29 year old Sakura has been brought to counseling by a concerned neighbor because she believes Sakura is suffering from depression. She is listless and silent, and prone to staring in to space. During the course of the counseling sessions, it was discovered that Sakura’s husband has been violent towards her recently. Sakura is Japanese and has migrated to California two years ago, here she met and married an American husband. Sakura refuses to tell authorities because she is ashamed that her family in Japan would discover the failure of her marriage.
She clearly tells the counselor that no one should know of the state of her relationship with her husband. A counselor is ethically obligated to inform authorities about the abusive nature of the relationship but she is also obligated to respect her client’s wishes. Framework for Ethical Decision Making (Velasquez, M. , Moberg, D. , Meyer, M. J. , Shanks, T. ,. McLean, M. R. , DeCosse, D. , Andre, C. , and Hanson, K. O. , 2009) Recognize an Ethical Issue
Psychologists cannot break client-therapist confidentiality; Sakura has clearly expressed that her problems in marriage must be kept confidential and believes that her husband’s temperament is just being affected by his problems at work and the situation between them can be resolved. The counselor feels conflicted because the situation involves actual and potential risk for the client. Get the Facts Sakura is being verbally and physically abused when her husband is incited to anger by small things, like unwashed laundry or bland food.
She sometimes gets bruises when her husband grabs he arms and shakes her or pushes her around. Sakura feels miserable at the state of her marriage but she was raised to be a loyal wife to her husband. The Japanese value a good marriage and frown upon divorce and marital problems. The Japanese believe marital problems must be resolved at home and must not be publicly acknowledged. This must be dealt with in therapy sessions sensitive to her culture and to her way of thinking.
She must learn to value herself more than valuing the opinion of others. Evaluate Alternative Actions The counselor may decide to first try to convince Sakura of the unreasonable aspects of her situation. An establishment of a high sense of self-worth in therapy can ideally enable her get out of the abusive relationship by her own accord. However, when the danger is imminent and when it is clear that her husband is escalating in violence towards Sakura then the first area of concern would be to notify authorities to stop the abuse.
Make a Decision and Test It The therapist can decide to tell the authorities about the nature of the situation, testing a decision can involve looking at the possible outcomes should the decision be executed. All other approaches must be considered; a useful exercise would be asking the question “what If I told someone I respect-or told a television audience-which option I have chosen, what would they say? ” considering different perspectives is vital in making the choice.
Act and Reflect on the Outcome Implement the decision, tell the authorities and monitor the outcome, Sakura must be guided in therapy and offered psychological support at all times. Reference: Velasquez, M. , Moberg, D. , Meyer, M. J. , Shanks, T. ,. McLean, M. R. , DeCosse, D. , Andre, C. , and Hanson, K. O. , (2009). A framework for ethical decision making. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.