Parent or child, who is right? When involved in a situation concerning a minor who is cutting himself due to depression, a father with full custody and the mother who is an alcoholic with no custody rights; things can be complicated. Do you concentrate on the parent and what they want because they are the parent or do you focus on the child and what is best for them? A psychologist is going to have to look at all aspects of the situation. The mother wants to be involved in the treatment sessions for the child, but the father doesn’t want her involved. What about the child? This situation could easily be turned into a huge mess which would be harder on the child.
First off, the psychologist would need to look at the legal aspects. Within the divorce decree and custody papers, is there anything regarding whether the non-custodial parent can be involved in the child’s treatment? If the divorce decree or custody papers don’t specifically state that the mother can be involved then the father may not allow it. Especially if the divorce was not amicable then the father may still hold bad feelings towards the mother and try to hurt her by refusing to allow her to be involved with the treatment of the child. Legally, the psychologist would need to make sure that whatever decision is made does not go against what the court has declared in the best interest of the child.
Secondly, the psychologist would need to concentrate on the ethical aspects. Speak to colleagues to find out if they have ever been in this situation before. Find out how they handled it. Sometimes it is easier to determine whether a situation is handled ethically if you aren’t actually involved. If you think that they handled it ethically then maybe you need to handle it the same way. If you find out how they handled it and immediately see things that weren’t following the ethical guidelines then you need to stop and ask yourself if that is the way you were going to approach the situation. If you were going to do it that way then you should immediately stop and regroup. Some of the questions that you should ask yourself would be “Will taking this action be in my client’s best interest? Will engaging in this behavior increase the likelihood of exploitation or harm of my client? Is acting in this way consistent with my obligations to my client and consistent with my client’s expectations of me? Will proceeding with this course of action promote greater dependence on me by my client?’’ (Barnett 2008). If the answers to these questions are not answered in a way that shows you are handling things ethically then you need to reconsider your options.
Thirdly, you need to make sure that whatever you are doing is best for your client. There are many people involved in the situation, but a psychologist’s main focus should be on who they are counseling. If the child is depressed, is it because of the divorce or is it more about the reasons for the divorce. The mother is an alcoholic which most likely had a lot to do with the divorce. Did the