Please describe the issue/problem that your report is based on.

Ethics are an essential consideration in any psychological research. The ethics which you should have been taught during your degree are mainly concerned with the protection of human participants in conventional experiments. Modern technology – in particular the greater tendency for interactions of all sorts to take place online rather than face-to-face – raises new ethical issues for psychologists.

Read the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Guidelines Technology Appraisal 97 Full Guidance.

Imagine that IT Services at the University of Sussex has proposed to build a computer online counseling system as part of SussexDirect and that you have been asked to comment as the only psychologist on the ethics committee.

Write a brief report aimed at senior management and structured in the style of the Quick Reference Guide for the above (TA97) giving your views on at least the following questions:

Are there ethical requirements entailed in the design and use of such a system? What are the specific ethical requirements involved in introducing such as system at the University of Sussex?

In your answer make clear on what principles or system you have based your ethical judgments.

1) It is a report not an essay. Lay it out with recommendations first, as 3-4 bullet points. NICE guidelines use an introduction section so feel to do it that way if you want. Then back them up. This should include references where possible which can be in a separate references section. 

2) You don’t need to describe all 5 approaches to ethics – in fact, you’d be well advised not to. If there is one (or even 2 or 3) of them that you find particularly compelling or useful then say that you are employing it. If you have been taught to follow the APA Code of Conduct then don’t forget that. A relevant short quote from it may help. Main marks point – at least mention some source of ethics other than your own opinions. 

3) When discussing the ethics of such a system ethics committees typically ask questions like: “what happens if it goes wrong?”; “how bad could it be?”; “who will be responsible?”; “can we put measures in place to protect/help students if it does go wrong?”; ” do we need it – is it worth the risks?” You don’t have to ask or answer all these but they may help you get into thinking about what you need to write about. Main marks point – think through the implications, rather than just reciting the facts. 

4) Kate Cavanagh has a distinguished record of research into the effectiveness of both CBT and CCBT. She is one source for evidence that this technology works. Main marks point – don’t just insist that the system helps students, give sources.

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