the kernel of military capableness ” ( Pub.L. 103-160, 1993 ) .

Harmonizing to the DOD federal jurisprudence, if a soldier discloses his/her sexual orientation in therapy within the military scene, must be disclosed to the soldier ‘s higher-ups ( DOD, 1982, Part 1, Section H ) . This straight conflicts both 3.01 unjust favoritism, and 4.01 keeping confidentiality of the APA ethical codification every bit good as the general rule to make no injury ( APA, 2002 ) . The release of this information can be clearly harmful to the client. Bender ( 2005 ) found, that since the DADT policy was established 1000s of military personnels have been discharged.

This proves to be a hard riddle. It would be improbable for a clinical psychologist within the military to non meet any LGBTIQ forces or service members in pattern ( Johnson & A ; Buhruke, 2006 ) .A The psychologist must do the determination whether to document sexual orientation or non. If it is documented it will more likely than non to do the client injury. If they choose non to describe they are non following the DOD guidelines. Johnson ( 1995 ) , states in an illustration instance that a military psychologist who upheld the rule of confidentiality was sanctioned by his commanding officer for neglecting to describe a misdemeanor of the DOD ( Johnson, 1995 ) .

Using the APA moralss codification can so turn out hard if you are forced to unwrap client ‘s sexual orientation to their higher-ups so they can be evaluated for fittingness of responsibility. This, in my sentiment could be one of the most of import ethical quandary in the military scene and without a uncertainty hinder the curative relationship. If a client ‘s support is a spouse, this is indispensable for therapy, seeing that everyone needs emotional support and attention. I besides believe that the LGBTIQ community in the armed forces is high on the list for necessitating aid and support. They are many times picked on, and singled out. Johnson and Buhrke ( 2006 ) province, “ GLB service members face legion stressors, including few constitutional protections, echt attention hazards, torment, homo-negative attitudes, and frequent anxiousness sing being ‘outed ‘ ” ( p.97 ) .


There is no uncertainty that being a psychologist within the military scene is hard. As Johnson ( 1995 ) stated, they are functioning two Masterss ; the DOD and the APA. From my reappraisal of the literature, I have concluded that a psychologist in the military must analyse each ethical quandary carefully. It seems that if they abide by DOD and non APA ethical criterions they still may be at hazard for fring their licence, and if they abide by the APA and non the DOD they are at hazard for losing their occupations all together. I believe the DOD is making a ill service to their military clients by non guaranting them the most in their curative Sessionss, particularly in footings of confidentiality.

The APA and the DOD must come to some understanding on codifications of behavior. These incongruent criterions topographic point psychologists in a really hard state of affairs. I believe the DADT jurisprudence being in topographic point does a great ill service to clients particularly with the cognition that important others and households are a bulk of peoples lives. It is non therapy if one service member can joyously speak about his married woman and kid or discuss things he would wish to alter about his relationship with them, while a sapphic adult female can non. Our households are the beginnings of our support, felicity and defeats, and excluding that from therapy to protect the client seems unreal.


In decision, I have discussed how the function of the clinical psychologist is a alone every bit good as discoursing some of the ethical quandary they face in pattern including: boundaries of assurance, multiple functions, confidentiality breaches, and the possibility of being pulled into an question, rating of his or her ain psychological fittingness, cultural competency in the alone military community every bit good as in working with LGBTIQ clients.

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