When you live in a box, think in a box, it is hard to see anything outside the box. The tendency that people have who think in a box is to reject anything that will not fit in their box, criticize it and throw it away. Creative thinking is a hallmark of intelligence and problem solving. A problem presents in life when the focus is upon compliance, pathology, and what is wrong. What results is that is that all energy focuses upon defending a rationale for what is wrong and virtually what will not fit in the box. Linear thinkers tend to think on a straight line, not being able to see anything that is not on the straight line. People call it concrete thinking, close mindedness, black and white thinking, but something to think about is that thinking in a box can be a symptom of someone who needs to control life in certain definable terms to rid themselves of the anxiety that occurs when something does not fit in the box. Learning to give up control of the way reality is constructed in certain definable terms is a step in developing an ability to think creatively about problems. Thinking outside the box is not unfaithfulness to an ideology; it is being faithful to your own capability to think about creative solutions. The choice that we have is to live in a box– or not, to use your innate intelligence, to focus upon your strengths in ways to bring a positive outcome.
lt is like living by the freeway and hearing the noise of traffic passing by– hour by hour– day by day. The noise of the traffic, constant movement, telling the story that people are busy and that life is moving on, everyone traveling in their own direction, but where are they going? To a charted direction, toward a destination of choice, to a reality created, the panacea of choice: Traffic constantly moving, what does it mean? Creating familiar sounds, the constant clatter of technology moving day and night describing meaning, declaring truth moving forward on a journey to somewhere, but where will it go, and what does it mean? Familiar sounds, which resonate a message, machinery moving, always going, traveling at the speed of sound, advancing electronic communication at its finest; but is the message communication between humans or just the clatter of technology?
The ability to make good decisions is a mark of intelligence and problem solving ability. Having too many options in the midst of opportunities can result in sitting on a stump, beating your wings and getting nothing accomplished. After all, when I look around, there is no one around to compare myself with, no one to compete with, so what should I do? I could just sit here and look like I am doing something or will I be forced to make a decision? Sooner or later, I will have to decide; will I starve to death from doing nothing and fly away, so I can fish another day or will I use the opportunity I have today? How can I be a good steward while sitting on a river that is full of fish; doing nothing and thinking about flying away?
Uncertainty about what is ahead makes it hard to focus upon where the road is at today. Looking back at where the journey has been and remembering the safety found in memories of how things were comfortable, manageable, and predictable; there is a desire to go back to a place built in the castle of the mind. Living in the memory of the past and feeling the uncertainty of the present leaves fear of where the road is going and what will be there when I arrive. A destination is too much to fathom, to fearful to embrace; a place that having no certainty and no familiar faces. Looking forward to undefined potential reality which can be experienced the call of the destination is understood. Feeling anxiety in the present experience controlled by idealism about the past holds potential captive bringing ambivalence feeding the hesitation to move forward and embrace the destination: where the road is going.
An I/O psychologist working as a personnel consultant for a local industry has success in recruiting new business for a consulting practice; then, presents work done in a report of positive changes through employee retention for companies using the approaches designed by the consultant to achieve ROI for consulting services and further understands that business people identify with numbers. In a scenario such as this, does advertising and promoting the successful results and approach without scientifically validated research create a ethical caveat that will potentially create an ethical dilemma?
Advertising Service within the Boundaries of Competence.
The idea of a psychology professional promoting, advertising, making claims of outcome based upon a particular modality or treatment has the flavor of a multi-level marketing strategy. It raises a question about what is appropriate in making a presentation to a prospective organization seeking services from an I/O psychologist.
What are the issue at stake when promoting services that are within the bounds of competency and professional ethic? The specific area that the example calls to attention is how an organizational consulting psychology practitioner represents professional services offered. One specific issue which is an underlying consideration is, Principle C: Integrity (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010) which addresses a Kantian maxim (Ford p.63) which could be express as a self evident truth in the practice of personnel psychology. Therefore, it should be rationally understood that honesty, integrity, and using deceptive practices to enhance business are clearly a breach of ethical practice, but has occurred in the case example.
The question of how to address the issue is the question that is the object of interest in a resolution of the matter of what has happened. One answer to address how to respond to the dilemma is inherent within the problem solving approach and code of ethic for psychologist. Maybe, a more important issue is how to prevent unethical breaches might be better addressed by appealing by giving consideration to, 2.01 Boundaries of Competence (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010) in how practitioners are provided professional training.
Competence in Connecting Research to Scientifically Validated Outcomes.
The code is specific in directing attention to the fact that, “Psychologists provide services, teach, and conduct research with populations and in areas only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience” (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010). If a reverse outline were constructed of the case example, what would be demonstrated is the use of invalid research statistics used to enhance the ability of the instruments used by the practitioner to achieve results in “employee retention” (Ford p. 193) has no empirical basis.
The fact that this information is used in a spurious manner is an indication of either intentional dishonest, or simply not understanding the ethical implications of how research data is to used in an ethical manner. A rationale for understanding what should be done is expressed in Evidence Based on Test Content, “ Important evidence can be obtained from an analysis between a test’s content and the construct it is intended to measure” (2008, p. 11). As well as using evidence based testing approaches, a level of competency should be evident in post graduate certification to administer and interpret test results.
Focusing on Competencies Rather than Ideology.
Therefore, to address the particular dilemma indicates that psychologist/consultant necessitates developing the ability necessary for problem solving by:
focusing on competencies or “end states,” rather than specific course work requirements to be included in an academic curriculum, the developers of the Principles have acknowledged the reality that competence in any given area may be achieved through a variety of avenues, such as course work, supervised practice, apprenticeships, or seminars and workshops, to name but a few (Fuqua).
Consequently, identifying the ethical problems and developing outcomes that will bring the necessary competency will require the practicing psychology consultant to submit to a competency development process that builds upon existing expertise through restricting activity to areas of competency and developing areas that require expertise prior to representing service outcomes.
What impact is social media, networking having upon relationships? The question is simple and the answers given are loaded with different opinions. Relationships are at the core of the discussion and reveal changing perceptions and an emergent paradigm developing. A quick Google search will reveal pages of links to web pages that offer opinions and suggestions.
Business is integrated into social relationship creating potential questions about efficacy in mixing business and pleasure. In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review , Jodi Glickman notes that young adults in the workplace are abandoning emails and moving toward social media as one of their primary modes of communication, Because social media is so, well, social, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between business and personal matters. ( Thom Rainer) An important part of the question is connected with a sense of self, identity, and role expectations.
The shifting reliance upon social media and networking sites raises an important question about how we understand relationships and utilize boundaries in regulating relationships to create effective outcome in life. An answer to the question about measurable impact upon relationships that it is good, but also bad. Social media has become so commonplace many have a hard time even thinking how they’d live without it. “We’re getting reliant on Facebook to keep us updated,” said Malia Griggs, editor of the University of South Carolina‘s student magazine. Griggs wrote an article last year taking a satirical jab at how Facebook is changing the way we communicate. Personal relationships, she says, are now a matter of public discourse. “It’s less personal its less between you and that person, now there’s room for others to come in and comment on it,” said Griggs. “There’s a lot more room for feedback from your friends and people who aren’t even your close friends.” You can tap into it anywhere, anytime — an online existence so vast and absorbing, most offices have policies against it. Malia Griggs The impact upon the business-relationship dichotomy has paradoxical implications: While on the one hand enhancing market presence, providing technological convenience, a constant Internet “Brand” which is identifiable and available, at the same time blurring the lines between professional and personal identity. Potential danger is identified by Glickman (2011) in Harvard Business Review who said that, “with technological interchangeability comes risk—maintaining relationships with friends with whom you do business and keeping business out of the realm of your friendships.” This observation identifies questions about how and what will define relationships as well as what principles govern what is appropriate in each context.
There is a wealth of information that shows how relationships, networking, and connection have upon business. However how can you know when, “friendliness has become a liability” (Glickman)? One good sign is when what occurs in the private world is so indistinct that there not a clear understanding of how professional identity is different from personal identity. Private problems on public networks bring people into your personal life that may not be anticipated or wanted. Attorney David Shea said that “In divorce cases, it’s amazing how often we use this now … We’re on Facebook several times a day.”( Shea)
Private problems become public matters affecting, not only the perception that people have, but it has an impact upon effectiveness that can make or break a career, a marriage–your life. Everyone needs good friends, but a missing boundary that is important is privacy: everyone does not have the right to know everything about you– ask whatever they want, especially about deeply personal matters that may prejudice perception when shared.
Two good points to be made are: Collaboration is Critical and Relationships are Important. ( Thom Rainer) However, there must be fundamental balance discovered about what boundaries should characterize the shifting emphasis from a solo voice to group voice—individual identity and group identity. Social networking is not going away and is certainly the most effective immutable principle that will predict life or death in the business world today. More research needs to be done and greater understanding gained will be integral to creating responsibility and balance that says about social networking, “I choose to learn from it and make the best of it’ (Rainer).
An I/O consultant providing consultation services looks at consulting proposal and gives an estimate of services to be provided based upon a careful analysis of time and resources required to complete the company’s employment recruiting program. However, after the initial interview with the HR staff, it is discovered that the process will be much more labor intensive than had been projected. Feeling that it would be unethical to submit a bill for an amount to cover additional cost, the decision is made to absorb the cost. (Ford, 2006, p. 199)
Analyzing key ethical principles of the case that raises important questions about financial benefit that might impinge upon decision making and poses the question about what constitutes ethical behavior within a consulting role in this situation. This example presents a common problem that consultants might be faced with and presents a challenge to identify what issues are of concern and understand what the correct course of response may be when unexpected issues have an impact upon fees increasing. How can the problem should be handled ethically?
The problem that is presented is whether it is ethical to change payment or billing amounts after discovering that a situation in a consult is more complicated after the fact. Narrowing the problem to an identifiable question redirects attention to asking what the code of ethics says about payment for services: 6.04 Fees and Financial Arrangements which states, “(a) As early as is feasible in a professional or scientific relationship, psychologists and recipients of psychological services reach an agreement specifying compensation and billing arrangements” (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010). One fundamental problem that is not answered in the study is whether or not informed consent is a part of the financial agreement for services. In 10.01 Informed Consent to Therapy, the stipulation is made that:
(a) psychologists inform clients/patients as early as is feasible in the therapeutic relationship about the nature and anticipated course of therapy, fees, involvement of third parties, and limits of confidentiality and provide sufficient opportunity for the client/patient to ask questions and receive answers (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010).
As a result to make a decision, hypothetically there needs to be a Q&A with the consultant to determine if informed consent has been used and has the terms and course of the services for therapeutic services been accurately developed, presented, and an opportunity to a proposed plan of treatment to be executed. A further problem that seems to be present is that only an estimation of anticipated cost has been given which may point to a competency issue in analysis of proposed services.
A recommendation that might prevent this situation is to make an attempt to be as thorough as possible in the preparation of informed consent documents that represent as accurately as possible the scope and terms of services rendered. Another approach is to use an open clause in the process that stipulates what is understood to be a reasonable course of action and a disclaimer which allows the informed consent to have an addendum to services based upon research findings. In the event that services are beyond reasonable limits for a client, then the practitioner has to make a value decision in how to proceed with consulting responsibilities. In a question of feasibility of service, one question is centered in the general Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility and Principle C: Integrity that may demonstrate a potential conflict in the Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010). Consequently, a decision must be evaluated in respect to the matter of whether the services offered can be provided at an optimum level that guards the principle of doing no harm, while providing services for the agreed terms.
The APA Dictionary of Psychology (2007) defines the IRB as the, “abbreviation for INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD” (VandenBos) which quite honestly was not a term in my vocabulary before I began the PhD program. As it relates to the content area of research in multicultural ethics, Ford (2006) establishes a connection between Ethics, Values, and Theory Construction, by stating, “Behavioral research is generally conducted to test specific hypothesis arising from psychological theories” which posits a corollary construct between what has been written in theory to what is done in practice for researchers. Therefore, and assumption is made that compliance lies somewhere between the theoretical didache of research and the utility found in the real life experience of practice.
One of the challenges that can be identified in the work of researchers is balance. In a psychological research program the task is is to find common ground for the work of research within the ethical constructs of acceptable ethical principles is found in ethical codes, philosophical assumptions, and application of acceptable norms. Therefore, there are principles to guide the work of ethical research. The principles found in the code of ethics reflect generally accepted and identifiable area where violations can be possible. Within the principles there are philosophical assumption that are expressed in way principle address concerns. The intent is to speak to the needs of people who are made of diverse populations and cultural representations Principles inform problem solving approaches with information to clarify reason and develop approaches to clarify what “should”or “ought” to be done in resolving a conflict.
The defining task is to identify the challenge and provide an assumptive reasoning that describes a process that is indicated; given that all things are equal in a perfect world. The process describes the fundamental thinking process that guide understanding involved which calls attention to an underlying area of competence for psychological research, expressed in a design resolve a conflict. Therefore, what is contained in a formula for response declares the basic principles that are a concerned couple with assumptions about how value is expressed in rank of importance i.e., the code of ethics, meaning, and intent of the ethical code. In addition, the theoretical connection of what research means to the study of psychology is also firmly established in being able to understand, articulate, and connect the philosophical assumptions that inform ethical decisions in a reflective process that connects the philosophy to the lived experience of the researcher in psychology. Ford (2006) describes the impact of the process upon the outcome of research by saying, “Researcher’s personal values might affect not only what issues they study, but also how they evaluate the evidence (i.e., data) they obtain” (p. 222) As a result, the challenge can be understood in a development of a response that is informed not only by principles of facts, but also by the dynamic relationship of a developing interaction of the person and values of the researcher upon the object and persons involved in research.
Ultimately, the buck must stop somewhere in decision making and that is where the determination is made to determine what is acceptable. In Ford (2006), suitable standards are decided by, the IRB [who] is the official entity that reviews research proposals involving human participants to determine whether the studies are ethically acceptable” (223). Therefore, the challenge that is present for researchers is to maintain diligence in understanding, evaluation, and application of acceptable, normative approaches to guarantee that participants are not endangered or harmed in the implementation of research in the practice of psychological inquiry.
The challenge of psychologists in maintaining fidelity to the principle of Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence (Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010) is how to respond with a meaningful thoughtful method of evaluating a broad range of possible ethical area of concern. The principle places emphasis upon a need to utilize a thought process that utilizes a provisional review process that focuses upon principle, process, and potential. An important component to the research done by psychologist is to engage in research that is based in a scientific validation process which establishes empirical credibility to research. In addition having a theoretical approach to validate ethical balance, provides a foundation that enhances evidence based approach to the methodology in the work of research.
This can is realized within populations, groups, or individual to whom measuring risk is a very subjective process. Therefore, because there are times when ethical responses are difficult to measure, “researchers (and IRB’s) have an ethical obligation to calibrate the standards that will qualify a ‘minimal risk’” (225) which places a process in hand that goes beyond principle, philosophy and personal values, to a consensus of ideas and opinion which adds validity to apply what is known, understood and believed into a cogent and reasonable argument that is well supported.
What is observable and knowable about Ethics, theory construction, and compliance is that the code of ethics does in deed provide principle that can address a significant number of ethical concern, philosophical systems of thought can provide a rationale for decision making, but compliance is not always a clearly defined issue when dealing with areas that the code and philosophies do not adequately address to protect participants from harm. So the value that is offered by the IRB is that it adds another voice that is constructed of expertise in the field of research that can ask the questions that can provide substantive consideration to what is in the best interest of research among psychology professionals
The Influence of Theoretical Orientation, Vision, and Values
Does the way a theoretical orientation, conceptual vision, and underlying values are possessed have a potential to become an ethical dilemma for a practitioner? The simplest approach to an answer is to consider how core values have impact decision making processes. Every practitioner is an individual holding a set of value contained in an orientation that is a part of how decisions are made personally and professionally that express individual person-hood. An example of how personal values have an influence can be illustrated in the evangelical Christian value system which is a minority view among psychologists. For those who hold this point of view, it is reasonable to believe that beliefs held will encounter resistance from some traditional perspectives in the field of psychology. This potential conflict is noted by Meyer (1988) who describes how psychology programs respond to Christian applicants:
Studies have shown that the religious population, particularly in the traditional institutional sense, is underrepresented in the profession of psychology (Malony, 1972; Ragan, Malony, & Beit-Hallahmi, 1976; Shafranske & Gorsuch, 1984). Gartner (1986) found evidence of an “antireligious prejudice” in admissions to doctoral programs in clinical psychology after sending mock applications to graduate programs (p. 486). What is apparent is that there may be a correlation between religious orientation and acceptance into graduate psychology programs.
If it is true that a bias exists against those who hold certain religious perspectives, a potential conflict may be present in the way candidates in the process of applying for graduate programs face disqualification which may indicate a larger issue of general attitudes about religious issue in counseling setting. What is apparent is that there is a noticeable gap in how religious orientation is viewed from traditionally held psychological perspective that may be affecting how the delivery of competent training is cited in this research. An a area of concern that is raised in how will those trained in an atmosphere of bias be adequately be considered competent to provide services to those who make up a a religious culture of clients when appropriate education, training, and ethical development is not represented.
There may be a mythology held by some in psychological education which minimizes religion as a non issue while maximizing scientific approaches as maximum intellectual truth. The result informs an attitude that posits beliefs and values thought to be scientific as accepted principles for determining how religious people will be treated in matters related to faith. As a result, the anti-religious sentiment represented establishes an ethical norm systematically imposed upon professional practice through training—educating of graduate students.
One way the disparity can be approached is by providing a reasonable approach to addressing religious issues. Then, determining what ethical issues and which principles may be relative to understanding the disparity. Identifying the philosophical assumptions is the foundation of understanding for where the source of conflict is created. Four key assumptions relating to ethical research are, ontological, epistemological, axiological, and methodological (2010, p. 4)
Both perspective have one fixed reality—ontological, possess an assumption about how truth is sourced—epistemology, emphasis upon certain values—axiology, and a rationale for how decisions are made—methodology. While both would claim to use a scientific approach that is based upon a particular empiricism, the source of conflict is a fundamentally different epistemology. When the question of where truth comes is asked for a Christian the answer is from God, or specifically what is known in a scientific study of theology about God. For the secular theorist a philosophy of how truth is determined is either Kant’s formalistic rationalism, a utilitarian best case scenario, situational relativity, or contextual ethics. One holds a Theo-centric epistemology while the other holds an anthropocentric-person, experience centered as a locus of truth. Therefore, what is reasonably assumed to be true and translated as a value is what each acts from. In the same way that cultures differ in beliefs, mores’, and values, cultures, peoples, and races must be understood in context with ethically appropriate behaviors. The disparity that is seen in under-representation and bias among graduate schools indicate a potential ethical complexity and a potential for conflict in inadequate understanding, training, and representations to enable higher levels of competence.
Providing a rationale with support for the ethical conflict can be found within ethical codes prescribed by professional organizations. Using a problem solving approach to resolve the potential conflict leads to B.1. Respecting Client Rights B.1.a. Multicultural/Diversity Considerations (2005, p. 7) and 2.01 Boundaries of Competence:
Psychologists provide services… within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, consultation, study, or professional experience … [with] understanding of factors associated with age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status is essential for effective implementation of their services or research (EthicalPrinciples of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2010).
Based upon the principles expressed, the central question raised related to competency. Is a therapist who was trained in an educational environment that is under-represented, described with a bias against the culture of conservative religion, reasonably assumed to be competent and comply with the ethical code’s principle of competence? If the answer is presumed to be negative, what is apparent is that there is an ethical dilemma and the counselor will be challenged to find ways to ethically, professionally, and competently address a significantly represented cultural group who are underrepresented in multicultural training.
During the season of Christmas, one of the themes commonly heard is focused on message of hope. In the last few years it seems that job losses, foreclosures, and a general direction of decline has been developing undermines the expectation that things will get any better any time soon. As a result, we typically look to our leaders in Washington and others to whom we look to for leadership and direction to inspire some sense of hope that things will get better. Unfortunately, the absence of hope joined with eroding confidence is intensified by an inability by those in places of leadership to be able to instill confidence and seed the evolving shift in culture, industry, and culture with hope. Consequently, no one knows if our leaders even remotely understand what they are doing or know where the road will lead for the average person.
A question that looms beneath the problems of our times is what is the basis for hope that we can have in a world that is filled with instability, uncertainty, and unclear expectations? A good place to start is to examine how we think about life, measure success, and obtain happiness. For some people, hope is magical thinking of thinking about life dominated by wishful dreams about how life should be. What most of us understand is that thinking, or what we think upon, has a tremendous capacity upon behavior, attitudes, and what we believe is possible to happen. Some people believe intently that they cannot be happy unless life works out within expectations and person beliefs about life. To support this, “Hope is defined as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals and motivate oneself … thinking to use those pathways” (Snyder C.R., 2002). As a result, hope is that the capability to construct ways to see what we want to achieve to come to pass is established in the perception those things will actually happen. Furthermore, the way that we motivate behavior to be consistent with hope is to believe that what we hope for is possible, attainable, and can be achieved.
This statement sounds closely akin to the Christian expression of faith and hope in the spiritual life. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). A way to make this practical is that having a firm trust in the character and nature of a loving, sovereign God, creates a pathway to express hope and a way to experience efficacy in life. The critical difference may be that hope that is expressed in Christianity is a spiritual reality based upon the person of Jesus Christ. It is a belief based in a firm trust that He is the hope of the world. He is way to find redemption and salvation; he is the evidence of things not seen and the source of hope in all of life here and into the infinite future. As a result, hope is a way of organizing thinking about the probabilities and possibilities in a life . The significant difference in the two approaches is that one approach is based on an infinite loving God and the other upon finite human expressions and ways of understanding life in the way that we express life in human thinking, ability, and perception.
In conclusion, there a way to correlate belief and resulting hope in theological terms and the experience of humanity? The answer to the question depends upon you and what frames your perception of life. One thing that troubles me, in this the approach to hope is excesses of both approaches; one that divorces itself from God and the other that denies the process of logical processes. If there is any message that needs to be heard today in a time which may seem that there is little hope, it is that there is hope as we can look to God as a source of hope in the direction that He provides in a relationship to Him by what Jesus did in His life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. One thought that can provide confidence in today’s challenges and propel trust into the future is that in this time of the year God can provide hope in the midst of any situation when place our trust in Him