Clinicians' Lived Experience of Ethics: Values and Challenges in Helping Children

Isaac Prilleltensky, Richard Walsh-Bowers, Amy Rossiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study is based on the need to create frameworks of applied ethics that are based on the lived experience of workers. This collaborative research, which took place at a child guidance center, consists of consultations with an advisory committee, interviews with 14 front-line workers and 3 administrators, and a workshop for the entire staff of 180 members of the center. The research explores clinicians' ethical values, challenges, and recommendations for resolving ethical dilemmas. Clinicians report as important several values, including (a) respect for people's rights, dignity, integrity, and privacy; (b) compassion and responsible caring; (c) voice and choice; (d) advocating for the most vulnerable client; (e) empowering and holistic approaches based on strengths; and (f) pursuing the child's best interests. Clinicians face several challenges in their efforts to actualize their values: (a) working in interlocking systems, (b) meeting workers' needs, (c) dealing with pressure to acquiesce, (d) dealing with pressure to label, (e) facing the perils of professionalism, (f) facing gender and racial discrimination, and (g) finding time for proper reflection. The findings point to the potential positive or negative outcomes of each challenge. The implications of the study for applied ethics theory, research, and action in the helping professions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-342
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Educational and Psychological Consultation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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