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Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay

Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay

The specific features of rural areas require different guidelines for ethical behavior than those applicable to the cities. This fact may have an impact on any kind of occupation, including the rural forensic psychologist practice.Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay

The fact that the rural area is different from the urban one has resulted in the creation of rural criminology. The aspects of rural life that may have an impact on the job of a forensic psychologist include its small communities with a strong sense of identity and interconnectedness, isolation, scarcity of health services, especially mental ones, and lower level of tolerance (Scott & Hogg, 2015; Zur, 2006).

All these parameters are shown in relation to urban areas, and it is obvious that they may differ from place to place. Still, these particular features result in certain cultural differences between the dwellers of the urban and rural areas that should be taken into account.

The crime level in rural areas is a questionable issue. It is not unusual to idealize the village and expect the interdependence of people to prevent crimes; yet, the cases of domestic or discrimination-based violence appears to be common in such areas (Scott & Hogg, 2015).

The ethical guidelines suggested for forensic psychologists can differ depending on the association to which one belongs. Still, they are usually concerned with similar dilemmas. The ones used in this paper are suggested by the American Psychological Association (2013).Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay

The ethical dilemmas that can arise in the process of working in rural areas for forensic psychologists include the following situations. First, the conflict of values may appear. The Guideline 1.02 suggested by APA (2013) demands impartiality while the guidance 2.07-2.08 requires taking into account the possible bias caused by the conflict of values and minding the specific cultural features of every particular group (pp. 9-10). The differences in worldview should not prevent a psychologist from helping a patient.

However, it should be pointed out that values can and occasionally have to be changed in the process of rehabilitation, for example, in the case of the lack of tolerance (Day & Casey, 2009). Secondly, the dilemma of multiple relationships (guideline 4.02) is especially acute in rural areas where the interdependence of people is higher than in cities (APA, 2013, p. 11). Thirdly, the question of fees may be especially acute in rural areas that are usually less prosperous than urban areas.


Fourthly, the dilemma of gifts that are most often present in any psychologist practice is most difficult in the case of a forensic psychologists in the rural area. Given the fact that the countryside is less prosperous and more interdependent, it becomes understandable that the gifts (or barter) are to be expected (Zur, 2006). Still, given the peculiarities of forensic psychology, accepting a gift from patients or their family is an especially difficult issue.Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay

Accepting gifts is not explicitly forbidden by APA (2013), and yet the decision-making in this situation depends on a number of factors, including the possibility of offending the patient by refusing. At the same time, it should be pointed out that in small isolated rural areas, the reputation of a person can be easily destroyed.

Therefore, this question should be considered carefully with attention to the cultural peculiarities of the area. Finally, the lack of mental health providers in a rural area may cause the ethical dilemma of the scope of competence reflected in the guideline 2.01 (APA, 2013, p. 9). It should be pointed out that compliance with the guideline 2.03 (informing the patients about competencies) can help in the process of decision-making in this respect.

It can be therefore concluded that the specific features of rural areas can condition a number of ethical dilemmas for a forensic psychologist. The decision-making strategy for any of these difficulties would most certainly include evaluating the risks and benefits of every particular situation.


American Psychological Association. (2013). Specialty Guidelines for Forensic PsychologyWeb.

Day, A., & Casey, S. (2009). Values in forensic and correctional psychologyAggression And Violent Behavior, 14(4), 232-238. Web.

Scott, J., & Hogg, R. (2015). Strange and stranger ruralities: Social constructions of rural crime in Australia. Journal Of Rural Studies39, 171-179. Web.Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Communities Essay


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