Thursday, March 3, 2016

Ethics 2

1.  Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term "ethical dilemma" (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)
Definition:    An ethical dilemma is a situation when an individual must make a decision about which course of action to take in a situation with multiple options, each of which compromises some ethical principle (Karen Allen).
            With a definition that complicated, it is a challenge to give a simple explanation of what an ethical dilemma is.  Ethical dilemmas are something that almost everyone faces at some point in their life. These are the situations in life that have multiple potential courses of action, none of which provide an ideal resolution.  The dilemma is in making a decision about which path to take in that moment, after looking at the possible consequences of each. 
            One of the most prominent ethical dilemmas I faced in my professional life occurred when I was working for a small mental health institute with very few employees.  While I was working for this company, a family member was admitted as a patient.  I wanted to be sure that they received the best care possible, but I also knew it was a conflict of interest to work with them, and was against the rules of the institute.  My options were to quit working in that facility, and leave the staff short handed to deal with patients, reducing the quality of care for my family member, or to continue working for the facility, breaking their rules.  Neither of these options was ideal, but it was the dilemma that I was stuck facing. I will be discussing how I worked through this dilemma in the following questions.
2.  Identify, list and briefly explain the steps to a "Problem Solving Process.” (minimum 100 words each step; citation of source for process required)
            The “Problem Solving Process” as defined by the Global Development Research Center consists of six steps:  problem definition, problem analysis, generating possible solutions, analyzing the solutions, selecting the best solution, and planning the next course of action (Srinivas).  After explaining each of these steps, I will also break down the example that I listed in question to show how it fits into this problem solving process.
Step 1: Problem Definition
The first step in the problem solving process is to identify the problem that you need to resolve. The Global Development Research Center recommends that you actually write down the issue and what you’d like to achieve by resolving this situation.  This step is intended to help you pinpoint the dilemma.  It will also help to verify that you aren’t working to resolve only part of the issue instead of the problem as a whole. 
Example:  The problem is that my family member is now a patient at the mental health facility that I work for.  Not only is it a conflict of interest for me to work with them, but it’s also against company policy to do so.  However, I want to ensure that my family member receives the best care possible.
Step 2: Problem Analysis
Step two of this process is to analyze the problem to understand the current situation and what is causing the issue at hand. This step allows you to gain an understanding of where the problem is coming from and what environment it exists within.  Being able to identify these things will make it easier to know how to best resolve the issue. This step also gives you the time to actually think about the situation instead of jumping in with your gut reaction to try to fix the situation without completely assessing it.
Example: In health care, working with your family is rarely allowed.  However, the positions at my facility are very hard to fill so leaving may lead to them being short staffed and reduce the care quality for my family member. 
Step 3: Generating Possible Solutions
The third step in the problem solving process is generating possible solutions. Once you have identified and analyzed the problem at hand, it is time to decide what your options are to resolve the issue.   This step should give you the opportunity to brainstorm any potential solutions to the dilemma without taking the time to evaluation or analyze them (this will come later).  This step gives you the opportunity to list all of your options without rejecting solutions that may seem improbable at first glance.
Example: In this problem, I was able to come up with a four different options:  continue working at the facility and try to hide my relationship with a patient, quit my job immediately, take a leave of absence until my family member is transferred to another facility, or discuss reassignment possibilities with my supervisor. 
Step 4: Analyzing the Solutions
The next step of the problem solving process is to examine the solutions that you generated in the previous step to determine the pros and cons of each option. At this time you are not working to try to decide which option is best, but only looking at all of the positive and negative effects each potential solution.
·      Solution 1:  Continue working at the facility and try to hide my relationship
o   Pros – I keep my job, I can supervise the care of my family member to see that they are well treated
o   Cons – If I get caught I can be fired for not following policy, I have to force my family member to lie about our relationship as well, if care doesn’t go well for my family member, the rest of my family may be angry with me.
·      Solution 2:  Quit my job immediately
o   Pros – I don’t break any company policies, so I can continue working in this field
o   Cons – Loss of employment without a new job lined up will cause financial hardship on my household, unable to supervise the care of my family member, reduced staff at the facility actually reduces the care quality for my family member
·      Solution 3:  Take a leave of absence
o   Pros – I’m not breaking company policy and will be able to return to my position, may help build trust with my supervisors
o   Cons – Loss of income would be a challenge to my household.
·      Solution 4:  Discuss reassignment with my supervisor
o   Pros – Continue working to pay the bills, building a trusting relationship with my supervisor
o   Cons – Not able to supervise care for my family member, learning a new facility/position can be a challenge.
Step 5: Selecting the Best Solution
Step five is where we finally begin to review all of our potential solutions to try to make decide what our best options are.  You need to review all of the pros and cons of each solution you’ve come up with to determine if the solutions are viable.  Some solutions will be easy to discard, while others may be more difficult to make a decision about.  It may be necessary to narrow down the list and do additional solutions, but it’s also possible that none of the solutions you originally came up with will work, and you have to go back to step three to create more potential solutions.
·      Solution 1:  Continue working at the facility and try to hide my relationship
o   Overall this solution seems like a poor choice.  The necessity to lie and hide things goes against my ethical code.   It would be nice to be involved with my family’s care, but is against policy so it is not really an option.
·      Solution 2:  Quit my job immediately
o   Quitting my job would put a lot of financial strain on my family and reduce the quality of care for my family member, despite the fact that I would be following the rules.
·      Solution 3:  Take a leave of absence
o   Leave of absence would also put a lot of financial strain on my family, and there is no guarantee that my family member will be transferred, or when they will be, leaving me without an income for an unknown amount of time.  Also, staff positions are difficult to fill, so requesting a leave of absence may not be approved.
·      Solution 4:  Possible reassignment
o   Requesting to transfer to another position or location gives me the opportunity to keep working with the company, giving me some satisfaction of “being involved” with my family member’s care even though I’m not directly involved.  I also continue to follow the required policies of the company.  However, I would have to learn either a new job or location.  Additionally, there may not be an opening elsewhere to allow the reassignment to occur.  I do believe this is the best option to try to undertake.
Step 6: Planning the Next Course of Action
The final step of this problem solving process is to plan the next course of action.  This is when you actually decide which solution you are going to undertake for the given problem, and determine how to apply this solution.  It can be helpful to write down your plan of action to get a clear idea of what needs to happen.  It may also be necessary to start informing other people of the plan to resolve the issue you are facing.
Example:  Ultimately I decided to request a transfer to a different facility in order to keep working with the company and not break and policies.  My supervisor was appreciative of my desire to continue working with the company, and my willingness to follow company policy.  Together we created a plan to have someone at a different location switch positions with me until my family member moved to a different facility. 
3.  Provide the following information for each of the situations below: 
A)   Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words). 
B)   Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words) 
C)   Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an "ethical dilemma?" Why or why not? (100 words)
Situation 1 – Waters of Life
A) Problem and Resolution:
·      Problem Definition - There is a new attendee at a public ritual that should not be asked to drink alcohol.  The grove traditionally uses a single vessel of alcohol as the Waters of Life. 
·      Problem Analysis - There is only one vessel to use for our Waters of Life.  We cannot use alcohol because it would not be good hospitality.  The Grove prefers the use of alcohol and may be disappointed in the use of an alternative beverage. 
·      Generating Solutions - Use an alternative beverage for the blessings for all participants, find a second vessel to use and provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, switch the blessings option to aspersing instead of consuming so all may participate.
·      Analyzing Solutions –
o   Use an alternative beverage
§  Pros:  Everyone gets to participate without singling anyone out
§  Cons:  Past participants may be disappointed in the change
o   Find a second vessel to use and provide
§  Pros:  This allows people to choose whether to consume alcohol or not without singling any person out.
§  Cons:  The vessels may not look the same, or be the same quality since the second one had to be found last minute.  Also, the change may be confusing to past participants without additional discussions.
o   Switch the blessings option to aspersing
§  Pros:  Everyone receives the same treatment without concern for alcohol intake.
§  Cons:  Aspersing doesn’t work well in colder temperatures.  Also, it’s quite different than the norm, so it may be less fulfilling for the group. 
·      Selecting Solution - I believe the best solution would be to use water or some alternative non-alcoholic beverage for the blessing waters.  While it may confuse some members, I don’t believe any of them would greatly affected by the change, while confronting someone in AA with alcohol may be a bit traumatic for a first experience.
·      Planning the Next Course of Action - For this ritual, use what you have available for everyone to participate.  However, it may be worth discussing future actions to see if purchasing a second vessel may be desired to make sure everyone can participate in the way they choose.
B) Code of Ethics:
 I believe that the seventh section of my code of ethics applies directly to this situation.  It states, “I will encourage others to develop their own spirituality as much as I can and help them to foster growth within a religious, personal, and practical context.”  For me, this means assisting people along their path however I can.  By removing alcohol from the ritual, I am helping to provide an opportunity for someone to participate in a ritual they may be uncomfortable with. It’s a small change, but I believe it can help to encourage the person to continue to develop their spirituality and growth.
C) Ethical Dilemma? 
            I do not believe that this situation is an ethical dilemma.  As I stated above, an ethical dilemma is a situation when an individual must make a decision about which course of action to take in a situation with multiple options, each of which compromises some ethical principle (Karen Allen).  In this situation, there is some conflict, but I do not feel like I had to compromise my ethics in order to make a decision.  Instead, I see it is a dilemma in hospitality.  I believe it may also help that my grove does not always use alcoholic beverages in ritual, but when we do we have always provided a non-alcoholic option because we have many minors who participate, as well as pregnant women, people who do not drink, etc.
Situation 2 – Hand-fasting
A) Problem and Resolution:
·      Problem Definition – A couple has asked me to perform a wedding ceremony for them where they will take vows to have a healthy and equal partnership.  However, when working with them the relationship does not seem healthy and has some indication of abuse.
·      Problem Analysis – Without additional information, it’s not possible to know what their relationship is really like. It could be that one person has much stronger opinions about the wedding than the other and is coming off as agitated because of stress.  It could be a BDSM relationship that the couple is comfortable with.  Bruising could be caused by an aggressive hobby (roller derby, etc.).
·      Generating Solutions – Refuse to perform the ceremony if you are uncomfortable, ask the couple to get counseling before the ceremony, try to discuss the goals and expectations of the relationship with each partner individually to give more insight into the situation, perform the ceremony without taking any follow-up actions.
·      Analyzing Solutions –
o   Refuse to perform the ceremony
§  Pros: I wouldn’t be involved with their decision to marry
§  Cons: If abuse is happening, it may continue or escalate.  However, abuse may not be happening, and I would continue to worry because I don’t have additional information.
o   Ask the couple to attend therapy
§  Pros:  The couple attending therapy could work out issues they may have.
§  Cons:  The couple could refuse and find someone else to perform the rite.  Additionally, it may be dangerous to the abused partner if the abuser believes it is their fault.
o   Discuss goals and expectations of relationship
§  Pros:  This gives you the opportunity to get additional information from each partner individually and helps to give a better understanding of the relationship.
§  Cons:  It may give you information that you don’t desire and cause you to still want them to attend therapy, or refuse to do their ceremony altogether. 
o   Just perform the ceremony
§  Pros:  No confrontation
§  Cons:  Feeling uneasy with the situation and concerning myself over the well being of these people.
·      Selecting Solution – I believe more discussions need to be had in order to actually find the appropriate action to take.  At this point, I would ask to meet with each person individually to discuss their hopes and expectations of the relationship to see if they match and to give me additional insights into the relationship.
·      Planning the Next Course of Action -- It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but it’s also hurtful to accuse someone of something that they aren’t doing.  This is why I believe additional discussions need to be had.  However, from those discussions I would again have to decide how to proceed, whether I wanted to refer the couple to therapy, not perform the ceremony at all, or if I my initial conclusion was misplaced.
B) Code of Ethics: 
            I believe Section 5 of my code of conduct would apply here.  This section states, “Professional boundaries will be implemented in necessary situations involving my work as clergy. I will also recognize my personal limits and be willing to admit those limitations when needed.”  This code allows me to help people as much as I can, but also understand my personal limits.  This code is why I wouldn’t try to offer counseling myself.  I know I am not a professional therapist, and therefore I do not have the ability to provide the service that may be needed.  However, I do have the ability to listen and determine if there needs to be a referral to a professional made.  Additionally, maintaining professional boundaries helps to ensure that I will not get emotionally drawn into the situation, and will continue to work as a professional despite my personal biases and experiences.

C) Ethical Dilemma?
            For me, this does feel a bit like an ethical dilemma.  I want to provide services to a community that has very few resources.  At the same time, I also want to care for people and ensure that they are safe in their situations.  As someone who grew up in an abusive household, I cannot ethically help to put someone into that situation by performing a hand fasting between an abuser and an abuse victim.  It goes against my integrity to allow that to happen.  However, I also don’t feel that I have enough information to know that is fact, so additional information would need to be gathered before I could make a decision.
Situation 3 – Child Abuse
A) Problem and Resolution:
·      Problem Definition – A child has told me he is being abused and has physical marks that indicate that it may be true.
·      Problem Analysis – This child views me as someone to be trusted.  Additionally, Nebraska’s mandatory reporting laws currently state “any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report” (National Conference of State Legislatures).
·      Generating Solutions  -- From my perspective, there are really only three potential options: ignore the situation, call the cops to report the parents, discuss the situation with the parents.
·      Analyzing Solutions –
o   Ignore the situation
§  Pros:  No confrontation, keep the child’s secret as they requested.
§  Cons:  Abuse may continue on the child.  Additionally, you are breaking the law, which may have additional consequences if legal action is not taken against the parent.
o   Call the police
§  Pros:  You’re following the laws and trying to maintain the child is safe. 
§  Cons:  The child will be upset with you for breaking their trust; some children do lie about these types of situations, grove may be angry over your actions for reporting the parents.
o   Discuss the situation with parents
§  Pros:  You’re gathering additional information to ease your concerns. 
§  Cons:  You’re still breaking the trust of the child and potentially endangering them if they are actually being abused. Adults also lie about these types of situations.
·      Selecting Solution – For me, the decision is an easy one.  You have to call the police.  As a mandatory reporting state, this is the only legal option.  Unfortunately at that point though you have no control over how the situation is managed, which is very scary.
·      Planning the Next Course of Action  -- The first step is to get the police involved with the situation.  After this, depending on the outcome, there may need to be discussions held with the grove that help ease concerns while also not breaking necessary confidentiality.  Either way, this type of action will have long lasting effects, both on the family and on the grove.
B) Code of Ethics: 
            Section 3 of my code of ethics applies to these types of situations.  It states, “I will maintain confidential communications for all private discussions between myself and those who seek my guidance a) unless disclosure is required by law, such as information about child abuse, b) unless sharing the communications can prevent harm from happening to others.   This gives me the opportunity to have confidential discussions with people who may need someone to talk to, while also giving myself the opportunity to prevent harm and follow the law as required.  This portion of my code of ethics was actually written for these types of situations in order to prevent myself from having to decide between breaking the law or breaking my personal code.
C) Ethical Dilemma?
            I do believe this one is an ethical dilemma.  We all want to do what is best for out community and to protect the members of our grove.  However, the law clearly states what is expected of all adults in this situation.   There is also additional concern that this child trusted you, which may be a challenge from someone in an abusive home, and you have now breached that trust by “tattling” on them and involving the police.  No matter the outcome there will be a lot of hostility in this situation from the parents, as well as their friends, family, and other members of the Grove.  You have to be strong enough to take that anger and stand by your actions, and that alone is quite a challenge.

Situation 4 – Wheel Chair Dilemma
A) Problem and Resolution:
·      Problem Definition – A woman in a wheelchair would like to attend an upcoming public ritual.  The ritual is being held somewhere that is not currently wheelchair accessible.  The woman’s attendant also does not wish to be involved with the rite.
·      Problem Analysis – While the grove offers open to the public rituals, this rite has not been set up in a way that is accessible to everyone.  Another Neopagan group has already turned down the woman.  Where I live, there are not many ritual spaces readily available without forethought and planning involved. 
·      Generating Solutions – Try to find a new handicap accessible ritual space, continue with this rite as planned without the woman and try to find a resolution for the future, allow the woman to attend and try to get her to the ritual space, request that she bring someone with her who can care for her during the ritual, make the current location wheelchair friendly, hold a second ritual at a later date in a wheelchair accessible location.
·      Analyzing Solutions
o   Find a new ritual space
§  Pros:  The woman would be able to attend the ritual
§  Cons:  Would require last minute changes potentially inconveniencing everyone else planning to attend, additional costs, ritual spaces are limited and difficult to find without planning
o   Continue with the rite as planned
§  Pros:  None of the regular participants are affected.
§  Cons:  The woman won’t be able to participate, which is poor hospitality, so she may not try to attend in the future
o   Try to get her to the ritual space
§  Pros:  The woman may get to participate
§  Cons:  It may be hazardous for people who are not familiar with her to try to move her/her wheelchair into a space.  Additionally, there may be issues getting her back out if she has a medical emergency in the ritual space.
o   Request a different caregiver
§  Pros:  The woman would get to participate and someone would be available to help take care of her. 
§  Cons:  Getting her to the ritual space will still be a challenge if the location isn’t also changed.
o   Make the current location wheelchair friendly.
§  Pros:  The woman could access the ritual space on her own.
§  Cons:  This may be lot of hard work if it is possible, and if using public land, etc. it may not be possible at all.
o   Hold a second ritual in a different location at a future date
§  Pros:  The ritual gets to go on as planned, but another ritual is set up for the woman to participate in. 
§  Cons:  Creating an additional ritual does create extra work; she may not be able to attend on another date.
§  Selecting Solution -- Overall, while it may not be the most gracious solution, I believe the best solution is to hold a second ritual in a different location at a future date to allow her to participate.  Carrying her into the ritual space provides health hazards that I don’t want anyone to feel responsible for.  Moving the ritual last minute is unprofessional and difficult to do.  Creating a new route is impractical. 
§  Planning the Next Course of Action -- I would explain the situation to the woman thoroughly, express my disappointment that I can’t make the existing ritual work for her, while also giving her an opportunity to participate in the near future.
B) Code of Ethics:
            My code of ethics addresses this type of situation in the first section.  It states, “I will ensure the equal treatment of all people no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.  I will avoid actions that could be viewed as discrimination to the best of my abilities.”  This statement makes it quite clear that I need to do everything in my power to make sure that all people are treated equally and given he appropriate aid in order to be able to participate.  I want to be sure that everyone feels comfortable in our rituals, and that I am treating everyone fairly. This is part of why I want to be sure to make accommodations for the woman to participate in the future.
C) Ethical Dilemma?
            I do not personally see this particular situation as an ethical dilemma, so much as another dilemma of hospitality.  As hosts, we want to be able to provide a positive experience to our guests if possible.  We want to be sure our environment is welcoming and open to all who wish to participate.  However, as a guest it is also important to understand the limitations of the host and to expect only reasonable requests from them.  For me, hospitality dictates that as a host we work to accommodate this woman in the future to ensure her participation.  The most important part of this situation for me is communication.  We want to be clear in explaining what the limitations are for her participation, while also expressing that we want her to be a part of our celebration and giving her opportunities to do so in a way that is safe for her.

Works Cited

Karen Allen, Ph.D. What Is an Ethical Dilemma? 2012. January 2016 <>.

National Conference of State Legislatures. Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting State Statute Overview. May 2014 <>.

Srinivas, Hari. The Problem Solving Process. January 2016 <>.

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