Unit 2 Research and Clinical Ethics


Unit 2 – Discussion 1: Potential Ethical Issues

There are a number of ethical issues in my study. First, the issue of informed consent arises because the participants cannot be coerced to participate in a study (Wertheimer, 2015). They must give an informed consent. Second, confidentiality is a major ethical issue because sensitive personal data is collected from the participant and it must be used for the purpose of the study alone. Third, the study must not harm the participant Camille, Han, & Sng, 2016). The principle of do-no-harm states that any activity in the course of the research must not harm the participant, and if it does, there must be reversed. The issue of privacy also arises because there is sensitive data collected and safeguarded.


Unit 2 – Discussion 2: SASSI Assessment

SASSI-3 Assessment instrument was published in 1988. It is a brief screening tool which used by human service practitioners to measures predisposition to substance abuse. It is used for individuals who have a high chance of diagnosable substance abuse disorder to evaluate their specific diagnostic criteria.  The validity of this instrument is evaluated in number of studies with results showing a high validity. Sadeghi, Najafi, Rostami and Ghorbani (2010) obtained

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Unit 2:

Research and Clinical Ethics


Research and Clinical Ethics.  Addictions counselor researchers must possess critical thinking and complex analytical skills to design, implement, and then analyze a research project or a proposed therapeutic program. However, research ethics are equally important. The ethical codes for the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the National Association of Addictions Counselors (NAADAC) state that researchers must honor and respect participants, protect them during the research process, and consistently maintain honesty and integrity.

Research and Clinical Ethics

Therefore, researchers must protect participants’ confidentiality and ensure that the research efforts do not inflict any physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual distress. Researchers must also consider any cultural implications or diversity issues of research, and their impact upon research participants. Additionally, researchers must inform human participants of any possible risks and benefits of the research, and honestly report the findings.

As part of ethical research, we must be aware of the ethical codes that guide our clinical work and clinical professionalism. This unit will explore ethics as they relate to the addictions field. Research and Clinical Ethics


American Counseling Association. (2009). American Counseling Association. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from http://www.counseling.org

The Association for Addiction Professionals. (2010). Association for Addiction Professionals. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from http://www.naadac.org


To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

  1. Evaluate and apply the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) codes of ethics as they relate to your proposed research project.
  2. Evaluate the feasibility of your proposed research design and questions.
  3. Identify the ethical risks and benefits for participants in your proposed research project.
  4. Evaluate assessments to evaluate, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan for clients.


Learning Activities

Studies Readings

Read the following in Royse, Thyer, and Padgett’s Program Evaluation: An Introduction to an Evidence-Based Approach: Research and Clinical Ethics

  • Chapter 2, “Ethical Issues in Program Evaluation,” pages 41–59.
  • Chapter 3, “Needs Assessment,” pages 63–89.

Remember, your e-book is available for reading via VitalSource Bookshelf. You can access Bookshelf from the left Course Tools menu or via the optional downloaded application.

Read the Scott article, “Ethical Issues in Addictions Counseling.”

Read the Donavan chapter, “Assessment of Addictive Behaviors for Relapse Prevention.”

Review information on the SASSI-3 at the SASSI Institute.

Locate three peer-reviewed journal articles that are relevant to your final project. Use these articles to complete this unit’s “Potential Ethical Issues” discussion. Research and Clinical Ethics

The Eight-Step Research Process: Transcript Below.

Step One – Introducing the Study: Identify the problem, the purpose, and the population

This section of your study should introduce your reader to the topic and the problem to be addressed. It should give your reader a clear understanding of issues and should argue that the topic deserves further study. “Little is known about how clients perceive the effectiveness of the Miracle Question in couple’s therapy.”

The purpose of the study is a specific response to the problem you just described. “The purpose of this study is to examine the perceived effectiveness of The Miracle Question by couples who receive Solutions Focused Brief Couple’s Therapy.” Research and Clinical Ethics

Step Two – Review the Literature

Your review of the literature is a continuous process that actually began before Step One. Your readings and research in your previous courses of study have led you to a curiosity of your topic. As you continue to work your project, especially in a qualitative study, you may discover new information and avenues for investigation that you were not aware of at the beginning of your study. A literature review should evaluate and summarize and link the current knowledge to your project. Research and Clinical Ethics

What knowledge has been acquired about Solution Focused Brief Couples Therapy, the Miracle Question, Couple’s experience in therapy, effectiveness of couple’s therapy, or other elements of your proposal? Has your study already been done? Are there any gaps in what is known about the topic, population, intervention, or model of your proposed study? Is there a controversy or professional debate about your topic?

Step Three – Formulate a Research Question

Your research question is the core of your proposal. It should flow naturally from your problem and purpose statements. “What do I want to discover in this study?” For this project you are asked to identify a specific intervention or therapeutic model to investigate in your proposal. There are many ways to evaluate a problem and complete your purpose. Your research question determines the path you take. “What are the experiences of couples when asked and completing the Miracle Question?” “Is there a significant difference in early termination rates between couples who are asked the Miracle Question in the first session and couples who are not asked the Miracle Question?” Research and Clinical Ethics

Step Four – Select a Research Methodology

Your research question will determine your methodology. It can be experimental, which is very difficult to do from family systems approach and control all of the variables, quantitative relational study, a qualitative experience study, or a mixed methods model, just to mention a few categories. To repeat, your research question will determine your methodology. Research and Clinical Ethics

This guiding principle in making the selection is called parsimony. Parsimony implies that the need (the investigating research questions) is met by a tool (the research design or methodology) that does the job well without going beyond that which is necessary.

Step Five – Select a Sampling Method

As in other components of a research project, there are numerous sampling procedures that can be used in Family Therapy research. Sampling exists across a continuum of complexity and rigor. The sampling procedure employed is one of the most critical determinants of external validity. External validity refers to the ability to generalize study findings to the population with similar characteristics represented in the study sample. It should be noted, however, that not all research studies need to use a sampling procedure that yields high external validity.

When studying the effectiveness of the Miracle Question in couples therapy, and Master’s level researcher might be tempted to select a sample of convenience, such as couples receiving therapy at your university counseling center. This might give information about the intervention with couples coming to that clinic, but it would be questionable to generalize the findings to the general population of couples. Whereas, a qualitative study of the subjective experience of three couples being asked the Miracle Question would limit its findings to those couples and allow the readers to apply their own generalizations. Research and Clinical Ethics

Step Six – Implement the study procedures

This step is to actually follow the design of study that has been described. This is the process of collecting the data in a clean and precise manner. It is important to follow the designed protocol to protect internal validity: does the study describe or measure what it was designed to describe or measure? If procedures are not followed consistently over the sample, the data may “drift” or become contaminated.

If a team of therapists are given instructions to give the Miracle Question to couples without using a script for the question, could there be challenges to internal validity? If it was discovered that one therapist used 18 words in a dramatic fashion, two therapists told 3 minute stories to illustrate the question, and two therapists read the question our of a textbook, would the study be investigating the Miracle Question or how the Miracle Question was presented? Research and Clinical Ethics.

Step Seven – Analyze the Data

Once the data is collected in a research effort, it must be analyzed. What is to be done with these numbers, words, or scores? Your previous reading indicated that generally, data analysis is the search for patterns in the data that has been observed and collected. How this is done is again dependent on the methodology selected. Quantitative research will use some form of statistical manipulation to detect the presence, lack or presence, strength, or directional attributes of that pattern. Qualitative research tends to extract themes from the data that emerge as the data is being collected and analyzed. The large numbers of data analysis procedures available in the literature are topics for specialized research courses and beyond the small amount of time for this course and project.

Step Eight – Research Interpretations and Conclusions

After data have been collected, organized, and analyzed, a researcher must now begin the task of articulating what this means to the audience and consumers of the research. This requires critical thinking, academic ethics, and knowledge of your subject and methodology. If a quantitative study is conducted, what are the implications for therapy and future study if the Null hypothesis is accepted or rejected? In a qualitative study, what can be assertively stated about the experience that can impact family therapy? Were the research questions answered and what does that mean? ARe there implications that move beyond the original scope of the study? Research and Clinical Ethics

The Eight-Step Research Process presentation describes key activities that you should carry out at certain steps or phases of your research process. The presentation also introduces foundational research practices for ensuring a reliable and valid study.

  • Optional – Library Articles

You may choose to read these articles, available in the Library, to augment your understanding of this unit’s topics.

  • Appelbaum, Lidz, and Klitzman’s (2009) article, “Voluntariness of Consent to Research: A Conceptual Model” from Hastings Center Report, volume 39, issue 1, pages 30–39.
  • Artino and Brown’s (2009) article, “Ethics in Educational Research: A Comparative Analysis of Graduate Student and Faculty Beliefs,” College Student Journal, volume 43, issue 2, pages 599–615.
  • Foster and Black’s (2007) article, “An Integral Approach to Counseling Ethics,” from Counseling & Values, volume 51, issue 3, pages 221–234.


Discussion 1: 1 page needed with minimum of 250 words and 2 references.

Potential Ethical Issues

As a researcher and mental health counselor, you are required to adhere to a code of ethics, standards, and best practices to protect clients and research participants. Formulating a clinical research design and engaging in research requires you to be aware of your biases and to draw objective conclusions despite them. Based on your reading of the three peer-reviewed journal articles from the Library and the ACA and NAADAC Code of Ethics, identify the following for your study:

  • What are the potential ethical issues for your study?
  • What are the risks and benefits for participants?
  • What is your research question? Use the data you found in the first discussion in Unit 1 to formulate your research question so that it is relevant and appropriate for your selected population and identified research design.


Discussion 2: 1 page needed with minimum of 250 words and 2 references.

SASSI Assessment

The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory 3rd Edition (SASSI-3) is known as the most important instrument in screening for substance abuse (Juhnke, Vacc, & Curtis, 2003 as cited by Hood & Johnson, 2007). Emanuelson, Perosa, & Perosa (2005, as quoted by Hood & Johnson, 2007, p. 204), notes that “the SASSI-3 appears to the strongest screening instrument of its kind.” Research and Clinical Ethics

The objective of this assessment is to identify those who are likely to have a substance use disorder. Discuss the validity and reliability of using the SASSI-3 as an addictions assessment and screening tool, and how you will use it in treatment planning for addicted clients.


Hood, A. B., & Johnson, R. W. (2007). Assessment in counseling: A guide to the use of psychological assessment procedures (4th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.




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