For this assignment, you will read three forensic case examples and apply your understanding of the APA ethics code as well as the specialty guidelines for forensic psychology. The three case examples are found in this week’s resources.
For each case, after reviewing your resources and reading the case example carefully, you will:
- Identify any potential ethical issues related to the case.
- Identify what APA guidelines apply to the case and explain how they apply to the case.
- Identify what Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology apply to the case and explain how they apply to the case.
- Give a description of how you would resolve this ethical dilemma. Use your guidelines and resources to explain your solutions.
Finally, you will write a 1-2 page reflection on the process of working through these ethical dilemmas and your impression of the ethical struggles of a forensic psychologist.
Length: 4-5 pages total; 1 page each per dilemma, 1-2 page reflection
Your paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.
Ethics Case #1
For this case, please read the case history below. In this scenario, you are a forensic
psychologist working in a correctional facility. Your role is as the treating psychologist for
this patient. You have been working with him for one year and have developed a solid
rapport with him despite his distrust of others, particularly mental health professionals.
You meet with him for weekly therapy sessions. In this time, while he is willing to speak
with you, he avoids topics which he feels may cause him to be forcibly medicated; and you
have been unable to get him to try psychotropic medications voluntarily. Recently, the
prison has decided to attempt to get a court order to medicate the patient due to concern
related to dangerousness and increasing psychiatric instability. They would like your
cooperation in the court process. As you read this scenario and develop an understanding
of the patient, also consider what ethical concerns you may have—particularly related to
the specialty guidelines for forensic psychology and multiple relationships—and how you
might resolve these issues.
REASON FOR REFERRAL
Mr. Doe was referred for this psychological evaluation due to this the patient’s continued
refusal to take psychiatric medication, continued active psychosis, and history of risk to
This assessment was also conducted in order to get a better understanding of Mr.
Doe’s emotional functioning, identify his strengths and weaknesses, provide suggestions
that may aid in treatment planning, and help
determine risk factors for his potential future
He is currently being referred for 402.10 commitment to CPC.
Mr. Doe is serving his first bid for Murder 1, Burglary 1, and Grand Larceny, with a life
sentence. He is also accused of two murders in Canada, which charges are still pending.
In the IO, it is reported that the patient first murdered two men in Canada before crossing
the border with one of the victim’s vehicles. Per his parents’ report, the crimes in Canada
were fairly graphic, involved a knife, and one of the victims was almost decapitated. In
the U.S., it was reported that he shot a man in the back at his hunting camp before tying
him to a four-wheeler and dragging him around. He then fled to the Mexican border in
Texas. He was apprehended by a Border Patrol officer after he was noticed to have a
rifle. Mr. Doe then assaulted the Border Patrol officer and has pending charges in Texas
for this assault.
PERSONAL PROFILE AND RELEVANT HISTORY
Mr. Doe was born on 03/05/81, with no known complications. He had an unremarkable
childhood, graduating high school in 1999. He was noted to have done well academically,
had many friends in high school, although not in junior high, and was the co-captain of
his high school football team. Records note a history of depression in junior high school.
After high school, he attended Alpha University in Canada, pursuing a degree in
Engineering. He completed two years of school and was involved with a fraternity and
other similar pro-social activities. He was noted to have had two girlfriends in the past,
one of whom he had a sexual relationship with. Mr. Doe has one younger brother,
Douglas, with whom he is very close. He is also supported by his parents, Bob and Mary
Doe. Prior to Mr. Doe’s incarceration, he resided with his parents when he was not
During the summer of 2000, Mr. Doe went to Taipei as an English teacher. His parents
reported that, when he returned home for the fall semester, his mental deterioration
began. Records indicate that he was initially believed to be suffering from a depressive
episode during the fall/winter of 2000 to 2001. He reported using marijuana daily
between August 2000 to August 2001. He was noted to have gone on a drug binge in
August of 2001, using cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and mushrooms for approximately
one week while on a trip to Montreal with his fraternity brothers. Records from the
family indicate that he had his first admitted hallucination of fighting a dragon at this
When he returned to school in fall 2001, he was further isolating himself, and had also
become paranoid. Records from his family indicate that he was destroying and/or burying
in the woods his personal belongings, including taking all of his clothes to a thrift store.
He reported a need to “cleanse himself.” His family reported that he decreased his food
intake to a half a piece of bread daily for the purpose of “ritual cleansing,” and to
examine/overcome the concept of “what is need and what is want.” In September 2001,
he locked himself in his room for five days, turning off the lights, unplugging the phone,
TV, etc., and minimally drinking in an effort to “do well with control and self-discipline.”
Between August and November of 2001, he lost 40 pounds. His family records note that
he fell into a deep depression, which continued to occur the following years during the
fall and winter months.
After Mr. Doe refused treatment and medication, he continued to deteriorate. In October
2001, he was reported to be mute often; and he overate to the point of physical pain. The
patient reported that he was punishing himself. His parents reported that he often eloped
to the woods for days at a time. He was brought, involuntarily, by police to Canada
Hospital on 11/02/01. Hospital records indicated that he eloped on 11/05/01, was returned
by his parents within hours, and subsequently eloped again on 11/06/01. He was found a
week later by police, seeming to have lived in the streets for the duration of his absence.
At this time, it was noted that he was not showering, for several weeks to months.
Records indicate that he received intravenous medication for approximately one month
due to his refusals to take oral medication. This was discontinued in December 2001
when Mr. Doe agreed to accept oral medication. His symptoms were noted to improve;
however, he eloped on 01/14/02, and was not found by police.
According to his family, he then lived at home for the next few years, continuing to
exhibit bizarre behaviors including: outings to the woods, sleeping with knives, having
beliefs about a “troop” being after his family, paranoia regarding vampires,
demonstration of poor hygiene including not showering or brushing his teeth for one
year, and further isolation. In 2003, there was an episode noted in which he painted
himself all white, as well as everything in his room, indicating that he had been
enlightened. He then left the home to try to enlighten others, but scared a homeless man
and the police were called. He was not charged with anything due to his parents’
intervention and their subsequent report of his mental condition to police.
In March 2005, his parents reported that he unlawfully entered a dwelling. His parents
indicate that he was not intending to harm anyone or steal anything, but that he was
trying to get out of the elements after spending time in the woods. He was hospitalized at
Canada Forensic Hospital in April 2005 due to unlawfully entering a dwelling and
Records indicate that he was found competent and capable of attending
trial. His parents reported that the case was dismissed due to his psychiatric issues.
In July 2005, his family moved to another town in Canada. Records from the family note
that he began using marijuana heavily again in the summer of 2005, often isolating
himself behind the garage listening to rave music and “communicating with the stars.” In
November 2005, he was admitted to the burn unit at a hospital after he burned his chest
and back while burning the clothes he was wearing. His family records note that he was
very psychotic during this episode and that the burns were intentional. His family noted
“lashing” marks, as though he hit himself with a flaming article of clothing. Records
indicate that he left the hospital AMA, and peeled off and ate all of his dead skin from the
Records sent by his parents from his hospitalizations note Mr. Doe being involuntarily
admitted, with the last occurrence in December 2005, due to being “acutely psychotic,
delusional, without any insight into his illness, with periods of agitation, with high risk to
act on his delusions if left untreated, with potential of danger to his own safety or safety
of others.” It was noted that he “presented with significant disorganization in thought
process with tangentially to loosening of association with persecutory delusions believing
his family and himself being in life threatening danger including rape and murder. Up
until recently, in his hospital room, he was keeping lots of garlic ‘to keep demons and
vampires away.’ During most of his interviews he has been quite agitated with verbal
aggression and body posturing and staring intently to intimidate others especially nursing
and medical staff. On many occasions he has gestured to ‘curse’ the staff. He believes he
has the ability to curse people and make them suffer.” Additionally it is noted that, prior
to this hospitalization, he “was brought by police, after he had called two different police
detachment units and reported life threatening danger to his parents. His family reported
that he was extremely paranoid before his admission, often sleeping with a knife. Mr.
Doe reported having an overwhelming ‘intuition’ or ‘sense’ that his parents were going to
be murdered and his mother raped. At the time, he eloped from home, hitchhiked, he
became insomniac, extremely agitated, his behavior became very paranoid (e.g. carrying
a knife with him at all times, telling parents to take their lives if an attack is going to be
imminent). His parents feared that he could act on his thoughts, e.g., ‘he could attack us.'”
He was noted to have escaped in January 2006.
He was captured by police in January 2006 and returned to the hospital. He was later
transferred to the Canada Hospital. At that time, he agreed to take Clozapine; and after
his symptoms diminished, he was released in July 2006. Records from the family indicate
that Mr. Doe was doing well and was believed to be taking the medication until
December 2006. During this time when he was medication compliant, he was noted to be
less isolated, to have enjoyed some activities, and that the entire family reported they had
“a really great Christmas.”
In January 2007, he again began to isolate himself and become depressed. He was noted
as becoming very persistent in seeking and using marijuana in early 2007. His family
reported that he listened to rave music on headphones, sometimes for 6-8 hours straight.
He was noted to laugh, scream, and make strange noises, which appeared to be related to
internal stimuli. In March 2007, he was noted to present with grandiose delusions of
being the next Messiah, and having direct relations with God, Jesus, and “the Archangel.”
His family reported that he regularly had conversations with these individuals. An
incident is noted in which he threw a book into a fire, then retrieved it and placed it
underwater, and then took it outside to the river. According to Mr. Doe, he believed the
book to have turned into a demon and then into the Archangel (thus his need to save it).
He also believed that the river behind the family home was sacred. He was noted to have
gone to the river in the winter, disrobe, and get entirely under the water, in order to
“cleanse” himself from demons.
Between March and May of 2007, he was noted to take multiple cold showers throughout
the day to “cleanse” himself, leave food outside to “feed the spirits,” and holding his
breath all day long to “avoid letting demons enter him.” He was noted to not be speaking
and spending most of his day underneath a blanket holding a knife. In April 2007, his
brother moved from the family home. In late April, Mr. Doe reported a desire to move to
Halifax, secured a room and a job, and moved there on 05/01/07.
The crimes occurred in the beginning of May 2007. According to the patient’s own
report, he went to a known location for prostitution in Halifax. He reported being
commanded there, and that he was the “angel of judgment.” He reported getting into a
vehicle with a man and driving to a secluded location where the man made sexual
advances at Mr. Doe. Mr. Doe’s reports indicate that he cut the man’s throat and that he
believed he was fighting the devil. He reported a similar experience during his second
crime, in which he waited for hours in a known location for homosexual activity “while
being tortured by vampires.” He reported that he was prepared to leave when a car drove
up and “it was Satan himself.” He again reported cutting the individual’s throat. Records
note that he then fled by car to the U.S. where he shot and killed another man, an act for
which the motive appears to have been to secure another vehicle. He reported that he was
told to do so by an angel. According to Mr. Doe he was attempting to flee to Mexico “to
find safety in the forest.” He was apprehended at the Texas border and returned to the
county of his original crimes in the U.S.
Since his incarceration, he has not taken any psychiatric medications and continues to
demonstrate psychotic processing. He attempted suicide once at the county jail, in
September 2007 by biting his wrist because he “believed that he was a spirit and could
walk through the wall.”
Mr. Doe is currently housed at Correctional Facility in General Population; however, he
is on a unit that is largely populated by inmates with serious mental illness. He does not
speak often about having a mental illness currently, but does indicate that he had
Schizophrenia in the past. He is known to sleep minimally, is paranoid, and demonstrates
strange mannerisms in his speech and movement. Officers note that he is often fighting
imaginary people in his cell, particularly at night. His eye contact is often poor and is
threatening in nature. He currently takes all meals in his cell so that he can spend more
time “meditating.” He has significant support from his family, whom he calls on a regular
basis. His family reports that he remains psychotic and he believes that he is a higher
religious being. While he has had no disciplinary infractions during his incarceration, he
has needed officer intervention several times to avoid any major trouble with other
inmates. He remains focused on not hurting himself or others as he is strongly against
forced medication and remains unwilling to do anything to risk such.
He is receiving
mental health services and carries a diagnosis of Schizophrenia–Paranoid
Type, and Personality Disorder NOS.
BEHAVIORAL OBSERVATIONS AND MENTAL STATUS
Mr. Doe has been interviewed on multiple occasions since January 2009; the following is
a summary of his general behavior and mental status.
Mr. Doe is a 35-year-old Caucasian male, who walks with a stiff gait, similar to a
military style. In addition, he is noted to position himself when walking or seated such
that no one is behind him. Related to this, officers note that he will not let other inmates
hold the door for him and instead insists that they walk in front of him. He was dressed in
institutional clothing and appeared in good hygiene. He is noted to have a goatee, and his
hair is styled with gel. He has not cut his hair since his incarceration, although he grooms
his facial hair regularly. Of note, on one occasion he shaved lightning bolts into his facial
hair, claiming that “the earth made me do it.” He appeared his stated age. He is oriented
times three. There were no signs of depression or agitation today, although he was noted
during initial interviews to appear more hostile, often with a threatening yet avoidant
glance at the interviewer (as well as other staff). His eyes are often squinted, with his
forehead lowered as though he is almost trying not to make any eye contact. When he
meets the gaze of someone, he is often noted to look away. Mental health records note
that he believes that “demons can see inside you through your eyes.”
In more recent meetings with this interviewer, the patient’s gaze has become softer and
less threatening. He consistently denies suicidal or homicidal ideation, intent, or plan, and
in fact discusses at great length his desire not to demonstrate anything similar to those
ideas due to his fear of forced medication. His affect is usually flat, except for a few
moments when he demonstrated some emotional response during an interview. The most
noticeable affective response was following Rorschach testing when he demonstrated
some anxiety, but also joked briefly with this writer. He is generally calm during
interviews, although he is noted to be uncomfortable when the door is closed, when there
are unfamiliar people in the interview, or when there is significant activity outside in the
hallway. He generally gets anxious at some point in most interviews and requests to
leave; it often appears abrupt and awkward and is usually related to a topic he would not
like to discuss. He has never shown any signs of hallucinations or delusions during
interviews; however, he is noted by officers to appear to be responding to such in his cell.
Thought content is mostly reality-based; however, it is extremely pseudo-philosophical in
nature. He is very difficult to follow due to his manner of speech, difficulty responding
directly to questions, and tangentiality. He often becomes tangential but does always
return to the original question asked. He presents as intelligent and is deliberate in his
speech such that he does not reveal any information that could be directly linked to
psychotic processing. When he nears this topic area he often stops and states that he does
not want to discuss that issue. During testing, he
readily attempted all tests and worked in
an effortful manner. He completed testing very rapidly, which will be discussed further as
it relates to specific testing. He demonstrated no problems related to attention and
concentration. Speech was of normal rate and prosody. He had many questions about his
success and failure on the test, which appeared reflective of decreased self-esteem
10 hours ago
Ethics Case #2
For this case, please read the case history below. In this scenario you are a forensic
psychologist performing a risk evaluation on an adolescent offender. You have been hired
by the student’s school to complete the evaluation.
As you read this scenario and develop an understanding of the patient, consider what
ethical concerns you may have, particularly related to the APA guidelines and specialty
guidelines for forensic psychology as they relate to informed consent. In your assignment,
be sure to address issues related to the age of the patient and how you would achieve
informed consent. In addition, please answer the following questions:
What would you do if consent is denied and the school would still like you to
complete an evaluation?
What if you have consent; however, the patient presents with a concern related to
his competency (i.e., he is acutely psychotic and/or has a significant intellectual
Age at Testing:
16 years 2 months
Reason for Referral:
Jim was referred for assessment by the school for a psychodiagnostic assessment secondary to
some legal issues that occurred in this summer. Specifically, Jim was arrested for possession of
incendiary devices. The school is seeking recommendations regarding Jim’s psychological
Relevant Background information:
Jim Smith is a 16-year-old adolescent n who currently resides in a juvenile residential facility,
where he has been since his arrest in July. According to records, Jim was charged with two
counts of Possession of an Incendiary Device, Chem/Bio/Nuclear Weapon; one count of
Possession of Hoax Incendiary Device, Chem/Bio/Nuclear Weapon; and one count of Unlawful
Possession of Fireworks. These charges are in relation to a search of the family home, in which
police found spent explosive devices, 22 BB and pellet guns, animal parts, and digital evidence
that Jim may be preoccupied with Nazism. He is currently being held at the Department of Youth
Services (DYS) detention facility while he awaits trial in Juvenile Court.
Prior to this arrest, Jim’s school conduct report notes seven incidents at school between
10/22/2013 and 05/11/15. These incidents include bumping into a boy on the playground with
several peers; destruction of property in the school bathroom; refusing to work; using a teacher’s
email to send an email to another school staff member which included the phrases “Aayy nigger”
and “fuck you”; making inappropriate comments about another student’s sexual orientation,
religious beliefs, and cultural background; and drawing swastikas on his lunch tray. These
actions resulted in five days of in-school suspension and five days of out-of-school suspension
In October 2015, a thorough neuropsychological evaluation and risk assessment was completed
for the courts. In this evaluation, Jim was found to have intellectual abilities in the high-average
to superior range. He was noted to have intact encoding of verbal information, planning,
organization, and working-memory skills. He demonstrated a mild weakness in sustained
attention and notable impairment in processing speed, impulse control, and mental flexibility. In
addition, the evaluation identifies that Jim has clear symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Several school personnel were interviewed who are familiar with the current incidents and have
also known Jim in the past, particularly in middle school. School personnel generally describe
Jim as withdrawn, aloof, giving a poor effort in school, and having academic issues. They also
reported consistently that Jim presented with anxiety and depression. He was noted to stutter,
shake, and appear anxious often. He was also noted to have minimal friends prior to the last year.
In the past school year, Jim was reported to have started hanging out with two boys and began
expressing anti-Semitic and anti-gay viewpoints. He was reported to have bullied some students,
made swastikas, and sent an inappropriate email from a teacher’s account. These behaviors all
appear to be in conjunction with the aforementioned other two boys. The school reported that
neither Jim nor the other boys seemed to grasp the seriousness of their behaviors, and continued
to get into trouble from time to time. All school personnel denied any concerns about an Autism
Outside of school, Jim’s parents described him as being fairly “odd” as he got older. They
indicated that he would frequently get obsessed with things, such as melting metal, but that the
things he wanted to do were logistically impossible. They reported that he developed an
obsession with voicing anti-Semitic views in the past year. His parents note that he felt he had
freedom of speech and would frequently make defiant anti-Semitic gestures or statements when
encouraged to discontinue expressing these views. They recounted that he got into trouble at
school on several occasions related to this behavior. He also had run-ins with the police due to
bullying a student in relation to these viewpoints.
Despite these concerning viewpoints, his parents reported that Jim is a good kid. They reported
that they do not feel his use of weapons and these viewpoints are related. They indicated that
they purchased the guns for him and that he and his mother would target practice in the backyard
regularly. Jim’s father also reported that he caught his son mixing chemicals to make an
explosive device in their backyard and told him not to do it again. Outside of this activity, his
parents reported that Jim preferred to keep to himself and spent much of his time on the
computer. He reportedly had two friends who were linked to the current offenses.
Behavioral Observations and Mental Status:
Jim presented as oriented and cooperative with the evaluation. He presented as fairly nervous
and somewhat aloof initially. His eye contact is sporadic; and his speech and mannerisms are, at
times, slightly awkward. He presented with good grooming and hygiene. There were no
remarkable motor concerns. His affect was flat, and he reported a good mood. His speech was
normal in volume, rate, and tone. His thought content was goal directed, coherent, and concrete
with no tangential or loose associations. He denied any current or recent suicidal or homicidal
ideation, intent, or plan. He denied any issues with hallucinations or paranoia and did not present
with any symptoms of psychosis. Judgment and insight appeared adequate
10 hours ago
Ethics Case #3
For this case, please read the case history below. In this scenario you are a forensic expert
on violence risk assessment in adults. You often testify in courts about future risk of
violence and are deemed by the courts as an “expert witness.” You have been asked to
consult with the school related to this case and future dangerousness. As you read the case
below, consider what ethical concerns you may have, particularly related to the specialty
guidelines for forensic psychology and competence, and how you might resolve these issues.
Relevant Background information:
Michael Jones is a 13-year-old adolescent who currently resides in Washington. He is a 7th
grader in the SOAR classroom at the Middle School. SOAR is a special education classroom that
provides both individual and group instruction to students with disabilities. He spends his time at
school between two classrooms in which he receives individual and group instruction. In
addition, he attends specials, lunch, and recess within the building with the rest of the student
body. Michael currently receives these services due to a primary diagnosis of Intellectual
Impairment and a secondary diagnosis of Communication Impairment. In the past, he was also
diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, but records and reports from his mother indicate that
he no longer meets criteria for the disorder.
Michael received a neuropsychological evaluation in September 2012 which noted him to have
delays in cognitive, language, academic, visual–spatial, and adaptive skills, placing him in the
mild end of intellectual disability. Michael was also noted to have difficulties with working
memory, cognitive flexibility, and impulse control. He was diagnosed with Intellectual Disability
and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Michael’s IEP notes a communication impairment in addition to his intellectual disability, which
affects his academic functioning. He is noted to require significant individual support when he is
in classes outside of the SOAR program. There is also a noted concern related to difficulty
making appropriate choices in relation to friends, and being easily manipulated into making the
wrong decisions. He is noted to have difficulty understanding concepts related to relationships
and dangerous social situations.
According to the school, Michael has had several incidents which have caused concern related to
sexually inappropriate behavior. The first incident occurred in approximately June 2014 when
Michael grabbed the buttocks of a peer-mentor. According to the school, this occurred on a
school bus in which Michael was trying to touch a female mentor despite her telling him it was
inappropriate. He was eventually able to do so when the peer sat down, and Michael placed his
hand under her buttocks.
A second, more serious incident occurred in approximately November 2014. In this incident,
while in the classroom, Michael and a male peer, who is more limited than Michael, went behind
a partition. When teachers noticed they could not be seen and went to check on them, it was
observed that the peer had his pants down. The peer later told school personnel that Michael had
asked him to pull his pants down, saying “Do it! Do it!” and that he had told the peer that is was
a “secret game.” Directly following this incident Michael also grabbed the buttocks of a female
student in the hallway outside his classroom and was talking about this behavior.
In another incident in February 2015, Michael reportedly brushed up against a female peer who
was using a water fountain. Staff report that he brushed up against her once and when there
appeared to be no issue with it, he again brushed up against her in a sexual manner.
In addition to these specific incidents, the school reported that he has made multiple questionable
sexual comments. It is indicated that he often takes conversation to a sexual level and will say
things such as, “It feels really good when I have my pants down”; “It’s much better when you
have your pants off”; or “Do you sex girls?” It is also reported that he is fascinated with a
particular girl and has told others that he has sex with that student every night.
Michael is also reported to stare for inappropriately long intervals at females, particularly at their
chest area, on a regular basis such that it makes students and teachers uncomfortable. The school
reported that all behavioral incidents have occurred when there has been less supervision or
when he is in a transitional time …