Professional Resource

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Ethical Practice and Dilemmas

by Jenifer Chacon and Christina Nigrelli, ZERO TO THREE

Have you ever experienced an ethical dilemma in your practice? Perhaps struggled choosing among two morally acceptable ways of handling a situation? Or felt stuck between a rock and a hard place having to choose between two or more morally unacceptable courses of action? Ethical dilemmas emerge regularly in professional practice. The most complex dilemmas often occur within gray areas, making it difficult for professionals to make the right decisions as they negotiate among various courses of action that challenge our morals and ethical principles.

Ethical principles guide professionals through the decision-making process; the principles help professionals approach challenges in working through ethical dilemmas. They serve to clarify the ethical obligations for professionals and those they serve. The ethical codes are based on a profession or organization’s core values and key ethical principles. They are specific to each profession but often share common values and principles.

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