Ethical dilemmas experienced by psychologists working in schools in the Western Cape

Wessels, Sonja (2022-04)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2022

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: A deontological framework of ethics focuses on the duty of the psychologist to society and their clients. This approach, along with the ethical codes it informs, assumes that psychologists are responsible for safeguarding the rights of their clients and that they are able to act autonomously in the execution of their ethical obligations. Although the codes and universal ethical principles are noble and should rightly guide psychologists’ conduct, they do not account for the complex context of psychologists working in schools. The purpose of this research was to shed light on the ethical landscape in which psychologists in schools operate by exploring the types of ethical dilemmas experienced by psychologists working in South African schools in the Western Cape. The study used a qualitative research design that was exploratory in nature. Semi-structured telephonic interviews were used to elicit ethical dilemmas experienced by psychologists working in schools. I used snowball sampling to recruit 16 participants who shared 58 ethical dilemmas. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Six themes were identified from the data, namely: confidentiality, role definition, assessments and reports, workload, consent, and scope of practice. Participants were resourceful in their use of strategies to deal with dilemmas as ethically as they could. Ways of dealing with dilemmas included relying on professional codes and acts, being firm and setting boundaries, relying on their team, showing empathy, negotiating with the client, seeking supervision, and focusing on the best interests of the child. In conclusion, the study highlights the complex context in which psychologists in schools negotiate ethical behaviour and how it impacts on the types of dilemmas they are likely to face. The findings are compared to the international context and recommendations are made.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ‘n Deontologiese etiese raamwerk fokus op die plig van die sielkundige aan kliente en die samelewing te bepaal. Hierdie benadering, tesame met die etiese kodes daarop gebaseer, veronderstel dat sielkundiges verantwoordelik is vir die beskerming van die regte van hul kliënte en dat hulle bemagtig is om onafhanklik op te tree in die uitvoering van hul etiese verantwoordelikhede. Alhoewel die kodes en die etiese waardes universeel is en wesenlik die optrede van die sielkundige behoort te lei, hou dit nie tred met die kompleksiteit van die sielkundige se werk in skole nie. Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om lig te werp op die etiese landskap waarbinne sielkundiges optree in skole. Dit word gedoen deur die verskillende tipes etiese dilemmas, wat ondervind word deur sielkundiges in skole in die Wes-Kaap Provinsie in Suid-Afrika, te ondersoek. Die studie gebruik ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsings raamwerk wat van nature verkennend is. Semi gestruktureerde telefoniese onderhoude is gebruik om voorbeelde van etiese dilemmas in te samel soos dit deur die sielkundiges in skole ervaar word. Sneeubal steekproeftrekking is gebruik om 16 deelnemers te werf wat gesamentlik 58 dilemmas gedeel het. Tematiese analise is op die datastel toegepas. Daar is 6 temas identifiseer, naamlik: vertroulikheid, rol definisie, assesering en verslae, werkslas, toestemming en die omvang van die diens. Deelnemers was baie vindingryk in hul aanwending van strategieë wat nodig is om die dilemmas so eties moontlik te oorkom. Metodes gebruik om die dilemmas te oorkom het die volgende ingesluit: etiese kodes en wettiese voorskrifte, ferm optrede, span pogings, empatie, onderhandeling met die kliënt, gebruik van supervisie, en die fokus op wat die beste optrede vir die kind is. Ter samevatting het die studie lig gewerp op die komplekse omgewing waarbinne sielkundiges in skole moet optree om etiese optrede te handhaaf en hoe dit die tipe dilemmas wat hul die hoof moes bied, beïnvloed het. Die bevindinge word vergelyk met die internasionale omgewing en aanbevelings word gemaak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124932
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