Ethics in Psychology

Page 1 of 1 Ethics in Psychology

© 2013 Argosy University

Course Case Study

Lily began supervising an intern, Jack. A few months after supervision began, Lily discovered that she

would need to go on medical leave. Because the leave would only be for about six weeks and she was

the only licensed mental health professional in the office, she and Jack decided that he would be fine

working without her involvement until she got back. He would simply keep all the reports she needed to

sign on her desk, and she would sign them all when she returned.

Jack felt very competent in his ability to carry on while Lily was out until he conducted an intake

assessment on a client who seemed to be having some breaks from reality. Jack was unsure how to

determine if there really was psychosis occurring and what to do about it. He tried to contact Lily but was

unable to get in touch. Anxious, he searched online for ideas on how to work with the new client and tried

out a few techniques during sessions. He reassured himself that no matter what he did, ultimately Lily

was responsible anyway.

A week before Lily returned to work, the client was arrested as he tried to “fly” off a building, convinced

that he could fly without difficulty. Upon being taken into custody, the client’s demeanor concerned the

police officer and he was taken to the emergency room where an evaluation was conducted. It was

determined that he was indeed experiencing psychosis, and antipsychotic medication was started.

Once the client was stable, he filed a complaint against Jack and Lily with the state licensing board and

threatened legal action.

Understandably, Jack was scared and Lily was angry. She accused Jack of practicing without her

consent, stating that he was to have continued with the clients he had when she left, not accept new

ones. She subsequently informed him that she would no longer be his supervisor.

Jack was furious that he was put in the position to make decisions on his own and did not receive support

from his supervisor. Jack, in turn, filed a complaint against Lily due to lack of supervision.