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Ethical and Professional Conflicts in Correctional Psychology

Ethical and Professional Conflicts in Correctional Psychology

Abstract

The role of the mental health professional in a prison setting has changed to reflect the prevailing ideology of the correctional administration that deemphasizes treatment and emphasizes security and custodial concerns. As a consequence, mental health professionals who work in corrections have experienced unique ethical and professional conflicts. Standards were developed to address the conflicts and provide guidelines for professional conduct, but dilemmas continue to exist. The authors believe this can be attributed to (a) the standards being vague and (b) correctional personnel not understanding or supporting the standards or the psychologist's role as a mental health professional. This article examines these propositions in more detail, using vignettes and discussion, and offers other approaches to resolving the dilemmas and improving the delivery of mental health services to incarcerated individuals.
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