Every day ethical issues arise. Sometimes we notice them, often we don't. More frequently than not we follow a natural instinct rather than sitting down and charting out pros and cons because we subconsciously identify ethical concerns and respond based on that reaction.
In the field of psychology professionals do not have the luxury of responding to ethical issues or concerns on a subconscious level. Instead one must work to establish tangible reasons for decisions and interpretations which could very likely shape a person's future.
These stakes are raised to a more significant level in the specialized field of forensic psychology. Forensic psychology is a relatively new field which has emerged from the developing combined field of law and psychology. Forensic psychologists are called upon to evaluate people for the purposes of court proceedings. They are most often used to judge a person's mental state at the time of a crime, the capability of a person to stand trial or testify as a credible witness.
[...] A forensic psychologist must go above and beyond to ensure that all parties have the best of their expertise. Generally speaking forensic psychologists are called to assess people in 4 major regards court-appointed 2. defense/prosecution/plaintiff's expert 3. consultant 4. fact witness Court appointed forensic psychologists evaluate people per the court's request. They are usually required to first evaluate the individual and then report on their findings. More often than not they are also asked to testify for the court about the conclusions they drew from their assessment. [...]
[...] Obviously forensic psychologists don't have ethical issues to handle because everyone operates by the book under penalty of death for not doing so. Consequentialist theory This theory holds that one judge's the morality of an action based on the outcome of that action. So with this theory if a psychologist bends a rule and compromises a case but in the end no one found out and justice was served then the action was justified and was not amoral. Though, if one really considered the situation they could deduce that justice was not served since the rules were not adhered to by all parties so the person sent to jail was technically wrongfully incarcerated. [...]
[...] The question isn't necessarily whether one can justify bending the rules of forensic psychology by analyzing one's actions with different theories but instead whether or not one has the right to do so when they are acting in the name of a profession. Sure I'm certain that many forensic psychologists have been in situations where they know they can achieve justice by bending a rule or two and they'll sleep easier knowing a criminal is off the streets but they are responding as a human perceiving a situation rather than a psychologist. [...]
[...] In the end this all circles back to how we respond to ethical decisions we do not acknowledge as such. The decisions we make, we base on how they're going to sit with us after the fact whether or not we mean to. All of the theories allow us to justify our decisions to the outside world and possibly to clarify things for ourselves but really it's all about how we feel inside about whatever decision we made. This complicates things for forensic psychologists. They cannot [...]
[...] Having now done relatively extensive research about how forensic psychologists are intended to interact with all involved parties in an investigation I realize that Law and Order skewed the role drastically. Sure for viewing purposes this is to be expected. It won't come as a surprise that generally an entire investigation and trial exceed an hour's time either. Television takes liberties, obviously. However the ethical issues which the time constraint highlights are very much real and pertinent to the processes which go on between psychologists and the court system every day. [...]
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